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Archive → April, 2013

Pistons’ draft outlook uncertain on season’s final day

Essentials

  • Teams: at Detroit Pistons (27-52)
  • Date: April 17, 2013
  • Time: 8 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Draft implications

The Pistons could finish with as high as a two-way tie for the No. 6 seed and as low as a two-way tie for the No. 8 seed in the lottery, depending on tonight’s results. As a reminder, ties for draft order are broken by random draw.

Detroit also could acquire the Clippers’ second round pick, which is top-55 protected but would not go to the Pistons in a future season.

There a lot of games that will affect both picks, but let’s make it simple.

Rooting guide

Keep in mind, this is strictly which teams to root for to improve the Pistons’ draft pick:

  • Nets (vs. Pistons)
  • Wizards (at Bulls)
  • Kings (vs. Clippers)*
  • Timberwolves (at Spurs)
  • Clippers (at Kings)*
  • Jazz (at Grizzlies)
  • Suns (at Nuggets)

*If the Pistons win, root for the Clippers without hesitation. Otherwise, you’ll have to decide whether slotting in the lottery or having an additions second-round pick is more important.

Read about the Nets

Brooklyn’s Finest

Pistons roundtable: Building blocks

The (somewhat) annual Pistons roundtable has returned. Each day this week, our panel of Pistons writers will answer a question about the Pistons – all in one place. Please add your answers in the comments.

Which current Pistons will be in Detroit’s rotation when the team next wins a playoff series?

Drew Sharp, Detroit Free Press

Assuming that series victory is another two years away, Andre Drummond, Jose Calderon and Jonas Jerebko are the only remaining pieces from this year’s team. I foresee the possibility of a trade involving Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight to bring in a big-time scoring wing, and the Pistons might get a pretty good lottery pick this year with a top-seven selection.

Mike Payne, Detroit Bad Boys

Hopefully Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Jose Calderon.  I’m hoping Calderon is retained for three years, with a contract acting as a financial placeholder for a Drummond extension, and the team breaks into the 8th seed next season.  With the right wing counterparts, I think those three could push the team into a tough first round challenger.

Phil Fattore, Pistons 101

Andre Drummond. While only a rookie, Drummond has already established himself as the future of the Pistons. With the Pistons still in a rebuild, the only player on the roster that should have the “NO TRADE” title is Drummond. He’ll be a Piston for years to come, including the next playoff series win.

Daniel Poarch, Life on Dumars

Right now, any conversation about the Pistons’ future starts with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. They’re already the two best players on the team, and if they can gel into a cohesive starting frontcourt, the Pistons will be dangerous down low. Brandon Knight, Jonas Jerebko, and Kyle Singler look like possible contributors, as well.

Eric Stafford, Life on Dumars

It’s a given that Monroe and Drummond will be important parts of any Detroit playoff team unless something goes awfully awry.  Brandon Knight could still be an important role player on a Pistons team that actually wins a playoff series. I also think Kyle Singler, Khris Middleton and Jonas Jerebko have chances if they’re used correctly.

Thom Powell, Life on Dumars

 Monroe, Drummond, Knight, Jerebko, and Calderon (provided he re-signs). With the way Kyle Singler fell off after the first few months of the season, I’m not sure he’s a rotation player for a playoff team. Knight’s fit on the team is similarly questionable, but I feel like with the right role — sixth man might suit him — he can help a lower level playoff team.

Natalie Sitto, Need4Sheed.com

Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe are the only two players on this current roster that the team can truly build around. The “Twin Towers” could be something special, and if the Pistons have any chance in the near future to  get to the post season, they’ll be a part of it.

Patrick Hayes, PistonPowered

Drummond is the only player I’d say with 100 percent certainty, with Greg Monroe a near certainty to be there as well. That’s it, though. I think players like Brandon Knight, Kyle Singler, Jonas Jerebko and even Rodney Stuckey could be rotation players on playoff teams, but I don’t see the Pistons getting back to the playoffs without making trades involving some of their young players. A Monroe-Drummond frontcourt, with the right acquisitions around them, could definitely be a playoff contender down the road.

J.M. Poulard, PistonPowered

As painful as this may sound, there aren’t many. Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond are both young, productive and full of potential. Given the scarcity of quality big men, it seems evident they will remain with the franchise longer than the other players. That gives them an edge in terms of being part of a team that will experience postseason success in Detroit.

Jameson Draper, PistonPowered

It will be a pretty similar team, because the Pistons should make the playoffs very soon – even as soon as next season. The key players to the hopeful playoff squad will be Monroe and Drummond, but I’m guessing Brandon Knight and Kyle Singler will be seeing a lot of time as well. Unfortunately, I don’t see the Pistons re-signing Calderon.

