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Why won’t Lawrence Frank play Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond together? My guess at the question every Piston fan wants answered

Me at the Detroit Free Press:

Detroit Pistons coach Lawrence Frank often says merit determines playing time on his teams.

Four Pistons have earned a rotation spot — presumably based on merit, considering Frank is the one setting the lineup — at power forward or center this season: Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, Jason Maxiell and Jonas Jerebko. Of the six possible pairings among those players, five have seen the court.

The one that hasn’t? You already know. It’s Monroe-Drummond.

This is incredibly perplexing and frustrating and, at this point, it must be more than a coincidence. Jerebko and Maxiell don’t complement each other extremely well, but even they earned a few minutes together against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, as the game’s flow bent Frank’s rotation. Surely, unless Frank is intentionally avoiding a Monroe-Drummond combination, it would have happened by now.

Monroe and Drummond both have earned playing time, so Frank wouldn’t have to break his merit rules to play them together. It’s not like I’m necessarily calling for Drummond to start. Frank would only have to tweak his rotation — something as simple as Drummond entering the game for Maxiell before Monroe leaves the court in each half — to make the pairing happen.

So why haven’t Monroe and Drummond played together? Unfortunately, Frank has offered only vague explanations, and we’re left with guesses.

Here’s mine: Frank wants the Pistons focused on the present, not the future.

55 Comments

  • Nov 9, 20121:20 pm
    by Adam

    Reply

    Well in the present the Pistons are 0-4, so maybe “the future” will also lead to a more competitive team.  They have looked awful so far.  Might as well try something new because the present is a bad basketball team.

  • Nov 9, 20121:22 pm
    by Slap Dog Hoops

    Reply

    I can tell u why and it’s not as simplistic as your answer.  Simply put, Andre Drummond is not ready to log major NBA minutes, nor will he be for quite some time.  His fundamentals are sketchy at best if we are to look back at his play in UConn last season.  Personally I felt that he should have gone lower in the draft, because his game was not completely there.  Add the fact that he was not the 7’1″ height that UConn originally listed him as ( at the draft combine he was listed at  6’8″3/4 without shoes)makes him even more of a liability on the court.

    Playing him w/ Monroes is even a worse idea given Drummond’s shortcomings in the skills department.  The Pistons will end up getting outscored all of the time because Andre is so liited offensively and his presence will hurt Monroe because Drummond will be clogging the paint preventing Monroes to find any kind of comfort zone in the paint.  It’s not difficult for me to see why Frank has not put those two together,  I’m just surprised that you could not see it.

    • Nov 9, 20121:28 pm
      by Alex Harrison

      Reply

      That’s one of the single most ignorant comments I’ve read and btw, he was measured at 6’9.75″ without shoes at the draft combine so I’m not sure if you pulled that statistic out of your ass. Hes basically 6’10” without shoes, and 6″11.75″ with shoes, nearly 7’0”. Furthermore, NBA players are usually listed as their height with shoes on so the fact that Drummond is listed at 6’10” actually downplays is height. 

      How the hell would the pistons get outscored because Drummond is offensively limited? What type of sense does that make? 

      • Nov 9, 20121:31 pm
        by Alex Harrison

        Reply

        Just on sheer defense we would be allowing less points, and all Drummond has to do is catch the ball and finish. Sure Maxiell may be able to spread the defense more in that he can hit an outside shot but teams have to respect Drummonds lob ability, his offensive rebounding tenacity, and his soft hands, which btw, are far softer than Maxiell’s making him a more ideal receiver of Monroe’s passes.

  • Nov 9, 20121:29 pm
    by Rob

    Reply

    It don’t make no sense to me either. The longer he goes through the season without trying them together the more questions will be asked. Hello Mr Gores!! Mike Brown just was fired from the Lakers for bad coaching, how many more losses do you want to see before giving Frank the boot?

    Charles Barkley could do better…Yes I said it…Charles Barlkey 

  • Nov 9, 20121:32 pm
    by Kobina

    Reply

    Anything that gets us closer to Shabazz Muhammad, I’m okay with.  That’s right, I’m already thinking draft.

  • Nov 9, 20121:36 pm
    by Piston Heel

    Reply

    Frank keep playing around he’s gonna be like Mike Brown GONE ASAP! he better play the damn man if he wanna save his job… Gores is watching

  • Nov 9, 20121:37 pm
    by dtmfr

    Reply

    Slap Dog Hoop….face it, you DEAD WRONG on Drummond so give it a rest. Drummond’s “sketchy fundamentals” produced 19 pts, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks per 36 minutes in the NBA preseason.  So you can take your Connecticut concerns and throw them out the window.

