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Archive → January, 2013

Monroe does not Feer the Deer…

Essentials

  • Teams: Milwaukee Bucks (23-19) at Detroit Pistons (17-27)
  • Date: January 29, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

Is Greg Monroe the new old Dwight Howard?

The question probably sounds ludicrous at first glance given that D12 has the chance to one day make the Hall of Fame, whereas Monroe is playing in his third NBA season and is still developing as a big man.

But if we look at his production against the Milwaukee Bucks so far this season, it would be hard not to take that comparison seriously.

Keep in mind, the former Hoya isn’t in the same athletic class as the former Magic player, but in terms of his impact on both ends of the court against the Bucks, he’s been the real deal.

In two games this season, the left-handed center has averaged 20 points, 10.5 rebounds and two assists on 54.8 percent field goal shooting; but more importantly he’s made life painfully difficult for Milwaukee.

Milwaukee likes to run their perimeter players off screens to create advantageous situations where they curl off screens for jump shots; but if the big man steps out to thwart their attempt, they’ll dish off the ball to the screener rolling to the basket for the easy deuce.

This type of action as well as the pick-and-roll are tough to run when the Georgetown product is on the court because he not only sniffs those plays but defends them quite well. Indeed, Monroe helps out on the screen by jumping out onto the would be shooter and then quickly recovering to his man, or simply finds the perfect balance in remaining in between both players as his teammate recovers from the screen to come pick up his man.

The end result is that the player coming off the screen must settle for a semi-contested jumper or pass it out to another player camped out at the 3-point line because the Pistons’ other defenders sagged off the perimeter shooters.

In addition, in the instances that the Pistons’ center has been late in his rotation, he’s recovered nicely by contesting the shot attempt at the rim because the Milwaukee player tried to get all the way to the basket. So far this season, Milwaukee has only converted 55.3 percent of their shot attempts directly at the rim when Monroe is on the court, per NBA.com’s advanced stats tool.

Monroe poses a conundrum for the Bucks: continue to attack him and take contested mid-range shots and attempt some difficult looks at the basket, or pass out to the perimeter for 3-point looks on a team devoid of true pure shooters.

Regardless of the strategy, it’s been difficult for Jim Boylan’s group this season against Detroit. NBA.com’s advanced stats tool tells us that when Monroe is on the bench, Milwaukee scores 112.3 points per 100 possessions, but when he is on the court, the figure nosedives to 89.2 points per 100 possessions.

In other words, Greg is the difference between the best and worst offense in the league for Milwaukee when matched up against Detroit.

On the other side of the ball, the third year big man has been just as terrorizing.

His assist numbers against Brandon Jennings and company may be low, but that’s a little deceiving. The Pistons have fed him the ball on the block and he’s found cutters, open shooters and even ran a few quick hand offs with his teammates that all led to high percentage shots as well as some scores. On a few occasions, his passes led to other players getting fouled, or helped set up an assist.

The reason he’s drawn so much attention from the opposing coaching staff is rather simple: they cannot stop him.

Whether it’s in the post, pick-and-roll or on the boards, Monroe has simply been able to get whatever shot he wants against Milwaukee.

Per NBA.com’s advanced stats tool, with Monroe on the court, Detroit scores 116.3 points per 100 possessions on 49.1 percent shooting, but with their prized big man lounging on the bench, the Pistons produce an anemic 83.6 points per 100 possessions on 38.3 percent field goal shooting.

No matter how you slice it, Greg Monroe is a game changer of the highest order whenever the Bucks are involved.

Read about the Bucks

Bucksketball.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

Trading for Tayshaun Prince not recommended

Joe Kaiser of ESPN named five players NBA teams should avoid trading for, and Tayshaun Prince made the list:

Prince has long been considered one of the league’s top "glue guys," and his name is sure to come up as a possibility for contending teams looking to add a savvy wing defender. Teams such as Milwaukee, Golden State, Utah and maybe even Houston all fit that description.

The problem is that Prince is still playing big minutes (32.5 per game) in his 11th season in the league and will turn 33 next month. That isn’t to say he’s washed up. In fact, thanks in large part to Prince, Pistons small forwards have a PER 1.8 points higher than their opponents this season, according to 82games.com. The problem is that Prince is guaranteed $7.23 million next season and $7.70 million in 2014-15 (when he turns 35), which is a lot of money to be wrapped up in a veteran who has logged a ton of minutes in his career and has seen his scoring (11.9 PPG) dip to its lowest point since the 2003-04 season.

