↓ Login/Logout ↓
Schedule/Results
↓ Roster ↓
Salaries
↓ Archives ↓
↓ About ↓

Archive → May, 2012

Joe Dumars almost had it

This is not about revisionism. It’s not about defending or attacking previous moves with the benefit of hindsight. It’s not about offering some concrete opinion on whether a certain polarizing general manager should or should not keep his job. Those conversations are all pretty boring to me at this point. This is simply an admission that, prior to the 2008-09 season, the Pistons could’ve realistically compared to the San Antonio Spurs. The moves they made after that season started, however, have made that comparison an irrelevant one.

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News wrote this column contrasting the Pistons’ fall with San Antonio’s recent Renaissance. This passage, in particular, stood out to me:

Skill-wise, the players the Pistons acquired in 2009 (Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Austin Daye) aren’t dissimilar from what the Spurs have: shooters that can spread the floor and score in bunches.

But for whatever reason, it hasn’t worked in Detroit, and San Antonio no longer is the grind-it-out team that won the 2005 slugfest.

Goodwill glosses over some very specific reasons it hasn’t worked in Detroit — notably, that while Gordon and Villanueva occupy a huge chunk of Detroit’s salary cap, the Spurs have found floor spacers basically on the scrap heap. Guys like Matt Bonner, Danny Green and Gary Neal do the things that Gordon, Villanueva and Daye are supposed to do for a miniscule fraction of the cost, allowing the Spurs to spend money elsewhere. They also do it better, because unlike the aforementioned Pistons trio, those three on the Spurs actually do play defense. San Antonio might not be the ‘grind-it-out’ team they once were, but make no mistake, the Spurs are still a first-rate defensive unit. Cost is still the most important issue — a skill like ‘floor spacing’ is only a valuable one if you recognize it’s a commodity you can get at a discount rate. The Spurs recognize this. The Pistons didn’t.

I get why there are comparisons between Detroit and San Antonio and, to a lesser extent, Detroit and Boston. Those teams most closely resemble what the Pistons at the peak in the 2000s were — tough, stubborn, prideful, veteran, selfless teams that move the ball, play defense and sacrifice individual accolades to win games. And, Goodwill is right in a way, there is a comparison to be made between the Pistons and those teams. But it’s not comparing the moves of 2009 to what the Spurs have done and essentially throwing up your hands and saying, ‘Welp, the Pistons tried to reinvent themselves like the Spurs did, it just hasn’t worked out for a myriad of reasons.’

The truth is, the Pistons were very, very close to having what the Spurs or Celtics have now, and it has nothing to do with the ridiculously atrocious signings of 2009 or the poor decision to draft Daye backfiring. Basically, every move from that offseason on is irrelevant to the point I’m making here. The Pistons could be a pesky, competitive playoff team right now, led by a core group of tough-minded albeit declining vets who understand how to win in the playoffs and are supplemented by energetic, talented young players taking on major roles.

How Boston and San Antonio are doing it

The steps are fairly simple:

1. They identified their key core players — their ‘big threes’ — and have stayed blindly loyal to those players. They’ve re-signed them despite the fact that they’re expensive and aging. They’ve resisted the urge to trade them for younger players. These teams know that their star players will not last forever, but they also know that it makes little sense to blow up a team that is still capable of contending. From a financial standpoint, if you have a team that can advance a round or two into the playoffs, it would be very hard to turn your nose up at that extra income even if you know that the team may not be able to win a championship.That might actually be the situation Boston is in — I think it’s pretty clear Danny Ainge knows this team is good but probably not good enough to win a championship, which is why he seemingly got close a few times to dealing some of his key guys. I also suspect he ultimately resisted doing so because he realizes how hard it is to get back to the point the Celtics are at now, let alone getting back to being title contenders.

If these teams had made the decision to blow their rosters up, get younger, etc., they would know they were sentencing themselves to a fate of missing out on that playoff revenue with no guarantee they’d return to contention any time soon. The Spurs and Celtics seem to understand that it makes good financial sense to ride this out with their core guys as long as possible while filling out the roster with role players who help enhance the things their veterans can still do.