  • Nov 9, 20121:41 pm
    by Domnick

    Reply

    Mike Brown fired —– is there a chance that Frank Gets fired?

    • Nov 9, 20121:44 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      There’s a chance that any NBA coach gets fired, just the nature of the profession. However, the Lakers are obviously in a far different situation than the Pistons. Starting 1-4 with a team that many thought could threaten the 70-win mark is a bit different than starting 0-5 with a team most expected would be in the lottery again.

      • Nov 9, 20121:55 pm
        by Domnick

        Reply

        i dont really want to think that we are a lottery team.. it suffers our reason to keep on fighting and lesser expectations… the players need to understand this… they just need to do things right and win games!

        • Nov 9, 20122:03 pm
          by Piston Heel

          Reply

          Right and their expectations was a litte bit higher than a “lottery team” we was looking at a 7-8th seed in the playoffs with the players we got now I agree its on the players and the coaches now.

    • Nov 9, 20121:45 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      And as I’ve said in another thread, Dumars firing another coach, doing it just over a year after hiring him and doing it after the Pistons made a big deal out of talking about how much extra time they took in their process to find and evaluate Frank’s fit just seems highly, highly unlikely to me.

      • Nov 9, 20121:54 pm
        by Domnick

        Reply

        hmm well yeah… im still good at frank for now… but he needs to start winning or else… im gonna hate him..
        maybe Gores gets impatient too… but it is still a long way to go.. we just need to start winning and get better!

      • Nov 9, 20121:58 pm
        by rick

        Reply

        Question why does Dumars get blamed for hiring this dude when last year Gores was overwhlemed by his interview. I think its wrong to keep pointing the finger in Joe’s direction. Gotta believe he is just following orders and went with what Gores wanted. Had he pulled for Woodson then I would say his hands are all over it. I am not buying Frank as Joe’s choice and if he gest fired it will be Gores, not Dumarts pushing the buttons.

        • Nov 9, 20122:01 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          It is Dumars’ job to hire coaches. So therefore, if a coach fails, that is Dumars’ fault. Frank hasn’t necessarily been a failure yet to the point that they should fire him, but he also hasn’t been that successful either. He’s also the third straight underwhelming coach Dumars has hired. Those things are not fair to blame a GM for?

          • Nov 9, 20122:05 pm
            by Domnick

            maybe hire mike brown as head coach next season if they fire frank?
             
            yikes… i see bad things with Brown anyway

          • Nov 9, 20122:39 pm
            by Crispus

            Any idea how the players feel about Frank? Obviously nobody likes losing, but will there be another mutiny?

          • Nov 9, 20122:55 pm
            by rick

            I get your point but if Dumar’s did’nt tap into Frank when he was avilable in 09 and under dfferent Mgt what makes you believe that he actuall ywanted to hire him this time around. I swear Gores was the one who was intrigued by his interview and how can Dumar’s go against that? I understand he is Gm but he does not cut the checks. I’m sure his input is there but I dont think he has the final call on such positions. I am sure he wanted Woodson(just my opinion) but Frank wowed Gores with the interview and it was a done deal.

  • Nov 9, 20121:59 pm
    by rick

    Reply

    Dumar’s

  • Nov 9, 20122:17 pm
    by Al

    Reply

    So if they fire Mike Brown 5 games into the season with at least 1 win, is Frank safe going at the rate he is? No question 5 games isn’t much at all but, they did what the felt they needed to early on to turn the season around now. Interesting that he is fired so early tho, hmmmmm…

  • Nov 9, 20122:20 pm
    by Clint in Flint

    Reply

    I just read that they have fired Mike Brown. L.A. don’t mess around.

  • Nov 9, 20122:26 pm
    by DG

    Reply

    What’s the worst that can happen?  0-6?  The Pistons play OKC on the road.  Put it in the books and play the fellas together for a couple of minutes.  They might just compliment each other.

  • Nov 9, 20122:34 pm
    by sebastian

    Reply

    Equally, as frustrating as Dre Drummond and Moose not playing together is Dre Drummond, Moose, and B. Knight not playing together.
    Look, if Davis (Hornets) and Valanciunas (Raptors) can start, then I would think that Drummond should start, next to his front line partner, as well.

    • Nov 9, 20122:38 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      In fairness, Davis and Jonas V are both way better than Drummond at this point. I obviously want Drummond to play, but it’s also a different situation than those guys. They are much more NBA-ready from a fundamentals and understanding of the game standpoint.

