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Archive → March, 2013

Pistons received 2 a.m. text for extra practice later that day

David Mayo of MLive:

Under most NBA circumstances, the Detroit Pistons would have been off Wednesday. But after their Tuesday meltdown, Jason Maxiell conceded that he expected the 2 a.m. text message announcing the team should reconvene in a few hours.

Sure enough, the Pistons were summoned to the practice facility for a noon practice, primarily for the purpose of making sure they bore video witness to their malaise in a 105-82 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"They need to watch it," he said.

"This time of year, whether you’re going to the playoffs or not, normally this is a day off when you have two days," Frank said. "But being embarrassed like we were, we want to watch it, address it, move on and have a great practice tomorrow."

Lawrence Frank, to at least some degree, should be coaching for his job. We don’t know how the Pistons are evaluating Frank, so I can’t say whether he’s meeting their standards. Tom Gores and Joe Dumars might accept the team’s late-season losses, because Frank has given the young players more minutes. Or they might care about winning and only winning.

But it is safe to say Frank losing the players – no matter what other metrics the front office is using – would weigh negatively in his case to return for a third season.

I can’t imagine the players wanted this extra practice. Heck, they didn’t want to play in a game Tuesday. But more than what they want, it’s important what they’ll accept.

Do they still buy into Frank’s plan? Were they attentive during this film session?

Or did they just see it as tedious overkill in an already-lost season? Did the zone out, or worse, develop resentment for Frank?

I’m very interested to see how the Pistons respond against the Raptors tomorrow. Of course, one game will never tell the whole story, but this game might say more than most about Frank.

Will Bynum ‘was basically playing with one hand’

Will Bynum played just six minutes against the Bobcats on Saturday and missed the Timberwolves game Tuesday due to a right hand injury. Bynum, via Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

"I was basically playing with one hand. I get hit on it, I basically can’t move," said Bynum, who averages 9.3 points and 3.4 assists in 18.4 minutes.

"I can’t shoot for 40 seconds. I have to take a shot during the timeouts just to get the feel back. It was tough, just adjusting to it."

He re-injured it in Saturday’s win, diving for a loose ball out of bounds in the first half, and didn’t return. Bynum isn’t sure of the long-term prognosis, saying it could be "one week or two, depending on how long it takes to heal," but certainly must face the prospect of having played his last game of the season.

Bynum playing “basically playing with one hand” is so in-character for him (NC,W.NC). Frankly, I’m surprised he’s missing games for this injury – but that must mean it’s really serious.

Andre Drummond gets A- for rookie year

Ben Golliver of The Point Forward graded the 2012 first-round picks so far, and he gave just three players As. Of course, Andre Drummond (along with Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard) received one of those As:

9. Andre Drummond, Pistons: A-
7.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.7 BPG in 50 games

Drummond is pure intrigue, addicting intrigue. He might very well have been the league leader in causing observers to scream for him to get more playing time, more touches, more media attention, more, more, more. Before going down with a back injury in February (an injury from which he’s yet to return), Drummond posted a rookie-best PER of 22.4 and compiled per-36 minute averages of 13.3 points, 13.7 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and 1.7 steals. Those are eye-popping numbers that signal All-Star potential, given that he’s still 19.

A big-bodied center with excellent athleticism, Drummond knows what he does best. More than 95 percent of his field-goal attempts have come in the basket area and he finishes nearly two-thirds of them, often with emphatic dunks. It must be noted that his offense is predicated on someone setting him up, but he knows exactly what to do with a dump pass and a second-chance opportunity. Those high-percentage looks helped drive his PER, and his presence on the court significantly improved the offensive efficiency of coach Lawrence Frank’s team. And, yes, the lowly Pistons were better defensively with him on the court, too, as he effectively clogs the paint simply by being out there.

We might never know why Drummond had his playing time crimped in what was clearly a rebuilding year, and it’s not clear whether management and the current coaching staff will be retained next season. But whoever runs the show in 2013-14 will have to realize that Drummond’s potential is far and away the best thing this franchise has going for it.

With Drummond out injured for so long, I forgot how fun it was to read the national media gush about him. Hopefully Drummond will return soon, and we can get back to hearing about his greatness.