2. They’ve successfully infused young talent into the lineup. With the Celtics, Rajon Rondo has developed into their best player. They legitimately have a ‘big four’ (or still a ‘big three’ if you want to argue that Ray Allen is in too much of a complimentary role now to be a ‘big’ anything). But Rondo is not the only young player contributing. Avery Bradley emerged as one of the top defensive guards in the league this season. Greg Stiemsma has given energy and shot-blocking off the bench. They have two rookies — JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore — who, after sitting a lot this year, could follow a similar path as Bradley and earn rotation minutes next year as Bradley did this year.

The Spurs have been even more successful in this respect. Like the Celtics, they have a slightly younger core player in Tony Parker who, like Rondo, has emerged as legitimately his team’s best player after spending his earlier years as more of a complimentary piece. They’ve also done extremely well finding young talent in the draft. They turned George Hill, another solid find for them a couple seasons ago, into Kawhi Leonard, the type of versatile, athletic perimeter defender they’ve sorely lacked. They found efficient shooters and defenders like Danny Green and Gary Neal for next to nothing. They constantly experiment with their D-League affiliate, always bringing in players for auditions to try and find role players who fit and are cost effective. Not every draft pick they’ve made has worked out. Not every D-Leaguer they bring up can play in the league. But they are constantly evaluating those spots on their roster, they maintain flexibility by not handing out many onerous long-term contracts to non-core players and it allows them opportunities to mix and match to find the right fit. They’ve had great success with that strategy.

3. Stability. Both teams have coaches who are respected in the locker room, and most importantly, whose star players buy into what the coaches want and police the locker room themselves. There’s a hierarchy in place, so when you bring in young players, they immediately know the work that will be required to get on the court and contribute. Like any veteran players, I’m sure Boston’s and San Antonio’s guys don’t like ceding minutes, but they also have an understanding that the ultimate goal is a deep playoff run, that rest is good and that helping develop young players who can contribute will ultimately lead to more postseason success. Minutes aren’t just given to young players, and they shouldn’t be. But when players like Bradley or Leonard or Hill or Stiemsma or Neal or Green legitimately prove they belong, the coaches are not afraid to play them and the veterans do not complain about losing minutes to them because they understand the bigger picture.

That stability is also important in that it allows those teams to bring in talented players who have been problematic elsewhere. When the Spurs traded for Stephen Jackson, he understood the expectations and there’s been nary a peep from him, other than him expressing how much he loves coming off the bench for the Spurs, since he arrived. Same with Boris Diaw, whose coach in Charlotte complained about him throughout the season until he was released. In San Antonio, he clearly understands his role and he plays it well.

Stability, consistency and trust are all important elements in those two locker rooms. I’m sure neither team is free of drama (especially Boston), and they shouldn’t be. But the point is, the coaches communicate, the front offices don’t undermine the coaches, the players understand what is being asked of them and, even in the instances where they want a bigger role, they still go out and do what they’re asked.

How the Pistons almost did it

The Pistons were so close to having this, so close that it’s almost painful to think about. But let’s do it anyway and see where they missed the mark on each of these categories:

1. They had a core, they just misidentified it. The Pistons had a ‘big two’ — Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups. The ‘third’ in their ‘big three’ is up for debate — it could be any of the Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince or Rip Hamilton group. All five guys were important. Wallace and Billups were the most vital, though, and they were the ones who were most easily cast aside for some reason. Wallace was the team’s identity, it’s heart and one of the most dominant defensive players ever. Billups was the team’s brain — I’m convinced that even though Michael Curry was pretty much a boob as a head coach, that 2008 team could’ve made another playoff run essentially being coached by Billups on the floor, had they not traded him.

But anyway, the Pistons decided to let a disgruntled Wallace go in free agency rather than give in to his salary demands and — gasp! — his desire to have the team more committed to the defensive intensity it played with under Brown. Later, the Pistons traded Billups for cap space. That’s the opposite of how Boston and San Antonio have handled their core players. In fact, Garnett, Pierce and Duncan in particular are probably wildly overpaid  if you are looking solely at what they produce at this point in their careers vs. the huge amounts of money each guy makes. But those guys are important to their respective teams for more than just what they do on the court. San Antonio and Boston know that if they let any of them go or made them mad with low-ball contract offers, they’d essentially be risking the delicate locker room and on-court balance they’ve developed over the years — their franchise face would suddenly either be gone or unhappy. The Pistons risked their locker room dynamic by low-balling Wallace and by trading Billups, and as we’ve seen over the years since, those risks did not pay off as the Pistons locker room devolved into one of the most toxic last season. The bottom line is they did not stay loyal to their two most vital cornerstones, and it helped breed a culture of mistrust between some remaining players and the organization.

