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Joe Dumars explains Pistons’ plan in greater depth than ever before

Joe Dumars, among his other problems in the last several years, has done a terrible job of communicating his views to diehard Pistons fans.

Dumars wants to remain behind the scenes, and when he speaks publically, he doesn’t want to reveal too much. I get that.

But when the Pistons are as bad as they’ve been lately, only diehard fans are listening anyway, and simple platitudes won’t placate them.

Thankfully, Zach Lowe of Grantland has pulled incredible information from Dumars in an amazing Q&A. The discussion includes:

Here’s one example of the depth of their conversation:

In contrasting Knight with Jennings, one little thing stood out: They are both good 3-point shooters, and Knight has actually been a little better. But Jennings takes a ton of 3-pointers off the dribble on the pick-and-roll, and shoots very well on those shots, while Knight takes most of his from spot-up situations — when he doesn’t have the ball until it is passed to him. Did you notice the same thing? It seems like that fits with what you’re talking about.

You’ve done your homework. We like his ability to score off the bounce, if you will — to be able to pull up and make shots, and come off a pick and penetrate, and dish, and score those little floaters in the lane. We feel it’s imperative to do all of that in today’s game.

And now we have people for him to get the ball to. I’d also say this: We like his ability to see the floor. He shoots a lot, but it’s not that he doesn’t see the floor well. During the four days we were talking about the trade, we broke down hours and hours and hours of film of him, watching him, offensively, just watching his assists. Just watching to see: “Does he see the floor?” And for us, that really hammered it home.

I don’t have a lot to add. Read the whole thing, and you’ll be a smarter fan.

45 Comments

  • Aug 7, 20137:22 pm
    by Byron

    Reply

    Reading this, I went from wondering if the Pistons would be better off without Dumars to wanting to sign up for another 13 years. Zach Lowe is the headiest baseball writer I read (sorry Dan and Patrick), and Dumars clearly knew everything he did and more. Dude is smart.

    • Aug 7, 20137:50 pm
      by frankie d

      Reply

      sorry, i had just the opposite impression.  basically, joe d going into his faux yoda mode, making amorphous statements that you really dont make any sense upon closer examination.
      like this:
      “I’m telling you, when you have high IQ players, they make it work. I remember years ago, Boston had three pretty good front-line guys who needed the ball, and they made it work. I’m not even pretending we have that level of lineup, but when you put high IQ guys on the floor, it’s amazing what they can make work. They see the floor and have a feel for the game.”
      sorry to tell him, but boston had one of the greatest perimeter shooters in the history of the game – larry bird – along with one of the greatest low post players ever – kevin mchale – and a guy who could routinely hit a midrange jumper – robert parrish.
      in other words, a balanced front line with players that complimented each other.   very different from the mess that dumars has thrown together, admittedly, with no idea as to how they are actually going to work together.
      dumars elects not to address the specific and real concerns but simply rambles on about talent.
      that is the same nonsense he tried to sell fans on when he signed BG and CV.  
      great interview, but revealing in a scary way, imho. 

      • Aug 7, 20139:10 pm
        by Huddy

        Reply

        Frankie how much do you think the front line has to play together?  I actually agree his comments about high IQs making it work are rather ambiguous and don’t exactly silence any questions about fit, but he seems to understand that besides the first few minutes of the game theres plenty of other line ups that will be together and it seems like this line up won’t be out there together that much.  Almost everyone but Bynum/Siva on the bench are floor spacers so pretty much the rest of the game the floor spacing issue is gone.  IMO the starting line up could easily only spend about 1/4 of the game together and form other more balanced line ups the rest of the time.  All the best players can still get their minutes it just makes for a lot of variation in line up that can cause trouble for defenses.
         
        I don’t see that front line as poor defensively either.  Drummond is very solid, Smith is excellent, and (assuming he starts) KCP has the size and reputation of being a good defender mixed with a very good rebounding line up.
         
        It seems like the spacing issues depends a lot on how much you think that line up has to play together.  I can see an argument that one would prefer the best players to excel together, but it seems like theres something to be said for being able to maintain a high level of talent on the floor throughout a game while a lot of teams just hope for their bench to hold on to what the first line starts.
         

        • Aug 8, 201312:55 am
          by Otis

          Reply

          Conventional wisdom is that you’re better off putting your best players on the floor together. If these three bigs aren’t a part of our best unit, I don’t think you can afford to bring back Monroe on the max contract he’s going to get. Having the luxury of going INSANELY big with two centers and a PF is nice if you’re well-rounded and win a ton of games. If this is a middle-of-the-pack type of team, you’re better off balancing your resources and trading Monroe for a stud on the perimeter. Simple as that.

