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Brandon Knight again suffers, injuring ankle; hapless Pistons drop sixth straight

Detroit Pistons 90 Final
Recap | Box Score
103 Utah Jazz
Jonas Jerebko, PF 29 MIN | 5-14 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -10

Maybe Jerebko deftly establishes tendencies then breaks them once the opponent overreacts – but I don’t think so. Jerebko has stopped shooting all the time, but he always looks like he’s readying himself to hoist. I hate repeatedly watching Jerebko size up the rim while he holds the ball, even if he’s been been passing more often lately. Jerebko has been a terribly inefficient scorer this season, and I just wish he’d go back to the low-usage, highly awesome Jerebko we knew and loved. However, Jerebko, who started for an injured Jason Maxiell, might be a slightly reduced role from going the other direction.

Greg Monroe, C 41 MIN | 7-15 FG | 1-1 FT | 13 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | -2

Monroe played fine, maybe even well. But his production didn’t stand up to his comments Sunday, when he called out his teammates for lack of effort. But Monroe put in 41 minutes during a game the Jazz led since the first quarter. His teammates who have been mailing it in lately can’t say that, so tonight isn’t the time to challenge Monroe in the locker room.

Jose Calderon, PG 37 MIN | 6-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -2

Calderon watched the Pistons force jumper after jumper before deciding, "Hey, if we’re going just jack up long 2s, a good shooter might as well take them, and I’m the only one here." Calderon shot 6-of-7 outside the paint. His teammates shot 9-of-30 from the same zone. Calderon’s lack of lateral quickness and strength limits him defensively, but at least he was active on that end tonight. Calderon kept buzzing around, using his smarts to be in the right position a little more often than not, and got his hands on a couple steals, two defensive rebounds and even a block.

Brandon Knight, PG 4 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2

Knight might have read his own obituary when DeAndre Jordan dunked on him Sunday, but Knight didn’t succumb until Monday. He sprained his ankle just four minutes in and immediately left the game for good. Knight was already having the toughest week in the NBA, and somehow, it got worse. If you believe in basketball karma, Knight certainly temped his fate by forcing two bad shots early, but I would have thought admirably standing up to the backward norms that are ruining basketball and getting dunked on would have bought him a little more leeway.

Kyle Singler, SG 23 MIN | 1-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -1

Took shots, scored little.

Charlie Villanueva, PF 21 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -8

Took more shots, scored less.

Khris Middleton, SF 25 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -12

Middleton made 4-of-5 3-pointers, pushing his season total to 8-of-21 (38 percent). After so much hype about his form, Middleton has finally passed the line to become an above-average 3-point shooter. Of course, we’re still dealing with way too small a sample, but his production matched the aesthetic tonight. He still looks lost on defense, which is to be expected from someone who has played just 174 NBA minutes.

Viacheslav Kravtsov, C 5 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -8

The Jazz selected Kravtsov to shoot Knight’s free throws when Knight left the game in the first quarter. As Haralabos Voulgaris pointed out, Brian Hill didn’t call timeout to sub out Kravtsov. In Hill’s defense, a Calderon-Singler-Jerebko-Monroe-Kravtsov lineup actually makes a ton of sense – if you’re tanking.

Will Bynum, PG 19 MIN | 4-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -11

I’m grading Bynum more favorably than his standard-box-score numbers suggest he deserves, but Bynum was the Pistons’ main source of scoring when they needed it most. He scored 10 of Detroit’s 18 second-quarter points, shooting 4-for-6 in the period when his teammates shot 2-for-11. Bynum missed his five second-half shots, but the Pistons were stuck in the second quarter and had to call on Bynum to take over. You take that every time and the consequences that come with it.

Rodney Stuckey, PG 35 MIN | 6-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | -9

First half: four points and two turnovers in 17 minutes.

Second half: 11 points and no turnovers in 18 minutes.

It’s like Stuckey realized the Jazz were playing lackadaisical enough he could try a little bit and produce, keeping Monroe off his heals for another week. If you’re going to sleepwalk through a season, you have to pick your moments to play hard so it’s not completely obvious.

Brian Hill 

The Pistons miss Lawrence Frank – badly. Their offense devolved into quick jumpers, and it’s clear they’re missing a coach who can implement a gameplan. Brian Hill is in a tough spot, because he’s surely trying to guess what Frank would do and emulate that while doing what he believes is best. I don’t envy Hill’s challenge, but at this very moment, with a full chance to establish his system, Frank is a much better coach than Hill. Although I want to give Hill slack, how hard is it to tell the players to run some sets rather than just taking terrible shots?

Most Valuable Player

Mo Williams scored seven points during a 12-3 fourth-quarter run that iced the game, coming up big for a balanced Jazz team when it was most needed. Williams finished with 20 points and six assists.

That was.. expected

The Pistons have lost 10 straight in Utah, six straight overall and all 12 road games against Western Conference teams this season. So, it wasn’t a surprise the playoff-hunting Jazz pulled away late. It was a surprise the down-and-out Pistons hung around so long.


