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Pistons’ starters – thanks to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – actually defending well

Rob Mahoney of Point Forward wrote an awesome article on the Pistons that is definitely worth a read, but this part especially caught my eye:

Detroit’s starting five was eaten alive on the perimeter in the first few weeks of the season. Over the last 10 games, though, the Pistons seem to have caught a rhythm. The clear point of demarcation was an injury-induced change to the starting five. With Chauncey Billups sidelined by tendinitis in his left knee, wiry rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has assumed a spot in the starting backcourt.

That shift, among others, has made a fairly dramatic defensive difference. Despite not logging a single minute with the other starters during the first seven games of the season, Caldwell-Pope stepped in to provide more pressure and athleticism on the perimeter. Billups, 37, still has a reputation as a strong defender, but he shows his age when chasing opponents around screens and was a burden on Detroit’s pick-and-roll coverage. It wasn’t all his fault; Monroe and Drummond are frustratingly terrible at guarding the pick-and-roll without impeding the movement of the ball handler, which made Billups’ job that much more difficult. The Pistons attempted to compromise by having Billups (and many of their other guards) go under screens, though that only afforded opposing guards a safe pocket from which to pull up and shoot.

The entire arrangement was a mess, on top of Detroit’s more generally sloppy coverage through a tough patch of schedule. Billups’ tendinitis, though, forced Cheeks to insert a quicker, longer player into the starting lineup to contend with opposing guards.

The Pistons’ defensive rotations really aren’t that much cleaner than they were at the beginning of the season, but Detroit has managed to ramp up its effectiveness by chasing shooters off the three-point line, jumping passing lanes and pressuring ball handlers. It’s amazing how much length and size alone can do under those circumstances. By attacking the ball handler and forcing him to make a decision under duress, Detroit’s bigs are in a position to deflect or intercept passes.

In the 10 games since the Pistons switched lineups and began dialing up the pressure on the perimeter, Drummond, Smith and Monroe have averaged a combined 5.5 steals per game. Detroit has cuffed its opponents by creating turnovers: Of the 25 lineups that have played 100 minutes or more this season, Detroit’s new starting unit ranks third in points allowed per possession. With that group turning opponents over on 31.2 percent of their possessions, avoiding fouls at a remarkable rate and locking down the defensive glass to avoid giving away extra scoring opportunities, the Pistons have seemingly found a way to survive their own over-helping and inconsistent rotations. They’ve leaned into the gambling tendencies of players like Smith and Jennings, in a sense, and had enough success in doing so to both undercut opponents and fuel their own fast breaks.

Obviously, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is better defensively than a past-his-prime Chauncey Billups, but the results of the switch have been incredible.

After bottoming out as the NBA’s worst defensive team, the Pistons have climbed to 20th in defensive rating. At this point in the season, the early failures still weigh heavily on that stat. So the recent improve has been extreme to compensate, and Caldwell-Pope has been at the heart of it.

Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond are basically locks to get major minutes. The fifth player to join them has mostly been Billups, Caldwell-Pope or Rodney Stuckey. And as Mahoney said, that lineup with Caldwell-Pope has been among the league’s best defensive units.

Here’s how the Pistons have defended with each Caldwell-Pope, Stuckey and Billups joining the big four. Column widths are scaled to minutes the lineup has spent together, because at this point in the season, we’re still dealing with sample-size issues.

Just to reiterate, the gap between Billups (and to a lesser degree Stuckey) and Caldwell-Pope is amazing. Not only do the Pistons’ big four defend better with Caldwell-Pope rather than Billups or Stuckey as their fifth wheel, they’re better by every major measure. They force more misses and turnovers, yield fewer free-throw attempts and grab a higher percentage of available rebounds.

But why do the Pistons defend so much better with Caldwell-Pope joining that lineup rather than Stuckey, who’s defended fairly well this year?