        • Aug 8, 20131:14 am
          by Otis

          Reply

          To put it another way: You’re playing two of your three best players out of position. It’s clear that Smith is better suited to play PF than SF, so you went out and paid him a fortune to play him out of position? While at the same time shifting another of your best players out of position at PF. It’s just a totally unconventional way to build a team, and it goes against a lot of basic principles like putting your players in a position to succeed and having your best players complement each other and make their teammates better. I don’t think you’re doing that if you insist on having an unbalanced roster with glaring weaknesses and playing your best guys out of position.
           
          Take the Trailblazers for example. They were sort of the anti-Pistons in that they had a very good starting five and no bench whatsoever, whereas we had a bunch of guys who would make solid or better bench players but very few clear cut starting caliber players (Monroe was one, and Drummond a possible second, but it still hasn’t been established that they could even play together). So we were much deeper and more flexible, but they were a much better team (flaws and all) in the tougher conference. Because basketball favors stars, top-heavy talent, chemistry, synergy… It’s just how the sport works.
           
          If you’re not putting your players, especially your best players, in a position to succeed… if your best players don’t complement each other and make their teammates better… if your best units don’t include all your best players because they’re incompatible… it doesn’t mean anything that you can put out the biggest front line in league history once in a while when it gives you a clear advantage. We’ll see how it works, but if it doesn’t look great, you can’t afford to extend Monroe to the max deal he’ll command.

          • Aug 8, 201310:32 am
            by Huddy

            Well your trail blazers example really has nothing to do with this year because the whole point of the other side of the argument has to do with how much talent has been added with Smith, Billuos and Jennings (plus Drummond starting).  Last years Pistons were considerably worse than the Pistons because they had ONE established starting level player in Monroe (Drummond did not start and only played 20mpg) and the rest of the team was role players.  The Blazers had a weak bench, but had a full starting line up. 
             
            This years Pistons have 5 players that are easily starting caliber in Jennings, Billups, Smith, Monroe, and Drummond…plus 2 players in Datome and KCP that are too early to judge in the NBA, but could be starting level.  Even mixing up line ups with the big men the Pistons would have 2 very good big men on the floor and Jennings and or Billups….which is 3-4 starting level players for much longer than other teams are able to sustain that level of talent.   The Blazers have 3 very good players in Aldridge, Lillard, and Batum combined with Lopez and Mathews who are somewhere between role players and starters (lopez really a less of a starter but at a position with less available talent).  If you are talking last year then sub Lopez for Hickson who is an awful defender and is not a starter on his new team (by all indication).
             
            I think your last thing about putting players in position to succeed is right, but it seems possible that moving the line ups around can accomplish that by letting Smith/Monroe spend a lot of time being the feature in the line ups they are in.  Your assertion that Smith/Monore will be played out of position goes back to how many mpg are they required to play together…they could easily play those positions for most of their time on the court.  The Spurs don’t start Ginobli, but he comes in and makes the team a threat while other starters are out (their big 3 play about 20 mpg together).  The Spurs have a better fit obviously they are just an example as far as best players and the starting line up.  Letting a player shine with the second unit makes it difficult for teams to rest their starters and allows ball dominant players to play their game even if they are on a good squad.

          • Aug 8, 201312:10 pm
            by tarsier

            How is a 36 year old who has played a total of 42 games over the past two seasons, averaging 11, 2, and 3 in 24 minutes “easily starting caliber”?

          • Aug 8, 201312:35 pm
            by Huddy

            @Tarsier if the original argument was that the Blazers had a strong starting line then that includes wes matthews who averaged 15,2 and 3 in 35 mpg…but agreed Chauncey not a great example…Stuckey might actually be a better example based on what he has been able to do in a starting line up in the past and factoring in not needing to take on such a big role…but still you could shrink it down to easily 4 starting caliber players and then say KCP, Datome (and maybe Stuckey) are possibly at that level.  
             
            The point was this year’s Pistons do not work in Otis’ comparison in nearly the same way that last year’s do. 
             

          • Aug 8, 20136:34 pm
            by tarsier

            That’s fair. I just wouldn’t have high expectations of Billups for this season.

