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Pistons host Magic


  • Teams: Orlando Magic (12-33) at Detroit Pistons (17-27)
  • Date: January 28, 2014
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD+

What to look for

The Detroit Pistons are hoping to rebound from their four-game skid with a win tonight against the Orlando Magic.  Greg Monroe and company have seen three victories in the past 10 games and what’s more, the team is in danger of losing ground in the playoff race.

That makes tonight’s contest against the Magic a fairly important one. Detroit needs a win in the worst way, and Orlando owns the second-worst record in the sport. Don’t let that fool into you into thinking the contest is a layup though.

The Magic are fairly young and figuring things out, but they still have some talent. This was on full display December 27 when they hosted the Pistons and blew them out.

The Magic essentially obtained whatever shot they wanted against a porous Detroit interior defense that yielded 58 points in the paint. In addition, Arron Afflalo pretty much looked like Kobe Bryant in that game by virtue of the way he attacked the Detroit guards with his low-post game.

He tortured them with jumpers on his way to 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting. Orlando scored 109 points on 52.9 percent field-goal shooting.

On the other side of things, the Pistons were downright awful. They shot 41.1 percent from the field and only hit 9-of-18 free throws. Josh Smith was particularly dreadful as evidenced by his 2-for-13 shooting line.

The offensive numbers were simply ugly from Detroit’s standpoint. Luckily, one struggles to believe that very same performance will reproduce itself. The frontline missed an unusually large amount of shots at the rim, which suggests their scoring output will more than likely be better.

On another note, Tobias Haris and Nic Vucevic might not be household names, but they will certainly give Smith and Andre Drummond everything they can handle. They come with loads of potential and more importantly, actual production.

Expect a back-and-forth game where the outcome is decided late in the fourth quarter unlike the previous matchup.

Read about the Magic

Magic Basketball.


  • Jan 28, 20146:44 pm
    by JYD for Life


    Trade Stuckey, CV and Bynum for Nelson/Afflalo/Davis – move Jennings and KCP to the bench and have Davis backup Drummond and Monroe.  
    Not great, but gets us in the playoffs.  A second unit of Davis, Singler, KCP and Jennings would be interesting. Afflalo and Nelson could stabilize the mess we have with the “Big 3.”   Davis and Nelson only have one more year on their respective deals. 

  • Jan 28, 20146:52 pm
    by gmehl


    Here’s my predictions for this game:
    1) If Jennings scores 20+ in this game then there’s a high chance that we lose.
    2) If we lose this game to an undermanned Magic then it is probably a good indication that we’re tanking.
    3) I think you’ll see a more engaged/invigorated Drummond tonight. 
    4) Losing this game wouldn’t be the end of the world. Bring on Dante Exum and build around a core of him, Drummond and KCP and ship out the rest. I’m 50/50 on Monroe but if he can keep on improving his jumper like he has of late (yes moose i’ve noticed) then I could be swayed.

    • Jan 28, 20147:24 pm
      by oats


      I’m not entirely sold on Exum as a PG. His passing numbers that I’ve seen look kind of iffy, and he can’t shoot the 3. I’ve also heard it said that he can play SG, and often when they say that about PG prospects it means the guy probably should play SG. I’ve kind of got him in the same boat as Smart. If they draft him the team should try to make him a PG, but they should be prepared for the likelihood that he might be a SG. That’s fine by me though. KCP might not be a starting SG, or maybe he bulks up enough to play the 3. It is still an opportunity to seriously upgrade the team’s talent at least.

  • Jan 28, 20147:41 pm
    by frankie d


    Exum is not a PG.  
    He is a gerald green type athlete who handles the ball well but he is not a PG.
    Same syndrome as happened with stuckey.  Stuckey is an excellent ballhandler so some think he can be a PG.  He just does not think like one.
    Similarly, exum is a spectacular athlete with a great handle but he is always…always looking for his shot.  Makes stuckey look like steve nash. 
    Saw him here at the nike hoop summit and he is a special athlete.  He is just not a PG.