There are few things at play:

1. Stuckey played more early in the season, when the Pistons were still working out team-wide kinks in their defense and playing a tougher schedule. This unfairly weighs down his defensive numbers in ways that don’t apply to the rookie, who was buried on the bench early. Since Caldwell-Pope entered the rotation, the Pistons defensive rating with the big four and Stuckey is a more respectable 104.9.

2. Caldwell-Pope is probably just a better defender than even an engaged Stuckey, which he is this season in a contract year. The MySynergySports numbers – Caldwell-Pope ranks 85th in points allowed per play to Stuckey’s 123rd – bear this out, and anecdotally, Caldwell-Pope just appears to stick tighter with his man.

3. This one is most important: Caldwell-Pope is a much better off-ball defender than Stuckey. Stuckey is solid on the ball, but he can definitely lose track of his man off it. With Smith, Monroe and Drummond in the frontcourt, the Pistons are short on speed to cover the entire halfcourt area. So, a single defensive liability in the lineup makes a massive difference. Most teams can rotate to cover for a weak spot, but the Pistons are too slow to do that. So, Caldwell-Pope’s ability to stick to his man off the ball has been particularly key.

Maurice Cheeks was handed the tough task of making a lineup featuring Jennings, Smith, Monroe and Drummond work. Before the season, it appeared offense would be the biggest issue, but it quickly became clear the unit was more flawed defensively.

Billups’ injury certainly served as a catalyst for the fix, but inserting Caldwell-Pope into the starting lineup was merely one option of several. Credit Cheeks for choosing the right one and getting the Pistons’ most-used lineup trending in the right direction defensively.

51 Comments

  • Dec 5, 20132:43 pm
    by jg22

    Reply

    So does this mean our starting 5 is better defensively than the Pacers?
     
    If so, maybe Cheeks should be going with KCP to close out games in which we have leads. With Stuckey it ends up more of a trading baskets thing, which when you have the lead you shouldn’t feel that onus to have to keep up scoring with the opponent every time down. Maybe playing KCP down the stretch would allow us to start closing out teams with our defense.
     
    Then use Stuckey in situations where we are trying to comeback late in games, but can’t score enough.
     
     

    • Dec 7, 201312:05 am
      by Gordbrown

      Reply

      This points to a fourth unnoticed mention. Stuckey is playing in crunch time and Caldwell-Pope is not which also has an effect on the stats in small sample sizes. I love KCP and I love that he is working out as a starter. But lets not get dazzled by small and somewhat incomparable sample sizes.

  • Dec 5, 20133:38 pm
    by seenable

    Reply

    Thanks for the link. It’s nice to see the numbers back up the eye test. KCP is an important defender for this lineup. His speed, especially, is very welcome.
    Here’s another Pistons piece I read today, more centered on their offense and Josh Smith: http://hardwoodparoxysm.com/2013/12/05/not-so-smoove-operators-josh-smith-and-the-pistons/

  • Dec 5, 20134:11 pm
    by T Casey

    Reply

    Interesting stuff. You could tell KCP had good defensive skills from the jump, but seeing the difference represented statistically is pretty impressive. As KCP continues to become more reliable offensively his time in the lineup, hopefully we’ll see more improvement on both ends of the floor.

  • Dec 5, 20134:36 pm
    by Matt

    Reply

    Is it wrong for me to hope that Billups stays injured for a long time? He wasn’t shooting the ball that well when he played, and it was clear that his defense was lacking. I’m just afraid that, once he comes back, Cheeks will give Billups the vast majority of the minutes that Pope is getting now.
    Particularly since it seems like Pope’s shooting his improved over the last half-dozen games, it really seems like he’s trending in the right direction, and it would be a shame to shove him back to the end of the bench once Billups comes back.

    • Dec 5, 20135:15 pm
      by jg22

      Reply

      Yes because we could still use Chauncey in a role off the bench, basically have him take Bynum’s role. Even an old Chauncey is better than Bynum as our backup PG for 10-15 mpg. 
       