  • Mar 11, 201311:39 pm
    by Brigs


    now if only Monroe would’ve sprained his ankle instead of maxiel we coulda started doing some real tanking

    • Mar 11, 201311:44 pm
      by Blocks by Dre


      This isn’t real enough?!? We can’t win to save our lives! 

  • Mar 11, 201311:48 pm
    by robertbayer


    So wait a minute .. Knight hardly played .. and the Pistons LOST?! I had thought from the way so many Piston fans and journalists had been acting that we have been losing because of Knight .. Wow…. this is shocking .. !!  I mean every mistake he makes is a cause for statewide alarm … From where I stand .. it is the coaching staff that is the real embarrassment … Of course .. after seeing how badly things have gone since Curry, Kuester, Frank and now Hill being in charge… some have complete amnesia about how teams with good coaches function from game to game .. .Someday .. when that happens ..when the Detroit Pistons have a good head coach,  then we can all have a truly clearly view of how good (OR BAD) each of our Piston players are … I mean .. just for the sake of variety and for the sake of argument, why not get a good head coach before we decide anything else and then see where that takes us?  Oh? So that wouldnt matter either? Couldnt we at least try that approach once every decade or so?

    • Mar 12, 20131:49 am
      by Brandon Knight


      I agree! D+ are you kidding me? OK, I am starting to get bored if this bullshit!

      • Mar 12, 20135:13 am
        by robertbayer


        Brandon Knight, Piston Fan ..Agreed .. D+ is harsh ..Guess the writer wanted a career-ending injury … That’s OK .. Lets see who is right long term about BK7..

        • Mar 12, 20135:47 am
          by Vince


          I wish I could select this type of bullsh*t as spam.

          Get real man, no one wants him to get a major injury, no one wants him to fail, no one thinks he is the reason the Pistons are losing, no one thinks you’re right (maybe for the exception of the commenters known as Brandon Knight and I hate Frank).

          I’d consider myself probably one of the more outspoken commenters about Knight on PP, and if you’ve been paying attention I haven’t actually posted in a while, although I do have a life outside PP, I haven’t seen the need to, Knight is growing on me. He had that killer game against Dallas which showcased the player I hope he’ll become, and although he was on the wrong end of that vicious dunk by DeAndre (sweet poster though) I gained a lot of respect for him when he tried to contest that shot. He still isn’t the player a lot of you guys claim he is, but he is getting there, albeit slowly and very hard to watch at times.

          Don’t take this as me backing down from anything I’ve said in previous threads, I’d still trade him in a heartbeat, I still greatly dislike that we drafted him, especially when Kemba Walker was still on the board, I still think he is not a franchise player or cornerstone, I still think he can be an above average sixth-man or rotation player and that he has no place starting.

          So stop being delusional and thinking that everyone is out to get him and that he is some sort of underdog and see him for what he really is: a sophmore with a good game and sharp instincts with terrible ball handling skills and the definition of inconsistent. He has room to grow, but he can also regress ala Stuckey or Ty Evans. All I’m saying is don’t overestimate him and his value as Pistons fans seem to do with a lot of players (eg Austin Daye). Keep your expectations low or moderate and you’ll always be surprised. 

      • Mar 12, 201310:26 am
        by Patrick Hayes


        @Brandon Knight:

        “D+ are you kidding me? OK, I am starting to get bored if this bullshit!”

        Grades are based on impact on a given game. A guy who barely played, missed two shots and didn’t score didn’t have any impact on the game, hence the D+. This isn’t rocket science. Even a simpleton like you should be able to figure it out.

        And secondly, if you’re bored, please move on. People not having to read tired, thoughtless comments like you and robertbayer continuously leave here would do everyone a favor. 

        • Mar 12, 20131:05 pm
          by Brandon Knight


          You guys are always harsh on Brandon Knight. This is not the first time! 

          • Mar 12, 20132:03 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            Your comments are always worthless. This is not the first time. So here we are.

          • Mar 12, 20136:22 pm
            by Brandon Knight

            Yeah worthless because I say the truth !? 

          • Mar 13, 20131:13 pm
            by tarsier

            No, I’m afraid that’s not what worthless means.

        • Mar 12, 20131:08 pm
          by Haan


          The suggestion someone made earlier about giving an “Incomplete” grade in the event of an early injury exit seems like a good one.

          • Mar 12, 20132:06 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            We work with what we’re given. We didn’t build the template. As of right now, it doesn’t have the ability to give an incomplete, so we don’t give them. It’s that simple. If that changes at some point — and again, we don’t have control over that — we’ll adjust accordingly.

            But seriously, it’s not that big a deal. Giving someone a letter grade for a game doesn’t mean anything other than what it is — an evaluation of their impact on that game. Does giving Brandon Knight a D or whatever because he only played four minutes and made little impact mean anything beyond ‘Knight had little impact on the game?’ Of course not.

          • Mar 12, 20132:59 pm
            by G

            I’m gonna go back to my sh– pie idea here. Knight probably owns a decent chunk of the pie, since they could’ve used his 14 ppg in this one.

