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Vernon Macklin makes rotational debut for apparently tanking Pistons

Vernon Macklin was scheduled to join the rotation of an NBA team for the first time tonight.

He’ll have to wait.

Macklin played plenty – 23 minutes, more than double his previous season high – but it would be too generous to call the Pistons an NBA team. To the delight of some and chagrin of others, they’ve taken up tanking.

Lawrence Frank can call it “experimenting” or whatever he wants, but the Pistons never looked like they were attempting to change the course of the Hawks’ 116-84 victory. I suspect Frank will deny it on some level, but clear as day, Detroit tanked tonight.

  • If the Pistons weren’t tanking, Macklin – and Daye and Villanueva – wouldn’t have played so much.
  • If the Pistons weren’t tanking, Walker Russell wouldn’t have scored a career-high 15 points.
  • If the Pistons weren’t tanking, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace wouldn’t have had the night off.

But the Pistons are tanking. We can discuss whether it’s more satisfying to watch Prince help Detroit run up a 50-point lead over Cleveland or to watch Daye brick jumpers until Atlanta’s lead reached 41. There are pros and cons to both.

But, tonight, tanking had one huge negative side effect for fans: It robbed us of our chance to evaluate Macklin in meaningful minutes.

The Pistons trailed by 12 when Macklin entered the game in the first quarter and, minutes later, by 23. Macklin’s play improved as the game progressed, but it’s impossible to tell whether that was due to him getting more comfortable or the Hawks relaxing as their lead became insurmountable. In essence, Macklin was limited to garbage time once again.

His numbers – eight points (3-of-7 shooting), nine rebounds, two assists, a block, a turnover and three fouls – indicate at least decent play, but I think they overrate his actual impact. Most of his his offensive rebounds came on a single possession in the fourth quarter and were each followed by a missed tip. His assists came on a long two-point jumper by Villanueva and Damien Wilkins’ rushed jumper to end the first half. He ran the floor well and was quick to move on defense, though I think that partially stemmed from not always being in the right spot and trying to correct it. I’m not saying he played poorly, but there were no signs he deserves to make the rotation.

Really, I don’t know much more about Macklin’s game than I did coming in. Unfortunately, with the Pistons’ new tanking strategy, that’s just the cost of doing business.

Most Valuable Player

Tracy McGrady. Nearly every Hawk played well, but McGrady mixed flash and effectiveness perfectly in the blowout. The former Piston finished with 17 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Least Valuable Player

Austin Daye. Daye – inserted into the lineup for apparent tanking purposes (or in Lawrence Frank’s parlance, “experimenting”) – shot 1-of-11 and, other than grab a few uncontested rebounds, didn’t do much else in 30 minutes.

X-Factor

Greg Monroe (17 points and five rebounds) legitimately played well. It’s really pretty incredible that his teammates could play so poorly that Detroit lost by 32.

52 Comments

  • Apr 18, 201210:05 pm
    by moe

    Reply

    what did v mack do , whats his number?

    • Apr 18, 201211:20 pm
      by Mark

      Reply

      8 pts, 9rebs, 2 asts in 23 min. Solid. He actually led the team in rebs, but it WAS garbage time.

      In response to Feldman on tanking, in fairness to the Pistons, you could say the reason for Ben/Tay not playing was just resting them in the middle of a b2b2b. And the reason Macklin/CV played so many min could be because it was a blowout with a another game tomorrow and no reason wear out Monroe.

      I kind of agree though, that with all these experimental lineups all of a sudden, I too get the sense we are tanking.

      Although, if we really wanted to tank, last night would’ve been a good night to do so. ugh.

  • Apr 18, 201210:07 pm
    by gordbrown

    Reply

    They might as well have not dressed Stuckey. He’s obviously not right, and having a player out there who wasn’t contributing at all was a big factor. Hawks announcers picked it out and commented on it a lot. I realize the idea of letting Prince walk was to lose a lot of games, but frankly having watched this, I’m really glad he came back.

