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Russell Westbrook, Maurice Cheeks, correlation, causation and the Pistons

Late in the recruiting process, Russell Westbrook held offers from only San Diego, Creighton and Kent State. He had been a good high school player, and he admitted his lack of exposure frustrated him at times, but he turned that into motivation.

“I just continued to work,” Westbrook told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.

Westbrook nearly committed to San Diego – the athletic little brother of San Diego State, a mid-major itself that has gained recognition lately for producing Kawhi Leonard – but, at the last moment, Jordan Farmar turned pro, and UCLA swooped in with an offer.

Westbrook averaged just 3.4 points per game as a freshman at UCLA, but he worked hard enough to earn a much larger role as a sophomore and even won Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. He turned pro, and because of his explosive athleticism, rose up draft boards all the way to the No. 4 overall draft pick in the 2009 draft.

Not only did he make the All-Rookie first team with the Thunder, he averaged 5.3 assists per game at 20 years old. The only other players to average so many assists per game at such a young age are Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Stephon Marbury, Mike Bibby, LeBron James, T.J. Ford, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, John Wall and Kyrie Irving. Obviously, not all those players developed into top point guards, but it’s pretty elite company.

Once his rookie season ended, Westbrook dedicated himself to a vigorous training regimen, sometimes working out three times per day.

By this point, Westbrook had displayed tremendous potential for playing point guard, and he’d proven himself the type of dedicated worker who would take the necessary steps to reach his potential.

Then – once Westbrook had already done all that – Maurice Cheeks entered his life.

A vital qualification to the Pistons?

David Mayo of MLive:

So why Cheeks?

His history of developing young guards runs deep.

Most recently, Cheeks has worked closely with Russell Westbrook at Oklahoma City.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

Much has been made of Cheeks’ influence on All-Star Russell Westbrook. He has been a calming influence on Westbrook, who has a combustible personality.

It could rub off on third-year guard Brandon Knight.

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

Currently an assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cheeks has helped with the development of guards Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson and former Thunder guard Eric Maynor, who was traded to Portland this season. It’s a background the Pistons liked, especially since they’re still figuring out what they have in 2011 first-round pick Brandon Knight and they hope Cheeks could be a good mentor for him.

All three of those reporters independently confirmed Cheeks had become Detroit’s top choice. They might not know exactly why the Pistons coveted Cheeks, but they have a direct line to someone who does. So, I find it very telling all three wrote about the Cheeks-Westbrook relationship in their first articles analyzing the pending hire.

I’m sure the the Pistons hired Cheeks for more reasons than his work with Westbrook, but if that were a major factor, they should be darn confident Cheeks is significantly responsible for Westbrook’s growth.

Undoubtedly, Westbrook got better while Cheeks worked with him, but correlation does not equal causation. Simply, just because Westbrook improved while Cheeks coached him, Westbrook didn’t necessarily improve because Cheeks coached him. Remember, Westbrook demonstrated incredible talent and work ethic before Oklahoma City ever hired Cheeks.

And even if Cheeks has had a demonstrated positive effect on Westbrook, that doesn’t necessarily mean Brandon Knight will benefit. In two years with the Pistons, Knight has not come close to showing the promise Westbrook did as rookie. Westbrook’s biggest problem is his fire sometimes burns too hot during games, and that’s where Cheeks’ most visible coaching came in.

Granted, Westbrook also had issues as a playmaker that were ironed out under Cheeks’ tutelage, but Westbrook played off guard at UCLA and was learning a new position in the NBA. Knight has always been a point guard. He just doesn’t see see the floor well. Though the result looks similar, the problems are different and require different solutions. Maybe Cheeks helped Westbrook and can help Knight, but helping Knight very well could require a different method.

The fundamental question – where would Westbrook be without Cheeks? – is unanswerable. Dealing with the counterfactual is difficult, and it’s an art and science of piecing together clues. It’s especially difficult for me to do here due to the private nature of NBA practices. Surely, the Pistons have access to more information than I do about Cheeks’ role with Westbrook. Hopefully, they used it wisely.