      I really think he can make us a better team, having him run that second unit. He migtht not be able to keep up with starters anymore, but he should be able to thrive against backups. Sort of be our “Derrick Fisher”

      • Dec 5, 20135:35 pm
        by Tim Thielke

        Reply

        What do you have against Bynum?

        In his 6 years with Detroit, he’s averaged 16 and 6 per 36 on 45/27/80 splits with a PER of 14.9. That’s rock solid for a backup PG.

        • Dec 5, 20136:34 pm
          by jg22

          Reply

          Because there’s nothing rock solid about his play. He’s too up and down. He plays great for 5 minutes then can’t do anything right the next 5 minutes. If he were an off the ball player, you could get by with his inconsistency and still keep him out there, but when he dominates the ball like that, one poor 5 minute stretch can ruin a whole game. No PG signed to be the 4th guy off the bench should have that much impact on the game, positive or negative. 
           
          If  they could keep him to 1 five minute stretch per game, he could be a nice energy boost guy, but he plays so good in those 5 minutes that it like hypnotizes Cheeks to play him another 5 and it always ends up with him erasing all the good he just did. So its fools gold, and best to just go with a proven steady player luke Chauncey in that role, who might not take over the game, but also won’t cost you the game. I’ve had enough riding the Will Bynum roller coaster. He’s a gimmick player.

          • Dec 5, 20137:56 pm
            by oats

            I very strongly disagree with this. Basketball is largely a game of runs. Every team ever has been prone to droughts from time to time. It’s just inherent in the game. Prior to going out Chauncey was putting up 8.6 points and 3.9 assists per 36 minutes. Bynum meanwhile was putting up 15.9 and 5.9 per 36. I don’t care how consistent Chauncey is, he was flat out being out played by Bynum. Those droughts kind of stink, but it’s better than being consistently bad the way that Billups has been this year. Average Bynum play is just better than average Billups play, and that is what matters.
             
            It’s not like Bynum is unique in being a 4th guard that is a little streaky. JJ Barea’s turn as a streaky backup PG was a major key to the Mavs winning a title for crying out loud. That’s why he’s a 4th guard in the first place. When he heats up the team should ride him, and when he cools down the team should leave him on the bench. It’s really not that complicated.

          • Dec 5, 201310:01 pm
            by grizz3741

            jg22 … backing up what you said about Bynum …. was really  hoping Cheeks would choose KCP to start for defensive reasons .. and Cheeks did just that .. impressed with Cheeks on that count and things are going in the right direction .. a young team coming together .. Kudos to Dumars for drafting Pope and choosing Cheeks …

          • Dec 6, 201310:03 am
            by MIKEYDE248

            Better watch out.  Trey Burke is finally starting to look like he’s catching on to the NBA too.  I was watching something on ESPN that was saying that with the weak play of the rookies, that he might sneak in as the rookie of the year.
            As much as I would have like to get Burke on the Pistons, I think that KCP is a better fit for our team.  I think Burke will always struggle on the defensive side, due to his size.

          • Dec 6, 201310:10 am
            by Tim Thielke

            Bynum is perfect for his role precisely because of his inconsistency. He doesn’t get significant minutes every game, he’s a change of pace player for when the Pistons are desperately trailing.

            He might make the situation worse, but it doesn’t matter because it was already basically hopeless or he may lead a spirited comeback tat put the Pistons back in the game.

        • Dec 6, 201311:52 am
          by ZekeKhaseli

          Reply

          During his tenure in Detroit Bynum has not proven that he’s a solid backup based on winning percentage. I know that its unfair to put it all on Bynum. Little tank just need to be in the good position like this year’s team to prove doubters like me wrong. I’m all for the underdog story of Will Bynum, just want to see the reality of it. With CB, I know he’s old, but we have seen him making his team succesfull

        • Dec 7, 20135:06 pm
          by joe

          Reply

          For me, the Pistons should roll with Stuckey or Bynum, not both, they play terrible together.