          • Mar 12, 20135:13 pm
            by tarsier

            As long as he was taking his shots from Singler and Charlie. Stuckey was actually hitting his shots last night.

    • Mar 12, 201310:38 am
      by Huddy


      Agree that Brandon Knight Supporters do not understand that most of his detractors didn’t like him at the PG and are happy to see his production at SG, a position that he has preformed much better in and a fact that many of his fans choose to ignore.
      In addition, Coaches do not determine if our players are “good (OR BAD)”.  Coaches influence strategy and have an effect on the game, but they do not create players.   How many great coaches are there in the NBA?  Fewer than there are productive players.  Coaching is important, but at a certain point professional basketball players show their skills regardless of their coaches system.  Coaches can put players in good positions but they can only do so much.  Greg Monroe is coached by Frank and he puts up boarder line all star numbers and has improved every year.  Andre Drummond is coached by Frank and he has surprised everyone proving he should have been a top 2 pick.    
      Could we try having a good coach once every decade or so?  sure there names were Larry Brown and Flip Saunders.   Saunders was our coach 5 years ago (quite a bit less than a decade).  I don’t like Frank, but its a cop out to blame the season and player production on him.  We lack talent that we need to secure in the draft and through FAs,  Phil Jackson wouldn’t take the current Pistons to the playoffs.

    • Mar 12, 201311:02 am
      by tarsier


      I am very active on this site and don’t think I have seen ONE, just one, comment saying that the Pistons’ losing ways are Knight’s fault. There are plenty of rational people like myself who can look at what Knight has done thus far and say that, right now, he’s not a very good player. But it’s not like removing him gives opportunities to significantly superior players.

      In fact, I think it’s great that Knight normally gets big minutes. He’s a young prospect. There are not significantly better alternatives on the team. The team is best off playing him a ton and seeing if he develops. But that doesn’t make him good right now. Nor does it mean he will necessarily be.

      Bottom line, against top 20 team, you should expect the Pistons to lose more often than not. Whether with Knight or without. 

  • Mar 12, 20137:20 am
    by Corey


    This result isn’t a surprise. At this point the team is without Drummond, Maxiel, and Knight. It would be a near-miracle to win a game with three rotation players missing from the lineup. 

    here’s a question…

    how many competent NBA starters do the pistons have left to play right now?

    i think it’s two- Monroe and Calderon.

    how many additional rotation-caliber  players?
    Singler and Bynum.

    Which leaves a third question- what the hell happened to CV, Stuckey, and Jerebko?

    • Mar 12, 20138:19 am
      by Jeremy


      I can answer the 3rd question for you. CV has always been a guy with the potential to give you 25 in a night but scores his 10pts in the 4th quarter after everything has been lost. His shot has always seemed flatter than most and rather quick and forced. It would be interesting to time him and see how long his shooting motion takes him to complete.
      Jerebko was never a good player. He has always been a horrendous 3pt shooter and a mediocre free throw shooter. The only reason fans like the guy is he made hustle plays in his first season and benefited from it. There really is nothing more to say here – he dazzled when opposing teams weren’t focusing on him and plays weren’t drawn up for him. The scouting report went out and, well, he isn’t good.
      Stuckey is an interesting story. Those of us who had to take statistics in college will easily recognize the shape of the line graph detailing his ppg production as the bell curve. Take a look at his ppg production (in chronological order):
      PPG: 7.6   13.4   16.6   15.5   14.8   10.7
      That my friend, shows that Stuckey peaked in 09-10 with 16.6ppg. While this was the season in which he averaged the most minutes per (and my philosophy has always been opportunity fosters the ability to fill up the stat books), the guy has never played a full season slate of games nor started a full season slate of games.

      • Mar 12, 201311:19 am
        by tarsier


        And those of us who actually learned much in statistics would know that those stats do not in fact represent a bell curve, bell curves are completely irrelevant to the situation, and any resemblance to one is purely coincidental.

        A bell curve is the result of a random distribution with some tendency to bunch around a single point and an equal likelihood to deviate on either side of that point.

        But a bell curve tracks frequency of results, not chronology of results. So it is totally irrelevant to this situation.

        • Mar 12, 20131:12 pm
          by G


          Ah yes, “past performance does not indicate future results”.

          • Mar 12, 20132:08 pm
            by tarsier

            It doesn’t necessarily. But if the reasons for the past performance still apply, it usually will indicate future results.

            Sometimes people over-correct for the gambler’s fallacy. There is a reason why humans naturally look for patterns in things. In most natural occurrences, patterns have real causes. Vegas et al take advantage of our brains’ instinctive use of this fact by making situations that are truly random and counting on us to find nonexistent patterns in the data. But when there is a pattern in data that is not truly random, and there is a large enough sample size to suggest it is based on real causes, it can be a good indicator of the future.

            None of that was my point though. Jeremy was just using the bell curve in a completely wrong context. One could take his scoring in Stuckey’s game, sort them not by chronology but by magnitude, probably come up with a shape reasonably close to a bell curve, and use that to make a decent prediction of how likely he is to score any given number of points (of course that would depend on the flawed assumption that his role/opportunity/ability has remained close to constant throughout his career).

