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An early (very early) look at how the Pistons rotation might look on opening night

I took a stab at predicting what the Detroit Pistons 10-man rotation might look like on opening night in today’s Detroit Free Press column, including making a case that whoever has the better camp between Andre Drummond and Slava Kravstov should start at center. Basically, coaches are probably more likely to play young, in-need-of-development big men early in games than late in games. So if Drummond or Kravstov starts and plays 6-10 minutes at the start of each half, that allows Lawrence Frank to play veterans, who he’s probably more comfortable with, late in games.

I looked at each position but, to me, small forward and center are going to be the most interesting positional battles:

Predicted minutes breakdown: As a veteran who rarely makes mistakes, Frank, like most coaches would be, is probably tempted to play Prince heavy minutes. At this point though, the Pistons would be best served by limiting Prince to 28-30 minutes per game. The other 18 minutes could be divided between the Maggette-Jerebko combination. Maggette’s aforementioned foul-drawing ability should get on the court, particularly with Stuckey. And Jerebko’s speed and movement without the ball compliments both Stuckey and Knight, who are better passers in transition and up-tempo situations than in the half-court, and also Monroe, who is great at finding cutters.

Out of the rotation: Kyle Singler would probably get minutes on some teams, but I’m not convinced he doesn’t do anything that Jerebko doesn’t do better. Khris Middleton, because of his position, just seems to be the most likely guy glued to the end of the bench this season. Daye has played small forward in the past, but it’s hard to see him taking minutes from Prince, Maggette or Jerebko.



  • Oct 5, 201211:09 am
    by George


    If I were Frank:
    Kravtsov or Drummond

    Inactive: Villanueva, Daye, Middleton 

  • Oct 5, 201211:17 am
    by israelipiston


    I see singler playing much more than you think – with Jonas playing the 4 off the bench
    In my opinion Maxiell will be the odd mad out in the rotation if Drummond and Slava show they can play 

    I even see Daye playing more than Maxiell 

  • Oct 5, 201211:37 am
    by Corey


    My take, thinking “out loud” as I type:  

    PG: Knight/Stuckey   No need to play Bynum except in case of injury or foul trouble. Prince can even be the de facto 3rd string point guard – opening up minutes for another small forward to play some.

    Knight 32 min/game. Stuckey 16

    SG: Stuckey/Maggette/English    The last two will vary somewhat – I think it makes sense to have Maggette replacing Stuckey in the lineup, rather than playing with him.  Stuckey needs to be on the floor with either Knight or English, so that other guard can spot up at the 3pt line for Stuckey to kick out to. Maggette and Stuckey can’t both drive with the ball at the same time, and neither is a good 3 pt shooter, so there would be no floor spacing.  But if Stuckey is out there with Knight or English, there’s someone to drive and draw fouls, and someone to space the floor. Same thing if Maggette is out there with Knight, who is a good 3 pt shooter.

    And if Stuckey and Maggette alternate, we can continuously have an aggressive, attacking, foul-drawing player at the 2. I think this is advantageous in keeping a more consistent style of play. But when it’s not working, English can come in for a different offensive look as a 3 pt bomber (or just play when Stuckey is at the point).

    Stuckey 16 min/game, Maggette 16, English 16.  Note that this would result in Stuckey playing 16 min/game at SG with Knight at PG, and 16 min at PG with English playing SG. Then Maggette playing his 16 min at SG with Knight at PG.  This assumes English is worth rotation minutes out the gate, which could be a stretch. If not, Ramp Stuck and Knight up to 36/game, Maggette up to 20, and English or someone else only has to take up 6 minutes.  The odd thing would be the starting SG Stuckey only playing 16 mins at that position, but he really is most useful as a combo guard, so use him that way.

    SF: Prince, somewhat unfortunately. And then either Singler or Jerebko or Maggette. But, I’d rather have a shooter at this spot than Maggette. Given the lack of guards, I think he plays there. So this spot has or should have 18-20 mins a night for Singler or Jerebko. It’ll probably instead be Prince for 36 a night. :(  

    Prince 30 min and Singler or Jerebko 18 minutes

    To start the season, I see the big positions this way:
    PF: Maxiel, backed up by Jerebko and/or one of Daye/CV, if Jerebko gets significant SF minutes. Jerebko will play 20 mins a game at one of the forward spots. This could go fairly close to even between Maxiel and Jerebko on minutes.

    Maxiel 22, Jerebko 20, Daye or CV 6 min
    C: Monroe for 34-35 minutes, backed up by one of Kravtsov or Drummond to start the season.

    Monroe 35, Kravtsov 13

    At some point, it will transition to:

    PF: Monroe for 35 min/game. Backed up by Jerebko, unless he’s playing a lot of SF.
    C: Kravtsov backed up by Drummond. This could possibly reverse, but probably not in the first year.

    Kravtsov 28, Drummond 20   – Although Maxiel will be in the rotation at least some, unless he gets traded by the deadline (which I consider highly likely).