    • Dec 5, 20135:45 pm
      by seenable

      Reply

      I hope Dumars makes him the head coach? I’m kidding, but not entirely. Player/coach? Assistant coach? Regardless, he doesn’t belong on the court at this point in his career, even when healthy. He looks beyond washed up.

  • Dec 5, 20135:26 pm
    by danny

    Reply

    Another reason why I love the addition of Josh Smith.  His ability to push the fast break and make the pass is what makes him ideal for us.  Our defense will ignite our offense.  Playing passing lanes, getting blocks. forcing turnovers will lead to easy buckets. 
    We have one of the most mobile bigs in the game and that is playing to our strength.  Billups would run well with stuckey, stuck has the ability to pass to an open Billups.  Billups need to be used a spot up shooter or someone running the offense in the beginning of the clock.

    • Dec 5, 20136:44 pm
      by jg22

      Reply

      Yes, ppl complain about Smith but we are 1st in the league in steals, 2nd in forcing turnovers, and 5th in fastbreak points, and Smith has a lot to do with that. He may not be efficient in the halfcourt, but he’s money in transition. And with Drummond shooting 65% inside in the halfcourt, it makes up for any poor shooting from Smith, and all balances out in the end to a % conducive to winning.
       
      Instead of looking at Smith’s poor shooting % in isolation, look at it as Drummond/Smith as an inside out duo combine for 53% FG. Which has to be as good as any inside-out combo in the league. So in the end it doesn’t really matter who’s shooting the high%, it all adds up the same in the end
       
      Harden/Howard by comparison are 50% FG shooters as a duo. Hibbert/George combine to shoot 47% FG.
       
      So that kind of puts it in perspective.

      • Dec 6, 201310:19 am
        by Huddy

        Reply

        The team gets 17 fast break points per game, which is about 17% of their total ppg…not sure how Smith’s impact on 17% of the points in the game evens out because of Drummond’s shooting percentage.  Its certainly nice, but its not an excuse to shoot 39% from the floor for the game.
         
        The combined percentage thing is irrelevant.  In any statistical category you could take a players weakness and average it with another player’s strength and make it seem better.  Andre Drummond has the best shooting percentage in the league by far.  If Drummond shot 90% would it be ok for Smith to shoot 20% and take 15 shots a game?  no. 
         
        Either way Smith doesn’t get a pass because Drummond only dunks the ball.  Is it too much to ask a professional basketball player to be able to recognize what he is good at and stick to it?  He and the team would do better if he took better shots.  As fans we can either accept that we aren’t getting the best product possible and validate that by only looking at the good or we can ask this highly paid professional athlete to understand his craft well enough to make better decisions.  Its not like he can’t help it.  He is not too slow, too old, too young, too inexperienced, or any other thing that he can’t help..he simply chooses to take shots that any persons with knowledge of basketball can (and many have) tell him are not good shots to take.

      • Dec 6, 201310:21 am
        by Tim Thielke

        Reply

        Note:
        64.6% and 39.6% only average out to 52.1% (not 53% anyway) if both of those percentages come on the same number of attempts. However, Smith shoots more than Drummond so their combined FG% is actually 49.6%.

        All that said, your point about poor shooting still isn’t very strong. It’s like saying between LeBron and myself, we’ve won 4 MVPs, so we are darn good pair.

        The point about him contributing in other ways is valid. And I expect his shooting to pick up, so I’d still say he was a good signing. but so far he hasn’t lived up to his annual salary.

      • Dec 6, 201311:20 am
        by MIKEYDE248

        Reply

        It really helps forcing turnovers with our 3 bigs.  All with long quick arms.  Jennings also gets his fair share too.