          • Mar 12, 20132:17 pm
            by G

            Well, it’s better to say “past performance does not PREDICT future results”, but basically I was agreeing with you that it’s a mistake to look at one isolated stat that goes up & then down and say, “well, I guess Stuckey is done as a player in the NBA”

          • Mar 12, 20133:06 pm
            by tarsier

            Yeah, I wasn’t trying to nitpick. Just pointing out that my objection to Jeremy was on a completely different count than what you were voicing.

      • Mar 12, 201312:10 pm
        by Huddy


        Your philosophy is that “opportunity fosters the ability to fill up the stat books”?  So if you get more minutes you have the ability to get higher stats?  Congrats on your discovery.
        Beyond using the Bell Curve incorrectly what is you point supposed to prove?  What is the interesting story?  That he was doing pretty well and now hes not?  Also, he did not really peak in 09 he shot a worse FG%, 3p%, and had a worse asst/to ratio, and only a slightly higher ppg in 09 season that 2010, he also started less games than he came of the bench in 2010. 

    • Mar 12, 20138:50 am
      by G


      About every team in the NBA has a starting player of Singler’s caliber… which is fine, as long as he’s your weakest link and you have an all star or 2 also in the lineup. Miami has Chalmers, NY has James Flight, the Nets have Gerald Wallace…

      The problem is Singler is like the 3rd best guy on the team right now, since everybody else is injured or in a season-long slump.

      • Mar 12, 201311:22 am
        by tarsier


        Gerald Wallace should be much, much better than Singler. He was a beast in Charlotte and rock solid in Portland. It’s depressing how much he has fallen off. He was not acquired to be that 5th starter.

        But I agree with your overall point. 

        • Mar 12, 201311:31 am
          by Corey


          And now Gerald Wallace is an athleticism-dependent forward who is losing his athleticism to age. Used to be very good, and is on the swift downslope. I’m glad our team didn’t trade a lottery pick (that turned into the probable rookie of the year!) for the chance to overpay Wallace as he turns into a useless old guy on a big contract.

          • Mar 12, 201311:53 am
            by G

            The lesson is don’t pay a 30 year-old who depends on athleticism $10M/yr for 4 years! Beware of Iguodala, it will not end well.

          • Mar 12, 20132:38 pm
            by tarsier

            That’s fair and all. But Gerald Wallace’s play style was also fairly similar to a poor man’s Garnett. They’ve aged very differently. Kobe and Wade, in their younger days had athleticism based games. Nash’s game wasn’t built on an explosive first step but was still predicated on athleticism. CP3′s appeared that way before his injuries.

            D-Will’s game did not seem so athleticism based, nor did Sheed’s or Yao’s. None of them aged too well.

            Long story short, less athleticism based players tend to age better. But so do guys who aren’t injury prone. So Iggy has a strike against him and one for him. It’s all kinda guesswork. But I can definitely see where you’re coming form. His being 29 is kinda disconcerting. 

          • Mar 12, 20133:10 pm
            by G

            False. Garnett relied less on athleticism than you think. He had a great fade-away, and his defense was as much based on effort & knowledge.

            I think Sheed’s game aged pretty well, despite his somewhat ambivalent attitude towards conditioning. He was 29 when the Pistons got him & 35 when the Pistons let him go. D-Will is a bad example, he’s always had an inefficient game but now it’s starting to show. Kobe & Wade were great athletes but neither RELIED on athleticism. Yao couldn’t stay healthy. His game didn’t break down, his body did.

            I think a better example is Ben Wallace. His game was based mainly on athleticism & hard work. When the athleticism started to go (at age 31), we let him slide instead of paying him big $. And his game slid. Gerald Wallace’s game is based on his athleticism, as is Iggy’s.

          • Mar 12, 20133:25 pm
            by tarsier

            I could just as easily say that Iggy uses his athleticism but isn’t dependent on it as you did for several of those guys. I just chose a bunch of random guys off the op of my head anyway. The point is, how players cope with aging is a crap shoot.

          • Mar 12, 20134:28 pm
            by G

            You could SAY it about Iggy, but it wouldn’t be true. The fact is he’s an aging wing player, and you need foot speed to play D on the wings. Since he lost a step in quickness, Tayshaun has been about 1/3 the defender he used to be despite never relying on athleticism.

      • Mar 12, 201311:57 am
        by Huddy


        James White is about to be released so I hope Singler is better, but White starting is more a product of injuries and the Knicks trying to find a first unit that works.
        I really see Singler as more a role player guy than even a 5th starter regardless of what moves we make just because he is really average across the board.  A lot of those 5th starter guys you are talking about are more specialized.  You have defenders like Tony Allen, Sefolosha, Bruce Bowen.  Their numbers don’t impress anyone, but they lock down other team’s best players.  There are shooters like Korver, Hamilton (at this point in his career), or Webster that give you around 15 a night.  It just seems like those guys fill a role in the starting line up better than Singler could.  He isn’t a great defender, he is an ok shooter (but not a knock down guy), and he doesn’t set other guys up.  Don’t get me wrong I like him and average across the board also means a role player that isn’t a liability in the game that can do a little of everything when he gets in, but he doesn’t stand out in any particular role that the piston’s need in the starting lineup even with the addition of new guys to me.