      • Aug 7, 201310:19 pm
        by oats

        Reply

        @ Frankie. He wasn’t comparing the specific way that Boston worked to the way Detroit will work. The point is that Boston team had people questioning if they could all play together. There was some speculation that every team needed a Bill Russell type in the front line and that you couldn’t have that many scorers with only one ball. It also wasn’t just them, they also had two shooting guards starting in the back court. There were some serious questions about that team. It turned out they figured out how to mesh just fine. So while Detroit’s problem is very different, he’s saying he is similarly convinced that Detroit will figure out their problem too. It’s only nonsensical if you are looking for meaning that wasn’t intended.
         

        • Aug 8, 201312:59 am
          by Otis

          Reply

          Yes, except frankie did a tremendous job specifying why it worked in Boston and why it doesn’t look all that promising here. Smith can’t shoot like Bird and isn’t even a natural small forward (or at least it’s not his best position), and neither Monroe nor Drummond (two natural centers) can spread the floor worth a damn. So you’re looking at some serious potential weaknesses that could very well outweigh the advantage of being able to throw out the biggest frontcourt in the league.

          • Aug 8, 20131:48 am
            by oats

            It’s still arguing against a point that was never made. I don’t see why it matters if it was a good job of disproving a point that didn’t actually exist. It’s a straw man either way.
             
            If we want to talk about where Dumars was talking about applying the smart basketball players figuring out how to make it work on a team that can’t shoot, you need to look at where he talked about Memphis. That’s a reasonable starting point for what the team will have to do to make it work. Memphis relies heavily on the pick and roll, quality passing all over the court and especially from front court players, doing a good job on the boards, and getting help from bench players stretching the floor. That sounds pretty close to what Detroit will need to do to make it work. There are some problems with the comparison obviously. The two best front court shooters in the projected starting lineups of both teams are Gasol and Prince, which means things will be tighter in Detroit. Then again, Detroit doesn’t give major minutes to Tony Allen, so that’s a positive. Detroit’s guys are also more turnover prone than their Memphis counterparts. Still, there is a precedence for a team being successful with somewhat similar spacing issues. The team needs to take that and use it as the basis for formulating a strategy that will work with this roster, but it does give them a point of reference at the very least.

          • Aug 8, 201311:47 am
            by frankie d

            i was living in new england when bird first joined the celts in 1979.  in fact, cornbread maxwell, not mchale, started for mchale’s first few years.  it was an issue and they eventually figured it out, with bird becoming a much more perimeter oriented player once mchale joined the starting lineup.  but there were years of controversy regarding whether mchale or maxwell should have been starting.  
            it worked out, obviously, and it was less of an issue because they were winning titiles, but it did create a fairly large amount of controversy.
            i know memphis is a popular comparison for detroit, but it is not a good one, imho.
            randolph is a good perimeter shooter.  take a look at his shooting charts from his portland years.  he shot a lot of midrange jumpers and shot a very good percentage – for a guy who could also bang down low.  i haven’t looked at gasol’s numbers but he can also hit a jumper from the free throw line.
            none of detroit’s big guys have that kind of range.
            that will be a problem and no amount of BB IQ alone is going to solve it.
            the one thing that will go a long way towards solving it, imho, is monroe becoming proficient at making a free throw line jumper.  if that happens, then defenders will start respecting those jab steps and ball fakes he futilely tries to use.
            frankly, my big fear is that joe d is setting up a scenario where he will have to move monroe.  i don’t have a problem moving monroe – or any player, including drummond, for the right trade – but i have zero confidence that joe d will make a good trade involving monroe.
            monroe should be one of the league’s most coveted pieces if he is ever on the trade market.
            if reports are correct and joe d was exploring rondo and monroe was one of the possibilities, any rondo/monroe trade would have to involve rondo plus considerable assets.
            i get the feeling that joe d would toss in the “plus” assets the same way he dumped chauncey and got nothing but AI in return.
            joe d’s trades have, imho, ranged from tolerable – the jennings trade – to absolutely horrendous – AI…gordon to charlotte.
            i hope i am wrong about him moving monroe but that is what i see coming, as a result of the smith addition. 

          • Aug 8, 201312:45 pm
            by oats

            Zach’s shooting in Portland seems far less relevant than his shooting last year. After all, it’s last year’s Grizzlies that are the point of comparison. Randolph was a terrible shooter last year. He took a lot of mid range shots, but only hit about 34% of them. That’s slightly better than Monroe’s 32%, but it is still pretty awful. It’s Gasol that actually throws off the comparison, shooting 46% on shots outside of 10′. Detroit absolutely does not have that guys. While Prince isn’t a good shooter, his 37% on shots from 16′ to the 3 point line is still better than any of the Smith, Monroe, and Drummond group can muster. Then again, as I already pointed out they don’t start Tony Allen and his 30% shooting outside of 3′ from the hoop at shooting guard. Replacing him with Chauncey Billups and his 40% shooting from 3 should go a long ways to helping fix that problem. I don’t think the team can just copy everything Memphis did, but the Grizzlies definitely set the baseline for making a team work when the starting lineup can’t shoot. That at least opens the possibility that this could work.

