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Archive → July, 2012

Former Piston fan favorite Walter Herrmann possibly retiring?

Walter Herrmann spent a season and a half as an energetic, end-of-the-bench guy with flowing locks and gigantic hands for the Detroit Pistons before returning to professional leagues overseas. Now, apparently, via Mark Deeks of Sham Sports, Herrmann might be retiring, at least temporarily. Here’s the Spanish language version of the announcement if there are any readers fluent in Spanish who want to take a stab at what it says in the comments. For now, here’s the Google Translate version:

After his great experience captaining the Argentina tour in Angola, Walter Herrmann had no shortage of offers to return to active practice of basketball, but Argentine forward finally decided to continue his life in his home town of Venado Tuerto and hanging boots.

“For now it will not play. We wait until the day we asked, which I was on 12 June, and I said no,” said his agent Claudio Villanueva told to All Network “I’m not trying to pressure you or anything . Yes was the promoter for the tour to play Angola. And I did so in case you do not play more basketball, has been removed from playing for Argentina. If tomorrow you do so, is quite apt. must be respected their time ”

Walter Herrmann had offers from Atenas de Córdoba, his last team in the National League before leaving Argentina to play in Europe with Fuenlabrada, Unicaja and Caja and the NBA Charlotte Bobcats and Detroit Pistons.

Not surprisingly, Pistons have not paid much luxury tax

Mark Deeks of the great Sham Sports (the best site out there for accurate and detailed salary info) recently put together a spreadsheet looking at the luxury tax by team. Here’s his explanation:

I have compiled a spreadsheet containing to-the-dollar information on all luxury tax paid to date. In the 11 seasons since the luxury tax was created, it has been applicable in nine seasons; in those nine seasons, 23 NBA franchises have paid over $850 million in payroll excess.

Although the Pistons are not one of the seven franchises who have never paid any luxury tax, their total — $756,627 — is the lowest of the 23 teams that have paid tax during that period, just edging out the Houston Rockets ($757,145). That’s not altogether surprising — many of Joe Dumars’ moves over the years have been made to keep costs low and avoid paying the tax. What is impressive, though, is comparing what the Pistons paid during that stretch to what other title contending teams have paid. To see all the numbers, follow this link and then click the ‘click to view spreadsheet’ link to open it.

‘Committed instruction’ will be good for Andre Drummond

Rob Mahoney, who writes for the New York Times and ESPN’s TrueHoop Network among other places, recently evaluated the Summer League performances of the top 10 picks from this year’s draft for the Court Vision blog. Here is Mahoney on Andre Drummond:

The term “project” has been applied frequently to Drummond, and it’s not hard to see why. The Pistons’ prospect center plays like a player still trying to understand his own body, untangling his limbs and feeling his way into best placement.

Committed instruction will do him a ton of good, and though it’s tough to more fully evaluate Drummond given that the Pistons opted to participate in the more limited (and less talented) Orlando Summer League rather than make the trip out to Las Vegas, there’s still plenty to be excited about.

We’ve practically been conditioned to expect all athletic center prospects to fail, but that doesn’t make Drummond’s potential any less tantalizing, or the idea of pairing him with Greg Monroe in a dream frontcourt any less intoxicating.

Rodney Stuckey improved play two years ago, improved approach last year

Rodney Stuckey has arguably been the Pistons’ best player, in totality, since they trade Chauncey Billups. Nevertheless, the Pistons fans have become somewhat torn on whether they like Stuckey. After all, he was supposed to replace Billups – a difficult standard for anyone to meet.

After struggling mightily the first two seasons after Billups’ departure, Stuckey has shown real improvement. Dan asked me to write about on why Stuckey was so much better last season than during the prior seasons. So, I dug deep down into the data (using MySynergySports, Basketball-Reference.com, and 82games), and I could not find strong evidence that Stuckey improved greatly last year.

What leaps Stuckey did make mostly came at the offensive side of the floor, where more than perform his tasks better, Stuckey attempted tasks that yield more points.