  • Apr 18, 201210:14 pm
    by Josh

    Reply

    Good news, Tay doesn’t play! Bad news, the one who takes his spot sucks twice as much as he does. This is probably why Frank didn’t play Daye when we were up 50 against the Cavs. He would’ve blown our lead… Lol.

  • Apr 18, 201210:23 pm
    by Lorenzo

    Reply

    I know you shouldn’t judge too heavily based on one game…. but you wonder why Austin Daye struggles to get minutes. Kid–supposedly–does one thing well which is shoot….and he shoots 9 percent and true to form does nothing else (defense, rebound, facilitate, hustle/energy etc.). I hope the remaining games put to rest the heated clamor the kid generates amongst fans (though I have my doubts). And Kudos to Macklin, he was no world beater, but at least he showed SOMETHING with PT.

    • Apr 19, 20128:46 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I am and have been skeptical that Daye is going to amount to a rotation player in Detroit. But, even if it’s ugly like it was last night, they have to take these last few games to let him play a lot and see if there is anything at all there.

  • Apr 18, 201210:26 pm
    by 2Tough

    Reply

    Yeah, something’s not right with Stuckey alright: his head.  This is why the guy will never be anything more than a mediocre player.  He just mails it in entirely on certain nights. Great players never mail it in.
     
    The Pistons need to cut their losses and move him this summer.

    • Apr 18, 201210:37 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      name one player who never mailed it in. seriously, just one. i will find you samples of games he mailed in.

      • Apr 18, 201211:24 pm
        by Daye and Knight

        Reply

        This guy (2tough) has no clue what he’s talking about. Take Stuckey out of the picture and we’re fighting (well…tanking) for the first overall pick with the bobcats. LeBron mailed it in at least a few times in his career and he’s a lock for MVP this year…imagine that…

  • Apr 18, 201210:26 pm
    by gmehl

    Reply

    Wow that is a 71 point swing from last nights 39 point victory and then getting beat by 32. I wonder what the biggest swing from a victory to a loss is or vice versa (loss to a victory). Also i don’t know if anyone read my comment after last nights game about taking but i will post it again anyways.
     
    How to minimize tanking idea
    I was just reading an article at ESPN they have on tanking at the moment and someone had an idea in the comments to prevent tanking which i thought was worth sharing. The idea was that the NBA should only count the first three quarters of the season to determine draft position (% of ping pong balls). Then for the last quarter of the season wins would gain your teams extra ping pong balls which would force teams to play hard if they want a better pick. If you use this season as an example the Bobcats will have a 25% chance to get the #1 pick but with how bad they are playing they would lose maybe 3-5% of those balls to teams that are still winning. It is important to note that there probably isn’t anyway to prevent teams from cheating the system by losing on purpose so why not reward teams for winning for a small portion of it. Anyway when I first read the idea I thought it was worth the share and see what all you guys thought about it. One thing I do know and I am sure all piston fans would agree is that something needs to change. Thoughts??

    • Apr 18, 201210:43 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      It sounds like a terrible idea. It would just mean teams start tanking earlier in the year but then stop at the end. Not only that, it is totally arbitrary. If the last quarter of the season is worth the same for playoff seeding as the rest, why should it be worth a different amount for lottery seeding? Finally, the point of the lottery seeding is to give the most help to teams that need it the most. So we should instead reward teams that play like crap until the end of the year when the games “count”? Teams like the Bobcats keep losing because they are terrible. There is no reason to assume they are tanking. They can’t lost their top lottery seed anymore. So presumably they are trying tot win but are just really, really bad. Why should their odds be diminished because they suck?

