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Pistons aren’t following NBA’s small-ball trend

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

With the influx of a more European style of play, emphasizing shooting and opening driving lanes for dynamic swingmen, the Pistons look to be purposely trending in the other direction, as Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe look to be the frontcourt for years to come.

With Monroe being an improving midrange shooter, at one point making three straight 16-footers against Orlando, Detroit can have a healthy medium and ideally cause matchup problems with its size, going against the grain.

“From a defense-first standpoint, you still want rim protection,” Frank said. “You have to make it up somewhere. It’s like in baseball, you want to be good up the middle (defensively).”

I’m beyond pleased that the Pistons aren’t falling for this small-ball trend like they fell for an offensive shift before. Though I am and always have been partial to a bigger lineup in most cases, small ball has value at times. But just because the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder have successfully used small ball, that doesn’t mean the Pistons can. Most teams don’t have LeBron James or Kevin Durant to stick at power forward. Heck, put those guys at center and their teams will still be fine.


  • Oct 18, 20123:53 pm
    by Tom Y.


    Yeah, I’m personally not buying the small-ball hype either. I think the the Pistons will be very well served by going against the grain here.

  • Oct 18, 20123:57 pm
    by frankie d


    nba trends come and go.  remember when everyone was trying to find a 6’8″ point guard after a certain michigan kid had so much success?  or all of the 3 guard rotations that were a pale imitation of zeke and vinnie and joe d?
    the only one that has maintained over the years has been chuck daly’s emphasis on defense as a means  to win titles.  after more than 2 decades, that trend is still holding steady and remains the dominant way to win nba titles.
    joe d’s silly infatuation with and pursuit of an orlando-style team with 3 point shooters and a stretch 4 like rashaard lewis led directly to the CV and BG signing debacle.
    let’s  hope he decides to ignore this latest fad and stick with what has proven to work over the years: defense and a few guys – anywhere in the line-up – who can get hot on a fairly regular basis and score points when you need them. 
    the good news is that it looks like he is slowly – excruciatingly slowly – but surely building that type of team. 

    • Oct 18, 20124:26 pm
      by tarsier


      “chuck daly’s emphasis on defense as a means  to win titles”

      That was not a Daly thing. That has been a thing forever. To win a title, a team has always needed at least a very good defense and at least a very good offense. Neither is more important than the other. And neither was some incredible concept come up with by some person. They’ve both been the most obvious things imaginable from the get go.

      • Oct 18, 20128:33 pm
        by frankie d


        not true.
        check the stats.
        daly ushered in an entirely new approach to winning.
        pre-daly and the bad boys, the best teams – the lakers, the celts, philly – were dominant offensive teams.  sure, there was the occasional team that did not fit that mold, but that team was the exception, rather than the rule.
        daly changed that dramatically.  phil jackson emulated daly’s success with the bulls teams and the league has followed suit ever since.
        daly was the most important coach of that last generation because of his impact. 

    • Oct 18, 20124:29 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      “remember when everyone was trying to find a 6’8? point guard after a certain michigan kid had so much success?”

      Yep, the Heat almost ruined Steve Smith’s career trying to make him into a PG. 

  • Oct 18, 20124:07 pm
    by Jordan


    When we play the Heat as an 8 seed and try to go big against them… its gonna be bad. Not that we could compete either way.

    • Oct 18, 20124:50 pm
      by freywagg


      If we go big (Drummond, Monroe, Jerebko, Maggette(I know he’s not a great defender, feel free to pick someone else)/English, Stuckey)
      you don’t think those guys might be able to guard and frustrate Bosh, James, Battier, Wade, Chalmers?
      This is where see what Drummond turns into as far as elite defender. The dude is uncannily quick for his size. If we could pull off Monroe on Bosh and Drummond on James, I think we’d be in a pretty unique place as far as slowing that line-up.
      Sure, I’m getting ahead of myself dreaming of Drummond being able to guard perimeter players, but physically, he’s like LeBron, one size up – way quicker and more agile than he should be at his height/weight. I’m willing to dream that he becomes a one of a kind defensive talent.

  • Oct 18, 20124:59 pm
    by Corey


    Small ball is for teams who don’t have impact centers. A team with a Howard, Bynum, or Chandler doesn’t play smallball. The rise of smallball is because of the dearth of quality centers nowadays.

    • Oct 18, 20125:48 pm
      by Scott Free


      ^ Well Said.  

    • Oct 18, 20126:48 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      I don’t know about that … Orlando played a variation of ‘small ball’ with Howard. Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis were both career small forwards and they played a lot of PF in Orlando.

      • Oct 19, 20126:31 am
        by DasMark


        But that wasn’t small ball. Lewis and Hedo are both 6’10. If anything, they went big. But, Hedo and Lewis could shoot the long ball, so it looked more like a small ball style of play. Really, they were a novelty outfit built to hide Howard’s offensive deficiencies. It wasn’t small ball at all. 

        The teams that are successful at the small ball model also happen to have top 5 league talent on their roster. LeBron James, Wade, Durant and Westbrook make up for a lack of a center.

        Also, like said above, those teams lacked an impact center. Perkins has never been the same after his knee exploded in the finals against LA. Which makes another point, people are really looking at this last season in a vacuum. Dallas won a championship with a lot of credit going to the defensive presence of Tyson Chandler. The year before, you have the Lakers with Pau Gasol and Bynum. Most championship teams have had impact centers.


  • Oct 18, 20125:36 pm
    by danny


    A lot of people utilize small ball when they are losing games.  It allows them to open the field and have more shooters.  What people do not realize is that okc and miami have bosh and ibaka.  they are able to run the floor like deers and they are able to step out to the 12-15 foot areas and hit from there.  Does that mean we need to use that style?  No.  Basically we did some small ball last year and it didnt work for us.  we are a team that grinds and plays defense lets keep it that way. 

  • Oct 18, 20126:15 pm
    by Vic


    Small ball only works if you’re playing with Michael Jordan or LeBron James. 
    Stretch fours only work if you’re playing with Dwight Howard.

    Everybody else just plays normal good old-fashioned basketball. I think that half of the success of small ball happens because of the con game of small ball. They trick people into trying to beat it by matching it. 

    Even the inventor of small ball Don Nelson, said that he only did it because he didn’t have enough good big man. He said he only did it when his team was bad.

    Anybody watching the finals last year could see that the thunder played way better when Nick Collison was in versus when Kendrick Perkins was in. You just have to have a big man that can also cover a lot of ground quickly. I think OKC would have beat Miami if they have given that Collison more of the minutes at center.

    That being said, I agree with Freywagg, I think we have the perfect lineup options to beat LeBron now. What Maggete jerebko and Drummond, I wouldn’t be surprised if we as an 8 seed gave the 1 seed all they could handle. Plus our secret Heat kryptonite Austin Daye.

    It’s all on if the coach has enough intelligence and courage to play the right players.


  • Oct 18, 20128:41 pm
    by apa8ren9


    The small ball trend is a direct result of terrible center play of the last 15 or so years in the NBA (since expansion) like Corey said.  How many bigs now have a legit post game ala Ewing or Shaq?  Its really bad because to be effective with your team you dont necessarily have to avg 20 pts.   If you are a big and can avg 12-16 legit in the Post Points.   You can field a competitive team.   It also comes down to matchups.   With Detroit at this point from a competitive standpoint your only chance is to be better in the front court where Miami is weak.   No one is better than James and no one on our roster is better than Wade, so to be competitive you have to have good players in the back court and have top 10 players in the front court.  Hopefully Monroe and Drummond will reach that level sometime in the future.

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