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Archive → November, 2012

Video: Big Baby gets dunked on, Jason Maxiell, Big Baby-eating version

I couldn’t find separate video of Jason Maxiell‘s dunk on Glen Davis, so you’ll have to sit through Tayshaun Prince‘s first before seeing Maxiell’s in this clip, but it’s worth it. Maxiell eats the biggest baby.

Pistons defense, rebounding falls apart in loss to Orlando

Orlando Magic 110 FinalRecap | Box Score 106 Detroit Pistons
Jason Maxiell, PF 32 MIN | 5-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | +3Maxiell had another solid night, and had one of the best dunks of the season so far over Glen Davis, but he and Monroe were both bad defensively and got bullied by Orlando’s frontline on the boards.
Tayshaun Prince, SF 34 MIN | 7-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 18 PTS | 0Prince had one of this better games of the season and continues to impress with his quicker decision-making. But he was part of a perimeter defense that gave up way too many open looks, in the fourth quarter especially.
Kyle Singler, SF 29 MIN | 5-10 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +17Singler wasn’t great defensively, but he was efficient, spaced the floor and had his second straight nice game as a starter.
Greg Monroe, C 36 MIN | 9-12 FG | 5-5 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 23 PTS | 0Monroe was great overall offensively, poor overall defensively. He wasn’t his active self on the glass, but he was unguardable on offense.
Brandon Knight, PG 35 MIN | 4-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 12 AST | 10 PTS | -2Knight was very solid distributing the ball. He’s still rough around the edges as a point guard (more on that in a minute), but he had 12 assists and just three turnovers. Two of those turnovers were early in the game, so he played most of the game turnover-free. He did struggle shooting the ball though.
Jonas Jerebko, PF 13 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -2Jerebko didn’t play worse defensively than the starting frontcourt, but he also wasn’t particularly active during his 13 minutes.
Corey Maggette, SF 14 MIN | 3-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | -4Maggette showed a couple flashes of rounding into playing shape, but he’s still a little sloppy.
Andre Drummond, C 15 MIN | 5-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | -9Drummond was highly effective, the starting front line was bad defensively and somehow, Drummond only managed 15 minutes. Makes no sense.
Will Bynum, PG 11 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 2 PTS | -4Bynum didn’t shoot well. He did pick up three assists, but he forced his own offense a bit and wasn’t effective when he was on the court.
Rodney Stuckey, PG 21 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -19Stuckey shot better in the second half, but wasn’t good defensively and was a -19 in the game for the Pistons. +/- doesn’t tell the whole story as it largely depends on who a player is on the court with, but he was the only Piston with close to that bad of a +/-.
Lawrence Frank, HEAD COACHThe usual suspect with Frank — his frontcourt defense struggled, Drummond played really well in limited minutes and he didn’t change up his rotation at all to account for those things. The Pistons lost this game because of the players. They didn’t rebound well and they made awful decisions defensively that left shooters open. But Frank’s lack of creativity using Drummond more effectively continues to be baffling.

Monroe played great except …

I touched on Monroe’s poor defense above, but as a below average defender to this point in his career, that’s just something the Pistons have to account for right now. But he also had one bad offensive possession late in the game. With about 30 seconds left on an in-bounds play, the Pistons got a favorable matchup — Monroe with the ball and Arron Afflalo guarding him in the post on a switch. Monroe looked off balance and awkwardly plowed to the basket before gathering himself. He tried to draw contact, faded on his shot and missed badly, looking for a bailout whistle which was never going to come on that play. As the Pistons and Monroe get better, he’s likely going to see the ball more in situations like that and needs to get better at taking his time. If he would’ve realized that he didn’t need to go that quickly, he likely would’ve found a much better shot.

Knight played great except …

No real complaints about Knight trying to set up others tonight — 12 assists with just three turnovers is very good production, even if he shot poorly. He also did a nice job defensively against Jameer Nelson. But little plays here and there are signs that Knight is very much a work in progress as a PG. On a 2-on-1 break with Singler late in the game, Knight first tried to attack the defender, realized late that he should pass and put Singler in an awkward position to try and get a shot off. Singler was fouled and hit both free throws, so it worked out, but it was a reminder that a pass-first mentality does not come naturally to Knight.

The shooting guard situation

Singler has been really solid through two games in the starting lineup. His floor-spacing has made the offense run more smoothly, he’s an intelligent player who knows his limitations and stays within them and, although he’s not exceptional in any one key area, he’s pretty solid across the board. Plus, despite being a power forward in college, he’s held his own against two guards. I don’t expect that to continue against the best ones in the league, but he’s more athletic than he’s given credit for and his long arms help make up for his lack of quickness against perimeter players. But he’s also not a long-term solution at that spot. Based on his play this season, though, neither is Stuckey. He’s just far too inconsistent.