Inside shooting

Stuckey possesses a nice, bulky build for his height, so although his jumper was shaky, people expected him to get to the bucket frequently early in his career. One of the biggest problems fans have had with Stuckey was that he was miserable at making baskets from close range. His effective field goal percentage (eFG%) on shots taken from the inside was very low. During the 09-10 season Stuckey’s eFG% inside was only 48.5%. Moreover, to get a feeling for this figure, I chose Tyreke Evans who has often been compared to Stuckey due to their similar frame and game (big bulky frame, below-average shooter). Evans had an eFG% from the inside of 62.8%, so a whopping 14.3% better than Stuckey’s. Mind you, Evans did not have a strong season and was often criticized for not taking his game to the next level. So how have Stuckey’s numbers improved? Let’s look at the first graph:

InsideAssisted

As you can see, the blue bar represents the 2009-2010 season, orange 2010-2011, and yellow finally 2011-2012. This will stay this way throughout the post.

On the left side the eFG% of inside shots is illustrated. Stuckey’s production in this regard has risen considerably. According to 82games.com, in 09-10 he only converted the aforementioned 48.5% of his shots, while during the next season he got the mark up to 56%. Last year it dropped back 52%, but one could argue that this was caused by the coaching change and the shorter training camp.

What creates some optimism in my opinion are the bars on the right. While in 09-10 his inside shots were only assisted in 31% of the cases, this number has risen to 39% (10-11), and 38% (11-12). This is an indicator for improved team play and ball movement. Stuckey created most of his offense in 09-10 out of isolations plays, which usually end up in tough jumper or contested drives. With the improved passing and catching the ball on the move, his efficiency has gone up. If a player recognizes the situation quickly enough he can get easy buckets en masse. Kevin Durant is an absolute master at catching the ball on the move and scoring it efficiently.

Stuckey’s jump shots have also been increasingly assisted. The percentage of his assisted jump shots has gone up from 34% in ’09-’10 to 40% last season.

But that change occurred between 09-10 and 10-11. What was the big difference for Stuckey in 11-12?

3-pointers and free throws

Let’s look at his shooting numbers in general. He has gotten most of his praise for improving his shooting, do the numbers back that up? Have a look at his traditional numbers.

 Shooting

One can see that his field goal percentage went from 40.5% to 43.9% back to 42.9%. So his percentage improved slightly, but it is still far below the average of elite guards. For example Ben Gordon, who was often criticized for his lack of productivity, shot 44.2% from the field last year. Nevertheless, Stuckey’s 3-point-field goal percentage (3P%) has increased from 22.8% (09-10) to a still-below-league-average 31.7% (Detroit shot 34.6% from range as a team) last year. So the notion that he has become a better shooter is a result of his improved 3-point-shooting, which is not to be neglected.

But most of all, the Pistons need his penetration. If he can knock down open jumper, that’s great, but Detroit needs him to get to the basket. In 09-10, 64% of all his shot attempts were jump shots. In 10-11, this number had dropped 60%, so he has made an effort of driving more. He has become more aggressive driving to the basket, and he has become more adept at drawing fouls. Although he got to the foul line just 5.2 times per 36 minutes in ’09-’10, this number has increased to 6.3 (’10-’11) and peaked at 7.0 attempts per 36 minutes last season.

Once he gets to the line, his free-throws are very solid. He is a career 83.4% free-throw shooter. His best year was ’10-’11 when he converted on 86.6% of all his free-throws.

What driving more and hitting more 3-pointers usually does for you is it improves your true-shooting percentage (TS%) and your eFG%. Let’s have a look:

TrueShooting

The graph shows that his TS% has improved from 47.9% to 54.4% to 55%, while his eFG% has increased from 41.3% to 45.5% to 45.6%. The TS% has become a little better, because it puts more emphasis on free throws and 3-pointers, which have made the biggest jump in Stuckey’s game. The eFG% does not take free-throws into account, but merely adjusts for the fact that a 3-pointer is worth more than 2-pointer.

All this is meant to illustrate is that Stuckey’s scoring and shooting have improved by a lot since 2010, and he has become much more valuable to the Pistons.

Stuckey does not hoist as many bad jump shots, and his shot selection has really improved over the past two seasons. His decision-making is not off-the-charts and probably never will be, but he can be a serviceable two-guard for this young Pistons team.

Stuckey’s usage rate has gone down to 23.7%, after it peaked during the 2009-10 campaign at 26.7%. So, he is more productive than three years ago while not demanding the ball as much anymore. The emergence of Greg Monroe certainly has something to do with it

Stuckey is not a remarkably better player than during the 2010-11 season. He is merely a different player with a bit better production – a good tradeoff for the budding Pistons.