    • Jan 28, 20148:12 pm
      by oats


      No offense, but I only put so much weight in what amounts to a single All Star game. Exum is probably the best scoring option for his usual team, and that suggests he is probably right to shoot a lot for them. Given the fact that he doesn’t get a lot of time to get familiar with his teammates in that game, it does make sense for him to stick with being a shooter in that kind of scenario. What you saw does match what I’ve seen of his stats, but let’s not pretend like every quality PG really displayed that skill set before going pro. Look up the passing number on Curry, Westbrook, or even Rondo for that matter. It’s just too early to say he isn’t a PG.

    • Jan 28, 20148:21 pm
      by Keith


      I disagree on him not being a PG. I see him as a Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook type PG, but that’s still a PG. You seem to ignore the fact that most all of the top PGs in the league score a whole lot (even CP3 is a a 20 ppg scorer). Shooting, even shooting a lot, doesn’t preclude you from playing PG. Given the paucity of other options on most bad teams, a scoring PG is ideal.
      Don’t confuse Jennings’ terrible efficiency with the idea that a PG shouldn’t take shots. I’ll take Irving, Curry, Rose, or Westbrook type production all day. You don’t really think a guy with elite shot creating ability and the skill to actually make shots is a bad thing, do you? 

      • Jan 28, 20148:39 pm
        by gmehl


        Actually a good comparison for Exum is Penny Hardaway pre-injury or a really explosive Shaun Livingston also pre-injury. I guess the scary thing after writing that is that both player comparisons had career defining injuries. I’ve seen a lot of this kid outside of of the hoop summit and yes he is a scoring PG but an incredible one at that. He’s a high character kid too if that means anything to anybody that cares.

        • Jan 28, 20148:48 pm
          by oats


          Hardaway and Livingston were really different players, so that isn’t exactly the most useful description other than him being big. Livingston was almost closer to a Rubio style PG than a scoring guy like Hardaway.

          • Jan 28, 20149:11 pm
            by gmehl

            I’ve seen him play live in Australia and the first thing I thought of when I saw him was Penny Hardaway. Yes the Livingston comparison was mainly due to his physique but having said that Exum is not as skinny as what Livingston was especially in the legs. The way this kid gets to hoop is unbelievable and he finishes in so many different ways with everything from floaters to baby hooks. He uses the backboard much like what Tim Duncan does which is something you don’t appreciate until you see live.

          • Jan 28, 20149:12 pm
            by JYD for Life

            Guys – aren’t you skeptical of drafting another foreign guy?  
            I get with the amount of information out there, teams are a little more sophisticated in making decisions.  However, the level of competition just isn’t there in those leagues.  
            I’d take Exum late in the lottery and maybe not even until late in the first round. 
            Perhaps I’ll eat my words, but I seem to remember reading analysis last year from ESPN’s experts saying that “Dennis Schroeder reminds me of Rajon Rondo.”  

          • Jan 28, 20149:21 pm
            by Huddy

            Schroeder is 20 and plays behind a quality point guard in Teague  and combo guard in Williams has he already been proven a dud for some reason?  He was a mid first round pick in a weak draft…how is he comparable to Exum?  Just because he is foreign?  There are hardly enough American players that pan out how their draft profiles say to show that we should trust them much more than foreign scouting.

          • Jan 28, 20149:41 pm
            by frankie d

            when i saw him play, he was extremely impressive.  actually, more impressive than wiggins, who was the big star of the game.
            i would certainly draft the kid,  i just wouldn’t look at him as a point guard.  he reminds me of a bigger, even more athletic westbrook, more than any other player.  but he has that same sort of attitude that westbrook has…an attitude that says i can get my shot any time i want to get my shot, and no one can defend me and stop me from getting my shot.
            and, like westbrook, passing and running the offense is often an afterthought.
            sure, it is not fair to judge any kid on a high school all star game, but you can see certain things about a kid’s game, even in that setting.  
            and what i saw of exum was that he was a tier one athlete, with a very good handle, who needed to work on his jumper.  and he really didn’t see the floor that well, once he got his eye on the basket.  in that respect, he reminds me of stuckey.  just like stuckey, he seemed intent on getting his shot, with a certain type of tunnel vision, once he decided that he could get it against a certain defender.  
            again, i’d draft him.  definitely before i’d draft smart, who i think is going to be a slightly above average nba player, while exum has a real chance to be an all star.   but i would look at him as a SG or a 6th man, and definitely not a PG.  
            we have been through that with stuckey, already.

