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Archive → February, 2014

Pistons should tank and tank hard

Me at the Detroit Free Press:

At 23-35, the Pistons are 3.5 games out of playoff position, 1.5 games ahead of the NBA’s eighth-worst record and two games ahead of the league’s seventh-worst record.

The Pistons could settle for the NBA’s eighth-worst record and an 82.4% chance of keeping their pick after the lottery. But the seventh-worst record would go much further, upping those odds to 98.1%.

Neither trying to make the playoffs nor tanking successfully will be easy, but tanking is more likely to work.

The eighth-place Atlanta Hawks are on pace to win 37 games. To match that, the Pistons must finish 14-10. Detroit hasn’t had a 24-game streak that strong since 2008-09.

I’m not against the Pistons making the playoffs, even though I believe keeping the pick would be more beneficial to their future. You can’t always look to the future, though.

After four years in the lottery, a postseason berth justifies itself.

But I just don’t believe that the Pistons will make the playoffs, and finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference carries no more satisfaction than finishing 11th. It would just mean losing a valuable asset.

I often hear a few common oppositions to tanking:

1. The Pistons need veterans, not another young player. They’re already too young.

I guess Warren Buffett is too rich, Beyonce too attractive and Terence Tao too smart.

Being young is not a problem. It’s a strength. And it’s not as if getting a higher pick will stop the Pistons from signing a decent veteran with their cap space this summer.

But know how teams like Detroit get really valuable veterans? Drafting them. Seventeen of this season’s 25 All-Stars are playing for their first team.

2. If the Pistons keep their pick this year, they could send Charlotte an even more valuable selection later. The pick is only top-one protected in 2015 and unprotected in 2016.

I’ll take that chance.

With Drummond (20), Monroe (23), Brandon Jennings (24), Kyle Singler (25), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (20) and even Josh Smith (28) forming the Pistons’ core, substantial internal improvements already are likely. Because the Pistons would know they’ll almost certainly lose the pick next year, they’d also focus on building for the present — making a surge forward in 2014-15 even more likely.

3. Tanking isn’t guaranteed to work. Even the NBA’s worst team gets only a 25% chance at the top pick, and draft picks bust all the time.

Show me a plan that is guaranteed to work, and I’ll support that one instead.

The Pistons don’t need the No. 1 pick to justify tanking. They just need a top-eight pick, allowing them to get one more talented rookie before the players already on the roster improve to the point that picking so high is impossible.

Speaking of the players, this should have nothing to do with them.

The decision to tank should come from the top, owner Tom Gores. Gores can bypass team president Joe Dumars, an apparent lame duck who historically has opposed tanking, and address coach John Loyer directly. The coach doesn’t have to like it, but if his boss wants it, Loyer must execute the plan.

The players, though, should always be called upon to play their hardest. Their effort and development should not suffer.

Should Pistons buy out Charlie Villanueva?

For the Charlie Villanueva to be eligible for another team’s playoff roster – the whole point of these buyouts – the Pistons must waive him by the end of the day Saturday.

Villanueva, for his part, said he’s interested in a buyout. Via David Mayo of MLive:

“I want to play.  If it’s not here, then I’m still young, I’ve still got a lot of years of playing left.  I just want to play,” he said.

“It’s hard because I love this game, I’m very passionate about this game, so it’s hard not to let my frustration out,” he said.  “But you’ve just got to come to grips with it.  They made their decision.  It is what it is.  So there’s nothing I can do about it.  There’s nothing I can do about it.  It doesn’t matter what I do in practice.  It doesn’t matter what kind of work I put in.  It doesn’t matter.”

At this point, I don’t care whether or not the Pistons buy out Villanueva. He’s remained generally patient through these five years, the prime of his career washed away as now four coaches have marginalized him. If he wants to try to land a playing job with a different team, the Pistons should have the decency to consider letting him.

Of course, Villanueva is culpable in his own demise. He’s a score-only player who sometimes seems more concerned with whether he looks fluid rather than whether he’s productive. Each offseason, he hypes his renewed dedication. Each season, the results underwhelm.