          • Aug 8, 201312:46 pm
            by frankie d

            just took a look at gasol’s numbers and they blow any detroit frontcourt player away.  he shot 43% and 46% from 10+ and 16+ feet respectively.  and he shot a lot of those jumpers, almost as many of those shots as he did from in close. 
            and again, randolph has also proven that he can hit that jumper from midrange, plus.  (it is what always made him such a tough cover, his ability to step out and hurt a team with the jumper if they tried to overload on him down low.)
            if monroe – or drummond or smith even – shows the kind of range that either memphis player shows, the comparison might be apt.  
            as it stands, the memphis team is what detroit hopes they will look like, if and/or when one of their big guys develops a dependable midrange jumper. 

          • Aug 8, 201312:57 pm
            by frankie d

            regarding randolph’s shooting…
            it is pretty clear – by looking at the numbers – that he is simply taking that shot a lot less as the years go by and as a result, he is becoming less proficient at it.  good shooters – and he was a very good shooter – don’t usually lose their touch as they get older, absent a dave bing like injury.  they usually get better.
            imho, he probably would get his percentage back up to its former level if he started taking those shots again.
            regardless of his percentage, however, i think he’s established that he can take that shot and teams still have to respect it.    he is still very capable of getting hot and hurting a team with his jumper.  it’s simply far better for him to get closer to the basket so that he can use his weird game closer to the rim.  
            its a far different situation than monroe’s, where monroe has never shown anywhere, anyhow, that he can make that shot.  or even that he will take it.  
            teams will bite on zebo’s ball fakes and jab steps because they know he’s a threat to make a 12 foot jumper.  when monroe goes through that ridiculous ritual of jab steps and ball fakes and defenders still back off and wait, it is because they know that he really doesn’t even want to take that shot, and that he probably won’t take it.

          • Aug 8, 20131:16 pm
            by oats

            Randolph’s been a bad shooter for 2 years. If a team is concerned with his jumper then they are making a mistake. I’m just not convinced that having had a jumper in the past makes him a significantly better floor spacer than being a passer like Monroe/Smith. Yes, Gasol does stretch things out some with his passing and shooting, but Tony Allen tightens it back up. I really think that Memphis is a reasonable point of comparison at the very least.
             

          • Aug 8, 20131:56 pm
            by frankie d

            a couple of bad shooting years is going to ruin a guy’s rep? 
            c’mon…the nba is full of guys living off their reps and getting away with things because of it.  not to downgrade most players, but i will say that most players don’t pay a whole lot of attention to scouting reports.  (we know this is true because the guys who do – the bruce bowens, the tony allens – have so much success by simply knowing tendencies that are talked about in scouting reports, while other guys seem clueless when a guy like dwayne wade goes left better than he goes right.  and how many times do you see guys guarding lefties as though they were righthanded shooters!)
            so a guy like zebo can live off his rep for years after his proficiency has gone down.
            at least during the regular season.  during the playoffs, it is a different matter, as scouting reports and knowing your opponent for a 5-7 game series becomes much more important.  i think, if memory serves me correct, that zebo struggled in many of the playoff games and that could have been a big reason.
            i think memphis is certainly what detroit aspires to be and they are a useful point of comparison for that reason, but someone has to show that they can hit a jumper consistently before this pistons’ team works anywhere near as well as memphis does.
            which is somewhat ironic, because memphis, even after the gay trade, had an ugly offense that looked a lot like the old larry brown pistons. 

          • Aug 8, 20133:02 pm
            by oats

            Smart teams were ignoring his jump shot last year, but I’ll concede that there are a lot of dumb teams in the league. You still really need to properly factor in Tony Allen though. That guy is a ridiculously bad shooter, and that frees up a guard that doesn’t need to defend anyone. That allows teams to hide their weakest defender on him. Shooting guards are also pretty fast, and it allows that guy to double on people, sit in passing lanes, and just be a general nuisance. Even bad defenders have value when they get to do that. Unless Stuckey starts the Pistons won’t have that problem. That really does go a long ways towards evening things out. It’s not like Monroe has no value as a floor spacer either. Teams have to respect his passing, and that stretches the floor some too. Same with Smith for that matter.
             
