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Archive → November, 2012

Tayshaun Prince and Will Bynum: We weren’t criticizing Lawrence Frank

Tayshaun Prince and Will Bynum each recently made statements that were framed as critical of Lawrence Frank, but those might not have been fair portrayals. Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

Tayshaun Prince and Will Bynum both said their comments about Pistons coach Lawrence Frank’s substitution patterns were misinterpreted.

Prince was not available during pregame media access. However, Bynum said later in the team’s Palace locker room that the second-team point guard has to adjust to his teammates and his comments had nothing to do with Frank’s substitution patterns.

Kudos to Ellis for reporting that. It’s an awkward situation, because he, like the rest of the media, framed the statements as critical, but the public should should know Prince’s and Bynum’s responses.

There is room for players and coaches to disagree about strategy and still respect each other, and there’s even room to discuss those disagreements with the media. Players can also discuss the downsides of decisions and still agree with those decisions.

I don’t know whether any of the above was the case here or whether Prince and Bynum are simply backtracking. For now, I’ll accept that Prince and Bynum didn’t intend to criticize Frank, but if they say something else that sounds critical, it might be harder to give them the benefit of the doubt.

When it comes to rapping about the Pistons, Wale is better than The Game

Spin created the incredible list of current players named in rap songs, and the Pistons check in with two:

Tayshaun Prince: "Posted up with something long as the nigga Tayshaun / And I’m off probation, so I’m back in the kitchen…Raekwon" — The Game ("Daytona 500")

Rodney Stuckey: "I wouldn’t fuck another girl out of the club / I was Rodney Stuckey, wasn’t giving my number up" — Wale ("Goodbye")

Both should get points for creativity rather than just name-dropping – though, which established rapper would really name drop Tayshaun Prince or Rodney Stuckey? – but I’m preferential to Wale’s verse. It cuts to an issue that has sat beneath the surface for years, and it shows Wale’s acute attention to not only the NBA, but interpersonal relationships, belief in symbols and our society’s difficult grasp of fairness. The Game, on the other hand, just needed a word that rhymed with Raekwon.

George Blaha, trendsetter

At the end of his notes column on Grantland, Zach Lowe has a nice shoutout to Pistons broadcaster George Blaha:

10. “Glasser”

This is the work of George Blaha, Detroit’s play-by-play TV guy for nearly 40 years. At first it seemed like an attention grab — a needless attempt to coin some sort of basketball colloquialism when “banker” or “bank shot” would do. But damn if “glasser” hasn’t grown on me over the years, to the point where it pops into my head even when someone knocks down a bank shot in a non-Pistons game. Flashing a really nice glasser this year, by the way: Brook Lopez.

Like most Pistons fans, I’ve grown up listening to Blaha. And Lowe is right — far too often, broadcasters force words or descriptions down the throats of viewers in an effort to be clever. But what makes Blaha’s lingo stick is it always feels so genuine and just flows as a result of the emotion of the game. I’ve always been a Blaha fan, but I’ve grown to appreciate him even more in recent years as NBA TV has given everyone a chance to hear how truly awful some of the local broadcasters are. Blaha is truly a legend among his peers.

Struggling Jonas Jerebko, Will Bynum could both lose rotation spots

Charlie Villanueva used his minutes in a blowout loss to the Knicks Sunday productively, and that performance gave him another crack at the backup power forward minutes against Portland. Villanueva once again took advantage and played well.

With Jonas Jerebko struggling since early November, it looks like that backup spot is now Villanueva’s to lose, reports MLive’s David Mayo:

“We’ll continue to look, barring (mismatched) matchups, at playing Andre and Greg together,” Frank said.  “You’ve got to look early.  And then, when we have to get Greg out, we’ll sub Charlie in for Greg and keep Andre in.  This is all, again, based on performance, foul trouble, all the other variables that come into play.”

I would much prefer that those minutes Villanueva is getting go to one of the team’s young players, but if Villanueva joining the rotation means Drummond and Monroe play together more, as Frank is suggesting, that’s fine with me.

Jerebko is not the only player in danger of falling out of the rotation, however. Mayo also reported that Will Bynum could be losing backup point guard minutes to Rodney Stuckey, who played well in that role against Portland:

“Yeah, we’ll look at it,” Frank said, when asked directly if Stuckey is his backup point guard.  “Will has obviously been playing those spots but just trying to find minutes for Rodney on the floor, whether it’s at point or two, whatever we need to do, and we just kind of read the game and see who’s playing well.  And if you’re playing well, you get more minutes.  If you’re struggling, then you don’t.”

You probably won’t find a bigger Bynum fan anywhere on these internets than I am, but as Sean Corp of Detroit Bad Boys ably pointed out, dude is struggling this season.

