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Archive → January, 2013

Will Bynum: ‘My future’s here in Detroit’

David Mayo of MLive:

"Deadline for what?" Bynum said when asked about the trade deadline. "My future’s here, man. My future’s here in Detroit. You ain’t been watching? I ain’t been thinking about it. Nothing to think about. Nothing to think about."

Never change, Will Bynum. Never change.

Bynum is such a singularly focused guy – for better or worse – I really think by “future” he means somewhere between the next game and the rest of the season. So, to those of you worried that the cap space created this summer by Bynum’s expiring contract will go toward… re-signing Bynum, I see this as no reason to fret.

Greg Monroe joins LeBron James and Dwayne Wade in playing like a superstar, Pistons routed by Heat

Detroit Pistons 88 Final
Recap | Box Score
110 Miami Heat
Jason Maxiell, PF 19 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -4

Maxiell was basically non-existent. Don’t get me wrong. Maxiell has plenty of quality performances. But he’s much more prone to these types of games than Andre Drummond is.

Tayshaun Prince, SF 29 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | -15

Prince handled the ball against Miami’s aggressive defense a bit more than he would if he were playing with a better point guard, but that doesn’t completely excuse his three turnovers. Prince was too sloppy with the ball and didn’t do enough to offset that.

Kyle Singler, SF 21 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -15

Did not get buckets.

Greg Monroe, C 34 MIN | 12-17 FG | 7-8 FT | 12 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 31 PTS | -10

This was an offensive masterpiece for a big man. Post-up, hook, runner, transition, mid-range jumper – Monroe scored every way he’s capable. He had no assists for the first time in 13 games and just the third time this season, but that was A-OK tonight. The Heat’s defense is particularly strong on the wings and Monroe was the Pistons’ best option – by far. At one point, he grabbed a rebound and took the ball all the way in for a goaltended basket. It wasn’t really a transition opportunity, but Monroe keeping the ball himself was Detroit’s best option.

Brandon Knight, PG 28 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-3 FT | 0 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -16

Three turnovers in 28 minutes are only slightly above his season average, but these three were as ugly as they get. Knight is 0-for-7 on 3-pointers in his last two games, but I’d chalk that up to a small sample more than anything else.

Jonas Jerebko, PF 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -4

Jerebko played! He didn’t do anything, but at least he played, which even in blowouts, has rarely happened lately. If and when he returns to the rotation shouldn’t be determined by his performance in these garbage minutes, and I doubt it will be.

Andre Drummond, C 25 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -13

Drummond stole the ball from Dwyane Wade on back-to-back possessions. He took the first, raced up court and dunked. He was on his way for another fastbreak basket on the second when he was fouled. Just two flat-out awesome plays.

Rodney Stuckey, PG 25 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -2

In his last seven games, Stuckey is shooting 20-for-58. He’s in a rut.

Lawrence Frank

The following two sentences are related. The Heat had 12 steals and an offensive rating of 141.7 on the ensuing possessions. The Heat have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Miami has much better players than Detroit, and there’s nothing Frank can do about that. I won’t pretend this was a well-coached game, but Frank couldn’t have changed much. At least the ball kept going to Monroe.

House of the champs: on the road in Miami

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (16-26) at Miami Heat (27-12)
  • Date: January 25, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

After losing a tough contest in Chicago Wednesday night, the Detroit Pistons will be in Miami tonight to take on a Heat team that they convincingly defeated at the Palace of Auburn Hills on December 28th.

In that contest, the Pistons scored 109 points on 58.1 percent field goal shooting thanks to their performance on both the interior and perimeter. Indeed, Detroit managed 48 points in the paint and also converted an astonishing 12-of-19 shots from 3-point range, with Charlie Villanueva and Austin Daye combining to go six-of-seven from downtown.

The Heat were in somewhat of a funk at the time and played without the services of Dwyane Wade.

This time around, Miami is playing a little better basketball, as evidenced by their back-to-back wins in Golden State and Los Angeles (Lakers) where they held their opponents to 75 and 90 points respectively.

But again, they are still prone to some lackadaisical efforts, which occurred on Wednesday night at home, when they needed overtime to dispatch the Toronto Raptors.

