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Pistons can’t find minutes for Slava Kravtsov

Brendan Savage of MLive on Slava Kravtsov’s lack of a role:

Kravtsov is basically caught in a numbers game when it comes to Detroit’s big men.

He’s behind center Greg Monroe, rookie Andre Drummond and veterans Charlie Villanueva and Austin Daye on the Pistons depth chart.

See the problem?

Um … I think I do. Two of those players shouldn’t be in any discussion about playing time. I certainly wouldn’t make a case for Kravtsov playing if it meant he’d cut into Drummond’s minutes. But there’s a fairly simple solution here. The only three Pistons big men who should be assured significant minutes each game are Monroe, Drummond and Jason Maxiell. Daye and Villanueva, based on their bodies of work in Detroit, should be the 14th and 15th men on the roster. That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Kravtsov in that fourth big man spot, and I think it would be pretty easy to get minutes for one or the other, depending on matchups. Jerebko doesn’t play particularly well against big, physical frontcourt players, so against teams like that, find a few minutes for Kravtsov. Against teams with more athletic, fast frontcourts, Jerebko would obviously get the fourth big man minutes.

Finding playing time for Kravtsov is far from the most pressing concern with the Pistons right now, but 12 games into a season when a majority of the team has played awful, the fact that he hasn’t even played a single minute seems a little questionable.


  • Nov 23, 20129:19 am
    by Gareth Masters


    What are your views on Frank right now Patrick? Last season he had a pass but there seems to be fundamental mistakes being made this season, selection and minutes wise? How long before you seriously question whether he is the right man?

    • Nov 23, 201210:46 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      I think he’s a bad fit, but I’m also not advocating for him to get fired.

      The biggest disappointment for me is pretty much a singular issue — Drummond’s production in limited minutes has proven that he’s ready for a bigger role than most, including the Pistons, predicted he would be. To me, it sends an awful message to Drummond, to the team and to the fans that he’s being kept on the bench in a smaller role than players he has out-performed. Part of developing young players is certainly making them earn their minutes and not just handing them a large role off the bat (unless they are a NBA-ready star). But a bigger part of that also includes adjusting your expectations/setting the bar higher when they exceed what you thought they’d be able to do. Maybe the first step with Drummond is simply increasing his minutes to about 25 per game. Then, after a few weeks, if he handles that well, maybe you consider starting him. The fact that they’re essentially keeping him in the same role they’d planned him to be in despite the fact that he’s obviously out-performed the expectations is maddening to me. I certainly blame Frank or that, but I blame Dumars too. His track record with a variety of coaches of developing young players who come into the league needing some skill refinement is awful. Self-motivated guys like Monroe, Knight, Jerebko and Singler would be fine regardless of the team they’re on. But the guys like Darko, Delfino, Amir and Daye who come in needing some development invariably don’t get what they need in Detroit, and I’m hoping Drummond doesn’t get lost in that category. If he does, that’s more on Dumars than Frank.

      Frank has been a disappointment to me as a coach, particularly because I thought he was the best of the group they interviewed (granted, that was an overall mediocre group, Frank included). I thought he’d be a better defensive coach than he has been and I thought he understood that a rebuilding team needs to play and develop its young players. His defenses have been awful and his rotations/rationale for playing or not playing young players is confusing to say the least. It makes no sense, for example, that Knight, who overall was a very raw and mistake-prone rookie, was allowed to play huge minutes and work through his mistakes while Drummond, who appears to be a far more NBA-ready player than Knight was, is not allowed that same luxury to sink or swim in big minutes.

      All that being said, the Pistons committed to Frank and I think not only do they need to keep him through this season, they need to keep him going into next season as well. It is not because he’s performed well in his job. But there are a few hallmarks of bad teams, and coaching instability is one of the biggies. They cannot keep changing coaches every two years. They cannot keep letting players, Prince in particular, passive aggressively undermine a coach in the media. I think it’s important to keep Frank with a couple of caveats — first, he has to increase Drummond’s minutes, and do it soon and if he doesn’t then he has to go; second, if there is some sort of rift behind the scenes with Monroe, then he has to go too. But if his relationship with Monroe, their most important player, is OK and if he gets better about playing Drummond, I think he has to stay. Who knows why he was hired in the first place, though, and what the front office and ownership will consider a successful season. For me, this season can still be successful even if the team stays awful as long as Drummond has worked his way into a primary role and the team ships out one or more of its under-performing veterans by the trade deadline. But I don’t even pretend to know what Dumars or Gores things would make this season a success. Probably playing veterans down the stretch against obviously tanking teams and ending up with a worse draft pick will satisfy them, if recent history is any indication.