          • Jan 28, 20149:47 pm
            by oats

            @ JYD. No, I’m not afraid of taking foreigners. How often are foreigners drafted way too high anymore? Obviously Bargnani was, but how many are there since then? I guess it’s Vesely at 6 and Biyombo at 7 in a really bad draft. Biyombo is probably a talented enough player to have been worth that gamble even if he hasn’t really developed into the kind of player they were hoping to get. Vesely was a big miss though. Yi Jianlian was a disaster as well. Valanciunas, Rubio, and Gallinari were hits. That’s all foreigners in the top 8 of the draft.
            I think the hit rate on foreigners comparative to the where they are drafted is pretty much the same as the rate for Amercians at this point. Seriously, 50% on picks 5-8 is about right. As of now I’d say that’s what we did with American picks from 2006-2012, and that’s counting Knight at 8 as a good pick. The only foreigner to go in the top 4 has been a bust, but it’s not like every American taken first over all is a success either. It seems to me like they’ve gotten a pretty good handle on where these guys should get ranked, and if the consensus is that he’s a top 6 pick then chances are decent that he belongs in the top 6.
            For all that talk about Schroeder, he was ranked outside of the lottery on most draft boards and was taken 17th in a pretty weak draft. He’s barely played, but he looks athletic enough to have been worth taking a gamble on him at 17. He hasn’t shown much reason to expect him to become that good of a player, but that’s hardly unusual for the 17th pick. I mean, he’s done more to have faith in him than Avery Bradley had by the midpoint of his first year, and Bradley was the 19th pick in the draft. Maybe he figures it out and maybe he doesn’t, but I don’t think Schroeder was drafted that far off from where he belonged.

          • Jan 28, 20149:52 pm
            by frankie d

            No worries about exum as a foriegn guy.  He will be an espn darling when he gets to the nba because of his athleticism.  Very unique athlete who just needs to sharpen some BB skills.

          • Jan 28, 20149:52 pm
            by JYD for Life

            Huddy – I didn’t compare Exum to Schroeder.  I was simply pointing out that the analysis of these guys is typically far from accurate.  Had nothing to do with the actual players.  
            It’s not even about the scouting.  He might look amazing.  It’s more about his competition.  
            Re: Schroeder – let’s revisit this conversation in three years and see where your boy Dennis is. My guess is playing as the MVP of a league overseas and still tearing up the US during FIBA matchups.   

          • Jan 28, 201410:02 pm
            by JYD for Life

            Oats & Frankie – didn’t you just prove my point about why he wouldn’t be a fit for the Pistons?  
            “He needs to sharpen some BB skills” is hardly a guy I want in the lottery.  Draftable and possibly a solid player, yes, but it would be tough to use a top 8 pick on a guy  like that.  That’s just me being cautious though.  
            Rubio was again a ton of hype.  He’s not great (injury aside).  Fun to watch, yes, but undersized and can’t shoot.  I don’t see how even adding him to this current roster does much.  
            I’m not against it, but where this team is at, I would hope that if we end up keeping the pick this year, they use it on a sure thing. 

          • Jan 28, 201410:05 pm
            by oats

            @ frankie d. I think it’s far too early to make that call on Exum. If I was asked if Derrick Rose could play the point from what he did at the Hoops Summit and I’d have said no. He scored 8 points and only had 3 assists. You know who looked like a PG? Johnny Flynn with his 2 points, 10 assists, and 2 turnovers. I’d have told you that Flynn was the best passer on the court that day. The best player amongst the US team was OJ Mayo, followed by either Kevin Love or Jerryd Bayless. I think you are putting too much stock into that game if you think he’s definitely not a PG because of it.
            As for Smart, I think he’ll be good too. I think he will get to the rim at will, get to the line frequently, and be a great defender. That’s basically Tyreke Evans if he was an elite defender, and that’s one heck of a player. Like with Exum, I also think it’s too early to rule out the possibility of him becoming a PG. He’s averaging 4.4 assists and 2.6 turnovers a game as a sophomore. Rusell Westbrook averaged 4.3 assists and 2.5 turnovers a game as a sophomore. Heck, Rondo put up 4.9 assists and 2.3 turnovers a game as a sophomore and is now one of the best passers in the NBA. Just because Stuckey couldn’t make the transition doesn’t mean the Pistons should never try it again.