63 Comments

  • Jun 10, 20138:01 am
    by ryan

    Reply

    There are some flaws in your argument. 1) Maurice Cheeks’ coaching has been linked to the development of a number of guards other than Russell Westbrook. I believe Mayo’s story had the most info on the others. 2) You play up what Russell Westbrook had already done prior to meeting Coach Cheeks and act as if Brandon Knight had done nothing with his career to this point. These flaws detract from what’s otherwise a solid case.

    For the sake of the team I hope that they’re right to hire Maurice Cheeks but I have my doubts. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

    • Jun 10, 20132:22 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Is Cheeks’ reputation for developing point guards or all guards? I read Mayo’s article, and some of those names seem like a stretch to me.

      I wrote: “In two years with the Pistons, Knight has not come close to showing the promise Westbrook did as rookie.” You wrote: “ You … act as if Brandon Knight had done nothing with his career to this point.” That’s a mighty big leap.

  • Jun 10, 20138:13 am
    by RyanK

    Reply

    Again, opinion should not be mistaken for fact.  

    Try to build an argument that Cheeks didn’t help Westbrook all you want…it’s just diarrhea of the mouth, or in this case of the keyboard.  The fact is Westbrook did improve greatly while working with Cheeks.  Maybe he would have improved without him…but that’s speculation, not fact.

     

    • Jun 10, 20138:45 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Dan is not saying otherwise. He is just saying that the idea that Westbrook improved because of Cheeks is also speculation, not fact.

      • Jun 10, 20138:53 am
        by RyanK

        Reply

        Read the entire series of post Dan has made.  He’s doing what he can to discredit the positives of Mo Cheeks.  He toned it down a bit in this post, but still is pushing toward taking credit away.

        Cheeks has seen a number of guards thrive under his tutelage.  Knight’s always been a ball dominating guard…first, second, and third option.  Now he’s on a team where he’s not the best player anymore and needs to distribute the ball.  Westbrook played off guard…in other words, get the ball to Russell and get out of his way.  That’s the life of most NBA players until they reach this level.

        Knight deserves one more year at PG while having a proper teacher helping correct his mistakes.  Mo Cheeks or Larry Brown are the right teachers.  Knight has a turnover problem…not a court vision problem.  Slow it down and learn how to get other players the ball without turning it over.  He deserves another shot at the one spot.   

    • Jun 10, 20132:24 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      “Again, opinion should not be mistaken for fact.”

      Glad you’re here to clear that up. Hopefully, you stick around to post that on everything I ever write here.

      • Jun 10, 20133:23 pm
        by RyanK

        Reply

        No problem, I’ll make sure to keep the naive readers from thinking you know what you’re talking about.

        • Jun 11, 20132:23 pm
          by G

          Reply

          Here’s a dirty little secret: No one knows anything.

          And questioning the validity of an assumption is not the same as stating the reverse of that assumption. 

  • Jun 10, 20139:03 am
    by I HATE FRANK

    Reply

    im not going to get in a back and forth about Knight because it always gets ugly….

    “”Westbrook played off guard at UCLA and was learning a new position in the NBA. Knight has always been a point guard. He just doesn’t see see the floor well.”"

    Knight has always been a socring PG…he knows how to score the ball…in High School Knight was the Gatorade Player of the year Twice, only other players to accomplish this was Lebron and Greg Oden…. He was known for his scoring, at kentucky Calipari attempted to make Knight more of a play maker, pass first but it didnt work well early, he turned Knight lose …and from that point on Knight was in player of the year talks…until he had a rough stretch in the last month of the season….

    My point is he is a scorer….When Knight is agressive he looks like a top 10 PG in this league, but when he is trying to be something he is not he looks horrible and confused…

  • Jun 10, 20139:06 am
    by Mo Cheeks

    Reply

    You mad bro?