  • Dec 5, 20137:04 pm
    by Matt

    Reply

    KCP is definitely an improvement over Chauncey. I love Chauncey but he’s a horrible SG. He can’t play defense and he never shoots the ball. 4.7 shots and no defense just won’t cut it. Unfortunately on the Pistons mailbag the guy said he expects Chauncey to come back and start and KCP would be the odd man out when Bynum comes back. I really hope this isn’t true, KCP offers the defense we desperately need regardless of whether or not his shot falls. I would rather it just be Chauncey and Bynum fighting for backup PG and KCP retain the starting spot. We were losing with Chauncey and Bynum and we’re winning with KCP. I know its a rash bold decision to sit a veteran but you do whats best for the team not an individual and right now KCP is the better player, plus he isn’t nearly at his peak and if he’s good now we should work on letting him develop and grow. Chauncey isn’t the future and he’s been outplayed so he looses, sorry.

  • Dec 5, 20137:15 pm
    by Corey

    Reply

    If Billups plays again at all, it needs to be at backup PG. He still has really good skills at running the offense. The question will be whether even the backup PG’s light him up too badly.
    Smith does bring a lot of good things, even if his shot selection stinks. The team needs a second ball handler to help out the PG, and Smith gives us a good one on the fast break. KCP needs to start, but he can’t be that guy yet.  I’m still hoping the rotation will shift toward less smith at SF though

  • Dec 5, 20137:25 pm
    by Ryank

    Reply

     
    Offensively the team has gotten better.  They are playing better together.  Like most teams, effort on defense goes up when a team is playing well offensively.  The Pope plays good defense and I like seeing him on the floor, but you can see the effort has improved…thus the results have improved.
     

  • Dec 5, 20138:14 pm
    by Gordbrown

    Reply

    This contract-year Stuckey stuff is getting old. In the first year of his new contract Stuckey improved over the last year of his old contract (although he did get off to a bit of a slow start because he missed training camp). For the problems of the second year of his contract, I might suggest you consult with Mr. Jason Kidd. Evidence doesn`t support the idea Stuckey needs to be in a contract year at all.

    • Dec 5, 20139:47 pm
      by anacaniwelk

      Reply

      No doubt.  This incessant demeaning of Stuckey is really petty and immature.  Lazy writing.  I’m gonna try and figure out a way to puke on their keyboard any time they put Stuckey and contract year in the same sentence.  He’s had other contract years before and never played this well.  He has just been hot.  He’ll get cold….but they’ll spin it as he is the pressure of a contract year.  It’s just so lame and boring.

      • Dec 5, 201310:01 pm
        by Max

        Reply

        Stuckey’s ups and downs are almost a hundred percent attributable to health and whether he’s been put in a role that is right for him.   This contract year stuff is total bullshit.  

        • Dec 5, 201310:08 pm
          by Corey

          Reply

          Good point about the role- standing in the corner waiting to shoot a 3, as Frank wanted him to do, has never been his game.

          • Dec 5, 201310:54 pm
            by Max

            Thanks.
            He’s improved a bit at standing in the corner this year though and it makes sense that he would.   Stuckey has taken a lot of heat the last few seasons but a lot of his struggles were due to having to work through so many adjustments, unfamiliar assignments, inconsistent rotations and minor health problems.   Nevertheless, Stuckey keeps progressing and the struggles have actually helped him grow as a player.  Still, driving and getting fouled will probably always be his bread and butter and Frank dialed him down too much in that regard the past two seasons in deference to the failed Knight experiment.   

    • Dec 6, 201310:33 am
      by Tim Thielke

      Reply

      Stuckey’s strong play this year is probably not entirely about it being a contract year.

      That said, in what way was Stuckey better in the first year of his new contract than the last year of his old one? His stats across the board were worse, both per game and per minute (with the exception of tiny improvements in TOs and 3PT%).