The situation is OK for now — Singler is playing well, the starting unit as a whole looks more fluid offensively and Stuckey has accepted — or hell, downright begged for — the bench assignment. But shooting guard remains the postion the Pistons most need to address.

Video: Big Baby gets dunked on, Tayshaun Prince version

Glen Davis had a good night — he had 17 points and 13 rebounds and his team won. But he was the target of two fantastic dunks, this one by Tayshaun Prince.

Bryan Colangelo on (maybe) Andre Drummond: “I passed on somebody I consider a top-five talent in the draft because we felt like he didn’t have the right mental makeup”

Toronto Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo recently spoke at the Prime Time Sports Conference in Canada and was among the sports executives discussing how teams decide on draft picks. If you remember, and I’m sure you do, the Raptors were the team that took (and maybe reached for) Terrence Ross with the No. 8 pick, which allowed the Pistons to take Andre Drummond at No. 9 in this year’s draft. Check out these comments from Colangelo, via the Toronto Star, and try and guess who he’s talking about:

There’s a checklist: talent, physical tools, basketball IQ, how they perform, how we anticipate they’ll perform. Character. Emotional make-up. Marketability. Each component is part of the process. The toughest is what’s inside a player. You can’t see the heart, the emotional aspect of things.

Picking eighth, I passed on somebody I consider a top-five talent in the draft because we felt like he didn’t have the right mental makeup. I passed on someone we thought was a top-three physical specimen because we felt he wasn’t the right fit for our team and didn’t have the right mental makeup.

Now, Colangelo has plausible deniability I guess, because he didn’t specifically say Drummond, but we should all read between the lines. Good luck with Ross, I guess, and thanks for that philosophy.

Also, hopefully Drummond notices those comments and saves something special for Raptors games.

Hat tip, Pro Basketball Talk

Going for back-to-back wins…

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic (2-5) at Detroit Pistons (1-8)
  • Date: November 16, 2012
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

After finally getting their first victory of the season on Wednesday night, in a blowout on the road no less, the Detroit Pistons will look to reproduce that type of effort tonight when they host an Orlando Magic team looking to rebound from a home loss at the hands of the New York Knicks.

The Magic will surely try to take advantage of the Pistons’ porous interior defense that surrenders the most points in the paint per game in the league, but they will have to scheme to do this since their personnel isn’t exactly tailor made for the task.

Indeed, on the season Orlando manufactures 41.1 points in the paint per game (15th in the league), but they have to get creative to get points at the rim because they do not have any good ball-handlers — Jameer Nelson is out with a pulled groin — capable of breaking down defenders to get into the lane and create shots for themselves or others. Thus, they will post up the likes of Arron Afflalo, Glen Davis and Nikola Vucekic and run back screens or have perimeter players cut from the opposite side of the court for easy baskets in the lane.

The Magic do a great job of moving the ball and sharing the wealth to avoid teams from keying in on any particular player. For a team without a stud scorer, it’s a great way of creating high percentage shots, and they also are very fond of using the pick-and-roll to get the defense scrambling and that’s when the Magic players do their best work as far as cutting to basket when defenders turn their heads.

It’s worth noting that Glen Davis is a decent low post option, but becomes a great one whenever defenses switch and he gets matched up with a smaller player.

It will be important for Pistons defenders to remain on high alert and not get sucked in to ball-gawking, otherwise they will easily give up baskets. Mind you, should Frank’s group be successful in defending Orlando’s early options in their plays, they should be in terrific shape because the only other recourse the Magic players have is to shoot contested jumpers given their lack of shot creators.

On the season, Jacque Vaughn’s unit is converting 43.3 percent of their shots (20th in the NBA) and only manufactures 16.7 free throw attempts per game (29th in the league).

Defensively, Orlando is a middle of the pack team as evidenced by their defensive efficiency of 101.2 (19th in the association).

Other than Arron Afflalo, the team doesn’t seem to have any other players capable of making things difficult for opponents individually. Thus, they rely on each other to cover up their limitations and use a couple of different defensive looks to get their opponents out of their comfort zone.

The Magic players always retreat to the painted area and almost concede the open jumper to make sure they do not give up easy shots at the rim. According to Hoopdata, Orlando only surrenders 22.7 shots at the rim per game (fifth least in the NBA), which in turn means that their opponents have to find other ways to score on them. Vaughn gets his defense to do this by making his players go underneath in the pick-and-roll, loading up on wing isolations to the point it looks like a zone and throwing hard double teams at post players when they put the ball on the floor.

The strategy certainly seems to be a successful one at first glance, considering that the team lacks quality size to defend the rim area, but the obvious drawback is that Magic opponents get a multitude of open jumpers, and more importantly for the Pistons, it opens up the basket area for second chance opportunities where the likes of Monroe, Maxiell, Jerebko and Drummond have been quite effective.

