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3-on-3: Maurice Cheeks’ New Year’s Resolution

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.

1. With holidays upon us, what should Maurice Cheeks set as his New Year’s Resolution?

Dan Feldman: Tightening the Pistons’ defense. The Pistons have made big strides from early in the season, but there are still too many bouts of confusion, especially on perimeter rotations. Cheeks is on the right track. He just needs to keep it up.

Tim Thielke: Reducing the three point disparity. It’s unlikely the Pistons will make a lot of threes any time soon. But that means they really can’t afford to give so many up. Pistons’ opponents attempt the 5th fewest field goals. But a combination of prolific and accurate shooting from beyond the arc puts Detroit’s opponents in the top ten for made threes.

Brady Fredericksen: Why can’t Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond just play nice… and, well, together? It’s been noted countless times this season, but the Pistons’ jumbo lineup has been quite underwhelming so far. It’s a learning experience — Drummond learning the NBA, Monroe learning to guard power forwards and Smith learning to be a full-time wing — but that’s going to be a key to this team’s success going forward. We’ve seen glimpses of these three starting to play better individually this season, now Cheeks just has to figure out how to make it work all the time.

2. Who on this team can help him achieve that as quickly as possible?

Dan Feldman: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Caldwell-Pope, because of his consistency, has been the Pistons’ best perimeter defender. But his offense is limiting Cheeks’ options. Of the 71 players whose scoring volume (points per minute) and efficiency (true shooting percentage) are as low as Caldwell-Pope’s, only John Salmons and Tayshaun Prince play more minutes per game. Essentially, until Caldwell-Pope shoots better, Cheeks can’t play him much more than he already is.

Tim Thielke: KCP is still very much a rookie, but his two biggest skills that continue to develop should be defense and shooting. Luigi Datome looks like a great shooter, but hasn’t been so far. Smith has all the requisite skills to guard the arc, but has been useless against shooters so far. There’s a lot of room for fixing the disparity if any or all of those guys play up to the talent they have.

Brady Fredericksen: Smith. Let’s be honest, right now Monroe and Drummond are what they are — specialty players who are limited. Smith is limited as well, but he’s also the most gifted when it comes to doing playmaking-like things. The more Smith turns long jumpers into opportunities to create for others, the better those three, and the rest of the team, will be. Period. Cheeks should gift Smith with a piece of coal for every missed, contested jumper he’s had this year; though I guess that might require a dump truck.

3. How can Cheeks make his fictional resolution happen?

Dan Feldman: Use his personal connection with Rodney Stuckey to help him focus. If Caldwell-Pope doesn’t start shooting better, the more offensively capable Stuckey defending better is an alternative solution. At their best, Caldwell-Pope and Stuckey defend at about the same level. Caldwell-Pope just does it more consistently. If Cheeks helps Stuckey maintain his defensive intensity, Stuckey can play a bigger role.

Tim Thielke: Let Caldwell-Pope play more minutes. Have Smith focus on sticking to shooters. Give Datome defensive assignments that only require him to stand near the shooter instead of guys who are credible slashing threats.

Brady Fredericksen: Honestly, I don’t know. The thing that’s most noticeable about Smith’s floating about the perimeter when he’s at small forward is that he’s almost always near the top of the key. Maybe that’s where he’s most comfortable, but it’s most definitely not where he’s making most of his shots. By no means is Smith a great shooter from the corners, but why not try to shift his touches to the far corners? Smith has historically played decently from the baseline, and that opens up the free throw line for Greg Monroe — a spot where he can facilitate from. It can’t hurt, right?

Shot charts courtesy of NBA.com.


  • Dec 25, 201310:45 pm
    by Ozzie-Moto


    Brady Fredericksen: Why can’t Josh SmithGreg Monroe and Andre Drummond just play nice… and, well, together?   BECAUSE there playing out of there natural positions! This is the same stupid mistake that JD has been doing for years now.  I like all 3 players.  They each have there strengths and weaknesses, I would love to see a rotation that gets Smith at power forward all the time. I can’t blame him alone for his poor shooting percentage as he is being played against his own skill set. If I were not for the politics of Moose’s contract year I have HIM come off the bench ala Kevin McHale,  While like most Smith’s score at any cost from the wing is driving me crazy but he is getting that ball way out on the wing late in the clock often. Once he starts shooting long he keeps trying. he is just not a wing player.  Now what I love is his intensity and commitment around the basket.  We need a real deal shooting wing and line ups that are balanced, Stop expecting players to be something they are clearly not.  For Years I have said Stuckey is a combo off the bench  and he does best in that role…. NOT a starting point Not a starting shooting guard Etc Etc … stop trying to make player everything and anything, Put them where they are naturally suited,  

    • Dec 26, 201311:47 am
      by Otis


      Yeah, I’m pretty much behind this. Sort of frustrating just to read what Brady is saying because I agree wholeheartedly with his choice of biggest necessary correction, but the answer is easy: BECAUSE THESE PLAYERS CAN’T PLAY TOGETHER. And we have basically been looking at this exact same problem ever since the moment Iverson came to town. It’s maddening, and pretending like anything else is of any real significance is lunacy. You want to fix the three point disparity? BRING IN SOME THREE POINT SHOOTERS, and guys to defend the perimeter. Don’t start two centers and a power forward, and especially don’t act confused when they literally never learn how to play together.