Nonetheless, with Dwyane Wade returning to the lineup tonight, expect this contest to be played differently in comparison to the last time both teams squared off.

LeBron James and Chris Bosh dropped 63 points on 26-for-39 field goal shooting in the first tilt, but received little help from their supporting cast.

Wade’s presence will undoubtedly reduce the scoring burden for both James and Bosh given his ability to put up points on the board, which allows the team to better balance out the point production. NBA.com’s advanced stats tool tells us that LeBron James produces 23 points and seven assists per 36 minutes on 55.8 percent shooting with Wade playing alongside him, whereas when the Marquette product is on the bench, he manufactures 28.5 points and 5.9 assists per 36 minutes on 53.6 percent field goal shooting.

It’s also worth noting that Miami is a better shooting team with the former Finals MVP on the court because they generate more free throw attempts, finish much better around the basket and convert a slightly higher share of their above the break 3-point shots per NBA.com’s advanced stats tool.

Thus, it stands to reason that Detroit won’t be able to replicate the exact same defensive game plan they used in late December against Miami because the variables are much more different now with Wade weaving through defenders off the dribble to get to the rim.

The Heat will find a balance between attacking the paint and setting up their shooters for long-range shooters where they are converting 38.8 percent from downtown (third best mark in NBA).

So how does Detroit win this game?

They have to absolutely win two statistical categories: rebounding and turnovers.

Much has been made of the Heat’s rebounding deficiencies, but the team still has the best record in the Eastern Conference and a huge part of that stems from their at times suffocating defense that forces turnovers and permits them to get out in transition for easy baskets.

The defending champions make up for their lack of size with speed, quickness and an ability to force miscues. Consequently, if Detroit can produce positive results in both areas, they should have a terrific chance of pulling out the contest on the road.

Read about the Heat

Heat Index.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

Andre Drummond’s lack of playing time masks a deserving All-Star

Remember Tom Sunnergren? Of course you do. He’s that nut who picked Andre Drummond for the All-Star game. He graciously offered to expand on his thoughts here.

-Dan

When Andre Drummond entered the league via the ninth pick in June’s draft, the only consensus on him was this: the Husky was a boom-or-bust proposition.

Turns out he’s boomed.

Just 42 games into his professional career, Drummond ranks third in the league among centers in offensive-rebounding rate, seventh in defensive-rebounding rate and third in overall rebounding rate. He’s 10th in true shooting percentage (eight places above Brook Lopez), and he has been even better by the reckoning of the catch-all advanced stats. According to PER he’s been the 11th best player in the league on a per-minute basis, and by way of Wins Produced – which, granted, isn’t for everyone* – of all the players in the Association who have logged more than 30 minutes, he’s been the most productive.

*Ed: It should tell you how much I respect Tom’s work that I take him seriously even though he’s a Wins Produced believer.

And then there’s his periodically excellent defense—which isn’t accounted for in the above metrics. (Wins Produced makes a team defensive adjustment, but doesn’t account for individual efforts beyond blocks, defensive rebounds, and foul avoidance.)

So I think he’s an All-Star.

The Internet doesn’t.

There are two arguments against Drummond’s (now-expired) All-Star candidacy, both of which hinge on his playing time.

1. He’s been great, but in 20 minutes per game, he just wasn’t on the floor often enough to justify a berth and

2. Not only is 20 minutes a night not enough time to make an All Star impact, but playing only 20 minutes a night is actually what’s driving his efficiency. He couldn’t do it over 30 or 35.

Both of these straw men are wrong.

As for No. 2: Although there’s some scuttlebutt that Drummond has conditioning issues (I couldn’t really speak to this, or the impact it would have on him if he played more—except to point out that in the two games this season in which he played more than 30 minutes, Dec. 26 against Atlanta and Dec. 5 against Golden State, he put up a 15/12 and a 16/12), as a general proposition there isn’t really any compelling evidence that reserves play worse as their roles expand.

Furthermore, the idea that he’s posting these numbers against backups doesn’t sway me much either: one, everyone plays against backups for extended periods, two, the backup/starter distinction is, most of the time, a function of offensive rather than defensive abilities (so he’s not necessarily posting his numbers against particularly weak defensive centers) and three, outside of Joakim Noah and Tyson Chandler, who are this tremendous defensive centers that starting big men have to labor against?