  • Mar 12, 20138:27 am
    by G


    Is it just me, or is there, WAY too much punctuation: in the title?

    • Mar 12, 20138:27 am
      by G


      See what I did there?

    • Mar 12, 20139:05 am
      by Dan Feldman


      The one extra comma has been removed. Thanks.

      • Mar 12, 20139:19 am
        by G


        No prob, just giving you a hard time.

      • Mar 13, 201310:37 am
        by G


        The use of “heals” instead of “heels” is still bothering me, but that’s probably just MY problem.

  • Mar 12, 201311:30 am
    by Keith


    So I have to ask: at what point do we start capping Monroe at a C+ or so when he is a no-show defensively. I get that he rebounds, and even scores well most of the time. But defense is half the game, and he’s really bad at it. Jefferson had his way when he went to the basket (he predictably missed jump shots that he always misses), and Kanter looked like a damn superstar. Monroe is playing a lot like a young Al Jefferson himself. For all his offensive skill and rebounding, his defense gives up very close to as much as he gets himself. An overall neutral player like that is not really worth the max (or near max) contract Monroe will likely demand.

    • Mar 12, 201311:45 am
      by Huddy


      I would like to see how he plays with Drummond in a greater sample size before I decide how much of a liability Monroe is on D.  I am not suggesting that he is a good defender, but I do think he is playing out of position at C and matching up with players like Jefferson will not be his role when Drummond is starting.  In addition playing with an undersized guy like Maxiell for most of his minutes hurts him as well.  I think he basically needs to be an average to above average defender at PF in combination with his offensive/rebounding ability to be worth investing in, which he should be able to achieve.  In other words I don’t think he will be shutting down guys like Al Jefferson in the future, partly because few people do, but if he can at least get past the average defending point he is worth a big contract.

      • Mar 12, 20131:19 pm
        by Keith


        I’m not sure there is a good matchup for him defensively. At the PF spot, he’ll be tasked with guarding a lot of stretch 4s out on the perimeter. Given how slowly Monroe covers ground, that’s probably going to lead to a ton of open 3s. Further, he has little agility, so even if he does run out to cover, most any player who can dribble at all will just dribble past him for an easy layup/pass.
        Center is really the only position that might work because Monroe could theoretically use strength to hold position and just take up space near the rim, but he doesn’t do that either. I agree that Drummond next to him could ultimately prove very useful, but it won’t necessarily change Monroe’s individual impact. Look at the Al Jefferson-Derrick Favors combination. Last year, in a reasonable sample size, Favors was able to make up for Jefferson and the team was good defensively with those two together. This year, in a larger sample, Favors isn’t enough, and the defense is still terrible whenever Jefferson plays. Monroe could legitimately have that same effect long term.

        • Mar 12, 20131:28 pm
          by G


          How is last year a smaller sample size than this year? Anyway, I don’t see much difference. Utah looks basically the same defensively.

          • Mar 12, 20131:43 pm
            by Keith

            I’m using lineup data, not full team data. The sample is smaller because Favors and Jefferson didn’t play together last year as often as they do this year. Last year, that tandem was actually pretty good defensively. This year, it’s a wreck. And while it’s easy to say, “Well, maybe Favors is still figuring things out,” that tends to ignore that Jefferson has consistently been neutral or worse throughout his career when weighing offense AND defense.

          • Mar 12, 20131:59 pm
            by G

            Ok, but what point does that make? Utah’s 3 best defensive lineups (per 82games) all feature Millsap (an adequate defender) and Jefferson (a terrible defender). 

          • Mar 12, 20132:25 pm
            by Keith

            Since you’re looking at 82games, note that all those good defensive lineups with Jefferson have played 51 minutes or less all season. That’s an incredibly small sample size. Note that all the most used lineups with Jefferson (those with more viable samples) are all between bad and historically bad on defense).
            Also, scroll to the bottom and check his on-off court numbers. The offense does improve considerably when Jefferson plays, the defense (on average) becomes last place in the league bad. This is what I’m getting at. No one disputes that Monroe helps our offense, but we have to be wary about whether that is enough given how poorly be plays on defense.
            Checking out Monroe’s numbers paints an interesting picture that is a serious indictment of our team. When he plays, our offense becomes terrible, while our defense actually improves. This is lineup information, it tells us that our starters suck as a unit, while our bench (mostly with Drummond) is able to play decent offensively. The defensive improvement (despite every other number pointing to him being bad) is telling us just how much of a train wreck Villanueva is alongside Drummond.

          • Mar 12, 20132:50 pm
            by G

            Keep in mind level of competition and game situation are all variables. I suspect Monroe’s on court/off court +/- is skewed a bit by playing against better competition, getting behind big, and then the benches play each other for the garbage time trophy.