      I recognize the imperfection of PER, but let’s use it unless you can come up with a better way of comparing season to season in one number:
      Stuckey’s first three seasons: 14.9
      Stuckey’s first contract year: 18.4
      Stuckey’s first two seasons of second contract: 14.9
      Stuckey’s second contract year (so far): 18.4

      It would be absurd to pretend that those numbers are not even possibly indicative of his picking up his play for contract years.

      • Dec 6, 201312:28 pm
        by oats

        Reply

        It seems a little unfair to bundle the two first years of his new contract together. His first year on the new contract he was at 17.6 while last year was at 13. He absolutely stunk last year and that drags the number down for what he did over the first two seasons. 17.6 is just not significantly worse than 18.4, and what drop off he may have had that season is likely to due to the drafting of Knight and him not having the ball in his hands as often. That’s the problem with the contract year explanation, it ignores the fact that he was actually quite good the year before last.

        • Dec 6, 201312:50 pm
          by Tim Thielke

          Reply

          That’s true and all, but no matter how you slice it, his two best seasons have been contract years. You can report each of the rest separately or bundle them, but my point would remain even if he’d had his best season in a non-contract year. The fact that his play has, on average, drastically improved for those seasons is at least worthy of consideration. Draw what conclusions you will.

          • Dec 6, 20132:04 pm
            by Max

            Come on.  Let’s look at every year for Stuckey in terms of PER:
            1st: 13.8
            2nd:14.8
            3rd: 15.6
            4th: 18.4
            5th: 17.6
            6th: 13.0
            7th: 18.4
            I can’t see how anyone could really think that just because the 4th and 7th years happened to be contract years that Stuckey was trying harder or something as a result.  I look at these numbers and just see a player that kept improving throughout his first four years.  In the fifth year his numbers took a very slight hit from his peak year but the ball was taken out of his hands compared to his previous few years.   In the sixth year, the ball was taken away even more and he came off the bench for the first time since his rookie season, had some health trouble and had to learn a new role.   In the 7th year, in a small sample size, it appears he has learned his new role and is being allowed to play in a style that is much closer to how he got to play prior to having to play with Brandon Knight.  
            It just seems incredibly cynical to me to say the two peak years are related to their being contract years and beyond this: the concept totally ignores seeing the numbers in context and I don’t know how someone who has actually been following the team could come to such a conclusion.   

          • Dec 6, 20134:43 pm
            by Tim Thielke

            You could apply that narrative. It’s certainly plausible, but it’s convoluted and involves making excuses for Stuckey. Both the numbers and my eyes have shown a Stuckey playing harder and better during both contract years than any other. Furthermore, this is a common occurrence within the NBA.

            So, no, given that players often play their best in contract years and that Stuckey has clearly done the same (much as you could make excuses for him just like you could for any other player that fact applies to), it is not “incredibly cynical” to suggest that a contract year is probably at least part of the explanation for the uptick in his play.

          • Dec 6, 20135:25 pm
            by oats

            I think the contract year is likely playing a part in all of this. I don’t buy in to the idea that Stuckey sucked last year just because of how Frank was using him. Frank might have asked him to set up in the corner, but once the ball was in his hands it was Stuckey deciding to jack up bricks instead of putting the ball on the court. Stuckey’s effort was seriously lacking last year, that seems impossible to argue against. There are a lot of things that I think have snapped him out of that funk. New coach, better teammates, a team with a realistic chance of making the playoffs, a new role as just a scorer who is not responsible for running the offense, and the incentive that he’s playing for a new contract. He has to know that last year he did serious harm to his stock. That not only makes it harder to make money on the next deal, it also makes it harder to control where he would end up. That kind of thing absolutely has to be a motivator for him, it’s just human nature.
             
            All that said, I do think the contract year thing is an over rated factor. He was practically the same player in year 5 as year 4. Yeah, his assist numbers dropped because he was moved off the ball, but the rest of his per 36 numbers are not far enough off his year 4 numbers to be significant. This isn’t a guy that just fell apart as soon as the ink was dry on that new deal. So this year is more of a returning to the productivity that he had in years 4 and 5 than it is some sudden leap.