The Pistons are at a point that any veteran player with no long-term future here losing minutes to younger players is a positive. Of course, that’s not exactly what is happening here yet — Jerebko and Bynum out of the rotation seem to be just opening up opportunities for two more veterans with no real future in Detroit, Villanueva and Maggette, to get playing time. The preference would obviously be to bench under-performing veterans in favor of guys like Kim English, Khris Middleton and Slava Kravtsov, all of whom have received scant playing time this season. But considering how hesitant Frank seemed to make changes to his rotation, I guess any change is a good change for now.

Kyle Singler blasts ahead of already increasing expectations, leads Pistons’ ball movement in win over Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers 101 Final
Recap | Box Score
108 Detroit Pistons
Jason Maxiell, PF 34 MIN | 5-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS | +7

Dunked so hard, he nearly broke Jared Jeffries’ nose, which might be the most Jason Maxiell play of all time.

Tayshaun Prince, SF 31 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 10 PTS | +11

Prince played fine overall, but I especially liked how he played. He moved the ball well and protected it – a combination few current Pistons have mastered or even shown for a single game.

Kyle Singler, SF 36 MIN | 6-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 10 REB | 5 AST | 16 PTS | +13

An all-around great game from Singler. He attempts to score only when he has good looks, and that’s why his shooting percentages are so high. Add some tremendous hustle, and Singler contributed in every phase. I don’t want to ignore his 10 rebounds, two steals or block, but his five assists – a team high on a night the Pistons had 26 as a team – really stood out. I won’t overreact to only one game, but I’m seriously rethinking my perception of Singler’s ceiling.

Greg Monroe, C 33 MIN | 8-16 FG | 4-8 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | -1

Monroe is such a special offensive center. His skillset makes him very fun to watch and very effective most nights. Monroe’s defense was slightly subpar, even handicapping for difficult-for-anyone matchup with LaMarcus Aldridge, but Monroe defended well enough to remain the A range.

Brandon Knight, PG 33 MIN | 9-17 FG | 5-5 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 26 PTS | +13

Knight looked decisive tonight, and that was all the difference with his shot. He also did a good job sticking with Damian Lillard on the other end. A 2:5 assist:turnover mark shows Knight still needs work, though.

Charlie Villanueva, PF 15 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | -2

"I don’t know if I’ve ever been madder about a player playing well than Villanueva these last two games." -Patrick Hayes

Corey Maggette, SF 16 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-1 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 PTS | -6

Even Maggette kept the ball moving! He’d had this many assist per minute in only 2.6 percent of his career games. Add bad defense and misses on all his shots and only free throw, though, and Maggette played poorly overall.

Andre Drummond, C 14 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +8

Drummond’s defense wasn’t quite to the level it was against the Knicks, but his biggest strength was still on display: his athleticism. Once again, Drummond got rebounds and blocks no other Piston can. His speed led to a nice fastbreak dunk, but his offense was a jumbled mess overall tonight.

Will Bynum, PG 5 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -7

Bynum saw an extremely reduced role as Rodney Stuckey picked up his play. A sign of things to come?

Rodney Stuckey, PG 23 MIN | 4-6 FG | 2-3 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 11 PTS | -1

In the first half, Stuckey didn’t show much, which has been the norm at all times for him lately. But he was much more engaged in the second half and made a number of quality plays. Hopefully, this is a game Stuckey can build off.

Lawrence Frank, HEAD COACH

That Jason Maxiell-Charlie Villanueva frontcourt probably wasn’t a great idea, though it lasted for only one defensive possession. Unfortunately, Portland made a 3-pointer. Frank can’t be afraid to play Drummond or Monroe with two first-half fouls. Drummond doesn’t play enough for personal foul trouble to matter, and Monroe, who finished with two fouls, doesn’t foul enough to self impose a punishment (benching your best player).

Point guard battle: Damian Lillard Vs. Brandon Knight

Essentials

  • Teams: Portland Trail Blazers (6-7) at Detroit Pistons (3-11)
  • Date: November 26, 2012
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSN

What to look for

The Portland Trail Blazers revolve their entire offense around the exploits of LaMarcus Aldridge; and it’s quite understandable why. The Texas product is a beast on the low block and has a deadly mid-range jump shot that forces opposing big men to come out and defend him on the perimeter where he just always seems to have the advantage.

Mind you, the former All-Star missed the Blazers’ last game due to back troubles and thus his status leading up to game time is uncertain.

This invariably shines the spotlight right onto Portland’s star in the making: Damian Lillard.