          • Mar 12, 20133:30 pm
            by Keith

            That is an important part. The numbers are meant to inform what we see. Monroe is a superior player to CV, so the numbers make us question what else is going on. And there are a lot of useful things to figure out. We know the starting lineup for a long time was idiotically constructed. It had no spacing, minimal passing, and way too many bad shots. Sure, you would have liked to see Monroe take over and do more, but he wasn’t going to make up for all 4 other bad players with him. Similarly, the bench had tons of shooters and a great Bynum-Drummond two man game. That doesn’t mean the bench would have scored at the same rate against opposing starters, but it’s likely they would have scored better than our starters at the time. Fit matters as much as talent, specifically when the talent gap is not huge.

        • Mar 12, 20131:44 pm
          by Huddy


          Well Jefferson and Favors are not the starting front court for Utah, Jefferson and Millsap are and were last year as well so I’m not sure what that example has to do with anything (not to say they never play together, but there isn’t much of a sample size of Jefferson and Favors side by side).
          I’m not sold on Monroe just being slow because he runs the break well, it seems like he is slow to the spot on defense because of a lack of defensive awareness, he is often not where he needs to be as opposed to having players dribble by him.  In addition, the NBA isn’t as full of stretch fours as people make it sound.  How many top PF’s shoot a lot of 3s?  Not Tim Duncan, Blake Griffin, Kevin Garnett, David Lee, Lamarcus Aldridge, David West, Carlos Boozer, Anthony Davis, Pau Gasol, Amare, the list goes on.  Some of those guys shoot mid rangers well, but thats not as much of a “stretch” on defense as guys leaking out to the 3pt line as you pointed out that you thought Monroe would give up a lot of 3s.  Players like Dirk and former Rasheed who are/were supreme shooters with size are virtually unguardable.  Those guys shoot over you and fade away so the defense has little chance to impact that type of scoring.
          I don’t think Monroe is good on D I just doubt there is no hope that he can defend anyone ever as many people seem to believe.  With his rebounding and offensive talent he just needs to at least be average on D.

          • Mar 12, 20131:57 pm
            by Keith

            Your point about 3s is very apt. I extrapolated too far there. However, the same issue would hold true for anyone with a mid-range game. Monroe simply cannot rotate to help in the paint AND recover to his man if there is a pass, he’s too slow footed. And while he might be able to get out on the break (though that really happens a lot less often than you seem to think), what about the other end? Have you ever watched him run in defensive transition? I’m not sure I’ve ever even seen him at the three point line when the opponent is dunking or laying it in. We can argue about perception, but evidence would support my assertion. He was below average athletic testing for every drill except bench press for both PFs and Cs (slightly better than average 3/4 court sprint for Cs).
            But, my claims aren’t meant to say Monroe has no possibility of improvement. It’s more a cautionary warning. If his defense does not improve, he’s not a positive player overall. If he’s not even positive (foregoing being highly positive completely), he does not deserve a high salary. We fans tend to talk about him as a very good, near elite big man, but the truth of the matter is that Monroe is not a even close to that level until he starts playing defense.

          • Mar 12, 20132:35 pm
            by Huddy

            You make good points, but I will say I do not put too much stock in his pre-draft athletic testing.  Freak athletes like Blake Griffen are certainly great, but awareness and staying in front of your man in basketball is something that can be learned that makes up for a lot of lacking athleticism.  A lot of great PFs are not fast, but they know how to keep track of where they need to be and how to keep between their man and the basket so being slow footed may show up a lot now for Monroe, but it doesn’t have to be his down fall. 
            In addition I think he is close to the level people talk about him on.  You are right that if you are a great offensive player but completely don’t play defense that is half the game, but starting to play defense also doesn’t mean becoming an elite defender.  I keep saying average, but my point is being a capable defender that isn’t a liability on D in combination with rebounding, scoring, and passing ability is a pretty big deal.  No one stops the top players at any position consistently, and players that specialize at D often are very weak on Offense (Big Ben, Bruce Bowen, Tony Allen) so Monroe isn’t THAT far from being good enough on D to balance his offensive production.

          • Mar 12, 20132:48 pm
            by Keith

            The problem is that Monroe isn’t even close to average on D yet. D can improve with time, but not always. Check out his 82games.com numbers. On average, he gives up a 19.3 PER to his counterpart at C, the same number he gave up last year. Also consider that a PER of 20 is considered All-Star caliber production. Basically, everyone who plays against Monroe ends up looking like an All-Star. They did last year too.
            I certainly hope he improves, but it would behoove the Pistons not to consider whether Monroe is as impactful a player as his reputation suggests. Paying a player for reputation rather than actual production is a surefire way to waste money.

    • Mar 12, 201312:02 pm
      by G


      Monroe has good games (well, relatively good games) and bad games defensively, just like he has good & bad games on offense. How would you grade him if he had a bad defensive game but everyone else on the team did too?

      We’ve talked this to death before, but a lot of what their grades are based on are expectations of the player and impact on the game. I think an ‘A’ game defensively for Monroe is he stays in front of his guy & holds him to a poor shooting night, like 5-15 or something like that, and maybe gets a block or draws a couple charges.