Former Piston Terry Mills helped development of Henry Ford Community College big man

Former Piston and University of Michigan and Romulus great Terry Mills has been an assistant basketball coach at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn for a couple of seasons now, and this past season, he got the chance to work with an Eastern Michigan recruit, big man James Still.

Patrick Hayes of BallinMichigan (* ahem *) recently wrote about Mills’ work with Still:

Despite the attention, he still had a standout season, averaging 15.9 points, 12.6 rebounds, 5.2 blocks and 2.3 assists per game. Still also showed off an ability to score around the basket and also step out and hit jumpers from the perimeter. Playing for Henry Ford, he also got the opportunity to work with former University of Michigan standout and NBA big man Terry Mills. Mills, also a 6-foot-10 player, worked with Still on the finer points of interior play.

“He taught me a lot about playing in the post,” Still said. “He talked to me about taking my time, not rushing shots, and worked with me on being able to use both my right and left hand.”

“Mills taught James how to think through the game at a higher level,” (Henry Ford coach Abe) Mashour said. “His (Mills’) career changed, where he went from being an inside scorer to more of a stretch four, so he was able to talk to James about both the inside and outside game and the importance of being flexible in order to succeed at different levels.

That’s a pretty cool opportunity for JUCO players — getting the chance to learn from someone who had as strong a NBA career as Mills. Also, that BallinMichigan site sounds great. You should probably subscribe to the RSS, follow on Twitter and like on Facebook if you’re so inclined.

Charlie Villanueva hosting free ‘Anti-Bullying Basketball Camp’ for kids in Detroit

From the news release:

Students from Wayne and Oakland Counties will participate in a one day basketball camp with Detroit Pistons Charlie Villanueva on Sunday, July 29, 2012 at the Cesar Chavez High School. The event will be hosted by Wish Upon a Teen and The Charlie Villanueva Foundation. This event is FREE and open to the public, PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED — ONLY FIRST 100 ENTRIES. Register online by simply filling out this form or by calling the contact information below. All TEENAGERS from the ages of 13-19 are welcomed. All participants will receive complimentary lunch.

When: Sunday, July 29, 2012 [ registration starts 9am, camp 10am-4pm ]

Where:
Cesar Chavez High School
1761 Waterman
Detroit, MI 48209

What: Anti-Bullying Basketball Camp… teaching fundamentals, confidence, and awareness.

Recommended: Athletic attire, such as sport shorts, t-shirt, and sneakers.

:::

Wish Upon a Teen is a non-profit, 501 (c) 3 organization, established in Spring of 2011, to help teenagers suffering from traumatic experiences by providing resources, time, and opportunities to teenagers recovering from life-altering traumatic experiences. Through creative and interactive social and educational events, these teens will rediscover and rebuild their self-esteem and continue the healing process towards healthy reintegration into society.

The Charlie Villanueva Foundation (CVF) is a non-profit organization, established in the United States and Canada, with three main areas of focus: supporting programs that help eliminate bullying, assisting families affected by Alopecia Areata, as well as assisting families in the poverty-stricken Dominican Republic. The CVF intends to create outlets of self-expression and growth through education, health, recreational activities and sports with an emphasis on youth.

For more information, contact Michelle Soto: (248) 792-2938 or michelle@wishuponateen.org
Also visit us on Wish Upon a Teen Foundation, visit www.wishuponateen.org

Sponsored by: Nike, Powerade, Detroit Pistons, Einstein Bros., Happy’s Pizza, Thirty-One, Valiant Public Relations, and VBLifestyle.com

Follow this link for more information or to register.

Pistons receive B grade for offseason

Chad Ford of ESPN:

Key additions: Andre Drummond (draft), Corey Maggette (trade), Vyacheslav Kravtsov (FA), Khris Middleton (draft), Kim English (draft)

Key subtractions: Ben Gordon

The Pistons finally got their big man. Whether he is the next Dwight Howard or Kwame Brown is anyone’s guess.

Drummond looks the part of an NBA superstar. He is huge and super athletic and looks like the perfect complement to Greg Monroe on the front line. He is also very raw, and the word out of Detroit already is patience. Long term, adding Drummond could be the move that puts the Pistons over the top. Or not. The talent is there, but there are legitimate questions about the heart.