There’s no guarantee Villanueva would get picked up, but that risk should be his to take — if he and the Pistons reach a suitable settlement. Villanueva will surely have to return some money in exchange for his freedom, and the Pistons should assess the market to avoid Villanueva going to a team competing with Detroit for a playoff berth (no matter how slim the Pistons’ chances are).*

*Unless the Pistons are tanking. Then maybe they should want Villanueva to join an Eastern Conference playoff contender. Then again, maybe Villanueva would sabotage that team. In that case, they should buy him out if they think he’ll sign with a competing team.

This is just getting too complicated. Buy him out if the money is right. Don’t worry about where he goes.

Finally, not to dig up the past — aw, heck, I’m totally going to dig up the past. The Pistons should have amnestied this guy when they had the chance. Really, they should have amnestied Ben Gordon, but they were too cheap or foolish or some combination of the two to do that. But amnestying Villanueva would have been better than amnestying neither.

Getting ridding of him now won’t undo that mistake. The Pistons can no longer trade him. There’s no indication they’ll play him. They almost certainly won’t re-sign him.

Like I said, I don’t care whether or not they buy him out. The Pistons’ and Villanueva’s long overdo separation will happen soon enough, either way.

Like Pistons’ playoff hopes, Josh Smith dissappears in loss to Spurs

Detroit Pistons 110 Final
Recap | Box Score
120 San Antonio Spurs
Greg Monroe, PF 31 MIN | 3-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -10

Monroe played mostly meekly, typically unable to establish good post position or beat Spurs for rebounds. But Monroe wasn’t completely passive. When he challenged San Antonio, he found success. If only he did that more often tonight. In a twist, Monroe asserted himself much more defensively, using his quick hands to get a few steals.

Josh Smith, SF 43 MIN | 10-19 FG | 2-4 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 24 PTS | -18

Smith was EVERYWHERE early. Early in the second quarter, Smith’s line was: 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting, five rebounds, five assists, two steals, one turnover. After that: four points on 2-of-8 shooting, one rebound, zero assists zero steals, two turnovers. To start the contest, Smith fearlessly sought to impact the game on both ends – and he did. Turns out you can’t rely on Smith when he’s unafraid to take jumpers and gamble defensively.

Kyle Singler, SF 34 MIN | 7-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -8

Singler cut well to get a couple baskets, and he also made a couple jumpers off a single dribble. He’s a real master of creating room to shoot. Still playing shooting guard, Singler had trouble defending the Spurs quicker guards.

Andre Drummond, C 40 MIN | 7-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 17 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | -11

Drummond wasn’t quite as good as his numbers, yielding a couple hustle plays to the Spurs. But his ability to get putbacks is so darn valuable. I really don’t think enough people understand how important that skill is. Drummond, often singlehandedly, turns a bad offensive possession into a good one. On the other end, he prevents opponents from doing the same.

Brandon Jennings, PG 13 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | -13

Jennings didn’t play in the second half due to a sore toe. Before leaving the game, he took a backseat to Smith and didn’t do much when behind the wheel himself.

Jonas Jerebko, PF 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3

Jerebko played the last few minutes of the third quarter, and though he showed good defensive energy, he looked a little lost.

Tony Mitchell, PF 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +3

Played the final 46 seconds and did nothing

Luigi Datome, SF 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +3

Played the final 46 seconds and did nothing

Peyton Siva, PG 1 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +3

On the Pistons’ final possession, Siva pushed the ball upcourt and made a 3-pointer. That ought to be good for his confidence.

Will Bynum, PG 31 MIN | 9-18 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 9 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 18 PTS | +3

Starting the second half for Jennings, Bynum wasn’t shy about getting his own offense. He was more effective than not, but not overly so. Offensively and defensively, Bynum played at his usual levels, just with more volume.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 11 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +4

A corner 3, a mid-range jumper off the dribble and impressive defensive effort – Caldwell-Pope excelled in his first-half run. In the second half, he did little more than miss a few shots.

Rodney Stuckey, SG 31 MIN | 6-13 FG | 5-5 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 17 PTS | -3

Contract-Year Rodney Stuckey hunted his own shot in the first half, but he scored efficiently, so I didn’t mind. Asked to initiate the offense a bit more in the second half without Jennings, Stuckey was a bit shakier.