      • Nov 9, 20122:50 pm
        by sebastian

        Reply

        Yo, Patrick, I respect your point of view, but respectfully disagree to a point, as I am of the belief that over time with increased playing time, Drummond’s game would compliment Moose’s game.
        Drummond needs to stop being treating like some special needs kid.
        But, what about my larger point: Drummond has yet to play with Moose and B. Knight.

        • Nov 9, 20123:16 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          I never said he wasn’t or wouldn’t grow into a good player and good complement to Monroe over time. But there’s absolutely no doubt that Jonas V and Davis entered the league much more ready to contribute immediately than Drummond.

        • Nov 9, 20123:16 pm
          by jamesjones_det

          Reply

          +1

  • Nov 9, 20122:47 pm
    by Corey

    Reply

    I’m not interested in seeing Drummond start. I don’t think he’s ready to play 30+ minutes, so he doesn’t need to start. But I think it’s daft to play him only 6 minutes like they did last game.  In the preseason he was really good. In his limited minutes so far, he’s producing ok stats-wise.

    He needs 15-20 minutes per game, and more if he performs well. That will necessarily mean he’ll play with Monroe, as there’s no way for Monroe to play 35 and Drummond to play 20 without some overlap.

    If the holdup is Frank thinking “Monroe is Center, and Drummond is backup Center” then Frank is an idiot. Hopefully it’s not that. It’s probably Frank trying to win a game and cover his butt.  

    I don’t blame Dumars for Frank, though. From what I read last year, it was pretty clear Dumars wanted Woodson and Gores wanted Frank. The owner trumps the GM, so we ended up with Frank. That’s not Dumars’ fault, if Gores made the decision. Not that any of us can be sure one way or the other.

    Corey

  • Nov 9, 20122:48 pm
    by Al

    Reply

    Even with those advantages I dont think Davis and Jonas V can be the game changer that Drummond shows he is/can be. I understand your point tho, but how long do you hold a top 10 draft pick back for the sake of, gee we cant even answer that bc Frank hasn’t given us a solid reason yet. Is he making bad impressions in practice or something? Heck, we have’nt even seen Slava and he got way more praise from the vets leading up to preseason. Frank doesn’t want to push the panic button yet, and that is understandable but to take 10-15 games of under performing and getting killed on the boards to make line up adjustments is a hard pill to swallow as a fan

  • Nov 9, 20122:50 pm
    by Al

    Reply

    And how bad did he mess up to only get 52 seconds the other day??? Anybody know what he didn’t do?? (Drummond)

    • Nov 9, 20122:56 pm
      by rick

      Reply

      You saw that too when silly @ss Frank inserted Maxiel to guard Cousin, who got him on the up and under move? Crazy rotations…..

      • Nov 9, 20123:19 pm
        by frankie d

        Reply

        rick,
        i vaguely thought about blind squirrels and nuts as i’ve read your most recent posts.  
        i have to say that you have been making lots of sense.  i really can’t find much to disagree with.
        and i have to admit that when i was watching the sac-town game and saw frank sub maxiell in for drummond, i couldn’t believe it.  looked like cousins couldn’t believe it either.  it looked like cousins’ eyes got very big at the prospect of going up against maxiell, who had no chance of keeping him away from the basket.
        sometimes you see a coach make a move and you can see the logic, even if you don’t agree with it.  that move was a total headscratcher.

      • Nov 9, 20123:48 pm
        by Mark

        Reply

        That was hilarious. He thought he was being a tough guy benching Drummond. Then his boy Maxi-Pad went in and immediately got taken to school by Cousins. LOL

        It was Kuester-esque 

  • Nov 9, 20123:13 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    frank is not going to get fired.  pistons fans should give up that fantasy.  he’ll stay at least until the end of this year and then dumars will evaluate.
    the way he is handling drummond, however, is just the latest example of his flawed decision-making, as coach.
    he is what he is: a guy who has coached for 9 seasons, including 6 full seasons, with a 250-287 regular season record (.466 for us mathematically challenged folks).
    his record is what it is.  why are pistons’ fans surprised to see his current team play the way most of his other teams have played?  did fans really buy into the hype about him being an outstanding coach?
    if he got lucky enough to get the reins of a talented, veteran squad – as happened when he first took over in NJ – he would probably do ok.  not great, but ok.
    but nothing in his past suggests that he’s capable of taking less talented squads – the way very good coaches like larry brown consistently do – and making them better.  