  • Jun 10, 20139:18 am
    by Huddy

    Reply

    Knight can’t be a top PG just scoring.  He can be a solid SG or a valuable 6rh man.  When knight gets aggressive he can put up 20-30, but still have mediocre assist numbers…that looks like a JR Smith slat line not a staring pg.  the looking like a top 10 PG when he is aggressive thing is off, how often does he look aggressive?  5-6 times all season?   It’s the NBA, will Bynum looks like a top guard when he occasionally has a 20 and 10 night or when he broke the scoring record in a single quarter for the team…doesn’t mean he is top guard potential.  Knight is going to need all around improvement to get to the next level and I hope he does, but it ifia stretch to act like he shows signs mmore than anyone else that he is on the way to that. 

  • Jun 10, 20139:39 am
    by Jeremy

    Reply

    I don’t know if I buy the Cheeks-Westbrook correlation. There are just so many variables to take into consideration when looking at Westbrook’s blooming as a player. For example, while Durant was already dropping buckets before Westbrook arrived, Durant’s numbers sky rocketed after Westbrook came to town (Durant’s rookie season has been the only one played without Westbrook). Is part of both players’ development due to the fact that they are playing with each other? What about the Scott Brooks factor? He has been in OKC the entire time that Westbrook has been and its not like Westbrook’s numbers went off the chart immediately when Cheeks came to town.
     
    If I had to point the finger at one person, it would be at Rex Kalamian who is their assistant in charge of game prep, player development, and offensive efforts. He joined OKC the same season as Cheeks did and it is logical that what he does on a daily basis may have had more of an impact on both Westbrook and Durant than Cheeks.

  • Jun 10, 20139:42 am
    by acr

    Reply

    Nice piece Dan, I think that most would agree that “correlation does not necessarily equal causation”, and as I said in a previous comment, beyond directly interviewing players who have played under Cheeks or having the type of insider NBA knowledge of practices, relationships, and the behind the scenes work that he has done as a coach that we all hope that Dumars had with this (expected) hire, there is really nothing more than we can do than speculate. (On a side note, could you perhaps be giving too much credit to Goodwill, Ellis, et al. for independently confirming Cheeks’ work with Westbrook?  It seems that they are repeating a general meme that started with that SI article a few months ago.  Ellis in particular over the last few weeks seems to be just culling rumors from ESPN and other sources and writing short summary pieces.)

    As this site prides itself on more in-depth, critical analysis of the Pistons, I would like to make a few suggestions to opening up the discussion to other things that go beyond the “Cheeks was hired to teach Brandon Knight” theme, which I find to be a bit simplistic with regards to a NBA coaching hire (not saying that you are being simplistic, just that it is the primary idea being thrown out there to “explain” the hire by many in the media.)

    1.  I would be interested to learn more about Cheeks’ role in working with younger players in general during his time as a head coach, which includes more players than just point guards.  It seems to me that Cheeks’ personality and his approach to “building up players” instead of “tearing them down” was a key component in the (expected) hire.  Some young players that played under Cheeks include: Zach Randolph, Andre Iguodala, Willie Green, Lou Williams, Kyle Korver, Samuel Dalembert, and Thaddeus Young.  It would be interesting to look at their work with Cheeks as well and debate the “correlation/causation” of any improvement.

    2.  Connected to that, Cheeks does have experience running an offense with talented bigs in Portland – Rasheed, Sabonis and Randolph in particular.  Do you think that he impressed in the interview process with a plan for a similar high/low post offense with Drummond and Monroe?  A discussion of potential offensive schemes taking advantage of our talented bigs would be interesting.

    3.  Defense. He had some pretty good defensive teams his first few years in Portland, and his team improved defensively every full season while in Philadelphia. Granted, this had a lot to do with the players, but that last full season he had in Philly was particularly interesting – getting a lot out of a group of young players (plus a veteran point in Miller) on the defensive side of things.  Dalembert in particular started to break out under Cheeks as well (though the “causation” of that could be his work with assistant Moses Malone – who, incidentally, I would love to have as an asst. here to work with Drummond).  Either way, it would be interesting to discuss his defensive schemes as well and how they may work here.

