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Henry Bibby finalizes Pistons coaching staff

Team release:

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has named Henry Bibby and Maz Trakh as assistant coaches joining John Loyer, who’s been on Detroit’s coaching staff the last two seasons. Additionally, Rasheed Wallace and Bernard Smith have been named player development coaches, Kamran Sufi has been hired as advance scout and Raman Sposato as video coordinator.

We already knew about Trakh, Loyer, Wallace and Smith. Henry Bibby, Mike Bibby’s father, is the big addition (Though, if we were paying attention, we would have known nearly a month ago.)

Bibby worked for Cheeks in Philadelphia and was previously a head coach at Southern Cal. After USC, he had a failed stint in the WNBA and then became an NBA assistant, most recently with the Grizzlies. For what it’s worth, Memphis didn’t want to keep Bibby.

I’m not enthused by Bibby’s hiring, but he appears to be a run-of-the-mill NBA assistant. I have no major complaints, either.

Supposedly, the Pistons were waiting to hire a No. 1 assistant. A credible report said Maurice Cheeks wanted Rex Kalamian for that role, and another report said Lionel Hollins was the preference.

So Bibby is the top assistant? Not quite. Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

Bibby, most recently on the Memphis Grizzlies staff for the last five years, won’t be the lead assistant, as Cheeks announced he won’t have a lead.

As for his staff as a whole, he won’t officially delegate responsibilities but will lean on some who are stronger in certain areas.

"I have some guys I’m very comfortable with on offense and guys I’m comfortable with on defense," Cheeks said. "I won’t split them up that way, but their suggestions are probably used a bit more because they feel like they’re pretty good in that area."

When Cheeks was asked who would take over as acting coach in the event he were ever ejected from a game, Cheeks cooly replied, "I’m not getting ejected," before smiling and walking away.

On one hand, I commend Cheeks for thinking outside the box. If his staff functions best with no set roles, that’s how he should run it.

However, in his previous head-coaching stops, Cheeks had a reputation for being unorganized. He must improve on that to make his unorthodox coaching structure work.

As for Sufi and Sposato, the other newly hired staff members, I’ll defer to the official release:

Sufi has spent the last three seasons working in the Chinese Basketball Association and served as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Arsenal of the NBA Development League from 2007-09. He played professional basketball in the ABA and overseas.

Sposato joins Detroit after spending the last eight seasons working for the L.A. Clippers organization where he started as a video coordinator in 2005. Prior to the Clippers, he spent 2003-05 as the video coordinator of the Portland Trail Blazers on Cheeks’ staff.


  • Sep 26, 20138:36 pm
    by mike


    I really like this hire. Its not Hollins, but perhaps the next best thing, in terms of getting someone from that Memphis system who has experience coaching 2 bigs. He also reportedly was impactful on the defensive side for the grizz, where they were one of the best in the league. 

    Regardless, he’s a high IQ guy with loads of experience and I think that fills a role needed on this staff. Good move.

  • Sep 26, 20139:21 pm
    by andyf


    No lead assistant.  No specific areas of responsibility.  I’m not sure I’m a fan of this.  It seems unstructured. Sure, cross-functional assistants are beneficial, but so is accountability over results.  No specialists often leads to no excellence.  You know, “jack of all trades, master of none.”
    Given that the team itself will need to establish identity, and the rotation needs a while to be developed, it seems that it could potentially add an unnecessary layer of chaos.
    As for not getting ejected, great.  Apparently he or a family member will never be sick or have to attend a funeral either.  Also, the pay-it-forward nature of coaching sort of creates the expectations that you will be grooming your lead assistant(s) for a shot at a future head coaching role as well. 
    I’m just speculating of course, but this doesn’t necessarily inspire me.

  • Sep 27, 201312:01 am
    by mike


    hey Dan, espn insider ranks the top 10 frontcourts and puts the Pistons at #2. I don’t have insider though so I cant read what was said about them. Can you post the excerpt from the story?