  • Nov 9, 20123:14 pm
    by jamesjones_det

    Reply

    He’s 0-5, there is little good to focus on in the present. 
     
    At this point your defense is like swiss cheese in the lane, you might as well put a big athletic body in there and see if it plugs a couple of holes while you have your starters on the floor.

  • Nov 9, 20123:17 pm
    by I HATE U FRANK

    Reply

    You have nothing to lose by playing Drummond and Monroe together….if its a bust…what do you lose? NOTHING!

    If Drummond and Monroe get into the game together…and a team goes on a 10 – 0 you sub him, but its not like a team has never gone on a 10-0 Run! …. Its just building a disconnect between Frank, his players and the fans

  • Nov 9, 20123:27 pm
    by Al

    Reply

    Yep, and I wondered why he did that to put the undersized Maxiell in to offically show the league he is to small in certain situations reguarding in the paint defense and rebounding. Heck I thought he frustrated Cousins a little bit playing defense on him the couple of minutes he did play that night. Dont get me wrong tho, I like Maxiell’s toughness but I think it will serve the Pistons well off the bench for the most part..

  • Nov 9, 20123:36 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    Off topic but related to Mike Brown/Lakers – the just hired Bickerstaff as interim coach. But was anyone else really, really hoping they would promote Kuester? That would’ve been the best.

    • Nov 9, 20124:04 pm
      by Desolation Row

      Reply

      That was probably in Kuester’s best interest. I’m pretty sure Kobe or Artest (or both?) would have murdered him halfway through the season if he’d been hired.

    • Nov 9, 20125:36 pm
      by MarkButter

      Reply

      I think Bikerstaff is already on the staff.  Unless they’ve been talking to someone, it was going to be an assistant.

  • Nov 9, 20123:39 pm
    by Mark

    Reply

    Is it possible Monroe/Drummond don’t fit together, based on what they’ve seen in practice? If so, and this is another Rip-Gordon debacle of 2 highly invested in players unable to coexist because they play the same position, then this could be a bigger problem than we thought. 

    I highly doubt, since they looked great together in the few minutes we saw in preseason, but there’s really no other logical explanation for why they haven’t played together in the reg season. 

    • Nov 9, 20124:55 pm
      by Keith

      Reply

      This seems at least plausible. Look, Monroe is a train wreck defender. He is only slightly less terrible at C where most of the league starts defensive specialists or lumbering big men. It’s very possible the team doesn’t want to break in Drummond as a PF (when he is clearly a C), but at the same time don’t want to bear witness to every opposing PF in the league dropping 30 on our best player.

  • Nov 9, 20123:48 pm
    by DasMark

    Reply

    Maybe there’s an issue with Monroe not wanting to play the PF spot? That’s really the only other reason I could see, besides Dan’s theory. 

     

    • Nov 9, 20123:57 pm
      by Mark

      Reply

      I’ve heard that theory, but my take is then why can’t Drummond play PF, and leave Monroe at C?

      Its not like Drummond isn’t athletic enough to guard PF’s. In fact, it would probably easier on him, then having to guard the likes of Cousins, Howard, Gortat, McGee, Gasol, etc like he has so far.

      These are cream of the crop Centers he’s going against nightly in his first week in the league – all on the road. I think he’s done a solid job, considering, but putting him on some easier competition might be better right now.

  • Nov 9, 20124:26 pm
    by bugsygod

    Reply

    STRAIGHT BULLSHIT!!  why not play drummond/monroe??  where doing horrible at these small ball lineups, Drummond gives us a strenght with the athletic ability etc.  Why not play them togetther, is this not why we drafted drummond?  just dumb, losing ALOT of respect for coach frank with all his BS talk.  Then when hes asked about them playing together he gets an attitude like that question should not be asked….HELLO?!?!?  WTF, YOU THOUGHT WE WERE GOING TO SAY WHEN FOR THE LAST 3 YEARS WE TALK OF ADDING A PIECE WITH MONROE AND NOW WE GET THAT GUY AND HE CANT PLAY???  WE ARE A SMALL TEAM, BUT DONT WANT TO PLAY THE 7FT’RS??   JUST PLAIN DUMB.  IM STILL SHOUTING FIRE FRANK UNTIL THEY PLAY TOGETHER.  GET A COACH THAT WANTS TO PLAY THE SMART/BEST LINEUPS.  SHAKING MY DAMN HEAD!