            As for Memphis, they had an offensive rating of 104.9, which is not far off the league average of 105.9 and good for 17th in the league. That’s also better than Detroit’s 103.8 that ranked 21st. I actually do think it’s possible that the team will be a better offensive team next year than it was last year despite the spacing problems. The Knight for Jennings swap opens up that possibility, as does adding another passer in Smith. Detroit already had terrible floor spacing anyways, and I’m betting the 3 point shooting is pretty similar to what they had last year. Plus the team should be way better defensively and on the boards.

          • Aug 8, 20136:33 pm
            by frankie d

            i think they will be better offensively also.
            in fact, i think there is a pretty good chance that they will be able to overwhelm some teams with their size and athleticism and if they commit to a more uptempo pace, they could be a wildly entertaining and very successful offensive team. 
            the problem, imho, is that it is a team that is being built for middling regular season success, but when they get into a playoff series, the team’s fatal flaw – the inability to get adequate spacing – will doom it.
            the nba is funny.  if a team has a real style and especially if it is unusual, that team can have a lot of regular season success because its opponents – except for rivals that they play a lot and have a lot of tension with – will generally not really focus in on what that other team does.  most teams just go out and play their game for most of the 82 games on the schedule, and while they might make minor adjustments on individual matchups, they rarely switch things up just to address the style of particular teams, especially if those teams are kind of idiosyncratic.  that was one of the old dantoni phoenix suns’ advantages.  
            its just not worth, for instance, a western conference team that will only play detroit once or twice a year to spend too much time trying to exploit detroit’s weaknesses.  just like it wasn’t worth it for eastern conference teams to spend much time trying to figure out dantoni’s system.  
            (detroit was lucky, as chauncey owned steve nash and treated him like a little brother.  that one matchup gave detroit a big advantage whenever they played those suns.)
            so i think there is a real chance, if things actually work out, that detroit could have a decent amount of regular season success and then crash to a halt in the opening round of the playoffs when its opponent puts into place a relatively easy defensive plan to shut down whatever detroit has been doing successfully all year long.
            and yes, defensively, they should be much better, though they will miss brandon knight’s defense.  maybe siva can provide some of what knight used to bring to the court. 

          • Aug 8, 201311:14 pm
            by oats

            I think the team has doubled their trade assets since last season. Last year it was pretty much just Monroe and Drummond, and now they have Smith and Jennings on pretty reasonable deals. No matter what Dumars did, I can’t imagine this team being an actual contender until Drummond starts to hit his peak. Drummond needs to be a true star before this thing starts working, so we’re talking about 3-5 years from now. This team is also pretty young. All of Monroe, Jennings, KCP, and of course the aforementioned Drummond should be improving somewhat between now and when they are ready to contend. Between internal improvement and new trade pieces the team has ways to make the kind of improvements they would need to make to become a contender by then. I just don’t have a problem with being a 6 seed for a couple years while they figure out what they need to do to go from being pretty good to a team that can do actual damage in the playoffs.

  • Aug 7, 20137:24 pm
    by RLGivens

    Reply

    I had never read a Zach Lowe piece before being turned onto him at this blog. Thank you .

  • Aug 7, 201310:09 pm
    by danny

    Reply

    I think his vision for basketball exceeds many of your wildest dreams.  Now the team has multiple lines up it can put on the floor, pretty much against any scenario.  As much as I didn’t enjoy the Jennings trade, it is starting to warm up to me.  He will not be in the same system and now he has the ability to come off screens and the bigs can dive.  Watch some “fans” start climbing out of bed. 

  • Aug 7, 201310:25 pm
    by Lorenzo

    Reply

    Whether this concoction of players ends up working out or not…the reasoning behind it seems sound on the part of Dumars. I particularly liked the analogy to the Grizzlies with this team, which I think is very appropriate; it’s essentially going to be whether the guys on the floor execute the plan and play their role…that’s going to be the bottom line when it comes to success for this upcoming season and beyond.

  • Aug 7, 201310:30 pm
    by Edgar

    Reply

    Man, I would’ve loved if Lowe asked him how much value he places on the corner three. Analytics guys LOVE that shot and it’s starting to look like the most important shot in basketball. Most of the guys we’ve added can’t hit that shot with any degree of regularity, except for Billups and probably KCP. Also, it’s crucial to having good spacing. Just inferring from his comments, it doesn’t seem like he places a ton of value on it, but that conversation would’ve been super interesting.