  • Dec 26, 20138:49 am
    by Steve Smith


    Thank you, Ozzie-Moto, for pointing out what so many of us have seen since this team was constructed: that a frontline of Smith-Monroe-Drummond cannot work in today’s game! It’s amazing that more people like Brady Fredericksen don’t see it…. Fortunately, I think Joe does see the problem and will hopefully trade Monroe for a good wing player (Afflalo, Gordon, Deng, Turner, Green, Parsons, Hayward) and move Smith back to PF, his natural position. With Smith being such a bad shooter, there’s no way the Pistons could be successful with him at SF….And with our cap space this summer, we might be able to sign another good player to help bolster the lineup. God knows KCP can’t shoot to save his life.

    • Dec 26, 20139:12 am
      by Turns


      Everybody acts like moving Smith to the 4 would solve all problems with his shot selection but he was taking awful shots in Atlanta while playing his natural position of power forward.  He gets baited into toaking long two’s and falls for it no matter what postion he’s playing

      • Dec 26, 201310:19 am
        by Tim Thielke


        What you don’t seem to understand is that nobody is expecting Smith to remove all of the bad shots from his game. But when he played PF in Atlanta, there were a whole lot fewer of them.

        He is now putting up almost twice as many threes per game as he did in his three pointiest season in Atlanta. Getting Smith to have the shot selection he did on the Hawks would be a major win for Detroit.

      • Dec 26, 201311:53 am
        by Otis


        Also I’d like to add that it’s not like moving Smith is the be all and end all. Getting Moose the HELL off this team while we can still get good value for him is probably an equally important part of the equation. Pretty much everything falls into place instantly with a simple Monroe-for-SF swap, and you can feel out the team from there and add whatever “finishing touches” you need in the summer. As of now, there are no “finishing touches” to make because there is nothing resembling the pieces for an impressive basketball team now or anywhere down the road. The fact that some people watch this team and think things are going to be okay blows my mind.

        • Dec 26, 201312:21 pm
          by Tim Thielke


          “Pretty much everything falls into place instantly with a simple Monroe-for-SF swap”

          Well, only if the SF is good. And there aren’t very many good SFs. There are a couple fantastic ones that are unavailable and then a bunch that are barely better than Singler. If the Pistons are trading Monroe for someone barely better than Singler, what’s the point? Might as well let him walk or sign him as injury insurance. Detroit already has Singler.

          And of course, all that is assuming these guys can never make it work. We have evidence to the contrary. At the sesaon’s onset, Drummond/Monroe/Smith looked hopeless next to each other. Now they just look not very good. It’s still well under the sum of the parts, but unnatural pairings take time. If you can get close to fair value for Monroe in a piece that fits better, go for it. But if not, better to keep watching the trio gradually grow more cohesive.

          • Dec 26, 20131:06 pm
            by Otis

            Very, VERY obviously the trade needs to be for a SF who is at the very least “good.” And if all he is is “good,” he’ll be paired with a first round pick I’m sure. And there are many reasons to trade for someone who is barely better than Singler. For one thing, by definition it’s an upgrade. For another, if there’s a tremendous talent disparity you’re going to get sweeteners so the trade makes sense. You sure as hell can’t let Monroe walk, and you can’t hand out the richest contract in franchise history to your third best player (and probably fifth most valuable in terms of team chemistry) for “injury insurance.”
            Also you’re sounding awfully comfortable with waiting for an “unnatural” fit. This wouldn’t seem so insane if there were no easy fixes, but there are. Like, it should be very, very easy to slide pieces into place that will fit very naturally.

          • Dec 26, 20131:22 pm
            by Huddy

            It’s just a circular argument.  Otis’ opinion is based on the premise that this good SF and first round pick definitely is available now and his opposition  believe that hypothetically that sounds nice, but there is a very good possibility that no one is offering that.  Theres no way Otis can prove that trade exists right now.  Smith is a perfect example of a player that has value and had a big contract coming up that ATL couldn’t find a trade partner for not for lack oF trying.  There are also instances where teams turn an asset like moose into something good.  Otis probably should recognize that there is nothing definite or absolute about the market for Moose because there are plenty of reasons that other teams would hold off, but either way it’s just an argument based on the trade market that no one can prove.  We can spend all day explaining why ant one trade wont work, but if otis just believes that something exists then that really can’t be proven or disproven.

          • Dec 26, 20131:43 pm
            by Tim Thielke

            There may be an easy fix. I don’t know. I don’t know how much other GMs want Monroe and what they’re willing to give up for him. You pretend to know, but I don’t believe you.

            Sweeteners are nice, but it depends exactly what they are. By and large, when you trade one guy for several lesser assets, you get hosed.