Brady Fredericksen, PistonPowered

Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, Kyle Singler, Brandon Knight. All four of those guys can be a part of a playoff rotation right now, if they were put in such a situation. The idea of the Pistons winning a playoff series is still AT LEAST two seasons away. Singler can be a valuable part of that, but he’s better suited as a forward off the bench who can shoot and rebound — not as a starter.

Dan Feldman, PistonPowered

Grant Hill won Rookie of the Year in 1994-95, helped the Pistons wins 46 games the next season and 54 the following year – and he didn’t win a playoff series until 10 year after he left Detroit. That’s a long way of saying there’s a larger chance than most realize that no current Pistons will be here when the team next wins a playoff series. But I’d rate three players as more likely than not to contribute to a playoff-winning Pistons team: Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond for obvious reasons and Jonas Jerebko, whose contract is big enough to limit Detroit’s options for moving him and who has finally accepted the role-player mentality that will likely keep him in the rotation.

Greg Monroe nicknames Khris Middleton ‘Sleepy’

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News on Khris Middleton:

More importantly, though, he doesn’t seem like a rookie on the floor; he almost seems nonchalant.

His demeanor is so even-keel Greg Monroe calls him Sleepy.

"I think he has a really good feel. You wouldn’t know if he were rattled or not," Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. "He can really score and have a lot of qualities that are going to help him in this league."

I’m all for nicknames, especially ones more imaginative than K-Mid. But someone wake me up (pun intended) when Middleton’s most commonly used first name becomes Sleepy. Otherwise, he’s behind the curve.

Andre Drummond had never been to a museum before last week

During an off-day last week, the Pistons visited the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and ate at Slows Bar-B-Q. Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

Rookie center Andre Drummond, 19, said it was his first visit to a museum of any type.

"It was kind of a different experience for me," Drummond said. "We went down there and was really into it.

"It was just different, and I can’t really explain it to you. We really got into it and interacting with the different pieces there."

Many, though certainly not all, professional athletes are boring. They live sheltered lives nearly totally dedicated to their sport. For many, that’s the only way they reach such a high level.

So, it’s refreshing to see playing in the NBA has widened Andre Drummond’s worldview.

Jason Maxiell has never been cooler

Jason Maxiell, who’s out for the season with a detached retina, has never been cooler.

Screen shot 2013-04-15 at 9.38.34 PM

Greg Monroe gets Most Improved Player vote from ESPN panel

ESPN’s panel of experts gave their award choices, and Greg Monroe earned one of 30 votes for Most Improved Player.

Chris Palmer’s choice of a Piston is appreciated, but it’s quite surprising. Monroe showed a more well-rounded game this year, a sign of improvement as a player. But an increased attention to the less-efficient areas of his game (ball-handling, mid-range shooting, passing) at the expense of the more efficient areas of his game (offensive rebounding, interior scoring) made him less productive.

I’d argue Monroe is a better player than a year ago simply because he can do more on the court, and assuming his rebounding and low-post skills haven’t deteriorated, that bodes well for his future. But because of his change in focus this season, Monroe produced less for his team.

There are plenty of players who meet both criteria – real improvement and increased production – who are far more deserving of the award.

Pistons roundtable: Lawrence Frank

The (somewhat) annual Pistons roundtable has returned. Each day this week, our panel of Pistons writers will answer a question about the Pistons – all in one place. Please add your answers in the comments.

Should the Pistons retain Lawrence Frank beyond this season?

Drew Sharp, Detroit Free Press

The primary reason I would retain Frank for another season is that I thought he showed the proper patience with Andre Drummond‘s development. He didn’t rush him too fast, and that’s vital with a 19-year-old big man. Also, the Pistons have to get away from the reputation that coaches can only last two years in this organization before they’re looking for work.

Mike Payne, Detroit Bad Boys

Frank’s retention largely depends on what Joe Dumars is allowed to do by Tom Gores this summer.  If Dumars signs the wrong players like he did in 2009 and 2011, having Frank around for another year won’t matter.  If the team makes smart investments in productive players, a coaching change may be wise.  If it’s the same old cast plus O.J. Mayo, I don’t really care whether Frank is coaching or not.

Phil Fattore, Pistons 101

Frank’s decision-making and player management should not go without scrutiny, but bad contracts have hindered the Pistons’ ability to move the rebuild along since Frank was signed two years ago. With nearly $30 million available in free agent spending this offseason, the Pistons will gain a clearer picture of Frank’s coaching ability with a revamped roster. Give Frank one more year.