    • Sep 27, 201310:36 am
      by tarsier


      Unfortunately, their backcourt was almost certainly bottom 5.

      • Sep 27, 201312:08 pm
        by Max


        Glass half empty much?   Not sure you are right though.   They definitely don’t have one of the better back courts but there are several teams where it’s too close to tell and will depend on how rookies and young players develop or fit into new roles.   That said, I think you way underrate Jennings, Stuckey and the potential of KCP.  

        • Sep 27, 20131:45 pm
          by tarsier


          Which backcourts do you think are worse?

          Philly is about all I can come up with. Charlotte, Utah, Toronto, Sacramento, Atlanta, and Orlando are close. That’s really it.

          So you could max out with an assumption that the Pistons have the 23rd best backcourt.

          Sure, KCP has potential. But tons of teams currently have rookies with at least as much potential. If Pope pans out and they don’t, Detroit will climb a bit. But right now, 23-29 is their range for backcourt ranking.

          • Sep 27, 20132:18 pm
            by Max

            Several other back courts have questionable health going into the season like the Lakers, Celtics and Chicago. 

            Others that aren’t so great are NY, MIL, Mem, Pho and Ind (depending on if Granger is healthy as Hill and Stevenson is far from stellar)

            I’d also say the Pistons depth is potentially better than most back courts.  

            It doesn’t matter how the rankings look now but rather how they will look at the end of the season so Detroit could finish higher than 23rd without it being that surprising.   

          • Sep 27, 20135:01 pm
            by tarsier

            Half a season of Kobe, Rondo, or Rose kills what the Pistons have in the guard rotation.

            Felton+ Smith, Knight+Mayo, and Conley+Allen are also a whole lot better than Jennings+Stuckey/Pope. And how do you even mention PHX? Bledsoe+Dragic should easily be an above average backcourt.

            The Pistons have more depth than most backcourts, perhaps. But depth is more a tiebreaker than anything else. Also, the team you root for always seems to have more depth than other teams because you actually know your own scrubs who are riding the pine. You don’t know anyone else’s.

          • Sep 28, 20134:41 pm
            by Max

            Well, I disagree and again think you are underrating the Pistons guards while overrating the other teams.   I’m really surprised about your opinion about the Suns btw.  Why is Bledsoe better than Stuckey?   And Dragic and Jennings are on the exact same tier–no question.   Finally, the whole league knows who Billups is, he started for a great team last year whenever he was healthy and Bynum is surely one of the better backup point guards in the league.    

          • Sep 28, 201310:42 pm
            by tarsier

            I’d take Dragic over Jennings although I do agree they are on the same tier (and I prefer to have Jennings on the Pistons because he’s younger and has more room for improvement).

            Bledsoe is way better than Stuckey. Why? Because Stuckey has the tools to be a good defender but isn’t one. Bledsoe is an excellent defender.

            Every NBA fan will recognize the name Chauncey Billups. But he is so irrelevant at this point in his career that your average NBA fan probably has no idea what team he is on. Seriously, see my point about win shares below.

            Bynum is a solid backup PG, but I don’t know about one of the better ones. Lots of teams have a small, change of pace guard to play fast and reckless for brief stretches. Those who don’t typically have a guy like Andre Miller, Luke Ridnour, or Jarrett Jack who is significantly better. That said, Bynum does mesh particularly well with the other guys in Detroit. But there’s a reason he has drawn virtually no other interest during his last two forays into free agency.

          • Sep 29, 20132:31 pm
            by Max

            I disagree with much of what you just said but we are going in circles so I’ll leave it at that but just say that Stuckey was arguably the best player on a team for years and Bledsoe has never approached such status.  

      • Sep 27, 20135:56 pm
        by mike


        What’s so bad about the Pistons backcourt?