The Pistons also found a taker for the remaining two years and $25 million of Gordon’s contract. Trading for Maggette was more about salary-cap relief than basketball. That trade should guarantee the Pistons significant cap room next summer to make another addition.

Overall, the Pistons moves shouldn’t have a major impact on the court this season, but the seeds are being sown for a robust harvest down the road.

GRADE: B

Ford’s ‘B’ grade sounds about right. As much as I disliked the Ben Gordon-Corey Maggette trade, nothing mattered more for the Pistons than drafting Andre Drummondan A-plus move. Add solid acquisitions like Vyacheslav Kravtsov and Kim English, and the Pistons had a positive offseason.

Detroit sports survey

Mike Florek, whom I worked with at The Michigan Daily, has put together an interesting survey for his blog, Detroit Hustle. If you’re a Detroit sports fan, you should take it. Why? I’ll let Mike explain:

(Other participating blogs: Bless You Boys, Nightmare on Helm Street, Piston Powered,Pride of Detroit, SideLion Report, Winging it in Motown. If you have a blog and want to take part in the process, there’s still time. Contact me and I’ll add your blog to the list and tell you the details.)

If you want to skip the intro, here’s the survey. It will be open for two weeks.

I’ve been over this before, but the idea to host a Detroit Sports Survey stemmed from the void Claude Lemieux left in my heart. There was no one I, and more importantly Detroit, hated more than Lemieux in the late 90s and early 2000s. Since he faded into oblivion, I’ve longed for the city to rally together and hate one person with so much vigor. The problem: I didn’t know who that person could be. So I got the idea to ask people.

That led to more things I realized wanted to know about Detroit sports and, eventually, the survey was born. Others gracious people on the internet either thought it was a good idea or felt bad for me and agreed to help. I came up with more questions, asked you guys for some more, and ended with a survey that got very specific about each Detroit team and was so long no I didn’t think anybody would finish it. When I realized this thing was actually going to happen, I began to whittle down the questions and decided that in this first attempt, if anything, I would err on the side of simplicity.

What you’re about to take is a simple, 20-question, all-sport, all-encompassing survey. The only requirement is that you are a Detroit sports fan. Use your power. Fill it out now. Let your voice be heard. Stick it to the man. Yes We Can. Flower Power. OK, I’ll stop.

Once you do your part, we (the collective blogs participating) will release the results and all your wondering about who the best players, most overrated and most hated players are will be answered.

But you have to fill it out first. It won’t take long. You’ll make a difference in the world.

If this is successful, I’ll make another run at a better survey in the future. I’ll owe to you, the innovator, who used the survey as your means of changing the world making asignificant small miniscule dent in the internet. This is your time. All you have to do is click the link.

Seriously, just take the survey. It will quench your curiosity and give you the satisfaction of knowing you were a part of starting something AT LEAST 20 times less interesting  and destructive as the Manhattan Project.

Vyacheslav Kravtsov reportedly receives two-year, $3 million contract

David Mayo of MLive:

The Pistons waved $3 million for two years at Kravtsov

That seems reasonable.

Kim English ahead of Andre Drummond in summer-league rookie rankings

Mike Prada of SB Nation ranked NBA rookies for their summer-league performance, and Kim English made the “chance to be useful” category, which ranks ahead of Andre Drummond’s “developing” category:

24. Kim English, Pistons

Didn’t get as many opportunities to showcase his game as I would have liked, but he was lights out from three-point range and did a nice job playing off his teammates. There will be some games where he makes a very small impact because his teammates don’t find him, but when they did, he generally seemed to make the right play. I don’t foresee him having too many issues adjusting to the longer three-point line.

26. Andre Drummond, Pistons

Drummond started his week in Orlando slowly, getting shoved around inside by O’Quinn in a game against the Magic, but he came on nicely by the end of the week. Given how raw he is, the types of performances he put up in games against the Thunder and Celtics were very encouraging. Drummond altered plenty of shots in the Celtics game in particular and did a really nice job holding Sullinger down. He still has a long way to go, but the Pistons have to be happy he at least showed some flashes.

That seems fair to me. I’d rather have Drummond on my team considering his massive potential, but English is the better player today.

And as expected, Khris Middleton ranked near the bottom of the list:

46. Khris Middleton, Pistons: Take away his 5-5 performance against the Celtics, and he shot 7-26 from the field and 2-11 from three-point range. Not good for someone known for his shooting.