            But yeah, if Detroit could get a pick that’s likely to fall in the top 10 (this coming draft or a later one), I’d be down with that.

            I’m comfortable waiting because “unnatural fits” work out all the time. James+Wade+Bosh, Bledsoe+Dragic, Smith+Horford, Westbrook+Harden+Durant, the whole mess of essentially non-defending shooters who played around Howard in Orlando. Those are all examples just from the past few years. And then you have fantastic fits like Nash+Bryant+Gasol+Howard and the gang currently in Brooklyn who, even when healthy, never clicked.

            Better to have lots of talent who play as less than the sum of the parts than to have not much talent who play as more than the sum of the parts. Because the former has more room for improvement. That’s why I don’t want to trade Monroe for 50 cents on the dollar.

          • Dec 26, 20132:06 pm
            by Otis

            Guys, my main premise is that doomsday for this team comes in July when they’re (1) going to watch Stuckey walk for absolutely nothing, and (2) forced to choose between two very unpleasant options when it comes to Moose. Anything this team can do to avoid what’s coming in July will be a good thing.
            You say unnatural fits work all the time, but your examples aren’t THAT unnatural. The Heat’s big three all had to adjust to new roles where they’re not necessarily the focal point of the offense, but they were and are primarily a shooting guard, small forward and power forward. Furthermore, they’re trending in the same direction as the modern NBA: Going small. Not the other way around. Bledsoe and Dragic is an odd example for a few reasons, but better to have two point guards than two shooting guards, and again they’re going small. And heck, they haven’t accomplished anything yet. They’ve just been a pleasant surprise. Smith and Horford, again, never accomplished much together, and again they were going SMALL. Westbrook, Harden and Durant, all shooters yes, but again they play the three perimeter positions respectively. You haven’t cited anything NEARLY as unconventional and bizarre as what the Pistons are doing. You’re comparing apples and… oh, let’s say cherries.
            Also, I don’t know what you’re getting at when it comes to BKN and the Lakers. Brooklyn didn’t look like an especially great fit on paper. Most of these guys past their primes, and similar to the “bad” fit you described Miami as having been because there’s too many scorers for their own good. Too many cooks in Brooklyn, even with the rash of injuries (which is worth noting). As for the Lakers, they had problems on paper too. It’s kind of ironic that you should bring them up, because one of their biggest problems was trying to play Howard and Gasol together. Eventually they moved Gasol to the bench. And I have terrible news for you: Pau Gasol spreads the floor so much better than Monroe that they’re not even in the same conversation. And Dwight, as you saw the other night, is much better than Drummond. So you can project all you want that maybe things will eventually work out, but other teams have already done the trial and error and it was basically all “error.”
            And I could not possibly agree less with this notion that it’s better to have more talent than team. It’s much, much better to have players who complement each other and make each other better and overachieve. That is what good teams do. The Lakers have been a terrific surprise, plenty of fun to watch, and thumped us TWICE so far because they make the most of what they have. And this team is cobbled together from spare parts and the wreckage of trying to buy a championship. Our team, on the other hand, was hand-picked by one man and it’s a tremendous disappointment. I wish you’d ditch that “50 cents on the dollar” straw man argument too. We’re not getting 50 cents on the dollar. You love Moose so bad when it comes to arguing for keeping him, but all that goes out the window when it comes to trading him. “We don’t know what the market is.” That’s B.S. At least half the league would very much like a 23 year old low post scorer on his rookie deal and his Bird rights.

          • Dec 26, 20132:26 pm
            by Huddy

            at least half the league doesn’t have a good SF and top 10 draft pick and the argument isn’t that Monroe wouldn’t look nice on other teams it’s what those teams are willing to give up for him.  finding a solid trade for both teams is different than choosing what teams would like a player for nothing.  Half a season on a rookie deal and the chance to his on him in free agency anyway make a big difference.  It’s is more difficult than that, not impossible, but not simple.

          • Dec 26, 20132:50 pm
            by Tim Thielke

            Smith has played the majority of his minutes at PF and a large minority of them at SF throughout his career. Currently, he’s closer to a 50/50 split but that could easily be resolved simply by Cheeks playing his lineups a bit more intelligently. Having a guy who looks best playing C play instead at PF about half the time… sorry but that’s not crazy unconventional. It’s not the norm but it’s not really wacky.

            Also, you get way too hung up on positions. Those don’t matter. They’re arbitrarily assigned labels. What matters are skillsets. That’s why Boston’s big three were a great fit even though they all had to sacrifice some scoring (and why Brooklyn should be too if they’re not all washed up/injured). That’s why Miami wasn’t initially. They got three superstars who were all at their best with the ball, driving hard to the rim (hard though it is to remember the days when Bosh had dreadlocks and was primarily a slasher).

            And name me one successful team going small these days. The closest that exists is Dallas. And they’re basically just doing so because of a lack of good bigs–and they’re pretty much a 50/50 bet to make the playoffs. Bledsoe is not really small for a SG. James isn’t even close to small for a PF. GS only plays small when they’re forced to because of their injury-prone big men.