Daniel Poarch, Life on Dumars

I think the Pistons could probably do worse than keeping Lawrence Frank around next year, but they could also do much better. Frank showed an odd aversion to giving appropriate minutes to Drummond and Jonas Jerebko, and there has to be a better fit out there right now. I hear Stan Van Gundy isn’t doing much these days.

Eric Stafford, Life on Dumars

I think it’s time for Frank’s stay in Detroit to end. At first, I tried to understand his thinking in only playing Drummond about 19 minutes per game, but seeing how well they’ve played since he’s returned, my position has changed. The Pistons aren’t going anywhere with Frank as their head coach, so might as well change sooner than later.

Thom Powell, Life on Dumars

Frank’s over-reliance on veterans despite Drummond developing way ahead of schedule was a hindrance to the team, especially with how abysmally Jason Maxiell playeds. Frank’s burial of Jonas Jerebko early on was equally wrongheaded, especially once Jonas worked his way back into the rotation. Dumars deserves equal blame, but it was time for Frank to go.

Natalie Sitto, Need4Sheed.com

It’s almost unfair to put all the blame on Frank at this point, but it’s clear that he didn’t do what he was supposed to do when he was hired. The man who was supposed to bring the D back to Detroit did nothing of the sort and his rotations were questionable, but that seems to have more to do with his personnel. He’s shown no real progress, so it’s time to move on from the Frank experiment.

Patrick Hayes, PistonPowered

Depends. If they’re going to spend the money required to hire a proven, successful coach, then absolutely part ways with Frank. If the plan is to replace him with another retread or in-over-his-head cheaper alternative, then I’d prefer they just retain Frank and have some semblance of stability for once. Frank certainly hasn’t done enough to justify his job, but Joe Dumars doesn’t exactly have a track record of hitting home runs with his last four coaching hires. So I’m not confident in Frank’s ability and I’m not confident in the organization’s ability to find a competent replacement. So I guess the answer to this question is, who cares?

J.M. Poulard, PistonPowered

Negative. If the season was in fact a failure, the blame invariably falls on the shoulders of the head coach. He’s a good coach that can instill good concepts to take advantage of opponents, but he’s not the right guy for Detroit.

Jameson Draper, PistonPowered

I’ve been back and forth about this one all season, but here’s the bottom line: If it weren’t for poorly-timed injuries and late acquisitions, I’m confident the Pistons would be a playoff team. Frank has made many questionable decisions this year, but all in all, has done a nice job of coaching the team.

Brady Fredericksen, PistonPowered

That’s a tough one. He’s probably going to be canned in favor of a coach with a history playing in the NBA (Nate McMillan?), but I don’t know if that’s fair. I always thought Frank’s deficiencies were due more so to being stuck with such an odd group of super young and/or defensively challenged talent. Phil Jackson isn’t coaching this team to the playoffs, either.

Dan Feldman, PistonPowered

Only if they’re committed to him through next season, which, based on my outside knowledge, they shouldn’t be willing to do. (I am willing to concede considerations beyond our view could keep Frank on the job.) Frank might not have done enough wrong to definitely deserve to be fired now, but considering his team’s histories of slow starts, Frank would be a decent bet to cross that threshold during the 2013-14 season and earn a mid-year firing. At that point, another season will get lost in a coaching mess. The other option – inserting a high level assistant/replacement on the bench – would also undermine Detroit’s coaching next season. The Pistons should fire Frank once this season ends and try again for a new coach who actually helps the team.

Tom Gores on Joe Dumars and Lawrence Frank: ‘We’re going to do this very, very quickly, but thoroughly’

Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

“We’re assessing everything fast,” Gores said when asked if he had a timeline in mind for decisions on the futures of team leadership. “It’s a very important time, a critical time for the franchise. We’re fortunate enough to have a good young group of people, so we’ll do it fast, like we did when we came in and bought the team. We’re going to do this very, very quickly, but thoroughly.”

Gores said he met with president of basketball operations Joe Dumars and head coach Lawrence Frank on Sunday.

“I expected better results,” he said. “I met with Joe and Lawrence yesterday and let them know that. They’re great guys that know their business, but I’m here assessing everything. My job is to move this franchise forward.”

Asked about the job status of Dumars and Frank, Gores said, “We’re assessing it right now. Both of them, including ownership, has to be accountable for the year.

Gores said any decision on Frank’s future would involve his input.

“It’ll be a discussion,” he said. “I have to be involved because I’m taking care of this franchise. There’s no doubt I have to be involved. Lawrence is a tremendous guy, but I have to really think about this franchise and what the best thing is.”

Reading the tea leaves, it sounds like at least one of Lawrence Frank and Joe Dumars will be gone. This was a perfect opportunity for Gores to give a vote of confidence in the pair, and he didn’t do that. I don’t see how he can avoid declaring his faith in them, say “My job is to move this franchise forward” and then bring back both.