      • Apr 19, 201212:46 am
        by gmehl

        Reply

        Firstly tarsier i stated that it wasn’t my idea but rather that i read it in a comment section and thought it was an interesting concept. Secondly the answer to your question is simple. If the last quarter of the season is worth the same for playoff seeding as the rest, why should it be worth a different amount for lottery seeding? To give teams an incentive to not tank. I have no doubt that the Bobcats are a bad team but they weren’t that bad at the start of the season. They have gotten progressively worse to the point where management and then the players have totally given up. The idea of rewarding teams for the last quarter of a season would be put in place to stop teams (players/management) from just giving up. You would also think that teams wouldn’t shut down players early like teams have done recently just so they can get more ping pong balls (see Raptors, Warriors, Hornets, Cavs). I know he is not a star player but the Bobcats recently waived Boris Diaw who on most nights would of made them a lot more competitive. The system proposed make GMs become more accountable for there transactions because it could very well mean the difference between earning a higher draft slot rather than just being handed it for losing more games by stripping a roster bare and shutting down players early when they actually don’t need to be. There is no way the Bobcats are as bad as they have been and i guarantee you that if they (Michael Jordan) had an incentive to win more then they actually would. At the moment one thing is clear and that is that there is in fact an incentive to lose and everyone from the GM to the ball boy can see it. Under the proposed system the Bobcats would still likely get a 20% chance to get the top pick but teams like the Pistons would go from an 5% to maybe a 8% chance. I don’t know about you but at the moment it doesn’t seem fair to the teams that don’t tank. Finally i will finish off by saying that this wasn’t my idea but i am all for it.

        • Apr 19, 20127:01 am
          by tarsier

          Reply

          I never said it was your idea. And I don’t mean to say I think you are stupid or anything like that. I do, however, think it is a terrible idea. Because how does this remove the incentive to tank? It just moves when you should do your tanking? I suppose it might remove the incentive for teams that aren’t sure whether or not they can make the playoffs for the first half of the season. So that might help with teams tanking who pick in the 8-12 range. But that’s not where there is the most incentive or the most egregious tanking most of the time anyway.

          And I wholeheartedly agree that it is unfortunate that the current system rewards tanking. And if there existed a good metric for separating tanking from just losing because you are bad, I would agree that using that to influence the lottery would have merit. What I disagree on is that the last quarter of the season is a good metric for that. Again, this would simply encourage teams to tank until the final quarter of the year and then really pick it up then. You would see all sorts of games and commentary basically revolving around the point: “Wait, if they were that good and able to win at that percentage, why weren’t they able to do it all season?”

          You might not see players shut down early, but you would see players held out longer for injury and just coming back when the games “count.” You wouldn’t see this “lineup experimentation” that Frank recently employed down the stretch, but you would see it earlier in the year.

          Long story short, why I hate this idea is because it rewards the teams that are able to suddenly turn it on at the end. In other words, the teams that are just bad will keep losing down the stretch, but the ones that are underperforming (tanking) all year, will be the ones that are able to pick up their play level the most for the last quarter season. Those that are just bad will then probably start to lose even more because they are dealing with opponents that try harder. This is kinda the inevitable problem of any system that arbitrarily weights certain games differently than others.

          • Apr 19, 20128:43 am
            by gmehl

            Ok fair enough i understand your thoughts on the proposed idea but i would be interested if you have a better idea or should i say a fairer idea than the concept i posted. I was actually hoping Dan or Patrick would have posted an article about this topic to get a feel for peoples ideas on what the NBA should look at doing to make the system fairer or try to limit the amount of tanking. I probably sound hypocritical because i like a lot of posters on here were rooting for the pistons to tank after the halfway mark but then we actually had a really good stretch and then i changed my tune and got caught up in all the wins we started accumulating.