      • Mar 12, 20131:25 pm
        by Keith


        I suppose I wasn’t working from the accepted use of the grading scale. Still, for the best player on our team, one that could be looking for a max contract extension in the offseason, the fact that an average night is terrible defense SHOULD affect our perception of him. David Lee, Al Jefferson, and Carlos Boozer are just a few of the players who have swindled teams into thinking they are near max players. All are wildly overpaid now, because one team figured that the offense and rebounding were more important than the complete lack of defense.
        I said it before, but feel the need to say it again. Defense is half of the entire game. If you don’t play defense, it’s not equivalent to being a poor outside shooter, poor passer, or poor rebounder individually. It’s like being bad at all of those things at once.

        • Mar 12, 20133:01 pm
          by tarsier


          It’s true that defense is half the game, but it is typically less important than offense (on the individual player level) because it is less varied.

          The difference in the effect of a terrible defensive player and an awesome defensive player tends to be smaller than the difference between great and terrible offensive players.

          The best way I can think of to describe this is to imagine Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (one of the best defensive perimeter players in the league and among of the worst offensive) matching up with Monta Ellis (one of the worst defensive perimeter players and among the best offensive). Who do you think will score more easily?

          The game is driven by offense. Defense is just trying to limit it. If I am trying to heat up the contents of a container with fire/heating coils and you are trying to stop me with insulation, you have to be a lot better at your job than I am at mine in order to succeed.

          • Mar 12, 20133:18 pm
            by Keith

            That is an important point. Of course, Monroe happens to play the most important individual position on defense too (center). A bad defensive PG has negligible effect on team defense, but a bad defensive center has a pretty huge impact. This has to do with shot value.
            Further, while I agree with the idea that elite offense will beat elite defense, it ignores the fact that there aren’t a great number of elite scorers. Your Monta v Mbah A Moute example actually leads more to my point. Despite Ellis having the reputation of an elite scorer, and having high PPG averages, Milwaukee is better in the minutes MBAM plays than in the minutes Monta plays.
            Monta Ellis – Net +2.7
            Luc Mbah a Moute – Net +3
            The difference in offense between the best and worst team is about 14 points (adjusted for pace)
            The difference in defense between the best and worst teams is about 14 points (adjusted for pace)
            I simply don’t agree with your argument that offense is more important than defense. If we are talking about a truly elite offensive player, I may lean your way (think third year Kevin Durant). But there are only a handful of truly elite – matchup independent scorers in the entire league. Monroe is not one of them.

          • Mar 12, 20133:31 pm
            by G


            Uh, if you’re looking at on court/off court +/- numbers, Ellis comes up at +2.2, Mbah a Moute at 0.0. So…

          • Mar 12, 20133:40 pm
            by tarsier

            On the team level, defense is just as important as offense. Hence why I specified the individual level.

            Also, someone who gets lots of points by shooting a lot isn’t that valuable (unless your team is lacking guys who can get off shots) because they are taking shots away from others. This year, Monroe has not been the offensive beast he was last year (his FG% is down and TOs up). So that’s unfortunate. But if he can get back to being a guy who can consistently shoot a high percentage without turning the ball over, that’d be huge.

            Also, I don’t know which numbers would measure this, but from what I’ve seen of Monroe, he’s not a terrible man-to-man defender. He is awful on help defense, though. Particularly in leaving his guy alone and being slow to recover when he has to help on a penetrating guard.

            That seems like something that could be addressed with a better system/defensive schemes. And, if paired with an excellent defender (like Drummond), I think Monroe will be fine as long as he can stick his own guy.

          • Mar 12, 20133:44 pm
            by Keith

            Click on Ellis there, scroll down to On Court/Off Court Stats. Highlighted in green it shows his net points per 100 possessions is 2.7. Do the same thing with Mbah a Moute, it shows 3.0.
            The simple on-off ratings are skewed by the fact that Mbah a Moute doesn’t put up big numbers, but the simple production numbers don’t tell the whole story. You can even note when clicking on those players that Milwaukee is a net minus even when Ellis plays (they are just less negative than when he sits), while Milwaukee is slightly positive when Mbah a Moute plays.

          • Mar 12, 20134:18 pm
            by G

            Agree, Monroe isn’t the worst defender in the world when his guy has the ball. It’s all those other times that get him in trouble.

          • Mar 12, 20135:10 pm
            by tarsier

            I don’t know 82games.com well enough to make heads or tails of why Ellis would be better on Net48 but worse on Net per 100 possessions.

            I doubt it’s all due to playing faster or slower with Monta vs Luc on the court.

            Anyway, if you want a big man example, try DeAndre Jordan vs David Lee. 

      • Mar 12, 20132:37 pm
        by G


        Let’s look at it another way – Rip Hamilton was a TERRIBLE defender. Stackhouse was a pretty decent defender, but his offense disappeared in the playoffs. When Joe D traded Stack for Rip I had some reservations because he couldn’t guard a park bench without fouling it, but it turned out just fine.