          • Dec 6, 20135:36 pm
            by Dan Feldman

            “Let’s look at every year for Stuckey in terms of PER:
            1st: 13.8
            2nd:14.8
            3rd: 15.6
            4th: 18.4
            5th: 17.6
            6th: 13.0
            7th: 18.4
            I can’t see how anyone could really think that just because the 4th and 7th years happened to be contract years that Stuckey was trying harder or something as a result.”

            I read that, assumed that last sentence was sarcastic and thought, “Nailed it.”

          • Dec 6, 20136:13 pm
            by Max

            This is all hogwash.  If Stuckey’s PER in his 6th year was 17.6 like it was in his 5th then we are not even having this conversation and you guys would have a completely different perception of Stuckey’s narrative.  When you consider that his 6th year was his first on the bench and that he started off the year with injury issues I really don’t know how you can argue that the 6th year was anything other than an anomaly that stands out as his one bad year.  
            To me it just seems obvious that Stuckey improved his first few years before basically plateauing and I’ll leave it at that.  

          • Dec 7, 201312:02 am
            by Gordbrown

            I noted that Stuckey got off to a slow start (as did the rest of the team) in the first year of his contract because of a hold out. He picked that team up and carried him on his back nearly single handedly for a two month stretch that season. You can accuse me of cherry picking, but I just don’t buy that a player who can improve a team all by his lonesome for any stretch of time is having a worse season. That is equally using averaging to cherry pick, when the difference in PER is marginal at best. And how can you not say that Frank didn’t sabotage Stuckey (and the whole team) last season. The evidence (and Mr. Kidd) clearly disagree.

          • Dec 7, 201312:44 am
            by Tim Thielke

            If you’re going to disregard strong vs slow starts to seasons, you should also disregard strong vs slow finishes to season. The fact is that every game counts equally.

            Stuckey gradually improved over his first 5 seasons, except for the contract year in there when he way exceeded expectations. Then, in a role he asked for, he stuck up the joint, not only statistically, but by every eye test imaginable. Now, in another contract year, he looks really good again.

            I’m not saying contract years are the whole story, but it is absurd to act like they are none of it because he has been so much better, on average, in those seasons than in other seasons.

          • Dec 7, 20132:20 am
            by Max

            18.4 is not so much better than 17.6 and especially when you consider that PER is far from some perfect gauge of how well players perform in general and that Stuckey’s 17.6 season saw him have to adjust to starting at a different position than the three previous seasons with the ball not in his hands as much.  

          • Dec 7, 20132:25 am
            by Max

            Also, you say he stu(n?)(c?)k up the joint in a role he asked for during his sixth season but he asked for that role after he was already struggling and seemed totally exasperated by his role as the starting shooting guard in Frank’ system that stuck him in the corner and took the ball away from him.   Don’t like the way you put it because it makes it seem as if Stuckey asked for the role before he started struggling.  

          • Dec 7, 20135:24 pm
            by Tim Thielke

            So you’re argument is that Stuckey’s very best non-contract year wasn’t that much worse than his worst contract year? Strong case you’re making there.

            Whether his play went to crap before or after his requested move to the bench is kinda irrelevant. You were suggesting that he played poorly because he was adapting to that role. So you are only countering your own point. I was merely saying that, given that he asked for that role, the excuse you’re making for him is very poor.

          • Dec 8, 201312:28 am
            by Max

            No, I am basically saying that the two years are indistinguishable if you’re just using PER because the PER number is close enough that you’d have to look deeper to even say which year was better.  
            And I’m not countering my own point.  He was adapting to a new role regardless of whether he was coming off the bench or not because unlike his first year with Knight when he still had the ball in his hands a bit, during the second year the Pistons fully committed to letting Knight dominate the ball.    He asked to go to the bench to try and counter his poor play because he thought that he come off the bench and play the role he had always played for the Pistons but it didn’t work out that way.   Also, if you read through all of my comments regarding this issue, I’ve raised lots of different points about why he had one bad year in his career.  One bad year does not a pattern make.  