            Really, the only problems with Detroit’s skillsets are a lack of shooting and the fact that Smith isn’t defending the arc when his man is a shooter. I don’t love mediocre, but I’ll accept it when four of the teams best five players are on rookie deals or newly coming off of them. There’s a ton of room for internal growth. I wholeheartedly agree that Dumars should try to get a pick or prospect with a couple rookie-scale years left for Stuckey. And that if he can get at least 80 cents on the dollar for Monroe, he should strongly consider it. But this team has a better shot at reaching contender status by holding onto its substantial ill-fitting talent than by pissing that away.

          • Dec 26, 20133:11 pm
            by Otis

            So we agree to disagree. That’s fine.

          • Dec 26, 20133:25 pm
            by Otis

            OOPS. With one caveat: The notion that a trade should, or ever would, include “pissing Monroe away” is ludicrous. Miles and miles away from reality, and far more of a stretch than my insistence that he would fetch quality assets. I don’t want you to think that “pissing him away” has anything to do with the conversation we were having before you went there. Other than that, yes we agree to disagree. I just don’t think we dumped a choice draft pick in order to “catapult” ourselves into a permanent mediocre state. Hey, maybe I’m the crazy one.

          • Dec 26, 20134:07 pm
            by Tim Thielke

            So umm which part are you disagreeing with?

            That Smith has always played a good chunk of minutes at SF? That he could still now be playing about the same number there if Cheeks wanted that to happen? That the league is not really “going small”? That four of the Pistons top five guys are on or barely off rookie deals? That players of that age are typically still improving?

            Those are pretty much all well-established facts. If you disagree on any one of them, feel free to back up your case as those are relatively straightforward. That leaves a couple ideas that are not quite as cut and dry:

            That it is not incredibly unconventional for a “C” to play about half his minutes at “PF”? That one is tricky to argue because players are assigned positions not based on the Otis assessment but based on where they actually do play. So according to the NBA, Monroe is in fact a PF. But if that is really the focus of your contention, I can give you some evidence that Cs and PFs have been largely interchanged for quite some time now.

            That skillsets matter more than positions? Once again, I think this incredibly obvious. But if this is where your contention lies, let me know and I can back it up.

            That it is easy for Dumars to trade away Monroe without “pissing him away”? In other words, to get anywhere near full value for him. This is where I’m guessing you disagree:
            GMs are competing against each other. If it looks like Detroit needs to deal Monroe, why would they offer fair value for him unless they too are desperate? And which team is desperate for Monroe right now? No, your insistence that Detroit absolutely must trade Monroe means that you are insisting they get whatever they can for him. And if other teams see Detroit as desperate, that will mean pissing him away. Nobody is arguing that if the Pistons can upgrade their fit without taking lesser value back, they shouldn’t do it.

          • Dec 26, 20135:23 pm
            by Ozzie-Moto

            Tim sorry but disagree …. If one of the them has skill like Lebron or Derk etc, well you get it, But all 3 of our front court player can’t SHOOT. IF Monroe was a stretch 4 or we had a stretch 5 etc OK  then maybe,  And I’m not necessary advocating trading Mouse (though I’d listen to offers)  Id bring him off bench……  and yes there is small ball etc but big ball with no shooters not so good …  And yes we still need to find a small forward …. I even give Luigi more burn to see if he can produce more there.    But you can’t spend years with unbalanced line ups JD been trying to jam Sq pegs on round holes for the last 5-6 years …. Smith has actually grown on me … I like his relentless, toughness just don’t like how he is being used… and no i don’t expect that he would never shoot a 3 just less as many have said ….if you look at the pistons teams that won last we had Ben couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn …. But Rashid could hit them from out of state and the very flexible Prince (in or out)  and both Bilips and Hamilton were better shooters than any guard on the team now (Bilups Included)    There are exceptions but then THEY have to work or they are NOT exceptions 

          • Dec 26, 20137:13 pm
            by Otis

            Basically cosign what ozzie-moto said (cool name BTW). Skillset and position are more-or-less unbreakably connected. Yeah some guys have different particular skills. Some guys are good shot blockers at guard, some guys are more slashers than shooters, some defend, some score, but there are general guidelines to each position, and the pieces need to fit in order for you to be successful. You won’t get very far if your point guard can’t pass and has no court vision, for example. (See the last five years of Detroit basketball.) If you have three big men who are all BY FAR most effective inside of five feet, and none of them can shoot worth a DAMN, then you’re sunk. Call it position, call it skillset, whatever you call it, the pieces don’t fit. So that’s one area where we can’t seem to agree.
            The other one is the fact that I think this team will extend Monroe at its peril. Hand him a contract he has ABSOLUTELY NO CHANCE of living up to, and be saddled with a mediocre squad for the foreseeable future. I don’t look at it like a situation where you just keep him and see if this team eventually meshes, because all things aren’t equal in the NBA. You can’t just figure everything out at your leisure as if important decisions don’t matter. Players get attached to contracts, there are windows when you have more flexibility than others. The second Monroe is the highest paid player on this underachieving team, the flexibility is gone. For one thing, you need to establish/build value. I don’t think that’s going to happen, given that he looks like the clear odd-man-out in this system sandwiched between Andre the BEAST and the aggressive Josh Smith. For another, you’re worried about trading him NOW? Imagine when he’s attached to that $60M millstone deal. Suddenly you need to get value AND make something work under the cap. So you’re basically taking back eight figures worth of annual salary attached to god-knows-what just to get a deal done. They are in PRIME position now to make any trade work under the cap, avoid that wretched extension, AND add another free agent because if they knew what was good for them they wouldn’t have to worry about extending Moose or Stuckey because they’d be someone else’s property. I’ve seen enough, and I think the notion of sitting on this roster through February will be a horrible mistake. That’s where we disagree.