Hey, Joe, shhhh.

Rodney Stuckey returns to rotation after Lawrence Frank deactivates him for something that happens ‘every single day’

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

Frank on Stuckey: “Things happen every single day. You deal with it and you move on.”

Stuckey: “we’re good. Me and L are fine. Sometimes you have disagreements.”

Stuckey: “we talked it out, said what we had to say and we moved forward.”

Stuckey is active, will play tonight and is in the rotation. Apparently the two had a talk yesterday to move forward.

I’m not going to harp on this after this post, but I don’t understand Lawrence Frank’s explanation. If whatever happened between him and Rodney Stuckey was truly something that happens ‘every single day,’ why isn’t Frank inactivating someone for disciplinary reasons every single day?* This incident clearly, in Frank’s mind at least, crossed a line.

*Maybe he’s doing that to Khris Middleton or Viacheslav Kravtsov, but I doubt it.

I’m glad Stuckey and Frank are moving on, and I am, too.

Rajon Rondo’s injury alone won’t vault Pistons into playoffs

Kevin Pelton of ESPN:

But on average, simulations show that only 39 wins will be needed to secure a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Boston’s projection without Rondo? 39.0 wins. So the Celtics are right on the bubble. Overall, simulations show Rondo’s injury decreasing the Celtics’ likelihood of making the playoffs by 14.2 percent.

Those numbers sound about right. As I’ve written, the Pistons’ playoff chances are slim. Rondo’s injury helps the Pistons, but they’d also have to pass the 76ers, who might get Andrew Bynum back soon.

A bigger boost than the loss of Rondo itself might be the Celtics rebuilding by trading Paul Pierce and/or Kevin Garnett.

Still, the Pistons hold the most cards here. They must continue to get better during the season play Andre Drummond more to have a real chance.

Joe Dumars: No Rodney Stuckey trade in works

David Mayo of MLive:

Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars, asked via text message moments before the game if there is a trade brewing for Stuckey, replied, "Not at all."

So that answers that.

Vincent Goodwill: Rodney Stuckey’s inactivation ‘seems like’ it stemmed from ‘something verbal at Sat practice’

What was the deal with Rodney Stuckey being inactivated for the Pistons’ win over the Magic last night? Lawrence Frank isn’t saying. David Mayo of MLive:

"Just coach’s decision," he said. "That’s as far as I’m going. I’m sorry to be evasive but that’s all I’m giving you."

"I know I’m not helping you guys do your job and I’m not trying to be a you-know-what, although I am a you-know-what," Frank joked. "It’s just a coach’s decision. You can probe. You guys have got to do your job and I’m sorry that I’m not giving you the answer you want but we keep that in the locker room."

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News dug a little deeper, via his Twitter:

Talking to the players re: Stuckey, they all appeared to be surprised when they found out he wasn’t playing via coach’s decision.

Doesn’t seem like Stuckey and Frank got into a knock-down drag out confrontation, from everything I’ve gathered. A bit surprising

Prince, Monroe and Villanueva were all around for Stuckey-Kue, so they know what it looks like. Seems like something verbal at Sat practice

You have to wonder if this was a slight disagreement followed by some thin skin.

I take that final tweet to mean Frank had think skin, but perhaps Goodwill meant Stuckey. Either way, both sides often have thin skins in these situations.

On one hand, it’s tough to give Stuckey the benefit of the doubt, considering his previous run-ins with a coach. On the other hand, those problems came with John Kuester, who seemingly everyone had issues with.

It’s really tough to offer other thoughts on this incident without knowing anymore information. But if Stuckey and Frank get back on the same page soon – or already back on the same page – I doubt it will matter. This seems like the type of minor dustup that quickly becomes forgettable if it doesn’t escalate.