    The one thing I really dispute in the article is the idea that you make the new  young center a starter, even if he won’t be in at the end of the game. It makes more sense rotationally to have the guy playing 15 minutes a game play two 7-8 minute rotations each half: the last 3 minutes of the 1st quarter, and the first 4-5 minutes of the 2nd quarter. That way the guy playing 33-35 minutes a game gets to rest in the middle of each half, rather than sit at the start and then play 17 minutes straight through. Also, this doesn’t put the young, inexperienced player up against opposing starters, but rather usually against the opponent’s backup player. 

    Wildcard: Will either of CV or Daye actually force his way into the rotation? The backup SF spot is a wildcard, and could go to Daye, or Singler, or Jerebko.  I just don’t expect anything from Middleton this year.

    • Oct 5, 20126:03 pm
      by Holy Crow


      Great post.
      I think what is missing in this discussion is the ideal of a second unit, and the reality that there are different match-ups game to game that will affect the rotation. The cheapest way to steal W’s in the L is with an effective second unit, so, when predicting rotation minutes, a major consideration is how complete can your second unit be?

  • Oct 5, 201211:46 am
    by Al


    I wonder if Maggette works out do we keep resign him next year assuming we trade Prince? They certainly seem to think he will contribute to the team’s offense right away and seems to impress they young players and staff.. Hopefully Joe pulls a trade move so we can clearly have stable rotations and not go into the start of the seasons with young players still wondering if they will see playing time!

    • Oct 5, 20121:58 pm
      by Otis


      Zero percent chance Maggette comes back. Slightly better chance (.05%?) Tayshaun is traded. I think Tayshaun is much more likely to retire a Piston than be traded this season. I think he’s here to stay because he’s the teacher’s pet. So don’t count on EVER getting anything in return for him.
      Hope all you want that Joe pulls off a move, but he doesn’t pull off moves anymore. His only “moves” have been to ditch players he never should have signed/extended in the first place and getting nothing in return for them. There are eighteen guys in the equation (fifteen guys on the roster, two camp invitees, Big Ben). Only five of them are guaranteed playing time (Knight, Stuckey, Prince, Monroe, Jerebko). Absolutely everyone else (between 10 and 13 guys, all of whom will consider themselves worthy, and all of whom bring strengths and plenty of flaws) will be left wondering if they’ll see playing time. This is the nature of the overstuffed hodgepodge of a roster Joe insists on maintaining because he’s missed every opportunity he’s had to add difference makers.

      • Oct 5, 20128:58 pm
        by Mark


        I disagree. If Maggette proves a key piece in a turnaround this year, I could easiy see the Pistons resigning him, if he will resign for cheap.

        If he helps get us to the playoffs, there will be no  1st round pick. Meaning about $3 mil in capspace open that wo8ld’ve given to that pick that we could just give to Maggette.

        I honestly don’t get the hatred a lot of fans seem to have towards Maggette like we’re a championship team and he’s just an old scrub exp contract that we could without. He avg 15ppg last year. In reality he’s probably our 3rd best scorer on this team.

        I’d like to see him used like we used Corliss in ’04, as far as dividing up minutes at SF with Tay. We were at our best when we had a veteran scoring SF to share the load with Tay. After Corliss left we were never the same team. We have that again with Maggette. I’d play Tay 28 mpg and Maggette 20 mpg. 

        Singler seems the type who you can put in at any time in any situation and be ready. So he doesn’t need a lot of minutes. More of a matchup thing or if Tay/Maggette are both struggling one night try Singler.

        Man, Frank has so many options this year across the board. Even more if they decide to keep Williams over Bynum.      

  • Oct 5, 201212:07 pm
    by oracle


    My opinion is that we won’t have a solidified rotation this year.  As with the past seasons, at least one or two people who are starters on day one will get DNP-Coaches Decisions at some point this year.  And hopefully, some people who start as DNP-Coaches Decisions will jump into the rotation.

    Examples: Daye started in 2010 and was benched.  CV has started and been benched.  Maxiell has been benched and then started.  Monroe was originally benched then started.  It’s going to take a while to figure this out, and what happens the first few weeks doesn’t really concern me.  The incumbent starter at center and the backups at all other positions won’t have those spots locked down all year. 

    • Oct 5, 20122:01 pm
      by Otis


      Amen. This is the reality we’re faced with. Too many mediocre role players, too few guys who will make a strong case for earning consistent minutes. It’s going to be an ongoing struggle until we can add better talent. We need solid NBA starters and a clear pecking order, and I don’t think Dumars has any clue or plan as to how he’s going to add them. Cross his fingers for a free agent miracle, then make excuses and act like it was a solid game plan when everyone says “hell no.”

  • Oct 5, 201212:57 pm
    by koz


    Seems everyone is convinced Middleton sucks. The guy deserves a chance to prove that theory right or wrong before he is permanently nailed to the bench.