2. They’ve successfully identified young talent, but failed miserably at infusing it into the lineup. As I said above, this is not about being a revisionist. But if they take a redo on the Billups trade and letting Wallace go in free agency, the Pistons very well could have a lineup that includes a still competent Billups (pre-injury) starting at point guard with Arron Afflalo and Rodney Stuckey as the young, supplementary guards, with one or both of those guys kicking down the door for full-time starting jobs by now. They would still have Jonas Jerebko (the pick used on Jerebko was acquired in the Carlos Delfino trade to Toronto) and they could also have Amir Johnson — imagine the energy that duo would provide off the bench — with Wallace in the occasionally still dynamic the elder statesman role he played last season as their reserve bigs. They probably still have Prince and maybe even Hamilton in the mix. Neither guy is in his prime, but both are still occasionally effective, especially in the right role. There are holes to fill — a replacement big for Rasheed Wallace and a versatile small forward would be nice — but assuming those eight guys are on the roster, I think the Pistons likely would’ve made a shrewd draft pick or two and acquired at least one other decent player via free agency or trade since, and those things would’ve made them at the very least a team capable of getting to the second round.

Now, it’s important to note that keeping Wallace and Billups would’ve been expensive. Considering the Davidson family’s ‘no luxury tax’ policy, it would’ve meant that someone from the Rasheed Wallace-Prince-Hamilton group may have had to go for cost reasons earlier than anticipated, simply because the Pistons wouldn’t have been able to afford a starting five as expensive as those five all got. But, from an identity perspective, I think it was most important that the Pistons kept Billups and Wallace as cornerstone players while they were up to it and then, later, in the transitional veteran roles that Hamilton and Prince were miscast in in 2009.

Is that team a title contender? Definitely not. And I’m thoroughly happy the team has Greg Monroe, who might be worth all of the losing the last few seasons. But the point is, the Pistons were forced to rebuild themselves because they failed spectacularly at developing the immense young talent on their roster. If they’d done a better job, as the Spurs and Celtics have, at integrating young players into key roles in their lineup, they would’ve had deeper benches in the playoffs, they would’ve been able to rest starters more in the regular season and they would’ve had assets who would give them flexibility to improve the roster through trades. The frustrating element in this is, like the Spurs, Detroit has an exemplary track record when it comes to finding value with late first round and second round picks. But for a five-year period or so, they were a complete failure at young player development.

3. They allowed their locker room culture to crumble due to instability. The Pistons, at one time, employed someone who is now arguably a top three coach in the league in Rick Carlisle. They fired him after two years. They also fired Larry Brown, a Hall of Fame coach, after two years. They allowed an overmatched coach, Flip Saunders, to stay on the job too long even when it was clear he wasn’t respected in the locker room. Then, they compounded the issue by replacing Saunders with an even more overmatched coach in Michael Curry. Then they compounded it again by replacing Curry with the most overmatched head coach of them all, John Kuester.

Who knows if Dumars would’ve kept Carlisle or Brown longer if it was solely his call. There’s good evidence that Bill Davidson hated both of those guys. The fact that Dumars sat with Carlisle at the press conference announcing Carlisle’s firing leads me to believe that they at the very least had a good working relationship. I have no idea if Dumars wanted it to continue, and I highly doubt Dumars would make the tacky move of saying those decisions were all the fault of a dead man who can’t rebut the claims, so we’ll probably never know truly whether or not Dumars wanted to ditch either of those coaches.

As far as Saunders, he wasn’t the worst hire they could make. He had a good relationship with Billups from Minnesota and he was the biggest name on the market at the time. He was a great regular season coach, struggled making adjustments in the playoffs and several on the team seemed to tune him out. It happens. He just got one year too long on the job. The final two hires were clearly miscalculations that Dumars has to own all by himself.

Anyway, the locker room culture was impacted both by the hiring of coaches that the players didn’t believe in or respect, by the fact that, often, the front office enabled players who were undermining or disrespecting the coach (cough * Rasheed Wallace * cough) and by the fact that the remaining veterans post-Billups trade, particularly Hamilton, were increasingly resentful towards and distrustful of the organization because of the perceived lack of respect shown for Billups. Those types of things just simply never, ever happen in San Antonio.