John Loyer

The Pistons’ rotation players gave up down 13 points in the final two minutes. Did Loyer empty the bench to send a message?

Road game in San Antonio

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (23-34) at San Antonio Spurs (40-16)
  • Date: February 26, 2014
  • Time: 8:30 p.m.
  • Television: FS Detroit Plus

What to look for

The San Antonio Spurs are one of the best teams in the league because of their talent coupled with their coaching staff. Gregg Popovich continues to “cheat the system” that is called the 82-game regular season.

The Spurs rest starters throughout the campaign by having them miss games or simply resting during large portions of any given contest. This was on full display when San Antonio and the Detroit Pistons met a few weeks ago.

Tony Parker and Tim Duncan played a combined 43 minutes on their way to a loss. Despite the low-minute count for their top players, the Spurs still produced 100 points on 52.4 percent shooting.

San Antonio continues to be arguably the most diverse offense in the league because they rely on movement more than the average NBA team. The Spurs will go to isolations every now and then, but that is mostly by design.

For the most part, every look they obtain is the product of screens, floor spacing, drive and kicks and pick-and-rolls. And even when those “fail”, they will go to post-ups for easy scores or to attract double teams.

The Spurs are fascinating from this standpoint because they can seemingly plug just about any player in their system and score at a high clip. The secret to their formula is so simple that it sounds silly to be honest: Players get open shots from spots where they are proficient at making them.

Even though Popovich’s star players have missed a few games here and there, the Spurs still boast a top-10 offense because of their motion offense. Tonight’s contest might be a tad different in comparison to the last head-to-head matchup between the teams.

San Antonio hasn’t played since last Friday and as a result, the coaching staff might be inclined to ride their starters a little more tonight, especially at home. Detroit will have to play at a high level tonight to ensure they have a chance to steal the game late.

Read about the Spurs

48 Minutes of Hell

Metta World Peace to the Pistons?

The artist formally known as Ron Artest appears to have some time on his hands after being bought out by the New York Knicks earlier this month. As for that tweet? It suggests, well, I really don’t know? Is World Peace talking about places he’d like to play? Is he bringing up teams who are solid? Or is it just Metta World Peace being Metta World Peace?

If I were a betting man, its all World Peace blabbering and not a whole lot of substance. Prior to his departure from New York, he was in the midst of his worst season and if you can’t play for the Knicks, what does that say about your value overall?

Chances are World Peace ends up signing with someone in time to be active in the playoffs, but that team most definitely won’t be Detroit. That’s not even based on his history in Detroit with the Malice at the Palace, it’s based on him being a bad basketball player.

It’s also worth noting the tweet prior to the one above:

Maybe he was just talking about who could win the title — and maybe he thinks the Pistons are a sleeper because he’s World Peace.

But just for fun, imagine having Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith and World Peace on the court simultaneously. The shot selection would unbelievably horrible — almost as bad as, say, World Peace, J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton.

3-on-3: Digging for improvement with the Pistons

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. The Pistons aren’t doing a whole lot well right now, but if you had to pinpoint something they’ve done well lately, what would it be?

Brady Fredericksen, PistonPowered: Limiting and forcing turnovers. If there’s one thing this team does relatively well, it’s forcing turnovers. They’re third in the NBA in steals with 8.8 per game, and that kind of defense is what fuels an offense. When the Pistons are forcing turnovers and getting out on the break, they’re a relatively effective offense — unlike when they dribble 10,000 times and isolate every trip down court. Brandon Jennings has also done a great job taking care of the ball under John Loyer. Since Loyer took over seven games ago, Jennings has turned the ball over just seven times.

Jameson Draper, PistonPowered: Staying tough all game. It sounds dumb, but that’s really the truth. The Pistons early on in the season consistently collapsed late in games. Now, it’s arguable that they’re a team that plays better later in games.