    4.  Players.  As I’ve said before, the bottom line is that we need to add some more talent to our roster, or no coach is going to be successful.  I think this should be the key component of any critique of Dumars – do we see a repeat of the Villanueva/Gordon mistake?  Or does he have some magic left to get us a good player or two via “cap relief” trades this summer, or possibly free agency (without paying too much)?  There could be a few opportunities to get some players via trade this summer off of teams who could be in flux – perhaps Wilson Chandler if Denver is able to keep Iguodala for example?  Chandler actually seems to have similar production as Iguodala, would cost less then Iggy’s new contract (despite his own new contract), and he is 3 years younger. 

    I should probably actually do some work today, but I just wanted to throw out some discussion points in case anyone is interested. 

    • Jun 10, 20131:41 pm
      by Ryan

      Reply

      I like Wilson Chandler with this unit, especially if the Nuggets would be willing to take back Stuckey’s expiring contract. But I wonder if Cheeks is still in touch with Iguodala and one thought within the organization might be that he can lure him to the D as a FA… Wouldn’t be the worst move.

    • Jun 10, 20132:27 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      I’m not saying they independently confirmed Cheeks’ work with Westbrook. I’m saying I believe they have an idea that the Pistons valued Cheeks’ work with Westbrook.

    • Jun 10, 20133:19 pm
      by Faraz1013

      Reply

      Couldn’t have said it any better acr. Dan, it would be great to have a few pieces written on the topics acr has listed. We know Cheeks is a mediocre coach, but it would be nice to know how he fares in each facet of coaching, what his strengths and weaknesses are, etc. 

      • Jun 11, 20132:26 pm
        by G

        Reply

        As long as we’re making requests, Dan, can I get an article about the impact of syphilis & morphine on Paul Gauguin’s art that paints syphilis in a positive light? That’d be great, thanks.

  • Jun 10, 20139:43 am
    by Vic

    Reply

    Knight is a scorer… there’s nothing wrong with that. 
    YOu can’t have a scorer running the team at PG. A guard who is a scorer but cannot distribute at a high level is a “Microwave”  6th man.

    I don’t doubt Mo Cheeks can teach Knight how to slow down and be a better pg.

    My preference would be to draft a natural true pg: Burke, MCW, Nate Wolters.

    You can’t win at a high level without a pass first player or a dominant coach. Mo Cheeks has not proven to be a dominant coach, but a developmental coach. BK has not proven to be a pass first pg, but a scoring guard.  

    SO in order to maximize the next few years you need to either bring Calderon back or draft Burke, MCW, or Nate Wolters.  

    We don’t need another 3 year combo guard experiment, especially when you have a fledgling dynasty beginning at the 4 and 5 position… come on Joe I thought we grew past this.

    #8 Oladipo/KCP
    #13 Tony Mitchell
    #37 Nate Wolters
    #56 James Ennis

    there’s your SG of the future, backup 4 of the future, pg of the future, and small forward steal of the draft.
     

    • Jun 10, 201311:56 am
      by I HATE FRANK

      Reply

      “”You can’t win at a high level without a pass first player or a dominant coach. Mo Cheeks has not proven to be a dominant coach, but a developmental coach. BK has not proven to be a pass first pg, but a scoring guard.”"

      Holiday,Vasquez,Rubio, Calderon, Nelson, and Dragic all averaged over 7 ast per-game…. other than Nelson and Holiday…the rest are strongly considered as pass first players….

      However, None even game close to leading their team to the play-offs…

      parker, Westbrook,Paul, D.williams, Ty Lawson, Curry, Teague, and Jennings…..ALL made thr play-offs…. and only Paul is considered as a Pass first PG….

      Point im making? Scoring PGs impact the game way more than Pass-First PG’s…

      • Jun 10, 201312:22 pm
        by jacob

        Reply

        The Pistons would be much better off with BK becoming a good PG instead of a SG.