  • Dec 26, 201312:47 pm
    by spectorw


    Earlier, when the Pistons had their four game winning streak in early December, one the main reasons was they made an effort to get KCP going in the offense early in the game. During that time he averaged 28 min and 9.25 per game while he was defending against their team No. 1 scoring option. Now I admitted he’s need to score more when giving the opportunity, however he needs an opportunity. Notice lately when Jennings is getting Josh offense going early, the ball stays on that side. KCP is no where around because the ball does not rotate on his side of the floor. However once he’s out and Stuckey or Singler is in, the ball somehow rotate on the weak side.

    • Dec 26, 20131:10 pm
      by Otis


      If you really want to analyze things fairly, why not point out that during their four game win streak they had two games against bottom feeders, one game against a horde of sleepwalking Heat zombies, and one against a Bulls team missing three (3) perimeter players who are ALL better than our best perimeter player, two of whom were All-Stars (Rose, Deng), one of whom was league MVP (Rose). So hey, maybe the secret to their success had nothing at all to do with some ho-hum rookie and everything to do with those factors. Maybe. Just something to think about.

      • Dec 26, 20131:53 pm
        by Tim Thielke


        And if you want to analyze things fairly, why don’t you realize that that is a fairly good representation of the NBA? There are lots of bad teams, a couple elite ones, and many teams that are struggling with injuries.

        Just as Miami laid a stinker against the Pistons, the playing-reasonably-well-at-the-time Sixers played an excellent game against them and still got beat by double digits. How come you point out when a good team plays flat but not when a bad team plays feisty?

        Now, I don’t think KCP was the secret to the very minor success that was a 4 game win streak. But I do think that you pretend that every time the Pistons lose, that’s “the real Pistons” and every time they win, you make excuses for how it doesn’t really mean anything. The Pistons aren’t a good team, but they are a decent one. Deal with it.

        • Dec 26, 20131:57 pm
          by Turns


          Lol.  You really did sum up Otis quite nicely

        • Dec 26, 20132:13 pm
          by Otis


          The deadbeat Sixers were playing nicely when we beat them. There. Wow. We can beat the Sixers. Did you hear that, guys? We’re better than the Sixers! The team that rolled the dice, traded away their best player for a guy who played I think one game for them, then blew the WHOLE thing up! It’s a Christmas miracle! Gosh.
          Tim, how we stack up against the top half, probably even top third of the league is literally the only thing that matters to this team. Joe set us back a great deal by dumping a draft pick in that awful Ben Gordon trade, so the team  MUST be graded harshly. What lies ahead in terms of flexibility and decisions is all laid out for us too. If this was last year’s team, with tons of cap space and flexibility on the horizon, I would not judge them so harshly. But this is your team. What you’re looking at is what we’re going to be looking at for the foreseeable future if they stand pat. You want to be a decent (also known as “mediocre”) forever, and that’s your cross to bear. Enjoy the ride.

          • Dec 26, 20132:48 pm
            by Georgio

            You don’t have to trade everybody to get better Otis, it’s call growth. If you think this is as good as the Pistons will be without ANY trades what so ever then you’re crazy. Gettng better is a process, being mediocre this year is progress, next year with internal growth (KCP, Drummond, Monroe, Datome) and experience playing together and Mo knowing what he can get from each player, the Pistons will be better. Joe also does have flexibility to make moves as he sees fit so  in the words of a great author, me thinks you doth protest too much.

          • Dec 26, 20133:15 pm
            by Otis

            Paesan, it’s not about trading everybody. It’s about trading Monroe while you still have 100% of the leverage in the trade and trading Stuckey while you have any ability to do it period. Just take this as a warning that there isn’t nearly the room for internal improvement as all’a y’all are banking on.
            Also, the Shakespeare quote about “the lady doth protest too much” isn’t about someone who complains too much. It’s about someone who has something to hide. So, um, yeah you obviously don’t understand the reference or what it’s meant for, but I’m more concerned about the things you don’t understand when it comes to basketball than when it comes to the Bard.