          • Jan 28, 201410:18 pm
            by gmehl

            Just addressing your guys worry about Exum being a foreigner I think the situation is blown way out proportion. I’m not sure if you guys know but Dante Exum’s father just like Kyrie Irving’s played there professional basketball in Australia. Not that it matters but both fathers are of African American decent and it just so happens that both boys are born in Australia and hold dual citizenship. Exum is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) which is renowned for producing the likes of players like Andrew Bogut (Warriors), Patty Mills (Spurs), Aron Baynes (Spurs) and Matthew Dellavadova (Cavs) just to name a few. Back in the 80s boom there was an influx of really good American import players coming to Australia and most of them settled down to live here and as you can imagine there sons are growing up to be really good basketball players to and Irving and Exum just so happen to be the cream of the crop atm with a few more on the way. Oh as final bullet point to my spiel Exum’s dad Cecil Exum played alongside Michael Jordan at North Carolina when they won the championship against Georgetown so I’m hoping and praying that we keep our draft pick and it doesn’t go to the Bobcats/Hornets cause you just know MJ would be salivating over a Kemba Walker/Dante Exum back court.

          • Jan 28, 201410:25 pm
            by oats

            @ JYD. No, I made the opposite point. You argued that foreigners are more dangerous picks than Americans, and they really aren’t. Yeah, Rubio isn’t a great player, although you neglected to mention that he’s one of the better defensive PGs in the league. I gave the Americans credit for guys like Brandon Knight at 8, Jeff Green at 5, Eric Gordon at 7, and Harrison Barnes at 7. Those guys are all pretty average players too, but they counted for getting the Americans up to that 50% number. Doing it with foreigners in the same range is just par for the course.
            Maybe Exum needing to sharpen his skills doesn’t sound great, but that’s true of virtually every draft pick. Other than Parker and maybe Randle, who actually looks NBA ready to you? Maybe Doug McDermott who has pretty much tapped out his potential and looks like he might just be a role player off the bench? I guess there is Rodney Hood and Gary Harris, both of whom project as just 3 and D guys. Would you really take someone that limited over a much better talent like Andrew Wiggins because Wiggins also really needs to refine his skills? I mean, Anthony Davis needed to sharpen his skills when he came into the league for crying out loud. That’s just the nature of the draft.