          • Apr 19, 20121:51 pm
            by Max

            I love the idea wholeheartedly.   @Tarsier   Teams can’t tank earlier in the season or they will totally annihilate their fan bases in a way that would be much worse than even just being the worst team in the league.   No point getting a high draft pick if you have no fans or revenue and have to relocate or sell the team.  Plus, nearly any bad team has delusions and hopes of success at the beginning of the year.   And finally, players don’t knowingly participate in tanking but do play their part as coach’s and GMs pawns.   Do you really think, say, John Wall for instance, would put with a coach or GM telling him he has a phantom injury in the middle of the season so the team can tank?   No way he would ever allow that as he is bound to care more about his own career than the Wizards.

          • Apr 19, 20124:41 pm
            by tarsier

            The “it would just shift when people tank” is only one of my criticisms of the idea. My strongest one remains the fact that it rewards teams who can simply start playing better down the stretch. But I honestly think that players very rarely tank. Organizations tank (like the Bobcats did this season) most effectively by trading all their current talent for future assets. As for a player like Wall being out with a phantom injury, I don’t honestly think players are pulled for phantom injuries per se. I think they are just given much more time to recuperate than they would have been given if the team needed wins. I believe that David Lee and Bargnani are in fact injured. I just think they could play if they really needed to. And that could just as easily be done midseason. As could, if a coach wanted to/was directed to, limiting veterans to relatively few minutes in favor of playing younger, as of yet lesser players more.

            gmehl,
            Part of why I couldn’t possibly criticize you for floating this idea but just the idea itself is that solving the problem of rewarding the teams in most need of aid without rewarding teams for not trying is a very tricky thing to figure out. Were it easy, the NBA would have already solved the problem.
            Here’s what I’ve got:
            Certainly not an idea that would come close to totally solving tanking, but I would love to see GMs of comparably talented teams essentially bet with each other on which of their teams will outperform the other by trading draft picks before the season. That way, the team that wins more actually gets a higher pick. Also, it shouldn’t be that hard of a sell to some GMs if the idea were brought to their attention. By and large, I think they are a prideful lot so most of them probably think their teams are better than other teams who third parties think are comparable. If both GMs think they have the better team, why wouldn’t they pull the trigger on such a deal?

            Also, it’s hard not to be at all hypocritical with tanking. I hate tanking and really wish a good system were devised to discourage it. But given the rules are how they are, I want the Pistons to tank right now because I don’t want them to be disadvantaged over a moral victory.

  • Apr 18, 201210:35 pm
    by Tiko

    Reply

    Too late to tank

  • Apr 18, 201210:36 pm
    by Mel

    Reply

    Now to all those wanting bench players to get bench time. Well there it is. Macklin did ok but he clearly needs to develop more. This game wasn’t a true test for him because the game was already over when he got out there. It was like garbage time the whole game.  The team as a whole sucked, they didn’t bring half the energy they played with the last to games. Now if the starter where tired then I understand but the bench played with no energy at all. Personally I think this was just a tank job. Stuckey played like he didn’t like what was going on tonight ( which is no excuse) The rotations didn’t make sense to me at all. But who am I to say, just sayin.

    • Apr 18, 201210:45 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      False. Even if a team is down 30 points, if it’s the first half, that’s not yet garbage time because a 30 point lead can be overcome in 20+ minutes.

      • Apr 19, 20127:53 am
        by danny

        Reply

        No, this is false. Yes a team COULD come back from down 30, but until they make a dent in that lead, its garbage time. Garbage time has nothing to do with the time left in the game. Its simply when the game is seemingly out of reach.

        • Apr 19, 20124:44 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          Ok, 30 may be a stretch, but he came in when the Pistons were down what? A dozen I think? That is hardly “seemingly out of reach” unless there are less than about 4 minutes left in the game.

  • Apr 18, 201210:41 pm
    by 2Tough

    Reply

    Stuckey mails it in a lot.  Way too often for a guy who wouldn’t even see any minutes at all on some teams in the league.

    • Apr 18, 201210:48 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Ok, so you are clearly trolling. Why do you make multiple virtually identical posts in the same comment section? Are you worried that people might scroll through and miss the fact that you think Stuckey is lazy the first time?