The other thing is this: Drummond’s been so good, that even if he lost considerable efficiency in playing an additional 10 minutes a night, he would still be one of the best big men in the sport.

Moving along to No  1.: let’s accept that Drummond is limited (though, again, I’m dubious) and is capable of playing only 20 productive minutes a night. Even if this is true, he does plenty in those 20 minutes to justify and All-Star berth.

Wages of Wins is more bullish on him than most, for the sake of simplicity, lets start off by assuming their valuation is accurate: Drummond produces, over the course of 48 minutes of playing time, .366 wins. (An average player produces .1 wins per 48 minutes.)

So, lets say we’re in a perfectly 50th percentile Drummond game and he plays for 20 minutes and produces, in the course of those 20 minutes, approximately .15 wins ([.363/48]x20).

In just those 20 minutes then, Drummond is giving the Pistons 150 percent of the production the average team gets at the center position over a full 48. (Teams win, on average, .5 games per game (clunky sounding, yes) and have five players on the floor at all times. Each position produces then, on average, 0.1 wins per 48 minute game. Drummond, in just 20 minutes, produces 0.15 wins.)

But what about the extra 28 minutes? If the Pistons get league average play at center for the 28 minutes Drummond isn’t on the floor, that gives them an additional .058 wins, and over 200 percent the production most teams get at the center position. (Even if Detroit plays a guy who’s well below league average during those additional minutes, which is likely, the Pistons will end up getting somewhere just under .2 wins a night from the center position. A team that gets that production at center and league average production at all other positions can be expected to win 60 percent of its games, or 49 in an 82 game season. This is the impact 20 minutes a night of Drummond would have on an otherwise completely average team.)

Okay. But Wages of Wins is probably off on him, right? They overvalue rebounding, and the system pumps out a lot of head-scratching figures for efficient big men. Forget about them. What about PER?

Drummond is, as I type, 11th in the NBA with a 22.99 PER. To do a quick-and-dirty switch to numbers I’m a little more comfortable with (as in, very quick and very dirty) the 11th best WP48 mark in the NBA this season is .248. By this accounting, Drummond, in his usual 20 minutes per night, still gives the Pistons exactly 100 percent of the production most teams receive at the center position over the course of a full 48 minutes. ([.248/48]x20=.103). Anything they receive over and above this is gravy.

It’s difficult to look at season averages of 7.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks and see this, but Andre Drummond is not just a promising up and comer. So far this season, he’s been one of the most productive players in the NBA.

Launching Andre Drummond’s Sixth Man of the Year candidacy

Andre Drummond should be a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year, but Damian Lillard is running away with all the support. Rather than griping, I found a new award Drummond should contend for: Sixth Man of the Year. That race is wide open, and it’s not too late for Drummond to generate some support. Me at the Detroit Free Press:

To be eligible for sixth man of the year, a player must come off the bench in more games than he starts. So far, so good for Drummond, who frustratingly can’t beat out Jason Maxiell for a starting spot. In fact, by coming off the bench in his first 42 games, Drummond already has clinched eligibility.

Here are the leaders of players currently eligible, ordered by win shares:

1. Kevin Martin, 4.3

2. Ryan Anderson, 4.2

3. Matt Barnes, 4.1

4. Andre Drummond, 3.7

4. Manu Ginobili, 3.7

4. Carl Landry, 3.7

Landry has generated little support for the honor. Voters often are wary of awarding the same player multiple times, and Ginobili already has won sixth man of the year and is a perennial contender. Barnes likely will split votes with his Los Angeles Clippers teammates, including Michigan Man Jamal Crawford, who’s probably the favorite for this award. Anderson started when Anthony Davis was out injured, and until Davis gains the strength of an NBA big man, another injury seems quite possible. Martin makes a strong case, but he’s far from a lock.

Unlike rookie of the year, this award is wide open. Drummond has gotten no buzz, but he should.

Drummond has made Will Bynum, Austin Daye and Charlie Villanueva look like quality NBA players. Let’s not underscore the significance of that. Drummond scores efficiently, protects the rim and rebounds on both ends.

