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3-on-3: Pistons’ bench

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.

What has been the most important way the bench has helped the Pistons lately?

Patrick Hayes: For the first time in … well … maybe four or five years, the current bench has given the Pistons a unit of players whose skills actually work well with each other. A tenet of this era of Pistons basketball post-Billups trade has been that the Pistons have had unique talent at some positions, but when you combine it all together, those unique talents have clashed with rather than complemented each other. Austin Daye, Charlie Villanueva, Will Bynum and Andre Drummond all have weaknesses, but all of them also do certain things really well and those skills mask the weaknesses of the others, resulting in a lineup that has had good chemistry and production.

Jameson Draper: Playing different roles. Now, people may look at this bench and wonder why the Pistons don’t start all of those guys, but that’s just because they aren’t starters. They can all play different roles that’ll help the team. For example, Rodney Stuckey was not playing well last season and early this season as a starter, but once he started coming off the bench his play has improved immensely. Also, it’s the fact that the players that weren’t providing anything to the team are now playing really well. Daye, Villanueva and Bynum have all started playing incredible basketball.

Dan Feldman: It has played so well, it’s going to get Andre Drummond into the starting lineup sooner than later. Lawrence Frank often begins the fourth quarter with the bench unit, and when its playing well, he tends to stick with it. In his last six games, beginning with the start of the fourth quarter until he’s subbed out, Drummond has played 22:00, 12:00, 8:42, 7:06, 7:29 and 9:36. That’s too long. It’s too long for Drummond to play straight, and it’s too long for the starters to sit. A simple remedy would be moving Drummond into the starting lineup and balancing the units. 

Who will be the Pistons’ Sixth Man of the Year this season, using the NBA rule that the award winner must come off the bench more than he starts?

Patrick Hayes: It’s Drummond. It’s unfortunate that it appears he’ll stay in this bench role his entire rookie season — he’s legitimately one of the two or three most productive players on the team. Although the team has been committed to playing him regular minutes, it doesn’t look like he’ll crack the starting lineup this season unless Jason Maxiell is traded. If Drummond is a reserve all season, he’s the easy choice as the team’s sixth man of the year.

Jameson Draper: It’s close, but at this rate I’d say Will Bynum. I would say Andre Drummond easily, but I think he’s going to eventually start a lot this season. The next best candidate is Bynum. Although Bynum doesn’t get as many minutes, if you look at his stats per 36 minutes, he’s averaging seven assists (most on the team) and 16.6 points. He also has the highest assist percentage (35.1) on the team. His stats are among the best, and he’s coming off the bench. If Drummond becomes a starter, Bynum’s the clear choice.

Dan Feldman: As explained above, I don’t think Andre Drummond will remain a reserve much longer. And as much as I’d like to pick Will Bynum, he runs too hot-and-cold, and at his age, he could lose a step with any slight injury. I think Rodney Stuckey will eventually move back into the starting lineup, though he already has a 23-8 advantage in games off the bench. If he’s eligible, he’s my pick, but I don’t think he will be. So, I guess I’ll say Charlie Villanueva, because I’m encouraged by the ways he’s contributed besides scoring. This is a really tough one to answer, because the beauty of the bench has been that everyone has played so well together.

Will the bench’s quality play continue throughout the year?

Patrick Hayes: As inconsistent as Bynum, Daye and Villanueva have been throughout their Pistons careers, I lean towards yes. Drummond has been remarkably consistent, and he’s the key to the bench. He makes up for the defensive shortcomings of the other three. Bynum works best with a finisher like Drummond who can bail him out when he penetrates too deep. Daye and Villanueva need a large volume of open shots, and Drummond’s offensive rebounding ability along with Bynum’s ability to make a defense account for his ability to get inside, successfully create those shots. Bynum will still have his signature erratic games, Daye and Villanueva will have occasional games when their shots aren’t falling and Drummond will still be prone to youthful mistakes as he learns the finer points of NBA defense and post play, but as long as they continue to get minutes together, they’ll continue to be productive as a unit.

Jameson Draper: It’s hard to say at this point, but the bench has stayed consistent for the past two weeks, so signs are pointing to yes. If Drummond stays on the bench, which I don’t think he will, it’ll help a ton. But with Charlie Villanueva playing well, Austin Daye getting his stroke back, Will Bynum playing out of his mind and Stuckey becoming one of the higher-scoring bench players on the team, the Pistons’ bench can sustain success throughout the course of this year.