Does it matter?

Not at all. The Pistons are on a different path now, so it’s irrelevant really to look at ways they’ve diverged from San Antonio since the days the two teams were routinely compared as the league’s model organizations in the mid-2000s. It has been too long since the Pistons have had any success, it has been too long since Billups has been traded, to rightfully compare those organizations anymore. The organizations just don’t have anything in common. Maybe San Antonio will fall off similarly to how the Pistons have at some point, though I have my doubts as long as the people running that organization remain in place.

The point to all of this is simply to say that the moves the Pistons made after trading Billups are irrelevant to the discussion. They would have something similar to what San Antonio has now (though probably not as good as this version of the Spurs, a team that is really, really good and fun to watch if you’re not watching the playoffs) if they hadn’t made the Billups trade, if they hadn’t splurged wildly in that 2009 offseason. The moment they traded Billups for cap space they were committing to a very different organizational philosophy than the one embraced by San Antonio. Here is the conclusion from Goodwill’s column:

The bottom line is this: Unless all three facets of an organization are in lockstep, maintaining a run as impressive as what the Spurs are on, is nearly impossible.

I agree with this. The Pistons were one of very few franchises in a position to have that kind of stability. Unfortunately, although some things that have happened in the last few years were beyond the control of the front office, the team has also willingly made a lot of bad decisions that prevented them from maintaining any kind of stable environment.

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Perry Jones III

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-11, 235 pounds, sophomore forward from Baylor
  • Key Stats: 14.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 30 percent from three
  • Projected: Top 10
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

I profiled Jones last year before he decided to stay in the draft, and the book on him is basically the same: superstar upside with serious questions about how hard he will push himself to be a franchise player.

If you lined all of the prospects in this years draft up and evaluated solely on who was tallest, could run the fastest, jump the highest, dribble through cones the quickest … Jones might be the No. 1 pick. But for two seasons at Baylor, he’s seemingly been content with being pretty good, not fully tapping into the immense physical gifts he possesses.

In all honesty, he’s the prototypical recent Joe Dumars draftee (other than Greg Monroe) — position-less, possessing fantastic measurables, but ultimately meriting lottery consideration based more on what he could accomplish some day as opposed to what he has accomplished to this point as a college player.

Pros for the Pistons

Jones does some things that would immediately help the Pistons. He runs the floor beautifully. He finishes well. He has good hands. He can move without the ball. All of those things fit very well with the other young players perceived as Detroit’s current building blocks. Guards Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight are both much, much better passers in a faster tempo than they are in the halfcourt, so having a player who can run with them and finish would be a nice advantage for both. Greg Monroe is adept at finding cutters who hang around the basket, and it’s easy to see Jones on the receiving end of precise Monroe passes from the high post.

If he can improve his perimeter game enough to be a full-time small forward in the NBA, Jones would be the heir apparent to Tayshaun Prince. It’s unlikely that he’d enter the league as ready to contribute as Monroe was or mentally tough enough to work through mistakes and still stay confident in big minutes like Knight was, but Jones’ presence could possibly give the Pistons enough incentive to start gradually minimizing the ample role Prince has played the last few seasons. That would benefit both the Pistons and Prince.

Cons for the Pistons

There are several noticeable things Jones doesn’t do just yet. His 3-point shooting improved this season, but it’s still a pretty poor 30 percent. The Pistons really need to add another floor-spacer to create driving lanes for Knight and Stuckey.

Jones’ overall field goal percentage also dropped, he got to the line less and he blocked fewer shots on a per-minute basis as a sophomore too. Some of this could be attributable to the fact that Jones, a likely lottery pick last year had he declared, may have been preoccupied with his future rather than his present. It frequently happens with big-time NBA prospects in college.

If Jones is a small forward in the NBA, then he’ll be a very good rebounder for his position. If his offensive skills don’t develop enough to play that position, there will be questions about whether he’s strong enough to play the four full-time.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Perry Jones is both an elite athlete and has a great face-up game that wasn’t always used well at Baylor.”If he comes in and really starts hitting shots, he could go very, very high,” one GM said. “As a power forward, I think he’s going to be a disappointment in the league. But if he could be a Paul George-type player? He could be special. George was accused of being laid-back in college, too. It’s why he slipped to No. 10. Now you see the way the Pacers use him and you think the sky is the limit for him.”