      • Dec 7, 201311:23 am
        by T Casey

        Reply

        One point that bears mentioning is that Stuckey’s 5th and 6th years were spent playing under Lawrene Frank. Arguably the worst nba head coach of the 21st century and a guy who culd barely find time to put his two best players, Monroe and Drummond, on the floor together.
        Of course, that doesn’t rule out the potential that Stuckey plays harder, and thus better, in contract years, but it could explain the dip in play.

  • Dec 5, 201310:25 pm
    by OOtis

    Reply

    It’s been a good fit – it took them twenty games, but they’re figuring it out.  Yes, they’re not exactly playing the Portlands and Golden States of the world, but the defense has improved since Pope was put in the starting lineup.  It’s an unorthodox team, which sometimes makes us all want to use the ‘make them more traditional’ crutch, but it’s fun to watch – something that hasn’t been said in years.

  • Dec 6, 20138:10 am
    by Lethal Leeroy

    Reply

    Lawrence Frank. Amazing that he made millions talking shit. Never played and never able to make players better. Mo  may not be the best head coach, but you see he is teaching someone every night. These guys are playing hard for him at the moment. Stuckey and KCP in their rightful roles, and better use of our bigs lately. Dre is a machine and Josh seemed to stop the shooting for a while (starting to get ugly again). Liked that previous post about combined FG%… and BJ has a point to prove about his PG skills. They are motivated. Well done Mo!

  • Dec 6, 201311:21 am
    by Huddy

    Reply

    The schedule was a little tougher int he beginning of the season as well, which might contribute to the poor numbers prior to KCP getting the start.  Just like Stuckey playing early when the Pistons were working things out, he and Billups faced stiffer competition.  I doubt that would make a dramatic difference, but is probably a factor is the large gap.

  • Dec 6, 201312:00 pm
    by WishuWould

    Reply

    I like the attempt to make the rook stand out and I think for now he is a starter who gets 20 min a game.  He has started for a New York minute, the sample size is small as Nate Robinson, plus the competition.   Stuckey can defend better than him.  Maybe it is not a contract year, maybe he has had crap coaches and players around him the past few…

  • Dec 6, 20133:16 pm
    by Vic

    Reply

    I’ve been saying since before the season started that the Pistons would not reach their potential until KCP was the starting shooting guard. I was really glad to see this happen so early in the season.
     
    You got to give credit to Mo cheeks for being willing to make changes, that’s way better than in the past few years.
    The next good move with to be put Kyle Singler in at SF and let Josh Smith playback up PF off the bench.
    Either that, or Let them all start ceremonially, but only play the big three for four minutes together the game.

  • Dec 7, 20139:16 am
    by Gordbrown

    Reply

    A player who picks up a team and puts them on his back and carries them single-handedly for two months of a season is not “stinking up the joint” by every test imaginable. Yes, lest year was an extremely poor year by any standard, and a lot of Stuckey hate comes from the fact that everyone hoped he would pick up where he left off the previous season and he did not. But last season was also clearly an outlier on multiple levels and there are obvious explanations for that beyond that it wasn’t a contract year.

    • Dec 7, 20135:30 pm
      by Tim Thielke

      Reply

      Which two moths of the season was Stuckey single-handedly carrying the Pistons on his back? There was not a two moth stretch where he was the Pistons best player or where anyone was carrying them to the slightest measure of success (and to “carry” a team, you need some degree of success or else you’re just the one spinning your tires the hardest) last season.

      • Dec 8, 201312:30 am
        by Max

        Reply

        I don’t know about carrying the team on his back.  I wouldn’t say that but Stuckey did have a nice stretch after Knight got dunked on by DeAndre Jordan and had to sit.  

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