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Archive → December, 2012

Joe Dumars: Viacheslav Kravtsov can be effective right now

Joe Dumars on Viacheslav Kravtsov, via Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

“I absolutely still really like him,” Dumars said. “It’s just a matter of his learning curve. He’s going through the transition of being a European basketball player learning the NBA game, which is a different game. But he has an NBA skill set that you really can’t teach. You can’t teach 7 feet and you can’t teach a guy to be an instinctive shot blocker and rim protector and those are the things he does.

“He plays above the rim, athletic as heck, can really block shots. We love having him here as an option. If we get into a situation where we have to activate and play him, he’s shown he can be effective for us.”

Greg Monroe leads league in shots per game at rim, emerging as post passer

Blake Murphy of HoopData:

Greg Monroe may be the league’s best passer out of the low post. His 3.4 assists per game are solid and, without digging deeper, show a passing skill most big men don’t have. However, unlike the other names around him on the leader board, Monroe isn’t really an inside-outside big man in terms of the shots he takes.

To wit, look at his Hoopdata page. He actually leads the entire league in field goal attempts per game at the rim with 7.1 and also takes another 2.6 from three- to nine-feet out. In total, he takes more shots inside of 10 feet than any other player in the NBA except for Dwight Howard, Brook Lopez and Nikola Pekovic, and they’re all razor-close.

Monroe proceeds to take just 2.5 shots per game outside of 10 feet, meaning that roughly three quarters of his touches come from in the paint or short out on the baseline. So he’s spending a good amount of time down there.

It’s very interesting that Monroe leads the league in shots at the rim, and that’s a big positive. Although his shooting percentage at the rim is down this season, it’s still – by far – his most-efficient area.

Murphy also asked for my thoughts on Monroe’s passing, which he included in the post:

Monroe works from the high post more than his shot selection would indicate. He’s been a hesitant mid-range shooter lately, which has frustrated many fans, so most of his scoring comes in the low post. But most of his assists have come from the high post, from where he hits cutting teammates.

Could Andre Drummond win Rookie of the Year even if his minutes don’t increase much?

To answer my own headline, no, probably not. But Andre Drummond is definitely in the conversation, and if Damian Lillard wasn’t the revelation he’s been, Drummond would have an even stronger case for the award. In fact, in a five-on-five on ESPN.com today looking at trimester awards so far for the NBA season, two of the five writers picked Drummond as their ROY choice:

Ian Levy: Drummond. Although he’s still convincing his coach he deserves 20-plus minutes a game, Drummond has been a revelation. He’s answered every question about motor and intensity, while solidifying every assertion of his unique size and athleticism. Lillard is off to a great start as well, but Drummond is clearly headed somewhere special.

Ethan Sherwood Strauss: Drummond. Look, I’m under no illusions. I get that Lillard, Oakland’s version ofChauncey Billups, will take this award. But Drummond’s higher PER gives me an excuse to choose someone who’s made more astounding plays this season. Drummond might not always know what he’s doing, but he’ll crush laws of physics at least once a game, all the while looking like a combination of young Amar’e and young Dwight.

Drummond is simply not playing as many minutes as he deserves yet, and that tends to dominate the conversations around him. But we really should be spending more time just simply discussing (and enjoying) how remarkably well he’s played so soon in his career. He certainly still has a ways to go to be the dominant force he’s capable of, but the fact that he’s far, far closer than anyone could’ve imagined when he was drafted is in itself a saving grace of a season that has otherwise been forgettable in every way.

Kim English, Khris Middleton are the latest Pistons to have D-League success, but will it mean anything for them?

I was really excited that Pistons rookies Kim English and Khris Middleton got a chance at extended minutes for a few games with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants last week. I was even more excited when both played well.

But then I got a little less excited. The Pistons have a history of sending second round guys to the D-League, seeing them do well there, then returning to the NBA and still getting minimal or no minutes. That was more understandable in the days when they were winning. These last couple seasons, though? Far, far less understandable. This was my topic in today’s column for the Detroit Free Press:

In the earlier days, for players like (Amir) Johnson and (Alex) Acker, that was excusable. The Pistons were busy contending for titles, so the rotation was set and teams in that position typically don’t spend a lot of time giving big minutes to second round picks in an effort to develop them.

Things have changed significantly, though. The Pistons missed an opportunity with (Vernon) Macklin, a player who showed promise in the extremely limited minutes he received last season and even more promise in his D-League stint. Then, at the end of the season, because they never gave him a chance at regular minutes even after that D-League stint, the Pistons were left not really knowing whether Macklin could develop into a useful player and he was eventually squeezed off the roster.