And my goodness, if “Lawrence is a tremendous guy,” isn’t the biggest kiss of death since when Gores bought the team and spoke about John Kuester,* I don’t know what is.

*Asked about Kuester’s future with the Pistons, Gores indicated it may be limited to one more task.

“I haven’t had a meeting with Coach Kuester,” said Gores, who pronounced the coach’s name, Kooster. “I need to provide him the courtesy of that meeting.”

By all accounts, Gores has been very involved in the franchise’s operations. He doesn’t need to fly in to learn about how the team is run. It sounds like he already knows what he’ll do and is waiting for the right time to do it.

Pistons match season-best four-game win streak, torpedo lottery odds

Philadelphia 76ers 101 Final
Recap | Box Score
109 Detroit Pistons
Greg Monroe, C 37 MIN | 10-14 FG | 7-7 FT | 16 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 27 PTS | +17

Monroe has owned the 76ers, averaging 22.7 points, 13.7 points and 4.3 assists in three games against them this season.

Andre Drummond, C 33 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-4 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 5 PTS | -3

This was far from Drummond’s best game, but he’s so athletic, he still made several positive plays. That’s certainly an upgrade from Jason Maxiell‘s no-show starts.

Brandon Knight, PG 31 MIN | 5-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | +9

Knight, to his credit, eased his way into this game. He began by making a couple quality, but high percentage, passes and then worked for good shots. But as the game progressed, Knight drifted back into the player who took poor care of the ball and bad shots.

Rodney Stuckey, PG 33 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +13

Stuckey was clearly the point guard at the get-go, but he still deferred to Knight. At a certain point, he can’t just blame Lawrence Frank for taking the ball out of his hands. Stuckey has been more passive this season.

Kyle Singler, SG 31 MIN | 6-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | +18

Singler hadn’t scored this much in 11 games, but tonight was a reminder he’s still better than Middleton right now.

Jonas Jerebko, PF 20 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +12

A Jerebko that is good every other game is definite progress from earlier in the season.

Charlie Villanueva, PF 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -10

We know Villanueva isn’t defending or rebounding, but when he’s not even shooting, what’s the point?

Khris Middleton, SF 16 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -6

Middleton is definitely getting more comfortable on both ends of the court. He’s still behind Singler, but the gap might be narrowing. (I say "might," because Middleton hasn’t shown his improvement over a large enough and meaningful enough sample.)

Will Bynum, PG 25 MIN | 8-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 22 PTS | +4

Bynum is finishing the season on a high note and making sure he gets paid this summer. Good for him. He deserves one more multi-year contract.

Kim English, SG 9 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -14

English was a glaringly bad -14 in nine minutes, but I think this was one of many times single-game plus-minus misleads. English didn’t really do anything wrong, other than play six of his minutes with Villanueva. The rookie just happened to be on the court when Detroit missed shots and Philadelphia made them. That said, English didn’t do anything to positively impact the game, either.

Lawrence Frank

Frank stuck with Drummond long enough to let the rookie foul out, and really, he gave everyone who played a chance to show their ability. Some took advantage. Some didn’t.

Hosting Philadelphia 76ers

Essentials

  • Teams: Philadelphia 76ers (33-47) at Detroit Pistons (28-52)
  • Date: April 15, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

The city of Philadelphia certainly didn’t get what it was hoping for this season. Whether it’s the Eagles or the 76ers, things just didn’t pan out as anticipated.

Both the football and basketball teams collected a little talent and had hopes of competing in the postseason and making some noise. But unfortunately for the Philadelphia faithful, it just wasn’t meant to be.

Although they were aided by the injury of Derrick Rose, the 76ers still participated in the second round of the 2012 playoffs.

In the offseason they traded the face of the franchise in Andre Iguodala and brought back Andrew Bynum. The former Laker center was supposed to turn them into a contender.

No one in the Eastern Conference would have been able to match with Drew. His size and skill were simply far too imposing. And yet, when we fast-forward to the present, it seems as though the team has imploded.

Doug Collins is reportedly stepping down at season’s end and the city of Brotherly Love still has yet to see Bynum play for them. The big man has been injured all season and is scheduled to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2012-13 campaign.

Now that Collins is apparently headed out the door, he will stop being part of the blame game. His jump shot offense is about to become a thing of the past.

The drawback should be evident mind you: the present and future of the Sixers is incredibly cloudy.

Anticipating their next moves has become a risky proposition. The only thing we know for sure right now is they have a game tonight against the Pistons at the Palace.

And well, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement now is it?

Read about the 76ers

Hoop 76.