        Only 10 guards in the league avg more than 17pts and 6 asts last year. Jennings was one of them. Chauncey is still one of the better veteran guards in the league. Bynum is one of the better backup PGs in the league. Stuckey is a solid scorer off the bench. KCP was the 8th overall pick and looks like he’s going to be good.

        They certainly aren’t going to be as good as the frontcourt, but that doesn’t add up to bottom 5 backcourt either, to me. 

        What is your point with this statement anyways? Are you criticizing the Pistons for not having a top 5 frontcourt AND top 5 backcourt? I mean, wtf, they won 29 games last year, heaven forbid they don’t have the best roster in the league a year later…sheesh 

        • Sep 28, 201311:22 am
          by tarsier


          Yes, if you specifically go after particular threshholds, you can put any half-decent player in pretty nice company.

          Jennings is right around the 20th best PG in the league (plus or minus 5 depending on someone’s particular opinions about comparable players). And Jennings is head and shoulders above the rest of the Pistons’ backcourt.

          Chauncey is not still one of the better guards in the league. If you look at win shares (not a perfect stat but one that has systematically favored players like Billups throughout his career) and take his total from the last two seasons combined, that would rank him between 150th and 200th in the league in a typical single season. That means he has been about half as effective as an average team’s first guy off the bench.

          KCP could be good, but at this point it is fair to slate him in as below average at the 2 guard. Below McLemore and Oladipo. Above Muhammad. And below the majority of non-rookies (after all, when is the last time a guy who was considered a reach when drafted in the second half of the lottery ended up rocking the NBA as a rookie?).

          Kudos to the Pistons for fielding a much improved team from last year. I was just pointing out that the reason they have such a talented frontcourt is because that is where they have dedicated all their resources, which leaves the backcourt awfully bare. 

          • Sep 28, 20134:43 pm
            by Max

            KCP was only a reach because you like Burke better.  I do too but KCP would have been picked within the next few draft picks in any case.  

          • Sep 28, 201310:32 pm
            by tarsier

            No, KCP was a reach because the Pistons are the absolute highest anyone projected him to go and very few put him in the top ten prospects within the draft.

            My preference for Burke is beside the point. Burke would not have been a reach for the Kings even though I far preferred McLemore and he was still on the board. 

          • Sep 29, 20132:32 pm
            by Max

            I thought McLemore should have been the first pick.  

  • Sep 27, 201312:09 pm
    by Max


    Henry Bibby was a decent player in 2K last year and I’m pretty sure he’s on 2-3 different classic teams.  

  • Sep 27, 20135:06 pm
    by Brian


    2. Detroit Pistons | Combined WARP: 33.0
    Andre DrummondJosh SmithGreg MonroeJosh Harrellson
    The NBA is constantly in flux, which is something I think we can all agree on. Nevertheless, when we use analysis to point out a trend that is already well underway, there is an element of the sports community that just isn’t going to believe you until the movement is fully manifested. That being the case, many were taken aback by our (well, my) ranking of Houston’s backcourt the other day as the league’s best projected group. And I suspect that many will also doubt this ranking of the Pistons. But I’m telling you, folks, the Detroit front line is flat-out loaded when it comes to pure talent.
    That said, there are legit basketball reasons to doubt this lofty forecast. Drummond, Monroe and Smith — individually — can all play, and I’ve gone on record about buying into Drummond as this season’s breakout star. But how does it all fit? There were plenty of questions about how Drummond and Monroe fit last season, but it was unclear how much of that was due to any lack of complementary skills, and how much was due to a lack of faith in the pairing by former coach Lawrence Frank.
    Now that Smith is in the mix, the talent level is off the charts. But for this to work at an optimum level, someone is going to have to knock down some jump shots. Among the others, Harrellson isn’t much above replacement level, but simply pops up as the top projection among an uncertain mix of talent that includes Kyle SinglerJonas Jerebko,Charlie VillanuevaTony Mitchell and Gigi Datome.

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