When it comes to the spirit of the award, Drummond is one of the few candidates who ranks sixth or lower on his team in minutes per game. Among such players, only the Spurs’ Tiago Splitter, a starter, has more win shares.

Drummond probably doesn’t deserve the award at this point, but he’s only improving. With a strong second half, he could play himself into the discussion. So often, these awards are based on buzz, and because there’s no runaway choice for this honor, there’s time for Drummond to catch up.

Pistons again without an All-Star, doubling their previous longest drought

Unsurprisingly, no Pistons were selected to this year’s All-Star game. That means Detroit has gone four straight years with out an All-Star (and five since a deserving All-Star, because Allen Iverson made it in 2009 only because of fan vote).

Four years without an All-Star might not seem like an eternity, but for the Pistons, it’s twice as long as their previous longest drought.

Since the NBA played its first All-Star game in 1951, 54 of the 63 contests have included at least one Detroit Piston – meaning the Pistons have been shut out only nine times. They didn’t have one in 2002, 1999 or 1994. And prior to the current run, 1980 and 1981 were the Pistons’ only consecutive All-Star-less seasons.

Kings moving to Seattle helps Will Bynum

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News before the Pistons played in Chicago on Wednesday:

Nate Rob to Bynum in tunnel: "These tickets are a hot commodity. What you got for me?" Bynum: "Seattle, next yr? C’mon now." Tix exchange

I don’t know why, but I absolutely love visualizing that scene. And if you don’t get it, Will Bynum is a Chicago native, and Nate Robinson is from Seattle.

3-on-3: Pistons’ remaining schedule

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.

1. What is the hardest part of the Pistons’ remaining schedule?

Dan Feldman: Feb. 22 – March 22: at Pacers, vs. Pacers, vs. Hawks, at Wizards, at Hornets, at Spurs, vs. Knicks, vs. Mavericks, at Clippers, at Jazz, at Warriors, at Trail Blazers, vs. Nets and at Heat. That 14-game stretch, getting past the nine road contests for a moment, includes 10 games against teams with winning records. And it’s not like those other four will be easy. The Wizards have been playing much better since John Wall returned. The Mavericks already beat the Pistons by 15 without Dirk Nowitzki, and by March 8, he should be hitting his stride. The Trail Blazers are only one game under .500 in the tough Western Conference. And the Hornets… well, 14 of 15 games being very tough is still a lot.

Patrick Hayes: The rest of January is not particularly easy – Milwaukee and road games against Miami, Indiana and Orlando – and they have a tough road trip in late March/early April with games at Chicago, Toronto, Boston and Minnesota, but I think the toughest part of the remaining schedule will be a four-game stretch in February against the Lakers, Spurs, Knicks and Nets. Let’s face it, by April, the Pistons could be eliminated from contention. So doing well in those tough stretches in January and February are much more important if the team is still holding onto some faint playoff aspirations (or some would say delusions).

Jameson Draper: Between March 3rd and March 22nd, the Pistons play: at San Antonio, home against the Knicks, home against Dallas, at the Clippers, at Utah, at Golden State, at Portland, home against Brooklyn and at Miami. All those teams are playoff-caliber teams, with the exception of maybe Dallas. Add the fact that most of these games are on the road, and this part of the schedule is very daunting. Overall, the second half of the season seems harder everywhere. The Pistons don’t have one stretch with a lot of easy games for the remainder of the year.

2. What will the Pistons’ final record be?

Dan Feldman: 36-46. That would have the Pistons going 20-20 the rest of the season, which given their recent 9-4 stretch, seems fairly reasonable. To Lawrence Frank’s Andre Drummond’s credit, Detroit has really improved during the season. Most encouraging: several players look better than they did in the fall.

Patrick Hayes: I picked them to be in the 34-36 win range before the season started. To get to 34 wins, they’d need to go 18-22 the rest of the way. I think that’s a reasonable expectation. Since their disastrous 0-8 start, the Pistons have gone 15-17. A 34-48 season is certainly not good, but it could’ve been much worse considering how bad this team looked to start the season. It also could’ve been much better had Lawrence Frank decided their best player was worthy of playing more than 19 minutes per game.