DraftExpress:

One thing that no one ever questions is Perry Jones‘ talent. Just how rare and unique a player he is becomes immediately evident the moment you start watching him. He has a tremendous combination of size, athleticism and skills, making him appear to be capable of doing anything he wants on the basketball court. He shows terrific footwork inside the paint, has 3-point range on his jumper, can handle the ball fluidly from coast to coast, and is a breathtaking finisher around the basket.

NBADraft.net:

A super athletic forward with an enormous upside … His explosiveness and physical package put him in a very rare group of players even at the top level … Possesses the versatility to play inside and on the perimeter … He is extremely fast, using his long and powerful strides to cover great distance in a very short time … A very natural and smooth athlete, he is able to change direction and get off the ground (even on 2nd and 3rd jumps) with ease … Has the ability and confidence to handle the ball in the open court and is willing to push it out in transition once he gets it off the glass … Shows an intriguing repertoire of moves off the dribble (going to both hands), add to that his extremely long and fairly quick first step and it makes for a very difficult weapon to match up with off the bounce … He has a knack for moving without the ball; he makes good cuts going to the basket and knows how to find the openings off drive & dish or pick & roll situations … His ability to catch difficult passes in traffic also makes him a good passing target inside … Once his catches the ball close to the hoop, he is an extremely efficient finisher, because he knows how to utilize his length and leaping ability … He is able to do some damage on the low block because of his reach and athleticism, but he is most effective when facing up, because he can use his quickness to get by opposing bigs … He is a decent rebounder, and when he makes up his mind to go get the ball, he becomes a threat on both ends of the floor … Has the potential to become an impact player on the defensive end, where his wingspan could wreak havoc in the passing lanes and in the blocked shots department.

ESPN:

Basketball isn’t always easy when you’re tagged as a one-and-done player before puberty.

“My heart goes out to him,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “He gets judged on his potential instead of where he is now. If he wanted to be judged like an NBA player, he’d be in the NBA.”

Instead, at least for a few more months, Jones remains in Waco. The 20-year-old cartoon fanatic who loves to play paintball returned for his sophomore season because he realized he lacked maturity. Before turning pro, Jones said he “wanted to become a man.”

What is the best thing Perry Jones III does for his team?

Evan Jacoby (follow him on Twitter) is the lead NBA Draft analyst for Rush The Court:

A polarizing prospect, PJIII has undeniable talent and displayed an ability to do any and every thing on the floor at Baylor, albeit with underwhelming overall productivity. His handle, touch, and leaping ability for a player his size (6’11”, 220 lbs) is as rare a combination as you’ll find in the NBA, which makes him such an intriguing prospect. Perhaps most impressive is his ability to face up on the perimeter, where he can easily blow by bigger forwards but keeps defenses honest with a confident mid-range jumper. Against smaller defenders, he can feast inside with good footwork and finishing ability. If Jones ever figures out how to use his body and be more efficient with his opportunities, he has All-Star upside.

Previously

I think fans will approve of Austin Daye’s latest workout partner choice

Say what you will about Austin Daye‘s disappointing on-court performance since he became a Piston, the man knows how to win the offseason. After spending last summer working with Kevin Durant, check out this tweet Daye sent earlier today:

Just had a crazy lift wit @claymatthews52 that dudes inhuman in the weight room SMH

Matthews, if you don’t follow the NFL, is the beastly linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. Matthews later replied to Daye:

Same time tomorrow.

OK, so the working with Durant thing didn’t translate to a good season for Daye. But I don’t think anyone would object to Daye routinely lifting weights with this dude.

Brandon Knight to represent Pistons at NBA lottery

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

@BrandonKnight12 will represent ?#Pistons?at draft lottery next week. @MooseGM10did it last season.

I hope Brandon Knight enjoys his trip more than Greg Monroe did last year.