      • Jun 10, 201312:40 pm
        by Huddy

        Reply

        There is a difference between score first and score only.  All the guys on your score first list have high assist numbers as well.  

        • Jun 10, 20132:28 pm
          by I HATE FRANK

          Reply

          i’ll asked this question…

          Even a elite PG would have struggled, with the coach, and system we had.

          We all know Knight is not an elite anything, has played in a horrible system, with a horrible coach, with only one offensively effeicent teammate…and he is only 21 years old…

      • Jun 10, 201312:54 pm
        by Vic

        Reply

        I’m thinking from a championship perspective, not a playoff perspective. in the finals its Popovich vs Lebron

      • Jun 10, 20136:09 pm
        by oats

        Reply

        @ I HATE FRANK. Rajon Rondo and Jason Kidd are pass first guards that had huge impacts on the gamel. As was already pointed out, your guys that are scoring point guards are also almost all really good passers. Jennings is the only one on the list who I wouldn’t consider all that good at distributing, but making the playoffs with 38 wins is a pretty low bar to hit to be considered successful. What’s more, you are kind of ignoring all the scoring points that didn’t go anywhere. Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Damian Lillard, Isaiah Thomas. Admittedly Lillard is also a solid passer though.
         
        My point is that I don’t see a big difference between the impact of scoring point guards and pass first ones in terms of success. I’d say most of the successful ones are really good at both, like your list of Parker, Westbrook, Williams, Lawson, Curry, Teague, and Paul. All of those guys are really good passers and scorers. There are outliers of course. Jennings has been reasonably successful as just a scorer, and I think Irving will get there if he stays healthy. Rondo is pretty much the only one that can’t score and is really successful. It seems to me that a guy needs to be good at both.

    • Jun 10, 20132:30 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      “You can’t win at a high level without a pass first player or a dominant coach.” Who is Miami’s pass-first player or dominant coach?

      • Jun 10, 20135:06 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        The statement is ridiculous. But if that were the only counter-example, it is worth bearing in mind that LeBron screws up a lot of general rules about the NBA.

      • Jun 10, 20135:50 pm
        by Crispus

        Reply

        LeBron and LeBron.

      • Jun 10, 20137:40 pm
        by Vic

        Reply

        Lebron

      • Jun 11, 20132:37 pm
        by G

        Reply

        LeBron is SOMETIMES a pass-first player, but it’s pretty hard to categorize a guy averaging 27 ppg as “pass first”. The reality is the team shares the ball pretty well, with James, Wade and Chalmers getting decent assists.

        The reality is that champions are built in all sorts of different ways. The last 5 champions were the Heat, the Mavs, the Lakers (twice), and the Celtics. Of those teams, Dallas and Boston had a “pass first” play maker, while both Miami and LA were led in assists by the top scorer on the team.

  • Jun 10, 20139:51 am
    by Motor City Muscles

    Reply

    Draft KCP !!!!

  • Jun 10, 20139:58 am
    by gmehl

    Reply

    Curiously asking when does Westbrook contract expire? Maybe having Cheeks as a link could get him to Detroit. I doubt it but thought i’d just throw it out there.

    • Jun 10, 201310:03 am
      by gmehl

      Reply

      Damn he’s an UFA in 2017. Ok plan B…Cheeks work your magic!

  • Jun 10, 201310:18 am
    by mshansky

    Reply

    I am rooting for Cheeks to be successful, of course, despite the distinct possibility that he will have a significant talent deficit to start with.Whether he schools the guards himself or uses assistants doesn’t matter.
     To me, the defining issue of this coaches’ search by the pistons is that there were too many other coachless teams that were more desirable to most (if not all) of the candidates. So Cheeks, who no other team was interested in, was left when the dust cleared…thats who we got, so i hope he works out in Detroit. I will consider him successful if the team improves noticeably during his (probably) 2-3 years.