      • Nov 23, 201211:14 am
        by bugsygod


        Agree with you patrick, tough to make a move on the coach without making a move on the GM.  From all reports, before the hire, it seems dumars was gonna go with woodson, but gores went with frank, because he was more impressive in the interviews.  I also thought at the time frank was the right hire, because i thought woodson was gonna be a retread type hire from his past exeperience being here.  The one thing i forgot/or ignored about woodson, is the fact he is a winner!  Atlanta was always in the playoffs and made it to 2nd rd a few times.  Now they didnt have championship talent, but he got everything out of that team he could.  He is doing the same things in new york now, players are unselfish and playing hard on defense.  I dont think this is a talent issue with detroit at all.  We lost to the suns, kings, magic twice.  Those are all teams with comparable talent to detroit and teams we should beat.  BUt because of the “process” and frank being non flexible we lose.  When it comes to teams of similar talent, the coaching should make the difference.  Unfortunately our coach is not making the difference.  out coached by alvin gentry, keith smart, jacque vaughn and kevin mchale.  Hell who can frank out coach? 
        so again what to do now?  If he begins to play drummond more and they perform well and start winning, does that make him a better coach? or do we say even more how stupid he was for not playing drummond more earlier.  To me the biggest weakness on the team is defending the paint and rebounding(you know the same from the last 2yrs).  So drummond getting more mintues should improve both these areas and i think lead to more wins.  Say that he waits till after all star break to make the chaange and we start winning(similar to last year), while other teams are tanking.  FRUSTRATED!  I would like to blame Dumars more for this, BUT he has brought in more talent.  He has attempted cover our defiencies(size, shot blocking, rebounding,defense), but the coach refuses to play those guys(english, drummond, slava), because of maggete over english, maxiel over drummond and daye/cv over slava.  ALL 4 of those guys will not be here next year, so why are they getting big minutes??  Oh thats right coach because they help us to win…. wait what, where 2-10 with those guys getting heavy minutes??  so again why are those guys playing?? yes dumars hired the coach, but from great input from the owner…FRUSTRATED!
        when gores bought the team i believe he used Dave Checketts for consulting etc to make the transition.  I know checketts was with new york and utah as an executive, just not sure of his track record there.  I jst know we need proven winners at coach going forward.  no 1st yr guys, no career assitants, no guys that talk a good game but have overall losing records.  I know patrick it will make the franchise look even more dysfunctional, but better to cut bait now then get 2yrs in this process and THEN be looking to start over…FRUSTRATED!   High profile Proven winners… van gundy’s, mcmillian, etc.   

      • Nov 23, 20124:21 pm
        by Max


        @Patrick,  I pretty much agree with much of what you say but, while I’m incensed at Drummond’s lack of minutes, I would like to point out that he is playing much more than the Pistons were preparing us for during the summer.   Even at the beginning of training camp, the message seemed to be that Slava was more ready and we shouldn’t even expect to see Drummond play in the early season. 

  • Nov 23, 20129:30 am
    by labatts


    Its funny.  Before the season started, most of us thought that Kravtsov would get more minutes than Drummond — perhaps even start.  It seems silly know, but what is sillier is why he doesn’t play at all.  I mean, really, what is the worst that could happen?  He might suck?  He would fit right in.

    • Nov 23, 201210:09 am
      by Scott Free


      Yeah seriously, I’d hate to blow this amazing streak the Pistons have had by playing an unknown quantity in Kravtsov, especially when Villanueva/Daye’s numbers could take a hit.

      • Nov 23, 201210:18 am
        by Vic


        Right that just shows how insane the decision making process must be. Our paint defense and rebounding is horrible, but there’s no minutes for a 7 foot rebounding shotblocker because of some 3 pony jackers?

        Definition of insanity. Dumb. 

  • Nov 23, 201210:40 am
    by DasMark


    Dumars likely signed him, believing he wouldn’t be available come next season. 

    Next year, we may not have Maxiell, Daye or Villanueva anymore, which will open a ton of minutes for Slava and the Swedish Meatball (Yes, I’m giving Jerebko a nickname!)

    Trying to guess as to what’s Frank’s logic with such a limited scope of vision is aggravating at this point. I’m sure he has a reason, and the most prominent one is that he believes he can’t contribute right now.  

    • Nov 23, 201210:49 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      “I’m sure he has a reason, and the most prominent one is that he believes he can’t contribute right now.”

      That’s totally fair and plausible and I think that’s likely why he’s not playing. But don’t tell me that he’s stuck behind two of the worst players in the league in Daye and Villanueva. If there’s a pecking order for who you have to find minutes for, those two should be at the bottom of the list, behind even an untested player like Kravstov, based on their awful performances. 

      • Nov 23, 201211:41 am
        by revken


        Yeah, I can’t see any reason why to play CV a minute over anyone else on the bench – especially young guys who have the potential to help us down the road.  I guess I’d cut him a little slack on giving Daye some minutes, but not over Kravtsov, English and Middleton in a blowout loss.