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: John Jenkins

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, junior guard from Vanderbilt
  • Key Stats: 19.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists per game while shooting 47 percent from the field and 43 percent from three
  • Projected: Late first/early second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

Two guards who are elite shooters (Jenkins is among best pure shooters in the draft) typically rise in the draft rather than fall. Klay Thompson, for example, started off projected in the late first round territory where Jenkins currently is listed in most mocks and by the time the draft rolled around, he’d risen all the way into the lottery. If I had to guess with Jenkins, I’d assume he’ll go higher than currently projected (although I don’t think he’ll rise like Thompson did — Thompson is a much bigger guard than Jenkins). But still, if he manages to hang around until early in the second round, he’s a great fit for the Pistons.

Pros for the Pistons

The Pistons have several skills they could use in their backcourt — passing, the ability to take care of the ball, shooting and size. Jenkins brings two of those things. He’d possibly be the best shooter on Detroit’s roster the moment he joined the team. He’s shot above 40 percent from three his entire college career and the Pistons desperately need a long range threat or two.

Secondly, at 6-foot-4/215 pounds, he’s not a gigantic guard by any stretch, but he’s certainly bigger than Detroit’s other backup options under contract for next season — Will Bynum and Ben Gordon. Jenkins is big enough and defends decently enough to be an upgrade over either of the current backups against bigger guards on second units.

Cons for the Pistons

With Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight as the two primary guards, the Pistons probably crave having a more traditional, pass-first point guard who can also knock down open threes as a backup. Unfortunately, they’re unlikely to get a player with both of those skills in the second round (unless they end up with Scott Machado). Jenkins’ shooting would certainly be welcome, but he’s also not a player who could give minutes at the backup PG spot. Lawrence Frank seems to like using a three-guard rotation rather than a four-guard rotation, at least based on last season, so the Pistons might be looking for a guard who can give minutes at either spot if they are indeed looking for upgrades in their backcourt backups (and they should be).

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

  • Big-time shooter with deep range on his jumper
  • Super quick release on his jumper

DraftExpress:

Looking forward, Jenkins is an interesting prospect due to his one extremely potent skill, but his success will largely be dependent on where he’s drafted due to his obvious limitations. Because he appears to be a truly elite shooter and has the intangible qualities well suited to his likely role, he should have a good chance of carving himself out a niche in the NBA, but how well he does will be very tied to the offensive scheme he plays in and how he’s utilized by his coach. Maximizing his defensive and athletic abilities should be his biggest priority in pre-draft and beyond, as he likely largely is what he is from an offensive standpoint.

USA Today:

His coach, Kevin Stallings, believes there’s more to it than that.

“His shooting skills speak for themselves,” Stallings said. “You don’t have to discuss those too much and haven’t had to discuss them much since he arrived on campus.

“But his defense has just gotten so much better. He’s now a quality defender that we can rely on and actually really depend on, and that’s a big change from his first two years. His ball-handling and passing have gotten better also.”

What is the best thing John Jenkins does for his team?

Christian D’Andrea (follow him on Twitter) writes for Anchor of Gold, SB Nation’s Vanderbilt blog:

John Jenkins may not be an elite athlete, but he’s got one elite skill that should make him a valued commodity in the NBA for years to come – a deadly accurate long-range shot. Jenkins came to Vanderbilt as the best shooter in his high school class and immediately lived up to those expectations. He cracked Kevin Stallings’s starting lineup as a freshman and proved that he can be a deadly scorer against the SEC’s elite defenses.

Jenkins may be a bit undersized for a pro shooting guard at 6’4″, 220 lbs, but his size hasn’t hampered his offense at all. His ultra-quick release helps him get off shots before defenders can close in on him, so getting his shot off was never a problem in the NCAA. He became a specialist at drawing fouls in the act of a three-point shot, attesting to his quickness with the ball in his hands.

However, the rest of his game lags behind his shooting skill. Jenkins improved throughout his time in Nashville but he’s just an average athlete. His passing and ballhandling aren’t impressive. He showed off an improved ability to get to the rim as a junior, but the legit bigs of the NBA would eat him up on many of his drives. He also has the stigma of being a below average defender. That’s no longer true after last season and his opportunity to work with Matt Painter and the U-21 Team USA squad, but he’ll never be a stopper at the position.

With Jenkins, you’re getting an elite shooter who will be able to contribute at the next level. His defense is underrated right now, and he’s got the work ethic to become a solid one-on-one defender and a potential asset when it comes to team defense. His offense will be driven by his jump shooting, but he’s proven that his ability behind the arc is strong enough to be a consistent scoring threat.