    • Jun 10, 201310:33 am
      by gmehl

      Reply

      The coach that no other team wanted. Maybe he is our guy after all. I am hoping he succeeds to but i’d lie if I wasn’t hoping for more especially after we have been made to wait say long. The whole Phil Jackson thing really rubbed me up the wrong way. I honestly want to know what he did that helped the coaching search. Not much you’d have to guess.

      • Jun 10, 201311:02 am
        by Haan

        Reply

        I love Phil Jackson, but in in this case I wonder what info he was providing to whom.  To what extent was Joe Dumars a beneficiary?  Not to any great extent from what I can gather.  It seems more like Phil was providing a reading of the franchise to Gores and, more nastily, casing the joint to see if it would be a good landing spot for Shaw (it wasn’t, evidently).   Maybe an unpaid consultant can’t be expected to show loyalty, least to Joe, to whom he had no commitment.

    • Jun 10, 20132:36 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      “To me, the defining issue of this coaches’ search by the pistons is that there were too many other coachless teams that were more desirable to most (if not all) of the candidates. So Cheeks, who no other team was interested in, was left when the dust cleared”

      But it obviously doesn’t work that way. It’s not like there are X openings each year and X coaches to fill them. There are plenty of assistant coaches and college coaches the Pistons could have looked toward rather than settling for the best former head coach willing to take the job. 

  • Jun 10, 201311:00 am
    by XstreamINsanity

    Reply

    “I’m sure the the Pistons hired Cheeks for more reasons…”

    This had me searching on the internet again.  lol.   Unless you have sources???????

  • Jun 10, 201311:08 am
    by Edgar

    Reply

    It’s true you can’t answer the question “where would Westbrook be without Cheeks?” with 100% certainty, but given Westbrook’s outrageous talent, athleticism and work ethic, I think we can be fairly certain that he would’ve been fine without Cheeks. If this is true, I’d guess (again, not 100%, but fairly close, I think) that it’s more correlation than causation.

  • Jun 10, 201311:49 am
    by RobG

    Reply

    One thing that interests me is Cheeks’s relationship with Andre Igoudala.  I did some research of old articles and couldn’t find anything overly positive or negative regarding the relationship of the two, but there were a lot of quotes about how Cheeks believed in Iggy’s offensive skills and wanted him to be more agressive.  I bring this up because I do think there should be legitimate interest in offering Iggy a 4 year deal this summer.  His defense and energy would be perfect to set the tone and with Cheeks he would be coming to someone he is familiar with.

  • Jun 10, 201311:54 am
    by danny

    Reply

    Ok I think westbrook would of improved but not as much as with cheeks.  I think cheeks was able to get him to see the game different and show him a few angles.  Westbrook works hard so his improvement in scoring would happen almost automatically. 
    Yes he is a shoot first guy but that still doesnt mean he didnt have help seeing the floor and running plays.  Experience goes a long way people.  We will draft, then hire a coach, play some games, do a trade, and then figure it out from there.  Hate it to be that way but its going to be. 

  • Jun 10, 201312:07 pm
    by jerrific

    Reply

    Regardless of who his coach was, Russel Westbrook always had the tools and drive to be an all-star, and would have reached that level anyway. Brandon Knight reportedly has the drive, but so far he has only show inconsistent flashes of the ability. Any player can show flashes of potential. Will Bynum has scored the most points in a single quarter of any Piston in history. That’s a pretty impressive feat, but no one is clamoring for him to be our future solution at the point. Knight has the occasional game when he looks really good, but great players figure out how to play well on a game to game basis. Their individual success isn’t dictated (though it is affected) by coaching or the talent around them, they succeed because they’re good. Westbrook is such a player, Brandon Knight is not. 

    Knight could be effective in the right system and role. But, expecting Cheeks to magically turn him into an all-star because he coached Westbrook is like expecting Phil Jackson to come coach our team and turn Stuckey into Jordan or Kobe. 