        Totally agree that Drummond should be playing at least half the game from here on out – find a way to get him those minutes. 

  • Nov 23, 201211:15 am
    by bugsygod


    lol, behind charlie V and Daye??   i would rather have 6 hard fouls from slava, then weak defensive attempts from those two any day.  smh!

  • Nov 23, 201211:50 am
    by Shawn


    I am not a Frank apologist, but I don’t think we can draw any meaningful conclusions regarding his process until we see it in it’s entirety for the season.  Perhaps, he and Dumars have a plan for bringing along Drummond  and other players.  There is no way we can draw a complete conclusion until we see the body of work.
      I am choosing an arbitrary metric but, I think it is fair to say we should see something different by mid season.  Drummond’s role should have changed in some observable way.  And another young player should be considered in the discussion for more rotation minutes.
    This reminds me of the year that Joe D was drafted.  Although there was nothing like the talent drop off between he and John Long like there is between Drummond and Maxiel, he was brought along slowly and around mid season (if I remember correctly) he was in the starting rotation. 
    If something like this happens then we can have confidence that there is a plan.  What I am most concerned about right now are Prince’s comments.  Not the fact that he made them but that he is actually right.  Why didn’t Frank make substitutions earlier to address Orlando’s 21 – 0 run.  The only excuse I will accept is that he is allowing his players to play through their difficulty to determine if they will overcome their shortcomings or some variation of this motive. 
    Finally,  I agree with you that we have enough information regarding the contribution (if you can call it that) that Charlie V and Austin Daye are going to make.  They are not and cannot be a part of the future.  So, there is reason to play them. 

    • Nov 23, 201212:04 pm
      by labatts


      I gotta admit, I am more irritated that Tayshaun made the comments rather than whether he is correct or not.  This is just Prince being Prince.  Just more proof that Dumars should never have resigned him in the first place.

      • Nov 23, 201212:11 pm
        by Ozzie-Moto


        Well the issue is JD shouldn’t have signed and over payed Prince but he is right as JD bigger mistake was hiring Frank (he 3rd bad coaching choice in a row ) at least Prince realizes that Frank has ALREADY lost the team…. Hello  Tom Gores  time to clean up the inept
        management  JD AND FRANK must go 

      • Nov 23, 20124:28 pm
        by Max


        What is so bad about Prince’s comments?   I can find you dozens of players who make worse statements every week of the season and the list would include venerable players like Kobe.  On other teams, Prince’s comment was so harmless that it wouldn’t have even rated a story or fan awareness. 

  • Nov 23, 20121:33 pm
    by vic


    If Joe wanted Woodson, and Gores wanted Frank… Gores definitely won’t fire Joe D. If anything, Joe D has more weight now with Gores.
    Woodson is doing great, and Joe D has brought a lot of talent to this team. Frank is the weak link.
    Yes its a players league but the least you can do is coach to win. 

    • Nov 23, 20124:25 pm
      by Max


      Woodson is doing great?   I say, as with Frank, the presence of JKidd makes coaches look good.  ‘Melo was doing whatever he wanted last year with no Kidd present but this year with Kidd, Anthony has gotten in line. 

  • Nov 24, 20121:11 am
    by Tyrone


    I think that coach Frank is holding Slava back to protect the #1 draft pick durmmonds growth.  Slava has more playing experience than drummond and I believe that he will adjust quicker to the NBA than Drummond when given a chance to play.  I believe that Drummond up side is much larger than Slava.

    My question is simple, has coach Frank been told not to play Slava by JD, or is coach Frank putting his marker down and saying Slava has yet to earn his playing time?  I feel that we the fans deserve an honest answer.

    I don’t understand why if CV and Daye have not earned playing time and that kills any trade value that could have brought to the table, why not sit them out of the line up and develop another young player in Slava as our 4th big (Moose, Max, Drummond, Slava)?  

    My final point, I like what I have seen in Drummonds play so far, but the season is not even 1/4 (20 games) completed.  I say that Drummond playing time is ok where it is at for now because we are a very young team trying to find its way.  Drummond is still very raw skill wise so Im ok with bring him along slowly.  He docent need the added pressure and expatiation of being the here and now change agent for this young team IMO.

  • Nov 24, 20123:25 am
    by James Jones


    Watching Kravtsov in the preseason I didn’t see any good reason to rush this guy out there.
    I know most Detroit fans have lost their minds in this fantasy world of young players, but lets be honest young teams in the NBA rarely make the playoffs and playing rookies for the sake of playing rookies doesn’t usually work either.  
    Most coaches reward hard play in practice with a couple of minutes in the game.  If Karvtsov was working hard and showing something he would probably be getting minutes.

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