Although the comparison isn’t necessarily a perfect one, Lillard is slightly reminiscent of former Blazer guard Damon Stoudamire. Indeed, he plays with supreme confidence against opposing guards, puts the ball on the floor to challenge defenders and loves getting into the lane to finish at the rim or simply fire away from long-range (3-point range or long 2-point shots) either in the pick-and-roll or when he’s decided that he is going to take on his defender one-on-one.

As good as the Weber State product is though, he is somewhat predictable. When looking at his shot locations chart, one thing is abundantly clear: he has little to no mid-range game. Indeed, 87 percent of his field goal attempts are either at the rim or from long distance. It’s a testament to his skill that he’s still been able to put up 19.3 points per game this season on 46.4 percent field goal shooting despite the missing dimensions in his offensive arsenal.

Consequently, his matchup with Brandon Knight promises to be fascinating and entertaining.

Much like Lillard, Knight subscribes to the theory of almost exclusively attempting his shots at the rim as well as from long range and has quite a knack for blowing past defenders to get into the lane where he can create some good scoring chances for himself or his teammates.

If there is one area of concern for both teams tonight with their point guards, it’s their inability to command respect from the officials defensively. Because of their relative inexperience as NBA players, they tend to get whistled for fouls that established veteran players routinely get away with. This is mostly apparent when they defend guards trying to post them up.

In addition, if Aldridge is going to miss this contest, Lawrence Frank might want to borrow the Brooklyn Nets’ defensive game plan and simply trap or hedge hard whenever Lillard runs pick-and-rolls because the added defensive focus on him seems to confuse him and may even cause him to pick up his dribble as he gets indecisive about his options.

Read about the Trail Blazers

Portland Roundball Society.

Talking Pistons with Portland Roundball Society

If you’re looking for some pregame listening before tonight’s Trail Blazers-Pistons game and don’t mind listening to my cold-ravaged voice, Sean Highkin of Portland Roundball Society and Hardwood Paroxysm was kind enough to have me on his Podcast.

We talk about whether Lawrence Frank is the next Rick Carlisle, Jason Maxiell‘s career-season, Charlie Villanueva breaking out of his slump and whether Austin Daye can earn some minutes at small forward. Just kidding. It’s mostly just talking about how crazy it is that Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe can’t get minutes together. Sean is as confused as we all are.

Video: Kyle Singler gets all the buckets

Between Andre Drummond‘s dunks, Kim English‘s general awesomeness and this video above from Kyle Singler, Detroit might have the most entertaining group of rookies in the NBA.

Andre Drummond, no surprise, is among the season’s biggest surprises

Pistons fans who have had few bright spots to watch this season have obviously figured out that Andre Drummond is one of the few reasons to watch the Pistons during another awful start to the season. But just because we’ve had nothing better to do than dwell on Drummond’s impact doesn’t mean it’s still not one of the season’s biggest leaguewide surprises. From Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus (subscription required):

1. Andre Drummond, Detroit (.362 projected, .468 updated, +.106)

Naturally, rookies tend to make up most of the spots on this list, since we are less confident about our projections for them as they make the transition from the NCAA to the NBA. Drummond takes top honors on the strength of his .715 winning percentage to date. While nothing has changed in terms of our assessment of Drummond as a project, he has shown he can contribute far more than expected while developing. Coming off the bench, Drummond has been a monster as a rebounder and shot blocker while making 64.9 percent of his two-point attempts. Consider that against college opponents, Drummond shot 54.1 percent and collected just 15.6 percent of available defensive rebounds (now 21.0 percent). The next step for Drummond is maintaining something approaching that level in extended minutes and while playing alongside starter Greg Monroe.

Now if only someone would tell Lawrence Frank about that ‘next step.’

Your dose of ‘Everybody Loves Kim English,’ assistant coach edition

It has been a while since we’ve had a chance to sing the praises of lovable Pistons rookie Kim English, what with him disappearing from the rotation despite making 47 percent of his 3-point attempts and playing solid perimeter defense. Thankfully, Detroit Bad Boys writer, friend of PistonPowered and unabashed Kim English fan Sean Corp pointed me to this comment on DBB, which certainly qualifies for our ELKE series:

Hey guys, I was at the game yesterday sitting about 15 rows behind the Pistons bench. There was an awesome sequence I wanted to write about. During crunch time towards the end of the fourth quarter, there was a great play where Monroe left his man and came out to help and whoever the Raptors guard was that was being double teamed passed it to whoever Monroe left and Drummond anticipated this and accordingly rotated and had a very very huge steal that led to our win.

What’s great about this was about 1 minute before this happened, Kim English who was sitting on the floor with Charlie V, randomly got up and went to talk to the coaching staff very animatedly. My friends and I were joking about it. Well, RIGHT after Drummond made this play, Kim English SPRUNG from the floor and literally went and high-fived the coaching staff. He was so excited it was cool to see that whatever he said had an impact on the game.