    • Jun 10, 201312:16 pm
      by Crispus

      Reply

      All we want from BK is some consistency. He’s all over the place right now, if Cheeks can get him playing comfortably, it will simplify our long-term personnel outlook.

      • Jun 10, 201312:25 pm
        by jerrific

        Reply

        Hopefully Cheeks can help Knight get there. I’m not trying to say Knight is doomed to be a terrible player, or that Cheeks doesn’t make positive contributions to player development. I just think that people expecting Knight to become an all-star, let alone one at the level of Westbrook, are kidding themselves. Cheeks might help knight’s development, but Westbrook is good because he has more athleticism than just about every point guard in the league. Cheeks can’t give that to Knight. I’ll be happy if Knight can become a good starter or sixth man, anything greater will be really surprising. 

      • Jun 10, 20131:25 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        See when people say that, they rarely mean it. What you probably actually want is for him to consistently play like he did in his best games. That’s much more improvement than it is merely consistency.

        Because if Knight consistently put up the numbers he has averaged over the past two seasons, he would not be a very good player.

        Inconsistent players are fine as long as their averages are good. Because then they are giving you a great game for every bad game (with plenty of good games mixed in). The problem with Knight is that he gives you a good game for every awful game with plenty of poor games mixed in. 

      • Jun 10, 20132:20 pm
        by Crispus

        Reply

        I just mean you can count on him to do some “thing(s)” every night, and he learns how to make adjustments to still contribute if he draws a tough matchup or is shooting badly. Knight consistently scoring 14-16 a game and getting at least 4 assists with low standard deviations would be nice.

        More than that, Knight needs a role he feels comfortable in. SG or PG. His fellow combo guard Stuckey didn’t find his except for a short bountiful stretch as backup PG.

        • Jun 10, 20132:38 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          How would that be nice? It would be painfully mediocre. I certainly wouldn’t want to expect 15 and 4 as the nightly production of my PG.

          • Jun 11, 20132:44 pm
            by G

            Add to that the fact that Knight has always turned it over about 3 times a game… 15 & 4 wouldn’t be so bad with 0 turnovers, but with 2.5 – 3 a game?

            FYI, 15 & 4 is basically BK7′s per 36 min numbers right now. He would be averaging that already if he just played more minutes, no improvement needed. Fantastic.

        • Jun 10, 20135:55 pm
          by Crispus

          Reply

          Eh, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Maybe a better metric would be Ast/TO ratio. Still those are like Jameer Nelson George Hill type numbers, and those guys are pretty important to their teams. I’d prefer the dependable mediocre numbers (AS a stepping stone to him becoming a legitimately good PG) than these wild swings of 30 pts one night, 8 TO’s the next, .200 3-pt shooting in December etc. etc.

  • Jun 10, 201312:10 pm
    by Shawn

    Reply

    I’m not an expert.  But from my observations I don’t think we should kid ourselves into believing that we need a system coach at this point in our rebuild.  The Phil Jackson’s and those of his ilk are system coaches.  Really, what we need now is a player development coach.  We need someone who brings the best out of the players and demonstrates strengths and weaknesses.  This is why Maurice Cheeks could have been the choice for the Pistons.  I am guessing that he has demonstrated the needed flexibility to work with his roster in his previous positions.

    If this is the case, then this would be an upgrade.  Because I think Frank was not a player development coach, (honestly I’m not exactly sure what he was/is).  Who didn’t have the personnel he needed to make his system successful.  This would explain in my mind some of his substitutions.

    If this is true it also would explain the type of coaches that are interested in this position and the type that are not.  Systems coaches with high profiles are not willing to come to Detroit until the talent is fully developed and the roster is set and currently “underperforming” according to management where they need a tactition and system that sort of puts them over the top.  

    This would also distinguish Cheeks from Mcmillan (who comes across as more of a systems coach).  It might also explain why Mcmillan has not recieved many offers and why he turned down the Bobcats position which from my observation appears to be a bad fit. 