    • Oct 5, 20121:28 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Has nothing to do with that. He’s a second round pick on a team with several veterans — Prince, Maggette, Jerebko, Daye as well as a rookie with pro experience in Singler — capable of playing his position. He might be a good prospect. I still don’t think he plays much this season because of what is in front of him.

  • Oct 5, 20121:37 pm
    by Vic


    10 man play to win Rotation
    Knight Stuck Maggette
    Prince Jerebko/Singler
    Monroe Maxiell
    Kravtsov Drummond
    Play to win, 3 point shooters added as needed.
    Bynum as injury/offense insurance.
    English is the future third guard but for now it doesn’t make sense to bench Maggette or bench Jerebko & Singler to play Maggette at 3. the young guys should be patient and learn all they can quick because we’ve got a lot of expiring positions.
    My opinion. 

    • Oct 5, 20121:41 pm
      by Vic


      I agree with Patrick, the young bigs play because we don’t have a real center, and G Monroe can blossom the brightest at PF. Other guys gotta wait, Singler and Jerebko can space the floor for now.

    • Oct 5, 20121:44 pm
      by Vic


      I think Daye and Villanueva are battling for a position on next years rotation when Max is gone.

  • Oct 5, 20122:03 pm
    by Corey


    Next year’s big man rotation should have Monroe, Kravtsov, and Drummond taking up 80-85 minutes. The only issue should be that we’re unlikely to play Kravtsov and Drummond together until one of them becomes substantially more skilled offensively.  So 48 between Kravtsov and Drummond, and 35ish for Monroe.  The rest will go to Jerebko, who will really shine when he’s always out there with a big strong athletic defensive center to keep the team from being overwhelmed under the basket.

    I really don’t see how Daye or CV fit at all in the future, except maybe as the 5th big.  Daye could theoretically still surprise and secure a spot next year, but that would shock me.

  • Oct 5, 20122:32 pm
    by israelipiston


    the draft choice we gave up is lottery protected for this year and I don’t think for next year.
    Now is the time to play the youngsters. We know what Prince and the other veterans can do. Time for new blood. We cannot build for the future with Maggette, Prince and Maxiell. They are all past their primes and more or less nice role players for any other team except Detroit and a few others.

    Now is the time to throw the youngsters into the water and let them learn to swim. 

    • Oct 5, 20129:08 pm
      by Mark


      I agree, but the young nucleus is already in place. We don’t need nor should want to be in the lottery again. Best thing is for these guys to experience the playoffs this year. If it takes a little extra PT from the vets to get them there, so be it. Even if the young guys only get 10 mpg in the playoffs, better than 0 min had they went to the lotto again.

  • Oct 5, 20122:48 pm
    by scott86free


    I could see the pistons playing Khris Middleton at the 2 more than the three at least this year

  • Oct 5, 20129:05 pm
    by Mark


    This would be my rotation

    Either Drummond or Kravtsov start, whoevers ready first. The other is backup C for now.

    Keep Daye/CV in reserve as 3 point specialist stretch 4′s when you need to stretch the defense.

    Keep Maxiell in reserve for if you are struggling against an undersized big man like a Griffin or Sullinger.  

    Singler can be a reserve perimeter defensive specialist.

    Middleton perhaps another perimeter shooter, if nec.

    Trade Bynum.            

  • Oct 6, 201211:53 am
    by Tom Y.


    Personally, I’d like to see Slava and Drummond sharing most minutes at center, but at least from the team’s website, it certainly sounds like it’s more likely that Monroe will start at center and maybe make a gradual transition to playing more minutes at PF. I’m guessing he’ll play maybe 2/3 of his minutes at center there and 1/3 at PF on a yearly average. Of course the transition could be sharper if Max is traded at the deadline.

  • Oct 6, 20121:13 pm
    by Nikolai


    I think Kyle is too good not to play right away.  So…
    Knight then Bynum/ whom ever
    Stuckey then Cory M./ Kim English
    Prince then Kyle S./ Jerebko
    Monroe then CV/ Jerebko
    Slava then Drummond/ Monroe

    Like most, I believe roles must be established to be at our best.  Also think both rookie bigs must play right away.  If they struggle from game to game, you can always put Monroe at Center with CV or JJ.  Like Jason M. but no matter how good or productive he can be, this team loses a lot of rebounds and defensive liability purely out of his height and nothing more.
    Just my thoughts.  Nice team with many options.  Not sure if we make the playoffs simply because the East got harder but should be interesting and fun.  Go Pistons.

  • Oct 6, 20122:00 pm
    by Slap Dog Hoops


    I don’t see either Drummond or Krastov getting any real signifigant minutes, much less starting.  Jonas Jerbko would be my pick to start at the PF simply because of veteran tenure on the team and him being the best option at the PF spot.  I think Singler has a chance to play big minutes and have a breakout season.  I saw him play at Duke and he showed the ability to play point forward and facilitate the offense–which is something that the Pistons need.  I can also see Detroit, as a result of that, looking to deal Tayshaun Prince away to better facilitate the development of Singler.

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