        Monroe isn’t the Pistons’ only poor defender, and basketball is probably the most difficult sport to separate one player’s impact from the rest. What we DO know is that Drummond is not Derrick Favors. He’s already WAY better defensively, everyone else on the team looks better defensively when he’s on the court, and the Pistons’ 4 best defensive teams all feature Drummond at the 5 spot. I feel pretty confident Drummond will make up for a lot of Monroe’s defensive mistakes.

        • Mar 12, 20133:25 pm
          by Keith


          That’s a reasonable confidence to hold. Rip had a very strong defensive reputation during his time here, though. Monroe being a bad defender is going to be about him. I’m fine building a team with him at the PF and Drummond at the C. But, I’m not going to be nearly as comfortable spending max money to do it. Monroe may be a useful piece in conjunction with others, but his value is based on himself. And to date, he’s a lot closer to neutral than a big positive. I am leery of our ability to build a contender with such a flawed player making up so much of our cap space.

          • Mar 12, 20133:37 pm
            by G

            His reputation may have been good while here, but he was terrible to behold. He spent a lot of time ball-watching & losing his man, and was often in the wrong place. I could always tell when he was about to foul somebody because whenever he looked like he was trying to lock his guy down, that’s when he ended up hacking him.

            They hid Rip by putting him on the worst offensive wing-player, which helped him look better on D

  • Mar 12, 20135:23 pm
    by qm_22


    Funny thing about the grades IMO. Hill getting an F seems harsher than the grades I’ve come to expect for Frank on a road game against a better team, for a game that the Pistons had a chance in and with Knight taken out.
    Stuckey getting a C+ seemed like pure subjectivity on supposed psychological insight on his motivations for producing well (and over the course of the season, at that) versus on court production. I thought this website prided itself on objectivity. Not that the grades here are something to be concerned with, but it’s lower than what he’s gotten on worse nights.

  • Mar 13, 201312:03 am
    by Saul


    Remember when Stuckey was supposed to be getting near All-Star level? What is his problem?? He had his stretches of playing focused and scoring 20 plus points. There’s no excuse for his checking out mentally this year. I don’t care if Bk7 and moose are the focal points, he can and should be attacking and being another scorer we need.

    • Mar 13, 20139:31 am
      by G


      All Star level Stuckey was smoke and mirrors. He did a couple of things well but not THAT well, and he did several things poorly. He had a nice crossover, he could draw fouls & shoot free throws. That’s… about… it.

      • Mar 13, 201310:21 am
        by Keith


        Some of that is true, but other parts seemingly an incomplete understanding. Stuckey’s higher levels of play are a bit above his head, but not greatly so. The difference is magnified because he’s having his worst year of his career right now, but that’s likely to regress to his mean as well. For Stuckey, it’s always been about efficiency. He’s a good passer for a SG, and a poor passer for a PG. He’s a decent defender, but by no means someone you trust against a big scorer. His rebounding and usage have held relatively steady over time.
        The main issue is efficiency. Free throws are efficient, and he’s always drawn them at a high rate. That is a measurable skill, and Stuckey has it. The problem is that he’s really bad at scoring any other way. He’s a terrible jump shooter, and poor finisher at the rim. If he doesn’t get a foul, he probably misses anyway. In his best seasons, he ended up converting more of his shots than normal and drawing a few more fouls (these are likely connected as his improved shooting forced defenders to play him tighter and risk fouls more often). Obviously the Shakespearian tragedy that was his shooting to start the year destroyed any chance that defenders might bail him out this year. And that’s possibly the death of his career. If defenders don’t respect him enough to play tight, he cannot create effective offense. He’ll still draw fouls at a relatively high rate, but it won’t be enough to overcome the drag of his otherwise terrible conversion rate of normal shots.

        • Mar 13, 201310:50 am
          by G


          I’ve always thought Stuckey’s best role was as an off-the-bench scorer. With the ball in his hand. Give him a couple decent spot up shooters, a banger down low and some 2nd tier defense to play against and he looks all-world pretty good. Put him as a traditional NBA SG & he gives you neither the perimeter defense nor the shooting you require. Double that at the SF position. As a PG he’s SLIGHTLY better than Knight most nights, which is to say “less than adequate”.

          This season he’s worse than usual, and I think that maybe playing out of his natural role has hurt him more than I thought. But he wasn’t that great to begin with.

          • Mar 13, 201310:51 am
            by G

            That “all-world” should have a line through it. Not sure why that didn’t work.

  • Mar 13, 20139:01 am
    by MIKEYDE248


    This game did exactly what I wanted to see (not counting seeing Knight getting injured).  I wanted to see some of younger guys playing (Middleton had a pretty good game) and I wanted to see Utah win to knock the Lakers out of the playoffs (every win for them helps).

    Every loss for the Pistons right now is really big too.  They are in the 9th spot right now with 5 teams below them with only one less win and a couple team with a win or two more.  A nice losing streak and they could get to the 4 or 5 spot, but a couple of wins could move them up to the 11 spot.

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