        • Dec 26, 20133:36 pm
          by Otis


          PS, since I’m really getting burnt out on this back-and-forth and probably should call it quits after this:
          For the record, just so I’m perfectly clear, I don’t think it’s “the REAL Pistons” every time they lose and a fluke every time they win. All of their wins against bad teams were very much the real Pistons. The real Pistons will beat the hapless Cavs, the Sixers, the Wiz, the Kings (at least before their recent moves; now who knows?), Milwaukee, the New York disasters. Sure, you’ll win those games because God knows we’ve suffered enough the last half decade to have positioned ourselves through the draft to be a firm notch or so above awful. The real Pistons will lose to almost any respectable team with a halfway decent coach. The Hawks, the Lakers… Teams you “should” be able to beat after having thrown away a precious asset to “expedite” your growth, you’re not good enough to beat. Pretty much anyone in the Western Conference playoff picture, or even playoff race, you’re going to lose the vast majority of those games. This team you’re bending over backwards to defend has only three wins against quality teams, and significant asterisks attached to two of those wins. I’m not stretching very far to say that if Deng and Butler were available, we lose that Chicago game. If Wade was available and/or the Heat didn’t GHB themselves before that game, we lose that game. This team is going to end the season with roughly 40 wins, very few of which against teams who could be considered contenders, and even fewer of which without asterisks like resting All-Stars. That’s who they are and who they’ll be as currently constructed.

  • Dec 26, 20132:32 pm
    by Pratik23


    I’d trade Monroe for a quality SF in a heart beat and maybe even add Singler or Stuckey (although I like both of them off the bench for us this season). I only see three SF’s right now in the league who are still young, have athleticism, defend well and can score in bunches who would fit great with us:
    Harrison Barnes – don’t see this one happening either, but GSW could definitely benefit with plugging Moose in for Andrew Bogut. Would work wonders in Detroit with Smith and Drummond along with a developing KCP.
    Jeff Green – Boston has been playing really well compared to what people predicted for them, and they need some more weapons, Moose definitely helps but no way they get rid of Jeff Green (but Ainge has done stranger things in the past..it’s worth a shot for the Pistons to at least attempt to ask for him.
    Kawhi Leonard - (SAS would definitely not give him up as he fits perfectly with them and they have spent a lot of time developing him, however, Tim Duncan is retiring and Moose can definitely fit in well with the Spurs).
    All three of them probably have the same or slightly more potential/value then Monroe..we’d probably have to give up a little bit more, but I’d do it. I think Greg has done a lot for this team and is a great talent, however, he’s not a true PF or a true center, but he’s more of a Center – who scores close to the rim. 
    Jennings, KCP, Jeff Green/Barnes/Leonard, Josh Smith, Andre Drummond could definitely get us the 3rd seed in the East the way this year has been shaping out so far. 

    • Dec 26, 20133:03 pm
      by Tim Thielke


      I don’t love Barnes, but I’d definitely take that deal just because of his remaining cheap years.

      Why wouldn’t Boston give up Green? He’s a decent but overpaid player. I would push hard to get Atlanta’s pick thrown into a Monroe+Jerebko for Green swap. But I’m not sure whether I’d take that without it included. The trade would probably help the Pistons (at least in the short term), but it would help Boston soooo much more.

      Leonard is good, but as I said at the time, he’s nowhere close to the superstar people were billing him for during the playoffs. I think Buford is savvy enough that he would see Detroit’s problematic situation and leverage it to his advantage. He would probably ask for Monroe+KCP for Leonard, followed by Joe hanging up. But Monroe for Leonard would probably be mutually beneficial. I just don’t know if either GM accepts it.

  • Dec 26, 20132:40 pm
    by Georgio


    This notion that the BIG 3 can’t work is crazy. Miami had to figure out how their new big 3 was going to work and they did, so will the Pistons. Already we see that Smith at the 3 can be a game changer if he’ll play in the post most of the time. Teams are game planning what to do when Smith starts to post up their smaller 3s, they would not have to do that if Smith was a 4. He dominated Batum and George in the post, would he have dominated Aldridge or West in the post, I don’t think so. In the Houston game they doubled Smith on his very first touch. He’s a major mismatch at the 3.  30 games in and they haven’t even scratched the surface of what this lineup can become once they learn how to play with each other. I guess Miami is glad they didn’t trade Bosh after 30 games. 

    • Dec 26, 20133:44 pm
      by Otis


      Comparing how three All-Stars who play complementary positions (2,3,4) and can all shoot as they adjust to new roles where less is required of them, players such as repeat league MVP, the best player in the league, a guy who led a team to a championship before his All-Star friends joined him, to three non-stars who play overlapping positions and can not shoot, makes me think you might not be living on the same planet as the rest of us. The Heat’s Big Three has a collective resume longer than my arm, and our Jumbo Three have a grand total of ZERO accolades between them. Jesus. By this logic, literally any combination of players can thrive together and win back-to-back championships because THE BEST IN THE WORLD did it. Why can’t we all get girls like Jessica Biel? Justin Timberlake did it! So can we!