Shooting guard Brandon Knight scores career-high 31 in Pistons’ win over Magic

Detroit Pistons 104 Final
Recap | Box Score
102 Orlando Magic
Jason Maxiell, PF 20 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +3

J.J. Redick scored 31 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including 8-of-11 on 3-pointers. Kim English and Kyle Singler deserve primarily blame, but to my untrained eye, Maxiell appeared at fault, too. Multiple times, Singler cheated inside to help because Maxiell was slow to rotate back inside after defending pick and rolls, and that left Redick open. Was Maxiell defending passing lanes farther from the basket by design? Did Singler respond correctly? I’m not certain, but I think at least Maxiell failed to rotate properly. He also didn’t pursue rebounds with enough desire. If Andre Drummond played like this early in the season, we’d be questioning his motor.

Tayshaun Prince, SF 35 MIN | 3-13 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | -8

Prince played like he had to meet a minimum quota for shot attempts. None of the looks were particularly terrible, but the Pistons have enough other good offensive options that Prince should be a little more selective. His defense, rebounding and point-guard skills while Brandon Knight played off the ball were all moderate positives.

Greg Monroe, C 33 MIN | 7-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -2

Monroe scored efficiently and moved the ball well. But his defense was a mixed bag, and his rebounding was just so-so.

Brandon Knight, PG 37 MIN | 12-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 31 PTS | -5

The Pistons had 25 assists, their most since November, but Knight had none. That wasn’t a failure of Knight to run the offense, because the Pistons barely asked him to do that tonight. Knight –a  more so than any other game I can recall this season — played off the ball. He worked the perimeter to get open for jumpers (5-for-8 on 3-pointers), and the Magic helped him by going under a couple screens when Knight ran pick-and-rolls. Knight did little to show he’s Detroit’s point guard of the future, but he had a very good game, nonetheless. More importantly, without Knight trying to balance point-guard duties with finding his own offense, the Pistons’ offense had a very good game.

Kyle Singler, SG 19 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +14

Singler repeatedly lost J.J. Redick while "guarding" him. Some of those instances, as explained above, might have been Maxiell’s fault. But Singler definitely deserves blame, too. Some efficient offense redeems him a bit.

Charlie Villanueva, PF 25 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +4

Villanueva (12 shots in 25 minutes), isn’t gun shy, is he?

Austin Daye, PF 16 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +8

Solid enough to hang onto a backup rotation spot on this team.

Andre Drummond, C 16 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -1

Drummond was as ineffective as I’ve seen him, but I don’t believe an ineffective 16 minutes meant Drummond would necessarily be ineffective in eight more. (For that same reason, I don’t typically criticize Frank for pulling a "hot" shooter. Past performance, especially in a small, single-game sample, does not necessarily predict future performance.)

Will Bynum, PG 20 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 0 REB | 12 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +8

Bynum led a floor-spacing lineup with Singler, Daye, Villanueva and Drummond that outscored the Magic by 12 points in nine minutes. More interestingly, he assisted Knight on three fourth-quarter 3-pointers. Was this a preview of Knight’s game while he’s playing with Trey Burke next season?

Kim English, SG 19 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -11

Redick did English worse than he did Singler. English was absolutely brutal at getting through off-ball screens set for Redick. I’m not sure whether it’s a strength issue or something else, but English was very poor at that.

Khris Middleton, SF DNP COACH’S DECISION

This is just a reminder that Khris Middleton was active and Rodney Stuckey was not. This was clearly more than just a basketball decision. Stuckey was being punished.

Corey Maggette, SF DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN

This is just a reminder that Corey Maggette was active and Rodney Stuckey was not. This was clearly more than just a basketball decision. Stuckey was being punished.

Lawrence Frank

More than anything else tonight, Frank’s decision to inactivate Rodney Stuckey should come under the closest scrutiny. Unfortunately, we have the least information about that decision. During the game, I thought Frank was fine. As usual, Drummond should have played more – though I don’t think he should have been in at the end. To recap, Bynum fouled Jameer Nelson on a 3-pointer with six seconds left and the Pistons leading by four. Nelson made the first two free throws and missed the second, and the Magic had a few tips at the ball before time expired. Some have criticized for Frank leaving Detroit’s top rebounder on the bench. But if Drummond were in and had grabbed the rebound, gotten fouled and missed at least one free throw, many of the same people would be criticizing Frank for inserting Drummond.