The likelihood of Macklin, or any second-round pick for that matter, turning into a rotation caliber player is low just based on the odds. Few second-round picks make it. But a rebuilding team like the Pistons can’t afford to look for talent and assets in every possible place.

They blew an opportunity with Macklin last season by not stretching out his minutes at any point during a lost season. Hopefully, they don’t do the same with English and Middleton this season.

Tom Ziller: Rodney Stuckey ‘must be traded for the good of the NBA’

Tom Ziller of SBNation wrote about the “seven players who must be traded for the good of the NBA,” and Rodney Stuckey made the list:

OK, Detroit, enough with the hot-and-cold, yes-and-no flirtation with Rodney Stuckey as a critical piece of the team. You like him or you don’t. You had let him become a restricted free agent, making us think you didn’t like him. Then you signed him to a ridiculously appropriate deal, making us think you did like him. Now you have him coming off of the bench behind Kyle Singler. KYLE SINGLER. As a result (and only a result, dammit), Stuckey is shooting 38 percent.

Enough! Stuckey has always been considered the next Billups — so much so that you, Detroit, drafted Stuckey and traded Billups himself to make room in the rotation. We need to see Stuckey reach those heights. Or alternately, we need to see Stuckey and Tyreke Evans abandon the NBA and begin a one-on-one league. Dear Basketball Gods, you must smile on that possibility, no? Does that idea please you?

I know Ziller is being somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but I’m obliged to point out:

  • Stuckey’s field-goal percentage as a starter: 28
  • Stuckey’s field-goal percentage as a reserve: 42

As far as Ziller’s larger point that the Pistons should trade Stuckey to set him free? Yeah, I don’t care anymore whether Detroit keeps Stuckey. Stuckey is a fine reserve and OK starter, and though he’s a nice piece to have, he’s no longer integral to the Pistons. But I’m not convinced he’d be integral to another team, either.

Granting holiday wishes for the Pistons

Ian Levy at Hickory High put together his annual post polling writers from every NBA team about what they’d wish for for their team if one holiday wish could come true. I think it’s pretty obvious what Ben Gulker of Detroit Bad Boys and I wished for — more minutes for Austin Daye! And that wish came true! You’re welcome, everyone. Thank Ben and I for having our fingers on the pulse of what every Piston fan wants in the comments. And everyone make sure to continue thanking Lawrence Frank.

No but seriously, we both just used it as another opportunity to beg and plead for minutes for Andre Drummond:

Patrick Hayes – Piston Powered – @Patrick_Hayes - The Pistons are currently playing former power forward Kyle Singler at shooting guard because the team is in such desperate need of a competent 3-point shooter on the floor, they have no real long-term answer at small forward to eventually replace Tayshaun Prince and, I’m sure, many Pistons fans would ask for a replacement coach for Lawrence Frank, one who would — it seems crazy, I know — actually play the young players on a rebuilding team rather than limited veterans. But I’ll make this easy on Frank. I’ll just turn to Andre Claus and his helper Elf to request the gift of more minutes for prized rookie big man Andre Drummond. Drummond is far more advanced than even his most hopeful predraft proponents expected, and he’s earned a bigger role with the Pistons based on his production than the one they’ve entrusted him with.

Ben Gulker – Pistons By The Numbers | Detroit Bad Boys – @BRGulker - I wish that Andre Drummond played as much as he deserves. He’s rather quietly putting together a brilliant rookie campaign, doing all the things that teams need big men to do. He spent most of the first 20 games playing fewer than 20 minutes a night, while older, less-productive players got starter’s minutes. Free Andre Drummond!

And make sure to check out Ian’s full post and the wishes for other teams from their writers. It’s one of my favorite NBA posts each year.

Corey Maggette: ‘I haven’t really gotten the opportunity this entire year to do … what I can do’

Corey Maggette, via David Mayo of MLive:

"At the end of the day, you’ve just got to stay as professional as possible through this process," he said. "I know what I can do. I know my ability. I haven’t really gotten the opportunity this entire year to do that. But also, this is where they might be moving in a direction where they want to develop the younger guys.

"In every aspect, you’ve just got to try to be a professional in every way. Do I agree with it? No, as a competitor you can’t agree with it. But as a professional, I accept what he (Frank) told me, and that’s how you have to approach it."

"I just want our guys to have a positive attitude. Every guy on the team wants to play, believes they should play. It’s tough for coach to make a decision, it’s tough for J.D. (Dumars) to make a decision, and somebody’s going to get the short end of the stick. At this time in my career, I’m getting the short end of the stick."

As Maggette said, and as I’ve said many times, the NBA is full of the world’s most competitive people. None of them will be happy about a demotion, but it’s all about how they handle it. It sounds like Maggette is handling it the right way.