      • Dec 26, 20134:22 pm
        by Tim Thielke


        Yes, technically Wade can shoot. The ball just doesn’t usually go in. Kinda like Smith.

        Of course the Pistons won’t have as much success as the Heat. They don’t have nearly the talent. But your solution is to get rid of one of their most talented players?

        The parallel being drawn was that the Heat didn’t fit together well, so it took them a while but they worked it out and turned into a well-oiled machine. There’s no reason Detroit can’t do the same. They probably won’t win a championship either way. But that’s the case for everyone. The only question is whether they’re slightly more likely to win one with Monroe or with whatever another team will give up for Monroe (which we can 98% guarantee will be a lesser talent and greater fit).

        You seem to believe the latter. And yo may be right. But your rationale is way off. Because it presumes that the Pistons can get fair value for a guy they are under pressure to trade and that talented players with early difficulties can’t adjust to playing with each other. Both of those assumptions are liable to be wrong, historically speaking.

        • Dec 26, 20137:22 pm
          by Otis


          Tim, there you go again with your straw man “get rid” of Monroe hogwash. You’re not “getting rid” of him, you’re “trading him for a quality asset or two.” There is a vast difference. My friend Georgio made a completely ridiculous post, and you’re defending it why? You can’t take the best team in the league, which was built on players who were already established as All-Stars and three of the top four free agents in their class, all of whom happen to have complementary skillsets and play complementary positions, and use it as an example of what Joe Schmoe can do with his basketball team. It’s lunacy. And there is all the reason in the world that Detroit can’t do the same. Every reason known to man. This team will not do the same. I’m not sure why I even have to type those words.

          • Dec 26, 20138:12 pm
            by Tim Thielke

            Otis, there you go again with your strawman hogwash that Dumars can just up and choose to swap Monroe out for a hypothetical, unspecified, above average SF and another quality asset. Most teams aren’t desperate for a big man these days, I’ll have you know. And even fewer have the caliber of SF you’re looking for and the willingness to make the trade you’re expecting.

            Nobody is claiming that Detroit can do what Miami did in terms of overall success, whether they trade Monroe or not. I’m claiming that talented players can learn over time how to play together better. What basis do you have to claim otherwise?

            And you, Otis, are not claiming Dumars should swap Monroe as long as he can get fair value. That’s what I’ve been saying. You are the one who has been ranting about absolutely needing to trade him at all costs. When you absolutely need to trade someone, you don’t get a fair return. You’re at other teams’ mercy and get what they feel like offering. Hence why I say that Monroe should be traded if a worthy return can be found instead of spouting off about a fast-approaching doomsday.

            So let’s say the return you can get is Green. Either one, Jeff or Danny. A mediocre player on about the contract you could sign him to in FA. Do you do that? Because if you think Dumars “absolutely has to trade Monroe”, then you do. If you “have some standards instead of your loser’s mentality that’s been beaten into you by rooting for Detroit (slight paraphrase)”, you don’t settle for that kind of garbage and you only trade him if you can get a good haul.

            Also, by the way, apart from the Lions, Detroit sports have been fairly strong for quite some time now.

      • Dec 26, 20134:27 pm
        by Georgio


        The problem Otis, is that I’m not talking about championships,  I never said the Pistons were championship calibur. I said, 30 games into this lineup you’re talking about blowing it up before it’s even had a chance to jell and evolve. Accolades and resumes have nothing to do with 3 players learning how best to play with each other and be successful. The Pistons big 3 can be successful and thankfully Joe will give it more than 30 games to find out. 

        • Dec 26, 20135:00 pm
          by gmehl


          Otis I’ve met Jessica Biel in person before and she’s not that good looking. I’d much rather have Eva Mendes…just saying ;-)

        • Dec 26, 20135:16 pm
          by gmehl


          @Gerorgio i think there is only one way to find out if our big three could ever really work would be if you could switch KCP and Jennings for a better floor spacing backcourt. Plug Steph Curry into this team and it changes everything or even a prime Ray Allen. All of a sudden the lane opens all the way up for your athletes to go to work. Problem is we don’t have either player so the my answer is no our big three will/doesn’t work. The only time I’ve seen signs of it working is when Singler and Jennings were hot from outside. At the start of the season I thought if a combo of Singler, Jennings, KCP and Datome could hit outside shots the big three could work but it would be determined if Smith played closer to the hoop. Smith is our best player when playing PF and one of our worst when playing SF and it’s as simple as that.

          • Dec 26, 20136:17 pm
            by Georgio

            He’s looked pretty good playing SF the last several games and that’s because he playing to his strength, inside. He can overpower most 3s in this league where as a 4 he can’t do that. As a 4 he would be pretty good but as a 3 he can be extremely good, just cut down on the jumpers and start inside.  We don’t need Curry we just need any of our guards to hit a jumper with some consistency and they are starting to do that. This lineup is a matchup nightmare with Smith at the 3, at the 4 he would be nothing special.