Learn your lottery terminology

Republished from last season, because of course it’s still necessary.

In the NBA lottery, the Pistons will have the same number of ping-pong balls as the Charlotte Bobcats, Washington Wizards, New Orleans Hornets, Miami Heat, Detroit Lions and any other team.

Zero.

Teams are assigned combinations, not ping-pong balls. Here’s how the process works, as explained by the NBA last year:

Fourteen ping-pong balls numbered 1 through 14 will be placed in a drum. There are 1,001 possible combinations when four balls are drawn out of 14, without regard to their order of selection. Prior to the Lottery, 1,000 combinations will be assigned to the 14 participating Lottery teams by a computer.

Four balls will be drawn to the top to determine a four-digit combination. The team that has been assigned that combination will receive the number one pick. The four balls are placed back in the drum and the process is repeated to determine the number two and three picks. (Note: If the one unassigned combination is drawn, the balls are drawn to the top again.)

The actual Lottery procedure will take place in a separate room prior to the national broadcast on ESPN with NBA officials and representatives of the participating teams and the accounting firm of Ernst & Young in attendance.

Following the drawing, team logo cards will be inserted into envelopes marked 1 through 14 by an Ernst & Young representative. These envelopes then will be sealed and brought on-stage, where the announcement of the Lottery results will be made by NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver. A second representative from each participating team will be seated on-stage. Neither the Deputy Commissioner nor the team representatives will be informed of the Lottery results prior to the opening of the envelopes.

To review:

  • Incorrect: The Pistons are tanking to get more ping-pong balls.
  • Correct: The Pistons are tanking to get more combinations.

Detroit Pistons haven’t won home game in last 42 days

The Pistons beat the Wizards, 96-85, Feb. 13. Greg Monroe had 16 points and 18 rebounds. Jose Calderon scored 24 points, and Will Bynum added 20 points. Lawrence Frank even got an A- grade for the game.

It’s been 42 days since that win, Detroit’s last home victory.

The Pistons have four chances to break the skid before the season ends – Raptors on Friday, Bulls on April 7, Bobcats on April 12, 76ers on April 15 – but the damage has already been done.

This stat isn’t significant in a basketball sense, because it’s a little fluky. Eleven of the Pistons’ 18 games since the Washington win have come on the road, so they haven’t had as many chances to win at home.

But it is significant in terms of fan morale, especially the fans who buy tickets and attend games. That is a long and depressing time to go without seeing their team win.

Going 42 days without a home victory is the NBA’s longest such streak this season – get ready for this blog’s most-used words this season – other than the Bobcats. Even if the Pistons lose their remaining home games, they still won’t catch Charlotte, which went 66 days between home wins during November, December and January.

Helpless Pistons improve lottery odds with 105-82 loss to Timberwolves

J.J. Barea dashed past Jose Calderon on the perimeter. Charlie Villanueva flashed high above the 3-point line to defend a screen Barea never used, and Jason Maxiell stood flat-footed near the free-throw line before turning around too late to catch a streaking Barea, who made a layup.

Lawrence Frank wants a timeout. He may talk about the help,” Pistons broadcaster George Blaha said. “Wasn’t that a great movie?”

Timber…Wolves

Essentials

  • Teams: Minnesota Timberwolves (24-44) at Detroit Pistons (24-47)
  • Date: March 26, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

After earning huge praise for their moves during the offseason, the Minnesota Timberwolves have disappointed.

It was assumed that Rick Adelman would get the club in position to contend for a playoff spot given the talent he had on board. Couple that with his offensive schemes and it seemed like a foregone conclusion his group would be hovering somewhere around the eighth or ninth seed in the Western Conference standings throughout the season.

Ah, but injuries are the great equalizer.

Kevin Love — one of the best power forwards in the league — has missed the majority of the season. Their stud point guard Ricky Rubio missed a third of the campaign, thus robbing Minnesota of their top playmaker.

There was a little hope that Brandon Roy would be a solid and productive player for the Wolves, but quite frankly his stay in Minnesota has been awfully reminiscent of his last few seasons in Portland.