      We get it, you are an anti-Stuckey person. Great. But if you’re gonna make multiple comments basically amounting to “Stuckey is crap,” at least put in some facts and arguments to back up the point.

      • Apr 19, 20127:08 am
        by sdsportsfan

        Reply

        I agree with this!

      • Apr 19, 20128:50 am
        by Patrick Hayes

        Reply

        2tough actually used to be the world’s biggest Stuckey defender (and had a blog named after Stuckey, I believe). Not sure if he had an actual change of heart (doubtful) or if he’s sarcastically making ridiculous statements about Stuckey to troll everyone, but I would definitely bet on the latter.

        • Apr 19, 20129:00 am
          by Andrew

          Reply

          2tough posts a lot on another forum.  I think he is pretty direct about his feelings toward Stuckey – and good or bad, those feelings tend to be a bit intense.  It’s pretty clearly not sarcasm though.  Personally, I think Stuckey is a streaky, somewhat injury prone but overall top 1/3 SG.

          • Apr 19, 20129:17 am
            by Patrick Hayes

            Well, I know that a year or so ago, I couldn’t write something remotely critical about Stuckey without getting blasted in the comments by him. Now, this season, it has been the exact opposite — any praise Stuckey has received is met with him in the comments saying how useless Stuckey is and the team should get rid of him. Weird considering this has clearly been Stuckey’s best season after he recovered from his early season injuries.

          • Apr 19, 20124:50 pm
            by tarsier

            Hmmm, strange. I have not noticed him enough in the comments to particularly take notice until the last couple days.

            Also, why is it so hard to not respond to trolls? Clearly, I need a bit more self-discipline.

        • Apr 19, 20129:45 am
          by Daye and Knight

          Reply

          A bigger Stuckey fan than me? haha idk about that one

  • Apr 18, 201210:43 pm
    by RalphHau

    Reply

    Say, did Stuck play tonight, why did the coach give him a night off?  What’s up with that!

  • Apr 18, 201210:45 pm
    by 2Tough

    Reply

    Stuckey didn’t get the night off.  He TOOK the night off, because he felt like it.  Some leader, eh?

    • Apr 18, 201210:55 pm
      by Josh B

      Reply

      What exactly do you expect from Stuckey? He has had a strong season, and after a couple of injuries he hasn’t played well, but your evaluation is that he mails it in a lot. Considering the team was in full “experimenting” mode tonight I couldn’t imagine why somebody would be disinterested, but out of all the shared bad that was on the court tonight,, I guess it’s fair to focus in on how much of a waste Stuckey is as a player…….

  • Apr 18, 201210:47 pm
    by vic

    Reply

    i doubt their really tanking – its way too late for that, and its not like the other bad teams are going to start winning. I just think they are experimenting. However, that was one HORRIBLE experiment. They should have had JJ start at 3 and Macklin at 4. starting Daye at the 3 when he’s a 2 = idiot move.

    • Apr 18, 201210:50 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      How is Daye any more of a 2 than a 3? He is just a bad player who really seems like he should be able to be a much better player. But playing the 2 doesn’t suddenly make more of a guy’s Js fall. Also, the 2 and 3 are nearly identical most of the time in the league today. That’s why, as often as not, they are simply referred to as wings.

      • Apr 19, 20127:10 am
        by sdsportsfan

        Reply

        Well at least we have a team option on him for next year. If Dumars keeps him around, I would be mad. If we don’t pick up the option, we save 1.9 mil$.

      • Apr 19, 201210:15 am
        by vic

        Reply

        Because 3s usually have tougher defensive assignments. Daye’s weakness is defensive awareness. 3s also usually are more “glue-guy” type players.

        • Apr 19, 20124:52 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          I guess I’m just under the impression that there are a ton more SG/SFs in the league than straight up SGs or SFs, that makes it difficult to make many sweeping statements about either.