Lawrence Frank on Andre Drummond: ‘We’re privy to things that maybe the general public isn’t’

David Mayo of MLive:

"When we don’t play Andre 18 minutes, the reporters (who cover the Pistons regularly) have pictures of me up all around town — and the fans, too," said Frank, who used that benchmark because Valanciunas played 18 minutes in the Raptors win Tuesday at Cleveland. "But the thing is, there are certain things that we’re privy to things that maybe the general public isn’t.

"There’s a lot of things we see and understand the big picture. Not that there’s a right way or wrong way, but it’s the way we choose it. Plus, there are other guys who may also be doing their jobs as well."

I’ll just leave you with Joe Dumars’ recent comments on Andre Drummond:

That’s what people don’t see about him that we all – everybody, internally – know this kid has a great spirit about him.

Pistons waste Greg Monroe’s career game in loss to Raptors

Detroit Pistons 91 Final
Recap | Box Score
97 Toronto Raptors
Jason Maxiell, PF 21 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -7

Maxiell didn’t shoot efficiently from the field or the free-throw line, and otherwise, he didn’t stand out positive or negatively.

Tayshaun Prince, SF 33 MIN | 3-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | -2

Prince was pretty efficient, but he didn’t impact the game much. His defense on DeMar DeRozan was shaky early, though it picked up late.

Kyle Singler, SF 31 MIN | 3-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | -16

Singler fouled out, and though the final one was a late intentional foul, his lack of foot speed is really starting to be exposed on the perimeter.

Greg Monroe, C 35 MIN | 14-22 FG | 7-8 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 35 PTS | +5

Monroe – whose 35 points were a career high – did everything he could to help the Pistons win, but all his teammates either scored fewer than 10 points or had at least three turnovers. Monroe’s play has been up and down this season, but this is the type of performance many were hoping he could deliver at least on occasion this year.

Brandon Knight, PG 36 MIN | 1-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 2 PTS | +3

Knight didn’t hesitate to look for his shot early in possessions, but he just didn’t make many of them. His playmaking (six assists and two turnovers) was fine. His ability to stay in front of Jose Calderon was not. Calderon frequently beat Knight off the dribble to create passing lanes for his 17 assists.

Charlie Villanueva, PF 20 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -2

Villanueva was cold on his 3-pointers, but he scored well inside. He rebounded and defended as well, or maybe a little better, than usual. He wasn’t the problem tonight.

Austin Daye, PF 15 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -4

Daye’s shooting line was hurt by forcing one with the shot-clock expiring, but it’s still not good. His defense, considering my expectations for him, was alright. But I certainly wouldn’t trade for him.

Andre Drummond, C 20 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-7 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -4

Drummond mixed scintillating savvy, youthful mistakes and, of course, elite athleticism. At one point, he sneakily stole an inbound pass after a Detroit basket and immediately made a layup. At another point, Drummond grabbed a defensive rebound, but as he looked to pass upcourt, he allowed Alan Anderson to steal the ball from his hands. Though plays like those balanced out tonight, Drummond’s athleticism made him a net positive. Too bad he didn’t play more.

Rodney Stuckey, PG 29 MIN | 5-12 FG | 2-5 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 13 PTS | -3

Stuckey’s 13 points and four rebounds, a game after he sat out with back spasms, were welcome. But he was a bit out of control tonight with three turnovers, including a crucial botched entry pass to Monroe late.

Lawrence Frank, head coach

It’s not his fault that only Prince can reliably throw an entry pass to Monroe, but there were other problems that can be pinned on Frank. I didn’t like that Villanueva and Daye played 13 minutes together, and the Pistons were outscored by seven points in that span. I didn’t like that Monroe and Drummond played just seven minutes together, and the Pistons outscored Toronto by three in that span.


Jose Calderon masterfully ran the Raptors’ offense with 17 assists and just two turnovers. Now, he’s the only NBA player with three 17-assist games this season.

That was… overshadowing.

Monroe was the game’s best player, and Calderon was important to the Raptors’ success, but DeMar DeRozan and Alan Anderson played very well. After shooting 2-of-9 in his first game against Detroit this season, he scored 23 points on 10-of-19 shooting tonight. Anderson scored 12 fourth-quarter points, including back-to-back 3-pointers that gave Toronto some breathing room.

Pistons trying to trade Austin Daye

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (hat tip: Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk):

Pistons are actively shopping forward Austin Daye, a source said.

I can’t imagine Austin Daye would fetch even a second-rounder in a trade. He’s done two things in the last two years:

1. Not played

2. Played poorly

Daye has a nearly $3 million expiring contract, so that could be helpful in facilitating a larger trade. But as far as Daye appealing to another team, I just can’t see it.