Dan Feldman: Not to the degree it has. As Patrick wrote, Drummond keys everything. If – and, hopefully when – Drummond moves into the starting lineup, the rest of the bench must do some serious adjusting. That will take time, and I doubt the remaining bench players will ever become as productive without him. But Jason Maxiell could still set screen for Will Bynum, and Kyle Singler could space the floor if he loses his starting job to Rodney Stuckey. Defensively, it’s really tough to see any real success without Drummond.


  • Jan 10, 201312:13 pm
    by David


    good stuff guys.

    i wonder if Lawrence Frank will use this random long break in the schedule to spend some serious practice time with Monroe at the 4 and Drummond playing with the starters.

    I think all the talk about Drummond starting or not has understated the transition Moose is going to have to go thru in moving over to the 4. It’s a more natural fit for him in some ways, but he’s been the Pistons starting C for some time and he’s matched up against just about every other 5 in the league. 

    I can’t wait for Drum-Roe to start. Hopefully this week and next Frank is using all the extra practice time to get them going.

    • Jan 10, 201312:44 pm
      by baines


      David…………..I wondered the same thing while reading the article stating that Frank was looking at any and all player combinations.  It seems he should be trying to get Drummond and Monroe more playing time together as the season continues.  Whether that means starting Drummond or just adjusting his playing time, I think it is imperative they begin playing together more and more as we go along.

      • Jan 10, 20131:48 pm
        by tile


        I think the problem is that the second unit has been playing so well and the main reason for this is Drummond more than any of the other guys. This will keep Drummond on the bench for as long as it looks like our bench is superior to the opposing teams’ bench most of the nights. As much as I would like to see Moose and Dre together more, I also believe that it would take a Maxiell trade for that to happen. 

        • Jan 10, 20132:09 pm
          by Stuckey and Whoever


          As much as Drummond needs to start, its more of an issue of just getting his minutes up.  And why mess up a good thing.  No doubt he needs to close games, but both line ups need him.  Its more about the finish anyway.  Just as Stuckey closes more games and gets more minutes than Singler.  Do the same thing with Dre.  I feel the balance is the best it has been in a long time with both line ups.  Until we get more players why mess with it, because I don’t think you can anyway.  Because if both of them start I think it is bye bye bench.  Dre should be leading or be in the top three in minutes.  Great work on the 3 on 3!

  • Jan 10, 201312:14 pm
    by Crispus


    Just switch the bench and starters completely. Run out to early leads then sloooowww thhhhe gaaaame dowwwwn with Isolayshauns and Brandon Knight trying to get out of traps and Greg Monroe.

  • Jan 10, 20131:28 pm
    by DoctorDave


    What has been the most important way the bench has helped the Pistons lately?
    This is easy; the answer is given in one word: HOPE. While helping to win games, the future of hope of better things to come is, right now, better than winning. Three ways these guys have provided for future hope – 1) Drummond’s play gives great hope of what he will eventually become. The comparisons to Dwight Howard are no longer fanciful. 2) Stuckey’s rejuvenated play with the 2unit gives hope that he can be a legitimate part of a championship 3-guard rotation a la Vinne Johnson. 3) Lawrence Frank has actually gotten productive minutes from the garbage pile of players (AD & CV). Now, don’t get me wrong: I don’t hope those two players will pan out and become part of a viable playoff squad. Rather, I have hope that Lawrence Frank can coach because of what he has gotten out of those two.
    Who will be the Pistons’ Sixth Man of the Year this season, using the NBA rule that the award winner must come off the bench more than he starts?
    Draper and Feldman are guessing based on what they think will happen. Hayes has the (correct!) answer based on right now. So, let me change the question: “Who is the current Pistons’ Sixth Man of the Year… not named Drummond?” That’s a better question.
    The answer has got to be Stuckey. When relegated to the bench, his Piston future looked murky. Now? Looks to me like he needs to be starting again.
    Will the bench’s quality play continue throughout the year?
    If there is an “over/under” on this, I take the “under.” I take the “way under.” Drummond is heading to the starting unit; Stuckey should be, too. Put Maxiell and Singler on the 2unit, and even if everything else is equal, the 2unit is just not as good. But everything won’t stay equal. Bynum is streaky; so, following a hot streak, you get a cold one. It’s simply the law of averages. And if that is true: what about Daye and Charlie? Neither are as bad as 2012; but do you think both of them can continue to play as they have? One of them? Maybe. Two of them? Nope.

  • Jan 10, 20131:42 pm
    by piston moribund


    We really need to trade Daye!!! and insert English since he is more likely to be on the team next year.  With that said, the bench has way more options and firepower then the starters.  Everyone on the bench can score in different ways and are way more athletic.  The starters are handicapped by Maxi’s height and the utter lack of athleticism from Bulwinkle. UGH, really really painful to watch.  I now look forward to watching the Pistons play only because of the second unit.  Now if only someone can get Daye some Lithium and my daye will be complete.