Rodney Stuckey inactivated due to ‘coach’s decision’ against Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (16-27) at Orlando Magic (27-12)
  • Date: January 27, 2013
  • Time: 6 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Detroit Plus

What to look for

Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

Stuckey’s inactive status is "coach’s decision," I am told. I’m sure LFrank will be asked that first postgame.

Rodney Stuckey has been struggling lately, but this seems like a rather harsh move. Does Lawrence Frank really believe Khris Middleton will be better than Stuckey? Or is there more to this?

Read about the Magic

Magic Basketball

Piston of the Week: Greg Monroe

Piston of the Week (1/20/2013 – 1/26/2013): Greg Monroe, again.

20.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and one steal per game, 52 field-goal percentage

Another day, another dollar.

It’s pretty obvious that this award is Greg Monroe’s to lose for the foreseeable future (unless Andre Drummond played more minutes, but why would that ever happen?)

Monroe was the best scorer and not so surprisingly the best distributor on the roster this week. Highlighted by Friday’s brilliant 31 point, 12 rebound effort against the Heat, the guy just put together a strong week — sans his struggles against Joakim Noah and the Bulls.

He’s still not as strong a defensive player as you’d hope a third-year big man would be, but offensively, he’s just plain better than everyone else on this team. Guys like Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey are definitely capable of scoring consistently — I think, right? Right?? — but only Monroe is capable of  having an NBA offense run through him.

There are times where the lack of a point guard, or heck, teammates who know how to feed the post, has an effect on him. There are times where an obvious lack of shooters and floor spacing make it pretty easy for defenses to plug up the paint too, but Monroe has still found a way to be solid.

Here’s the most infuriating thing — even when Monroe is playing well, the rest of the team somehow finds a way to go into the tank. The Pistons are 3-6 when Monroe scores 20-plus points, which is amazing in a horrible and tragic way. Losing when your best is at his makes little sense. Monroe has had a number of good games, but let’s just look at three really good ones real quick:

  • Jan. 25 at Miami — 31 points, 12 rebounds, one steal, three turnovers and 12-for-17 shooting.
  • Dec. 19 at Toronto — 35 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, one turnover and 14-for-22 shooting.
  • Nov. 17 at Sacramento — 21 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, two turnovers and 8-for-15 shooting.

Those are three uber-efficient and well-balanced games, and the Pistons lost all three.

It’s not really possible to explain. Guys just seem to check out and ball watch when Monroe really gets it going. Maybe that’s because when he’s cooking, he’s not passing — but considering the guys he can pass to, do you blame him?

It’s frustrating, it’s confusing, it’s Detroit basketball.

Past Winners

David Thorpe: Andre Drummond ‘should have gone second in this draft’

David Thorpe of ESPN assigned superlatives to the rookie class, and Andre Drummond cleaned up:

Best shot-blocker(s): Davis and Drummond

To share this award with Davis says a lot about Drummond, considering what a special shot-blocker Davis is and will be for a decade-plus. Davis is more calculating, in part because he needs to play big minutes for his team, so risking fouls is something he has to be mindful of.

Drummond blocks more shots per minute, but he is less concerned about fouls, so he goes after more shots. Having Greg Monroe next to him helps him. It is fair to think that one day these two rooks will both be in the top four in this category in the entire league.

Best rebounder: Andre Drummond, Pistons

Some rebounders are tall and long, so they can get their hands on a lot of balls. Others have great hands, so the ball sticks when they touch it. Undersized players need a motor, along with good hands, to get to the ball and rebound. Then we have Drummond, who has combined all three components to become dominant on the glass. He has also added some craft to his art, deftly tipping the ball away from opponents to spots he can get to first. Drummond has the potential to one day lead this league in rebounding.

Biggest surprise: Drummond

Questions about his desire to play hovered around Drummond last June, as did concerns about his offensive game and feel. But it’s clear that Drummond should have gone second in this draft, which easily makes him the biggest surprise. Players like Drummond — glass-eating, shot-blocking, paint-finishing, lob-catching, quick-in-transition beasts — are exceedingly rare. He looks to be a franchise big man with very strong All-Star potential.

In a re-done draft, Anthony Davis, Drummond and Damian Lillard are definitely the first three picks. The order would probably vary based on the selector, but I’d take Davis, Drummond, Lillard in that order – and Drummond is closer to Davis than Lillard.