  • Jun 10, 201312:10 pm
    by Joey

    Reply

    (personal attack removed)

  • Jun 10, 20131:47 pm
    by MIKEYDE248

    Reply

    I think by saying that Cheeks is a good PG coach is like saying Franks was a good big man coach, looking at how well Monroe and Drummond did.  I think they improved inspite of their coach.

  • Jun 10, 20132:39 pm
    by #1PICK

    Reply

    The only way mo cheeks is a good sign is if we get the #1 pick next year or if we can somehow draft Andrew Wiggens this year like the Celtics did to get Larry Bird.

  • Jun 10, 20133:10 pm
    by #1PICK

    Reply

    cheaters

  • Jun 10, 20134:22 pm
    by Stebert

    Reply

    I WANT A COACH WHO CAN DEVELOP ANDRE DRUMMOND AND GREG MONROE!!!!! NOT ONE WHO WILL TALK WITH KNIGHT AND WILL BYNUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AD1 IS THE FUTURE!

  • Jun 10, 20135:04 pm
    by Gabe

    Reply

    look all all you guycoral ready criticiznig cheeks as the coach as he’s not even the coach yet, and noone commenting on this forums knows shit about coaching NBA basketbal and saying he’s gonna fail, I can’t wait til he proves you all wrong, Maurice cheeks is an NBa champion and has played with one of the best players in the game such as Dr J and Charles Barkley, he knows what he’s doing and i trust that he can help take us back the playoffs in the weak east lets the haters hate and think they know bball sitthey behind their computer analyZe unrelated comparisona 

  • Jun 10, 20136:31 pm
    by Travis

    Reply

    Marc Stein reports that Cheeks signed with the Pistons today.

  • Jun 10, 20136:48 pm
    by Grizz

    Reply

    Dan Feldman, another strong article .. sound . logical .. original .. has an edge to it .. You know I would criticize you if I could think of anything .. Especially happy because you are not going the way of the other Piston journalists!  Piston fans need this badly .. Great work! 

  • Jun 10, 20136:50 pm
    by brandow

    Reply

    well both knight and westbrook have different play styles. westbrook loves attacking the basket while knight loves to hit those threes. but just because they both love their shots doesnt mean the ball goes in all the time. so cheeks might have to learn knights game before coaching him.

    also it will be sort of ironic if the thunder hire lawrance frank as an assisstant in replacing cheeks and i wonder how the emotion would be when both teams face each other next season  

  • Jun 10, 20137:02 pm
    by Sop

    Reply

    “Knight has always been a point guard”
     
    This is just flat out wrong. Knight was an off guard all throughout high school and it wasn’t until he got to Kentucky that Calipari tried to convert him into a point ala Tyreke Evans.
    Sure Knight is not the best floor general, but it takes some pgs a while to mature. I for one am not 100% sold on the fact that he can’t still develop into a solid one. I’m just 70% sure he won’t.

  • Jun 11, 20137:37 am
    by Derek AKA Redeemed

    Reply

    I’d like to remain cautiously optimistic about this coaching hire and what it means for the development of our players.  What will it mean for Kngiht?  The Westbrook development stories seemed to both over and understated.  Some have credited Cheeks probably more than they should while others refer to Westbrook’s work ethic and greatly diminish Cheeks influence.

    The fact is Westbrook is a workhorse who dedicated himself to tirelessly working to improve his game.  Cheeks came in and gave him direction and focus.  Cheeks spent 4 years with a player who started off with averages of 15 and 5.3 and helped him take prodigious leaps in his numbers and his understanding of the game.  

    My hope is with Knight having a similar work ethic, Cheeks proves successful in leveraging the same leaps in improvement out of BK7.  BK7 has the physical tools to be a standout player.  He seems to need better direction to develop into a credible pg.

    In like manner I want to see Moose, Dre, and Middleton take huge leaps.  I’m interested in who Cheeks is going to add to his coaching staff which is going to be crucial in so many ways.

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