    • Jan 10, 20134:03 pm
      by Crispus


      Keep Daye! He’s young and he’s inexpensive and his ceiling still looks really really high. I would rather part with Maxiell, Tayshaun and Jerebko.

      • Jan 10, 20134:29 pm
        by piston moribund


        Several reasons to not keep Daye.
        1.  Already stated, we have players waiting who are just as unproven.
        2.  How long do you wait for someone to come around.  If anything, his overall numbers should point to the fact that he is not consistent.  Any scrub in the NBA has the talent to have good games, but keeping it up is why they make the roster.  We are a third through the season and he has had one really good game and two ok games for someone coming off the bench.  The issue is never about physical talent, he doesnt have to head to compete day in and day out.  Mental toughness is much harder to overcome then physical shortcomings, ie max and bulwinkle.
        3.  He will command more then 4mil to retain his rights next year, not what i call cheap.  If you really want to keep him, then you let his contract expire and see what the market value is. Guessing its not even close to
        4.  Tay’s value seemed over rated when he signed but it seems that he does have real value in terms of stability.  Trading Prince would mean that winning is no longer in the equation.  Just a really knee jerk reaction.
        5.  I am guessing that they sign JJ to a real contract because they think he has something to contribute.  There is just no room for him in the rotation right now but definitely a more consistent performer then Daye and not much of a difference in age.
        I really enjoy the dynamics of this new/old group but perspective and history needs to be maintained in order to chart the direction of the roster in the long run.

      • Jan 10, 20134:48 pm
        by Crispus


        2/3. But he’s gaining confidence now, on this unit, before our eyes. He’s got the tools man, that’s why nobody can really bring themselves to write him off. We might joke about Durant Lite and Gay Lite but it’s not inconceivable for him to become a player who’s unique offensive skills and body type mask his shortcomings. I’m not saying we run out to sign him to a fat extension, but don’t push him out the door for a second round pick when he still has untapped potential and the respect of coach Frank.

        4. Tayshaun is playing well and stabilizing the team, but let’s face it he’s really slow and he’s only going to get slower. Right now the starting unit’s biggest problem is that they are all really slow and undynamic, except Knight who just turns the ball over a lot. Maybe We don’t need to get rid of Prince AND Maxiell, but we can’t keep both, it just means giving up too much athleticism in exchange for smart, conservative play. That might work for the Spurs, but we’re not the Spurs.

        5. JJ might have more consistency, but Daye has more upside, and to this point, is having a better season. What does Jerebko do besides running around? We already have Singler doing that, but Singler is more crafty and a better shooter. Maybe if he became a good defender or something he’d fight his way back in, but I fail to see what he really adds as an energetic guy who doesn’t have any specialties.

        The way to get English some PT is to clear the SF logjam so that Singler can play there and English can get minutes at SG. If Prince or Daye end up going it should create an opportunity. Obviously we have different desires on that front.

  • Jan 10, 20134:35 pm
    by Crispus


    Here, let’s make a list of each unit’s strengths and weaknesses and see who we can shuffle to bring the units into equilibrium:


    -Play within themselves

    -Turnover Axis (Monroe & Knight)
    -Pathetic Post Defense
    -Poor Pick & Roll Defense
    -Don’t Space the Floor Well on Offense
    -No Real PG
    -Disjointed and Unengaging (to fans and players alike)
    -Mediocre 3pt Shooting


    -Long Frontcourt
    -Playmaking PGs (Stuckey or Bynum)
    -Two Deadly 3pt Shooters (and Stuckey, who thinks he is)
    -Positive ‘Drummond Effect’ on Post and Pick & Roll D
    -Hustle, Enthusiasm, Joy, Redemption
    -Alley Oop Threat with Drummond
    -Wide Open style Makes Everyone Play Better

    -No Real 2nd Big on Defense
    -Bynum & Stuckey can get out of Control
    -No Low-Post Offense (Not Counting Putbacks)

    I’m actually buffaloed as to how to make adjustments here. I’ll just take a goofy stab at it:



    As you can see, Maxiell has to go.

    • Jan 11, 20136:08 am
      by Jameson Draper


      That lineup could work, but you have to remember how much more of an asset to the team Stuckey became once he was benched.

  • Jan 10, 20136:33 pm
    by esrom


    Ideally Kravtzov would be ready to provide some of what Drummond adds to the second unit.  Size,
    rebounding and defense at least.
    Is he that far away from being NBA ready?


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