    • Aug 7, 201311:41 pm
      by Huddy

      Reply

      I don’t know why you would think Datome and Jennings can’t hit a corner 3.  Jennings is a average 3pt shooter and that’s taking a lot of contested shots, which corner threes usually aren’t.  Smoth is really the only new signing that can’t shoot from there well.

      • Aug 8, 20132:13 am
        by oats

        Reply

        Well, you can look at a shooting chart for Jennings. The heat chart is probably more useful for figuring this out. As you can see, he’s a decent shooter from the corner but he’s better from the wings. Lowe already mentioned a large part of why that is. Jennings excels at popping out and taking that shot while operating as the ball handler in the pick and roll. Billups has also been better from the top of the key and the wings the last few years. They are both competent from the corner, but it isn’t their specialty.
         
        As for Datome, I can’t say I’ve seen a shot chart for him. He is a good spot up shooter though, which strongly implies he shoots that corner 3 well. Conversely, Pope struggled a bit in spot up situations in college last year and shot better off the dribble. That would suggest that he is more of a top of the key and wing shooter than a corner 3 guy. Then again, it could be that Georgia had no other scoring options and no decent passers so he might just not have been getting that good of looks on spot up shots. Time will tell on if those two can hit that corner shot or not, but it seems like a fair question to ask how much the team pays attention to shot locations.

        • Aug 8, 201310:41 am
          by Huddy

          Reply

          I think it is difficult to go by the shot chart for the same reason it is hard to gauge KCP.  Guys like Novak just stand there and take those shots while Billups and Jennings either have the ball in their hands or in Billups’ case are usually closer to the top of the key because of their position when they spot up (you can tell by how many they take in those locations as well).  It seems like it would be different playing with solid passing big men. 

          • Aug 8, 201312:13 pm
            by oats

            That’s a fair point. There is reason to think they will do better. Teams that are good at scoring in the paint tend to make things easier for their perimeter shooters, and that’s especially true when there are good passers all over the court. They also shoot it well enough already that it’s hard to say they can’t hit the corner 3 as it is, so even a minor jump makes that claim almost nonsensical. Jennings and Billups are definitely not specialists in the corners, but Edgar is probably overstating things by claiming that Jennings can’t hit the corner 3 with regularity.

  • Aug 7, 201311:35 pm
    by Ozzie-Moto

    Reply

    Luigi …..  i can hit the 3s from the corner … grazie    

  • Aug 8, 20137:04 am
    by @GPMasters

    Reply

    I feel for Langlois… he must dream of the day he’s allowed to ask such questions of Dumars or anyone else in the organisation for that matter

  • Aug 8, 20137:19 am
    by Corey

    Reply

    It appears most of the critics didn’t read the comment about the 3 big guys only needing to play together the first 6 mins of the game. They plan to play Greg at 5 and Smith at 4 a lot. That solves most of the issue. So the only potentially valid criticism is the idea that your best players should be on the floor together. I see that as potentially valid for the last 6 minutes of playoff games, but let’s get there before we worry about it. San Antonio has proven that it’s smart to have one of your better guys come off the bench to play with your second unit. Most teams just can’t do it for ego reasons.

    as for Greg being a natural center: really? I remember when he was drafted, David Thoroe of espn wrote that we had a legit starting power forward for a decade. He’s outsized and out powered by big centers, so I’m not sure center is really his best position. I am curious to see how he does at PF. Can he guard Lebron Carmelo and KD well? No- like everyone else but Lebron. But I’d love to watch Melo trying to guard him on the block. 

  • Aug 8, 20138:02 am
    by AaronD

    Reply

    I think Lowe gets caught up in the stats a little too much at times, but he’s definitely one of the best guys covering basketball right now.

    That interview was great, and I love the fact that Dumars threw out the “6 minutes” remark about the three bigs spreading their minutes around.  It seems like the kind of smart basketball logic that is required to excel with the talent we have on the team.

    Look at San Antonio, the 3rd best player (2nd best for a couple years) was Ginobli, but they determined he was most useful when he could use his creativity off the bench.  He still got his minutes, but they used him in a way that worked (quite well) for them.

    I don’t think we have quite the same mind trust here in the D (I can hope though), but the idea of using CV, Datomi, Pope, Billups, Stuckey as rotating wing players with the big three rotating down low, well, that seems like there is no spacing issue.
     

  • Aug 8, 20138:55 am
    by Vic

    Reply

    No spacing issues… 6 minutes: not a big deal.

    5 shooters off the bench

    Plus Monroe & Drummond will both have a consistent 17-20 footer this year.

    3 bigs who are naturally great passers… For 6 minutes?