Previously

Greg Monroe’s USA Select Team snubs angers Pistons front office, but not me

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

There was genuine anger in the Pistons front office this week when USA Basketball released the roster for the USA Select Team that will help the Olympic team prepare for the Summer Games in London.

USA basketball spokesman Craig Miller said Wednesday that Monroe’s absence is not a slight — it’s just that USA Basketball director Jerry Colangelo and Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski were specifically looking for certain skill sets geared toward the international style of play.

"Of course Monroe was considered," Miller told the Free Press. "We are very aware that Greg had an excellent season. The selections were based more on what the coaching staff felt would help the team prepare better."

I certainly don’t mind the passion from the Pistons front office. I actually welcome it.

But, in this case, I can’t match it. I find Miller’s explanation completely believable and reasonable.

Greg Monroe is probably better than the bigs chosen ahead of him. But his all-around game that lacks only positional defense might not be suited to developing the national team – which is the primary responsibility responsibility of the select team.

DeMarcus Cousins is more explosive. Derrick Favors is more athletic. DeJuan Blair is stronger. Taj Gibson defends better. Ryan Anderson shoots better. Mike Krzyzewski can use those players in specific roles more so than he could Monroe.

It’s like when a team uses a scout-team cornerback to imitate an opponent’s running quarterback. That doesn’t mean the cornerback is a better quarterback than the third-string quarterback. The cornerback just brings a look necessary to prepare for a specific foe.

It would have been nice for Monroe to make the select team, especially because that would help put him on the path to the national team. But Monroe has already proven he deserves consideration.

USA basketball can watch hours of Monroe via Synergy and other similar tools. At this point, there should be no serious questions about Monroe’s attitude and work-ethic. There’s little need to see him up close, like there might be for someone like Cousins.

As long as USA basketball doesn’t have Monroe behind these other players on the national-team list – and there’s no indication it does – I’m fine with Monroe being left off the select team.

Austin Daye named Drew League Player of the Week

Drew League (hat tip: @MR_KJS):

PLAYER OF THE WEEK FOR WEEK 1Austin Daye (Detroit Pistons, Athlete’s Renissance) -  28 Pts, 11 Rbs, 5 Asts, 2 Blks, 2 Stls

This probably isn’t the stiffest competition for an NBA player – though, James Harden and DeMar DeRozan played during the last non-lockout offseason – but I don’t really care. Daye, more than anything, needs confidence. He could win MVP of the Mott Community College day camp (ages 6-15), and that would serve him well.

Ben Wallace somehow manages to get in and out of this thing

Evan Dunlap of SB Nation tweeted the following message and above picture:

Biggest news today, obviously, is that Ben Wallace drives this… thing. (Yes, this is really his car). http://twitpic.com/9notjw

Where might one find this vehicle, you might be asking? Well, here you go.

Hat tip, John Krolik of Pro Basketball Talk

SB Nation’s Tom Ziller revisits the 2007 NBA Draft

Tom Ziller of SB Nation is doing a cool series, looking back at the past five drafts and re-assigning grades with the benefit of hindsight. The Pistons’ 2007 draft was actually pretty good. Except for … well … you know:

DETROIT PISTONS
Rodney Stuckey (15), Arron Afflalo (27), Sammy Meija (57)
Grade: A-

The Pistons picked up two great value picks in Stuckey and Afflalo; unfortunately, Detroit traded Afflalo to Denver in a senseless swap in 2011. (Vernon Macklin!) In a bad draft, Joe Dumars found two starters outside of the lottery. That’s worth applause.

That one hurts. But still, it’s a fun post to look back on. Unless, of course, you are a Portland Trailblazers fan. In that case, sorry.

Kobe Bryant not ‘disappearing forever,’ like the team that reappeared from ‘the shadows’ to beat him in 2004

Via the Huffington Post, Kobe Bryant had this to say after his Lakers were lackadaisically bounced from the playoffs by Oklahoma City:

“I’m not fading into the shadows if that’s what you’re asking,” Bryant said. “I’m not going anywhere. We’re not going anywhere. It’s not like one of those things where the Bulls beat the Pistons and the Pistons disappear forever. I’m not going for that shit.”