  • Nov 9, 20124:31 pm
    by bugsygod

    Reply

    AND GREAT ARTICLE DAN, V. ELLIS HAD SAME ARTICLE.  Ellis and I WERE TWEETING ABOUT THIS DURING THE SAC GAME, he said “maybe they were worried about sac and stretch 4′s shooting a lot of 3′s”.   But to get not one minute together thru 5 games??  that is being done on purpose and not sure what that purpose is.  BUT if they are worried about other teams stretch 4′s shooting 3′s, what is the point of drafting a big??  just stupid, really dissapointed in coach frank.

    • Nov 9, 20125:14 pm
      by danny

      Reply

      who on sac town can shoot?  I know there are a few guards that are known to shot but none of their 4′s 5′s can shoot the long ball.

      • Nov 9, 20126:59 pm
        by bugsygod

        Reply

        i agree… that was vince ellis from freep who said that.

  • Nov 9, 20124:37 pm
    by Max

    Reply

    One thing that occurs to me is that Slava didn’t make the 12 man roster for some reason and that could be making Frank more reluctant to play Drummond and Monroe together because they are his only two centers and they are both foul prone.
    I really wish Daye or Villy had been cut so Big Ben could still be on the team or Slava could be part of the the active roster.

    • Nov 9, 20127:14 pm
      by Desolation Row

      Reply

      Considering all the DNP’s, if this was the concern could they not just downgrade Daye/CV to the inactive list?

  • Nov 9, 20125:32 pm
    by MarkButter

    Reply

    I think you can play both Monroe and Drummond at this point.  No matter how you try to do “game speed” in practice, you can’t.  So a faster development path for Drummond is to play now.We aren’t going to compete for a chip this year or next, but if we want to be getting closer in two years, he needs to play now.

    If Drummond fouls, then he fouls and Frank merely shifts his lineup back to the original rotation where Drummond gets 5-10 minutes (which he would have already gotten).  JJ can play some 4 if things get tight and in a WTF are we gonna do now moment, CV can play the 4.  Depending on the opposing 4, either Drummond (because of athleticism) or Monroe (his natural long term position now that we have Drummond) can do it. 

    The LA comparison is not.  You’ve got 3 future HOF, 4 if you include Pau (somehow) and given last year with shortened camp, new coach, guys not in shape, this year there was no excuse for “learning the Princeton” offense for being 1-4.  Nash’s injury contributed to the poor play, but take away our game and the Lakers are giving up 104 points a game, including a Dirkless Mavs.  Given D was supposedly Brown’s specialty, that wasn’t going to cut it.

    As for the article:  Frank should worry about the future.  If he doesn’t start winning now (or at least being competitive, especially on D) there will be no future.  Ask Mike Brown.

  • Nov 9, 20125:53 pm
    by PistonsIndonesia

    Reply

    Its funny to see our irks because of this monroe-drummond not together issue. I wonder if Gores feels the same way too. He notices that M Brown is fired. Gores is from LA.  hmmm. put two and two together.. In all seriousness however, our issue of D is because of the uninspiring defensive intensity by the starter. blame it on knight, stuck, tay, monroe and max. D is about effort. Out of all the starter Max probably gives the best effort however his size is a mismatch just like Tay is a mismatch to most SF because he is so slow. One commentator mention that the Piston starters are playing D with their hands not their feet. I totally agree with that.

  • Nov 9, 20127:09 pm
    by Desolation Row

    Reply

    At this stage, the Pistons probably suck no matter who we play together. 

    What if it is this: Monroe + Drummond is the last trick up their sleeve. Should it fail to produce results any better than our current (abysmal) standard, there will be a serious realization among fans that this team is not just bad, but horrifically bad. Cataclysmically bad. Unprecedentedly bad. You get the point. Dumars’ favorability would be much lower if we saw all the cards in his hands and realized how awful they were. Drummond and Monroe together on the court are all he has left. The team probably realizes Drummond+Monroe is an unfinished product and the fact that fans are pining for this to happen so desperately only serves to raise the stakes — not that the anticipation is not Dumars’ fault. Maybe they are trying to refine the chemistry between those two so that when they finally get court time together, it will give fans a reason for hope rather than dismay. It may not be that they are any worse than any other rotation the team could put out there, but just that anything that isn’t better would be a huge disappointment. 

    I think they could be holding off because they want fans to be patient, it’s only 5 games in, and they believe they have something brewing that needs to be more polished before they debut it. Until then, they’d rather ward off anticipation and anger (among fans.. or Gores?) instead of dealing with outrage and disappointment. With an organization this dysfunctional, I wouldn’t put it past Dumars/Frank. 

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