     

    • Aug 8, 20139:15 am
      by @GPMasters

      Reply

      Drummond will have a consistent 17-20 footer this year? Oh really?

      • Aug 8, 201310:14 am
        by jamesjones_det

        Reply

        I LOL’ed at that too.  Monroe maybe, Drummond no way.
         
        NBA 2K has destroyed these kids minds when it comes to player development.  Players don’t go from “56″ mid range to “75″ mid range in one year in real life.

    • Aug 8, 201310:33 am
      by Vic

      Reply

      Yeah that was just a guess, from the confident way he shot it at Summer league. These guys practice, there’s just a much a chance they improve their game as they don’t.

      Also- how many championship did the Spurs win with their 2nd or 3rd best player coming off the bench?
      Last time OKC was in the finals their 2nd best player was coming off the bench.

      See a pattern? You think there’s a possibility that could work here?

      Nahhhh let’s keep worrying about 6 minutes.

      • Aug 8, 201312:53 pm
        by oats

        Reply

        You did notice that he wasn’t actually making them in Orlando, right? Guys who know they are going to be on an NBA roster in the upcoming season tend to use summer league as a chance to try to continue improving. If it fails as miserably as Drummond’s jumper it usually doesn’t say anything about how they will play when the games actually count though. Expect much fewer jump shots once the season starts. I’m also not convinced Monroe will have that jumper either. I hope he does, and there is some reason to think it’s possible, but I’d still bet against it until he actually starts hitting it.
         
        As for the 6 minutes, please note that he didn’t say they would only play 6 minutes. He said he didn’t know how much they’d play together pass those first 6 minutes. It seems highly probable that the answer is they play more than those 6. I’d bet it ends up being at least double that in most games.

  • Aug 8, 20139:32 am
    by Crispus

    Reply

    Dumars definitely comes off as a “player’s GM” here. Let him try it though, he has been drafting character guys for years now, and brought back the ultimate character guy in Billups. Perhaps part of his vision was to avoid system coaches at all costs so that his players could grow into their skills and chemistry little more organically. Our lineup has so much firepower and potential that it’s mostly a matter of the players learning to trust each other.

    I would love to see Josh Smith and Greg Monroe come up with come crazy Harlem Globetrotters passing routine where they whiz the ball around Larry Sanders’ head for awhile then bounce it between his legs to a cutting Drummond for an alley oop (as Sweet Georgia Brown plays over the Palace PA).

  • Aug 8, 201310:57 am
    by Gordbrown

    Reply

    Basic philosophy to beat a zone defense. Flood one side to distort the zone, Then do strong cuts from the weak side, hit one of those cutters on the fly, dunk the ball. Do the Pistons have the capacity to flood the strong side and distort the defense? Both Monroe and Smith have that ability (the idea of Monroe and Smith collaborating on a strong side pick and roll as Dumars noted is tantalizing in the extreme). Do the Pistons have players who can make strong cuts to the basket from the weak side? Andre Drummond … d’uh. Can Monroe and/or Smith hit the cutter on the fly with good passes? Why yes, yes they can. As long as Monroe and Smith demand double teams (or more) on the strong side, the back door is going to be open all day long. And there’s your answer to the spacing issues.

    • Aug 8, 20136:58 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Why would they command double teams? They’re good but not exceptional offensive players. The only place where anyone would consider double-teaming them is right by the basket. That means a back door pass to Drummond or whoever else does not require anyone to rotate to stop the play. They are already right there.

      Furthermore, if both Smith and Monroe are right by the basket, you can essentially double team them both with just two guys–because again, they are right next to each other. If one of them steps away, the defender can completely ignore him, because he can’t knock down a jumper.

      In order to break a defense, you often have to force it to bend first. Guys who are only a threat in one place don’t really do that, because if they leave their hot spot, they can be ignored. 

      • Aug 9, 201312:08 pm
        by Gordbrown

        Reply

        This is why Smith is more suited to be a three than a four. He is deadly off the drive from the wing. Yes, it is true that without a reliable jumper, teams will just slough off of him and stay close to the hoop to cut off the drive. But as long as they have to respect the possibility of driving to the hole, they have to face him. That’s the point. Yes they are close to the hoop, but they are facing the wrong way to also guard the weakside. Plus, that’s the wonder of picks, it pulls people out of the comfort zone and distorts the defence. I think I made that point specifically. Finally the whole argument that Smith is more suited to be a four than a three is not warranted by the evidence. Perhaps we are so used to Maxiell, an undersized four who was incapable of playing the three, that we have become shell shocked.