  • Apr 18, 201210:49 pm
    by Mel

    Reply

    Ok Stuck mailed it in but alot of guys wanted to tank so whats the problem least we know when it’s time to play he can produce more ways than one. Day on the other hand belongs back on a high school team. He’s a head case, he couldn’t even make shots at the rim let alone free throws.

  • Apr 18, 201210:55 pm
    by Mel

    Reply

    I agree with you Vic, the rotations were bad, it didn’t give Macklin any chance to succeed with who he was playing with. I would have liked to see mac, moose, and jj together. Frank is a better coach than that to me, thats why I think there’s some tanking going on.

  • Apr 18, 201211:02 pm
    by Haan

    Reply

    There doesn’t seem to be much point in adopting a “tanking strategy” so late.  Such a strategy would need to have been consistently practised to bear much fruit.  Getting rid of Prince in favor of Daye would have been the best strategy from the outset.  If that’d be too early to count as tanking, during the season they could have cut significantly into Prince’s minutes in favor of Daye and they could have played Macklin a great deal more instead of Wallace.  True, they showed little interest in winning this game, so they “tanked” a game, but that doesn’t amount to a tanking strategy.  Unfortunately, it’s too late for such tactics to result in more than a tick of a move down (as Frank no doubt knows).

  • Apr 19, 201212:51 am
    by Pistons87

    Reply

    The strategy is not tanking. They have been eliminated from the playoffs and there are 5 games left. Now is the time to “experiment” with your younger players and vets who’ve been out of the rotation. I’m sure Frank expects whoever is on the court to bring it. Although I really hope they activate Ben for his final game at home so he can start and get a standing O.

  • Apr 19, 201212:54 am
    by Pistons87

    Reply

    BTW. Playoff teams that have locked up ther seeding typically do the same thing with a few games left. Your either fighting for the playoff
    Spot right now or giving your bench guys extra run. It that’s time of year.

  • Apr 19, 20122:52 am
    by Reaction

    Reply

    If they were planning on tanking… they shouldn’t have won last night which put them 3 teams up =/

  • Apr 19, 20128:23 am
    by France

    Reply

    I’m so disappointed, now we’re projected as the 9th pick. It sucks, really. We didn’t tank, here’s the resultat : no Playoffs (far, far away from them) and we’ll have the 9th pick.
     
    Same sh** since 2010…

  • Apr 19, 20129:33 am
    by moe

    Reply

    kyle needs to get here, this shows how weak we are at sf when tay is out, aside from jj theres not much there, although he should have been playing the 3 since he first got to the league.

  • Apr 19, 20124:51 pm
    by 2Tough

    Reply

    I don’t see how this has been Stuckey’s best season.  Let’s take a look at his rankings compared to the rest of his career
    PPG: 3rd
    APG: 4th
    RPG: 4th
    FG% 3rd
    FT%: 2nd
    3PT: 1st
    FTA: 1st
    PER: 1st (One 10th of a percentage point higher than last year, hardly a big improvement)
    TS%: 1st
    Win shares: 2nd
     
    He’s really actually been the same exact player he was last year.

    • Apr 19, 20124:55 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Up to around about the all-star break, he was pretty poor. It is believed he was playing through some sort of nagging injury, but who knows. Since then, Stuckey has been very good. Also, difficult as it is to measure, Stuckey appears to have increased his chemistry/leadership, I think. I’m not a big fan of the terms because they are too ill-defined. But that is the general consensus. Most importantly, his FTA/FGA rate has soared. And that is the most valuable part of his game.

  • Apr 19, 20125:07 pm
    by 2Tough

    Reply

    You are correct about that, but Stuckey’s level of play has returned to a similarly poor state in April.

    • Apr 19, 20127:47 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      So the question then is whether he is suffering from an injury or if something else is holding him back. Pistons fans can certainly hope for the former, because then it si just a matter of him getting healthy to get him to return to a high level of play.

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