          • Dec 26, 20137:33 pm
            by Otis

            Homey, you’re seeing what you want to see. This team isn’t hitting more jumpers as a trend. Just a few games ago (I want to say versus the Rockets) we made one three pointer. ONE. Shooting 1-12 from three. Because there is virtually no established shooting on the entire roster. Gigi is not the answer, KCP is a very long way off, Chauncey is finished. It’s not an accident that we’re one of the worst three point shooting teams in the league, and it’s not going to change without bringing in some shooting. I spotted the problem. You’re just an optimist. Every win means we turned a corner, every time a shot falls we’re turning that corner, and every time we get blasted by the Lakers skeleton crew or get TROUNCED down the stretch by THE FREAKIN’ BOBCATS it’s just a “fluky” setback. Like the last five seasons we averaged 29 instances where we turned a corner and 53 minor setbacks. Yes, this is how the world works. Rah rah go team go!

        • Dec 26, 20137:28 pm
          by Otis


          1) Accolades and resumes give an extraordinarily good indication of whether or not guys can learn to play with one another, especially when their skills complement each other (which they do in Miami, where you have shooters and playmakers, and don’t in Detroit, where they have three big men who can’t score outside of five feet).
          2) And if you’re not interested in winning another championship, then I’m not sure why you follow the sport, let alone comment on a Pistons blog. Find a hobby you’re passionate about instead. You seem like you might be good at refurbishing classic cars. That sounds like fun. Leave the basketball talk to people who want their team to achieve its full potential, not just to exist and play 82 meaningless games every year. I think one of the problems you and probably Tim and DEFINITELY most of this fanbase has is this loser’s mentality when it comes to the team. You’re beaten so far down that you don’t have any standards anymore. I think it’s a Detroit thing and I blame the Lions. But there’s no reason we can’t demand more. The pieces are there to build a contender as long as we don’t make the mistake of sitting on our fat ass until July.

          • Dec 26, 20138:22 pm
            by Tim Thielke

            “Accolades and resumes give an extraordinarily good indication of whether or not guys can learn to play with one another, especially when their skills complement each other”

            Ok, now I understand why the Lakers won the title last year. It was their 3 MVPs, 3 DPOYs, 2 Finals MVPS, 4 all-star MVPs, 1 ROY, 32 All-NBA, 17 all-defense, 34 all-star, and 3 all-rookie team selections (not to mention 27 player of the month and 67 player of the week recognitions). Oh, they barely scraped into the playoffs and got swept out? And they didn’t even play well when healthy? Never mind then.

          • Dec 26, 20138:49 pm
            by Otis

            Dude, your Lakers “dream team” included a broken down Nash and Bryant and a declining Gasol. I didn’t say it’s the be-all end-all. If Jordan and Bird joined the Pistons tomorrow it wouldn’t make the team better… or, hm, would it? That’s not the point. Actually, the thing I thought someone would chime in with was Iverson and all of his accolades coming here and sucking out loud. Not saying it’s everything, but saying it’s an indicator. I’ve also gone on record as saying that the fact that Lebron, Wade and Bosh are NATURAL SF, SG and PF respectively. It’s apples and oranges. Monroe is a center through and through, obviously Dre is too. When the two of them start dominating together you can rub it in my face. But it AIN’T working out so far.
            Also, the more you talk about the Lakers and how it didn’t work out there, the more I think about Monroe and Drummond being a PISS POOR replication of that failed experiment. Gasol is old and on the way out of the league, but he still spreads the floor so much better than Monroe that it’s sickening. And Drummond has miles to go before he’s at Dwight’s level, if he ever gets there. So keep talking about how bad the Lakers were and I’ll keep reminding you that we’re following their blueprint, but with far less talented players.

          • Dec 27, 201311:07 am
            by Georgio

            Otis I guess you have the patience to write a book everytime you answer, I don’t, the point I was making was that after 4 yrs of not making the playoffs, making the playoffs THIS YEAR is progress. Winning a championship is every team’s goal eventually but it’s a process. Joe has a few more moves to make to make this a championship roster anyone with any sense knows that.

  • Dec 26, 201311:01 pm
    by hirobeats


    Breathe Tim. I don’t always 100% agree with y’all, none of us really know as much about this stuff as we think we do. But you you generally do a pretty good job with this sports blogging shit *Shakethemhatersoff* =D

  • Dec 27, 20131:22 am
    by Wood


    Solution is simple; Monroe is still on his rookie contract. Golden State just signed Igudola which moved Harrison Barnes to the bench. Swap Monroe for Barnes straight up. This allows us to move Smith to PF full time and gives us another young, athletic player who can give us some much needed perimeter shooting. Gives Golden State that offensive presence down low that they want and also a very good passing big man to kick it out for all those 3s that they shoot., Throw in a protected first rounder that won’t hit for years and we should be good enough by then that it will only end up being in the 20s. Plus we have Stuckey and Charlie contracts coming off books this year which allows us to fit a max contract in under the cap. Flexibility. 

    • Dec 27, 20132:47 am
      by Max


      I wouldn’t give up a pick.

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