  • Aug 8, 201312:17 pm
    by tarsier

    Reply

    The problem I had with Dumars’ answers was no that they were necessarily wrong but that his strategy seemed to be “if they’re smart, they’ll figure out a way to make it work”. I wish Lowe had pressed him a bit further and asked how he would make it work. Dumars might have had a good answer to that question and he might not have. But if he hasn’t considered it and has only counted on the players “making it work”, that’s a big problem.

    I’m no Dumars apologist, but I’ll give him more credit than that. This team has at least a shot at being good. That’s a big step up from the past few years. 

  • Aug 9, 20134:07 am
    by Wolverines23

    Reply

    Yeah I agree with most of what has been said already, but here is how I see our big frontline lineup working:  My starting 5 would be (I’m sure Stuckey or Billups will start at the two knowing us, just feel that we need a quality jump shooter to start in KCP): Jennings, KCP, Smith, Monroe, Drummond

    A very basic floor spacing strategy on offense would place Jennings at the top of the circle starting the play, KCP and Smith on the wings, and Drummond and Monroe placed in the box filling the lanes. KCP has to play his game like Reggie Miller/Tony Parker/Ray Allen/Rip Hamilton, running around – as Drummond/Monroe set screens for him to get open, if he doesn’t get the ball initially, critics are worried if the ball is thrown into Monroe in the paint, Smith’s defender will sag off him and double Monroe, Monroe throws the ball outside to Smith, who can now either attack the rim fiercely and draw a foul, find Drummond/Monroe for an easy two as he drives hard, or step inside the circle and take a two. He could also choose to move the ball around back to Jennings or KCP. Basically the reason why Memphis is so successful is because the ball keeps moving, and you usually see Marc Gasol chill by the free throw line to allow Randolph to operate inside, with a threat that if you leave Gasol open he can actually knock down the two. However, in our case if we have Drummond out by the free throw line and Greg is double teamed by Smith’s defender, with the passing skills that both Smith and Monroe posses, they can quickly move the ball around, and with Drummond’s athletic ability, he could easily be open for a dunk or layup, if he loses his man (which he has consistently done and shown already).

    I agree there are challenges with this lineup, but our defense can be elite, plus we will also have the opportunity to crash the glass and increase our offensive rebounds, which means we have more possession of the basketball. I think everyone really has to be patient and see what Mo Cheeks can actually come up with. Yes there are two players in our starting lineup who will play out of position..so what? At the end of the day there playing basketball.

    You can argue that small ball worked for the Knicks last year as they were the 2nd seed in the playoffs and lost to the Pacers in a tough series (who played a more conventional big frontline of Hibbert, West, and George). However, Carmelo played out of position and is not a 4 nor is Lebron (Bosh will be demolished by Drummond if he plays center against us, part of the reason why Miami recently signed Greg Oden, so Bosh can play the 4 now), yes Smith isn’t a 3 but he can guard George, Lebron, Carmelo, they maybe quicker and might have more range then Smith, but we’ll be equally effective with Jennings/KCP/Smith/Drummond in transition as soon as we get a stop and beat everyone else down the court.

    The other lineups such as Billups, KCP, Datome, Smith, Drummond will also be fun to watch (you have three elite three point shooters, and two athletic defensive players down low). As well as Stuckey, Billups, Datome, CV, Monroe/Drummond. We really need to sign another Center to allow Drummond and Monroe to rest though, although Drummond has improved his conditioning he was still seen breathing heavily and looked tired/fatigued at times even in the summer league (where again he played limited minutes and games). 

    I’m pretty excited to get this season rolling, and the best part is if it doesn’t work we have options to play Smith at the 4, and have Drummond come off the bench (what’s the big deal, he’s still only 20 years old?). Our bench would be amazing with Drummond as it was at times with Bynum, Austin Daye, CV, Drummond – we could easily have it be Billups, Stuckey, Singler, CV, Drummond which would allow a starting lineup of: Jennings, KCP, Datome, Smith, and Monroe (spacing issue solved, but then Jennings, Datome, Monroe – won’t be elite defenders and you really only have Smith and KCP). So there are benefits and disadvantages with every lineup. The best players should play together and at some point that’s most likely going to be: Jennings, KCP, Smith, Monroe, and Drummond.
     

  • Aug 10, 20131:04 am
    by Max

    Reply

    I’d love to know what Stuckey expects his role to be.  You know, just because he failed at being the Pistons best player doesn’t mean he can’t be a valuable 5th best starter or 6th man.  

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