Detroit’s defensive woes are bound to surface against Orlando, but if they can limit the damage and be anything remotely close to average against a subpar offensive team, the Pistons should have back-to-back wins by night’s end.

Read about the Magic

Magic Basketball.

Well, the Onion has paid attention to the Pistons this season

OK … things seemed bad enough for the Pistons a week ago when Deadspin was taking pity on them. But now they’ve officially been satirized by The Onion too:

Most of Thirkell Elementary’s offense ran strictly through Thompson and point guard Megan Rivers, whom the Pistons struggled to keep up with because the fifth-grader can dribble with both hands and doesn’t have to look down at the ball to do so. On almost every possession, Rivers lobbed a high pass under the basket where only Thompson could reach it, allowing the nearly 5-foot-tall center to catch the ball and put up a shot from less than 5 feet away.

Once again, another problem that could’ve been solved by getting Andre Drummond‘s rim-protecting ability into the lineup more.

Kyle Singler to start against Magic

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

Singler will start tonight #Pistons

First, Kyle Singler meshes well with the other starters. Next, Lawrence Frank says Rodney Stuckey will start. Then, Stuckey says he’s fine coming off the bench.

Now? The first big shock of the Pistons’ season. Good ole Flexible Frank strikes again for the first time in his entire coaching career.

Jason Maxiell is having a great season, and Andre Drummond is still out-producing him

I think, based on crowd-sourced opinions in the comments here, on other Pistons sites and on Twitter, it’s pretty safe to assume that Pistons fans are pretty much in lock-step about their desire to see more of Andre Drummond. Something that gets lost in that often loud demand, however, is the fact that Jason Maxiell, the player whose minutes Drummond would cut into, is actually having a really good season by his standards.

I think it’s important to note that Maxiell has played well. But, in my column for the Detroit Free Press today, I also pointed out that even with Maxiell having arguably his best season if he keeps this pace up, Drummond is still significantly out-producing him on a per-minute basis:

Drummond’s stats won’t compare with Maxiell’s, simply because there is a significant discrepancy in minutes played. But their averages per 36 minutes paint a different picture:

  • Points per 36 minutes: Drummond 15.4, Maxiell 12.9
  • Rebounds per 36 minutes: Drummond 11.4, Maxiell 9.0
  • Blocks per 36 minutes: Drummond 2.4, Maxiell 2.0
  • Steals per 36 minutes: Drummond 1.9, Maxiell 0.2

Maxiell is shooting 54%. Drummond is shooting 68%. Looking at some advanced stats, via Basketball Reference, Maxiell’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is 15.7, Drummond’s is 23.8. Maxiell’s total rebound percentage (estimate of percentage of total available rebounds grabbed while the player was on the floor) is 14.2, Drummond’s is 18.0. Drummond has a better offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions) and better defensive rating (points given up per 100 possessions) than Maxiell.

The Pistons, understandably given the concerns about him coming out of college, have taken a cautious approach with Drummond. But he’s clearly, by every statistical measure, shown that he’s more advanced on the court than virtually anyone thought he would be. The longer the Pistons go without increasing Drummond’s workload in the face of his immense per-minute production, the more it is going to appear that they are holding him back rather than helping his development.

Andre Drummond thriving because of NBA’s tight officiating

David Thorpe of ESPN named Andre Drummond his most surprising rookie who came out of college:

Cut to Detroit, though, and we see him playing with energy and athleticism on almost every play. That part of the game is easier for him now in part because the floor is spaced so much better in the NBA. The game is wider now, and his teammates are pros, not teenagers. So even though the Pistons are a bad team, they still understand the importance of spacing and playing under control.

The games are also officiated tighter in the NBA, meaning Drummond can’t be pushed around the same way he was in college. It’s a hard concept for fans to digest, but the college game is more physical than the pro game because it is allowed to be. The men in the NBA are stronger, naturally, but the game is cleaner, which allows a player like Drummond, who has not developed "man strength" yet, to make plays inside the paint and above the rim more easily now than before.

Thorpe placed Drummond fourth in his rookie rankings and put Kyle Singler seventh. No other team has two rookies in the top 14.

Viacheslav Kravtsov to D-League hasn’t been discussed by Pistons

Via David Mayo of MLive:

"We believe in the D-League, we think it’s a great resource, but we haven’t really discussed it in terms of (Kravtsov)," Frank said.  "I think what you do is you try to look at your schedule, look at the D-League schedule, and try to match it, so it would be premature to comment on that."

The Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Detroit’s D-League affiliate, don’t begin their season for another week. Still, I don’t expect Viacheslav Kravtsov will get sent down any time soon, if at all. The Pistons have typically preferred their young players work with NBA coaches, and I don’t think the 25-year-old Kravtsov will be an exception. He has playing experience. He needs NBA experience.