Jameson Draper: 34-48. It’s going to be difficult, but I’d say the Pistons will go 18-22 the rest of the season. Though not an elite road team, the Pistons can win in places like Cleveland. They can also lose home games against weak teams, because when not everything’s going to go according to plan, the Pistons often can’t adjust.

3. What must change for the Pistons to make the playoffs?

Dan Feldman: Andre Drummond playing more. That’s it. That’s everything. It’s very possible Drummond isn’t ready to play major minutes and continue on the level he has, but that’s the only chance the Pistons have. Drummond has been a game-changer on both ends of the floor, producing very efficiently and making his teammates better in the process. If the Pistons want to make the playoffs – and I’m not sure they should want that – taking a chance on giving Drummond starter-level minutes is their only chance.

Patrick Hayes: Andre Drummond needs minutes, and he needs them like yesterday. He needs to start. He needs to play 25-30 minutes per game. Putting him in the starting lineup would help Greg Monroe by providing a nice target for Monroe’s high-post passes and a defensive presence so that Monroe isn’t always guarding centers. It would help Brandon Knight by providing a rim-protector so Knight can take more chances defending the ball and hopefully come up with more steals. Drummond would also be a nice target for Knight on lobs or fast breaks and his offensive rebounding would help create additional open looks for Knight. The Pistons’ future depends on the development of Drummond, Knight and Monroe. Not playing Drummond heavy minutes with those guys is slowing down the progress of all three.

Jameson Draper: Well, Andre Drummond needs to play more. He’s averaging 7.5 points and 7.4 rebounds while playing just 20 minutes per game. Also, his PER is 22.99. I just don’t understand what Jason Maxiell offers that Drummond doesn’t. If Greg Monroe and Drummond played a lot together, the Pistons would be a force to be reckoned with. It would also help if Austin Daye and Charlie Villanueva regain the form they showed during Detroit’s recent hot streak. Both have slumped since.

Andre Drummond deserves All-Star berth, says one ESPN panelist

I admit, I’ve read every national article about NBA All-Star reserve selections I can find – curious whether I’d see a writer who remembers Greg Monroe’s All-Star candidacy of a year ago and hasn’t noticed Monroe’s slight regression this season or a writer who goes against all convention and picks Andre Drummond.

Well, those efforts weren’t in vain.

Tom Sunnergren of Philadunkia chose Drummond in an ESPN 5-on-5:

Andre Drummond. The Pistons are reportedly brooding over whether to try to win now or hazard a youth movement. The fact that they think these two ideas are in conflict tells you a lot about the state of the organization. In just 19.8 minutes a night, their rookie center is 11th in the NBA in PER and leads all qualifying players with .363 wins per 48 minutes.

I don’t think Drummond should be an All-Star, but I love that he was mentioned.

If he played more, maybe he would deserve an All-Star berth this year. Though, if he were playing 30 to 35 minutes per game, his per-minute numbers would probably drop. The question is, how much? I definitely think Drummond deserves a chance to answer that question on the court. But until he does, I’d side with established players for the All-Star spot.

Pistons can trade a first-round draft pick, just not easily and not for 2013 or 2014

Previously, I wrote the Pistons couldn’t trade a first-round pick until they sent theirs to the Bobcats as part of the Ben Gordon trade.

As the Grizzlies-Cavaliers trade earlier this week proved, I was wrong. The Pistons can trade a first-round pick.

It just wouldn’t be easy.

Similarly to the Pistons, the Grizzlies already traded a protected first-round pick (currently owned by the Timberwolves) that hasn’t been transferred yet. But it appears the Cavaliers agreed to accept their first rounder from Memphis two years after Minnesota receives its pick.

So, the Pistons can’t trade a first-round pick unless the receiving team agrees to those terms, which I previously didn’t believe were conditions allowed to be placed on a traded pick.

In other words, a team receiving a Pistons’ first-round pick in a trade now wouldn’t get it until 2015 at the earliest, and if the Pistons miss the playoffs this year, it would become 2016 at the earliest.

The Pistons still have the same restrictions in trading a first-round pick I outlined in my initial post – with one distinction. The team receiving the pick could agree now to wait to receive the pick based on when the Bobcats receive their pick.