          • Jan 29, 201412:33 am
            by JYD for Life

            Oats and all – I’m glad someone brought this up because it’s been a pretty productive conversation.  
            Yes, all rookies need to “sharpen their skills” once the reach the next level, so I’m sorry if that sounded like an insult.  It just kind of made me laugh because there’s always draft analysis for Shooting Guards who “need to work on his shooting,” and that reminded me of those clips.  Those just aren’t guys I want to take in the top 10.  
            As for NBA-ready guys, I think you can look to a few things that usually translate well:  a) other-worldly talent and b) guys with sound fundamentals c) guys from solid systems/programs d) certain skill sets (ex. Faried led his conference in rebounding, Reddick was a light’s out shooter, etc).  Lillard was good last year, but not an All-Star, same with Curry, Westbrook, etc.  I’m just thinking about the core we have and adding another guy who is one-two years away might not be the best idea.  
            If the team is reshaping with Drummond as an important piece, my first thought is to keep him happy.  One could assume that he was unhappy last year with his minutes early on and then possibly frustrated with Frank by the end of the season (it seems like most of the guys were, as was everyone in Brooklyn this year – the guy is tough to deal with).  He’s had a few moments of frustration with Cheeks this year.  Chalk those up to growing pains, but there has been a dysfunctional environment now for two years of his career.  With an extension looming, we don’t need to make everything about him, but it might be prudent to stabilize his surroundings a bit.  That’s why I’m not against pushing for the playoffs, getting him some national exposure and showing the franchise is headed in a positive direction.  Yes, we technically have control over him, but there needs to be a reason other than the additional year we can offer for him to stay in Detroit.    
            That being said, there are a handful of players who could potentially mesh with the foundation of the Pistons (Drummond, Monroe or Smith, KCP and maybe Jennings).  This is contingent on what is done with the roster between now and the draft.   
            - Parker, Randle and Wiggins could contribute and impact a team in the league today.  No question.  Parker and Wiggins should be 1 & 2 in the draft and I’m not sure in which order. 
            I’d be fine with any of them, but would most likely ship Randle to upgrade and win now because he doesn’t necessarily project to be better than what we currently have (although if we’re still building for three years, then yes, let Monroe walk and take Randle).  
            - Embiid is intriguing, but I think he is a year or two away from being an impact player.  With Monroe or Smith and Drummond (or all three) still on the roster, I just wouldn’t want to take him even if he’s the best player available.  But now you’ve got me thinking that maybe you do, because you can never have enough size and most of what I’ve read about him has him projecting because he is one of the few centers actually available this year.
            - Others who will be nice pieces, but nothing that we couldn’t find via free agency or trade – Smart, Hood, Harris, Ennis, Exum, McDermott, Glen Robinson and James Young are on my short list.  Those guys are fine, but nothing that I would delay the growth of our current core for.  Also keeping in mind that with Smart, Ennis, Exum or any other PG, you have to find a taker for Jennings.  You don’t want him around a rookie PG.    
            There are risks associated with drafting in the “lottery” and that’s why it is a gamble.  Given where we are at (a mess, yes, largely because of the Smith/Jennings acquisitions), I don’t feel strongly that adding another rookie is the best thing for this team.
            So much of a player’s success also hinges on the team he ends up with.  We can all say that Kawhi Leonard was an awesome pick for San Antonio.  However, had Toronto selected him ten slots ahead of where he went, would he have turned out as solid as he is (which is a really good player, but not a franchise guy)?  
            This is just my take…I’m sure Saric and Exum will be just fine, but I wouldn’t sacrifice a trip to the playoffs for them or most of this draft crop.  
            The Pistons won tonight, so maybe we’re wasting our energy!  (half-joking).  
            Good night!  

          • Jan 29, 20142:21 am
            by oats

            @ JYD. Ok, that is a different argument altogether, and one I find easier to buy into. Not wanting to tank is one thing, but being afraid of a foreign player is another. I happen to think Exum’s speed gives him an NBA ready skill set at least, and he might be there defensively too, he just needs to add more than that one before he’s a legitimately good payer. That said, on to the actual point.
            It’s not just the extra year that keeps Drummond in town. It’s the fact that he literally can not sign somewhere else and just go there. Detroit can match any offer on him and he stays in Detroit. The best way to keep him happy is to be legitimately good when he actually has the power to leave. It won’t be until at least his 3rd year of his next deal before has enough leverage to force his way out, so we’re talking the 5th year after this one. In short, I just don’t think making the playoffs this year instead of tanking really makes much of a difference in Detroit’s ability to keep him. I think having a good team at that time will be the bigger factor, and I still think that getting into the lottery is the best way to do that. So yes, I’m still looking at as building for 3 years away or more because that’s when I start worrying about how happy Drummond is.
            As for your guys that you like, yeah the Pistons could get something similar in free agency or via trade, but at a much higher cost to the team in terms of salary and what needs to be given up. I mean, I’d rather get that guy in free agency and the draft pick than just the free agent. Not to mention the rookie will almost certainly be younger and more likely to have his career peak at around the same time as Drummond as whoever is brought in through free agency or trade.
            I really don’t see making the playoffs this year as that important for developmental purposes. I don’t think it makes much of a difference if they do it this year or next. I guess it would be good for Drummond’s confidence if he had a big playoff game or two, but I think he’s going to get more out of participating in the pool of players in consideration for the Olympics. He’s already on the short list of the best American basketball players, so I don’t think he is really that desperate for a confidence boost right now. I mean, is a couple good playoff games at 20 that much more important than doing it for the first time at 21? I don’t see it, and that’s the only possible benefit I see for developmental reasons.
            It is sacrificing a little bit of money from playoff games and it might annoy the fans to lose again, but any fan that hasn’t been driven away yet is unlikely to be going anywhere. Most fans are savvy enough to understand tanking anyways, and you can always get them back whenever the team gets better. I think from a purely basketball standpoint that tanking is the better outcome. From a fan outlook it’s obviously not so simple. It’s not fun rooting for losses, so I get hoping for the playoff spot even if I’m not doing it myself.