As a Trail Blazer, Roy was forced into retirement because of injuries.

Granted, every team in the league deals with players missing time because of health concerns, but in the case of Adelman, he’s been forced into coaching this season without his best players.

Consequently, one of the most gifted offensive minds in the league is stuck with an offense producing 99.4 points per 100 possessions. That figure is in the bottom five of the Association.

It’s quite perplexing to see them rank so low statistically given all of the things the team does in terms of sets and plays. The Wolves start two point guards in Rubio and Luke Ridnour, which is good for ball movement.

Adelman runs plays with a lot of counters and misdirection, which tends to fool defenses. The constant movement of players makes just about every a player a threat on each possession.

They will run some screen-the-screener action and then follow that up with pick-and-rolls, which gets defenders completely discombobulated. Combine Rubio’s incredible court vision and flair for passing and this team has some serious highlight potential.

There’s just one problem: these guys can’t shoot.

The one constant the Wolves can count on is Nikola Pekovic on the interior. He is a bruising talent that tends to move players. Rumor has it, he once posted up the Equator and moved it further down south by virtue of his superior strength.

He is great in the paint and around the rim. The rest of his teammates though, not so much.

Hence, scoring is quite a chore for this team.

They are an average unit defensively at best. That would have been sufficient for the group to contend for a postseason berth with an above average scoring, but the absence of shooting and talent has torpedoed the offense and consequently the season.

The Wolves have broken the 90-point barrier (!) in four of their past 10 games. That’s hardly a recipe for success in the NBA and not so coincidentally, they have been victorious three times during that same stretch.

It’s sad to watch the Wolves and simply wonder what could have been if not for health.

Read about the Timberwolves

A Wolf Among Wolves.

Tom Gores’ company gives money to Detroit for ambulances, police cars

Joe Guillen and Gina Damron of the Detroit Free Press:

Detroit private business, including the Penske Corporation, will donate $8 million for 23 EMS units and 100 police cruisers to boost public safety and reduce response times, Mayor Dave Bing announced this morning.

In addition to Penske Corp., the donors are: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Chrysler Group, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Quicken Loans, Kresge Foundation and Platinum Equity.

Platinum Equity is chaired by Pistons owner Tom Gores, who should be strongly applauded here.

Many want Gores to suck money from Detroit by moving the Pistons downtown (and assuredly asking the city to build him an arena it can’t afford if he does it). Instead, he’s giving the city money.

Very classy move by Gores.

Jose Calderon: ‘It’s not about winning or losing at this time of the season’

Jose Calderon, via Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

It’s not about winning or losing at this time of the season. It’s about showing what we can do, have pride, play 48 minutes.

It’s refreshing to hear a Piston finally say that, but more importantly, it’s appears not only Jose Calderon feels that way.

The Pistons are giving more minutes to young players, experimenting with different lineups and losing. This is what many fans with an eye on the team’s long-term future – including myself – want to see. We’d all prefer Detroit’s present games mattered more, but they don’t, so at this point, there’s nothing wrong with outsiders hoping for losses.

In previous years, the Pistons were reluctant to embrace any practices associated with tanking. But this season seems a little different, and Calderon’s admission supports that.

The Pistons are getting less stubborn and more progressive. They’ll be better off because of it.

Pistons reportedly preferred only Anthony Davis to Andre Drummond in 2012 draft

Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ranked as the top three players on the PistonPowered community draft board, my draft board and Patrick’s draft board. The community and I ranked Andre Drummond fourth, and Patrick had him fifth behind Bradley Beal.

Reportedly, the Pistons thought even more highly of Drummond. Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

The only guy the Pistons would have picked over Drummond was Davis

If that’s true, credit to the Pistons. If the draft were re-done today, Davis and Drummond would go first and second, and the order could be debated.

Nearly everyone agreed Drummond was a great pick at No. 9, once Robinson, Kidd-Gilchrist and Beal were off the board. So, Detroit’s internal rankings of those top players didn’t affect the result, but if the Pistons consistently get those calls right,* that will pay off in the long run.

*Who knows whether they do? They leak their good judgments, not their poor ones.