          • Jan 29, 20149:17 am
            by JYD for Life

            @Oats – It’s not really a different argument because they all tie in directly to the Pistons possibly looking at Exum.  
            I’m more skeptical of drafting a foreign guy in the lottery in general, but not entirely against it given the draft class, shape of the current roster, direction of the team, etc.  It worked really well for Milwaukee this year.   I’m skeptical because of the level of competition they are facing and the culture shock/adjustment to moving can make for a less than desirable transition in life, let alone life in the NBA.  A lot of guys are just fine, but some struggle and it’s only human.    
            As it relates to the Pistons drafting this year (which will be in the lottery if they keep their pick), I’m even more hesitant to take a foreign player because of those additional question marks and the direction of the team.  But that’s just my take on it and I’ve enjoyed seeing the responses as to why others would go a different route.
            The Drummond thing is touchy…Isn’t it entirely up to player on the rookie contract whether he wants to shop for an offer sheet after the 4th year as a restricted FA or just sign the qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent after the 5th?  With that in mind, he needs to be happy going into the fourth year so that he wants to sign an extension (which would keep him until after his 7th year in the league).  
            I could be wrong, but I think that’s how the rookie deals are structured.  If I’m off on that, then yes, we don’t need to worry for another two years and could take on less of a sure thing and there would be less urgency to make the Playoffs.       

          • Jan 29, 20149:37 am
            by Tim Thielke

            “Isn’t it entirely up to player on the rookie contract whether he wants to shop for an offer sheet after the 4th year as a restricted FA or just sign the qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent after the 5th? ”

            It is, but players almost never sign a QO. I can’t think of the last time anyone did. QOs tend to vastly underpay them. The player has to really want out to take a major financial hit like that.

          • Jan 29, 201410:48 am
            by Huddy

            @Jyd I don’t really need to revisit the Schroeder thing.  I’m not a huge fan of his I just thinks he’s a weird example for your point since he hasn’t even had a chance to be a draft bust.  Why not Bargnani or Vessely( although Oats already pointed out how those examples arent much worse than American draft busts). People compared Shabazz to Harden…he’s American and not harden…does that make American scouting bad?  The NCAA is not incredibly more talented than foreign professional leagues.  College basketball is full of players who will never play professionally.  In a good draft there are a couple of star players and maybe 10 or so average ones.  It’s not like college guys are playing against NBA competition night in and night out.  Scouts are smart enough to find talent even if they aren’t playing NbA pros.  Plenty of guys are successful in the NCAA and are much less successful than lesser college players in the Nba.  Depending on what conference a player is in American players can play against weak competition their whole career too.

      • Jan 28, 20148:40 pm
        by oats


        The difference between a Westbrook and an Evans is awfully small, and it’s pretty hard to tell which side of the line any specific player will fall on. That might be even more true with a guy who is as hard to find stuff on as Exum. I really don’t know if Exum will be a PG or not, but he looks like a talented player and I wouldn’t complain about getting him either way. Like I said above, I’d give him a chance at PG, but I’d be prepared to move him to SG if it doesn’t work out.

  • Jan 28, 20148:13 pm
    by Keith


    Tank, tank, tank!

  • Jan 28, 201410:07 pm
    by I HATE LOSING (Predicting a Strong Finish)


    I’ll admit I was wrong about Shabazz…but I was very Right about Porter so far,,,
    Also I was Right about Giannis, Michael Carter Williams…
    Exum first step is the most explosive i’ve seen in along time, that is going to give him alot of easy baskets…

  • Jan 28, 201410:12 pm
    by I HATE LOSING (Predicting a Strong Finish)


    it was just Orlando but Cheeks rotations looked good

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