Sean Corp, Detroit Bad Boys: Sadly, this is still a really hard question to answer. When the biggest issues are so glaring (poor team defense, horrible fourth quarters, inexplicable player rotations) it’s hard to find the silver lining. The best I can offer is that if we’re defining “lately” as the post-Maurice Cheeks era then I would say that the emergence of Will Bynum and Kyle Singler as reliable options on the offensive end has been a pleasant development. Unfortunately, of course, everything they give you on offense they give back on defense, but we’ll try and focus on the positives for now. Singer is up to 46 percent from 3-point range under Loyer, and the coach does seem to be doing some things schematically so that Singler gets open looks from deep. Bynum, likewise, has been hovering around the 50 percent mark shooting and has been a willing passer. His emergence has enabled Detroit to not be so shy about not putting the game in the hands of Jennings, who has really struggled to be effective late in games all season.

2. With the ever-shuffling playoff picture in the East, what should the Pistons focus on as they press through the final quarter of the season?

Brady Fredericksen, PistonPowered: Trying to make chicken salad out of chicken, well, you know. This is an imperfect team in an imperfect place with an imperfect goal. They can make the playoffs — and they’re probably still focused on that — but if they’re going to focus on anything in particular, figuring out how salvageable the big lineup of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith is may be first. I know, it’s been a trainwreck so far this season, but the Pistons are stuck with the pieces they’ve got, so why not try different combinations to see what the best result is between those three guys.

Jameson Draper, PistonPowered: Sigh, tanking. After being swept by Charlotte, myself and I’m sure a lot of Pistons fans out there lost hope in the season. They keep losing, and although the picture for the playoffs continues to shuffle, the Pistons’ chances seem to get slimmer and slimmer with each passing day. Just let this bad season ride out and get a better pick in the draft. Plus, that will for sure be the end of Joe Dumars. From here on out, losing more is winning more.

Sean Corp, Detroit Bad Boys: If I was in charge I would be shifting focus to giving the young players time on the floor. Even if it’s just 10-15 minutes per night, giving Peyton Siva time to run the offense and Tony Mitchell the chance to fill Jonas Jerebko‘s limited backup power forward role could be invaluable going forward. Learn by doing and all that. I’d also like to see if Luigi Datome could ever start consistently hitting shots now that the team is actually able to run plays to give guys open looks. But, of course, there is no indication the team is doing anything other than fighting tooth and nail for that final playoff spot. The playoff rotation has gotten shorter, not longer and the “big 3″ of Drummond, Monroe and Smith are still playing 16+ minutes on the floor together on a nightly basis. So with that in mind, it is imperative that the team develop a late-game rotation and a set of plays that offer quality looks. The defense is in shambles and there is no time to shore that up in the final 20 games. But the team has been effective on offense sporadically all season but will eventually and inevitably collapse. Preventing those collapses is the only way the team will turn some of those losses into wins.

3. There is a lot to choose from, but what are the Pistons doing worst right now that they need to figure out ASAP?

Brady Fredericksen, PistonPowered: Defend something — anything — reasonably well. These guys are never going to be a fluid, shutdown defense, but they’ve got to keep improving. Early in the season, they were bad defensively anywhere on the court (literally), but they’ve slowly improved. They’re still horrific from outside 15 feet, but if they can get better from the free throw line in, that’ll be huge. This is a team with two above average shot blockers in Smith and Drummond along with an big body in Monroe — they’ve got the potential to make things difficult in the paint. Of course, that also would require the perimeter players to defend well… but hey, if there’s one thing they can figure out soon-ish, it’s protecting the rim.

Jameson Draper, PistonPowered: Uh, win? Is that a legitimate answer?

Sean Corp, Detroit Bad Boys: Easy, avoid the dreaded fourth-quarter collapse; it’s actually gotten worse under Loyer. The Pistons have gotten out-scored by an average of 5.1 points in the fourth quarter under Loyer. That is easily the worst in the NBA as only six teams even get outscored by as many as two points in the same span. For the season, the Pistons are last in the NBA in the fourth quarter, getting outscored by 3.2 points per game. Exactly zero other NBA teams average as much as a two-point fourth-quarter deficit. This team collapses and in spectacular fashion. And in case anyone is wondering, the team actually has a positive point differential for every quarter except the fourth. That truly is where the Pistons go to die. Loyer needs to figure out who deserves to be on the floor in crunch time, and if there name isn’t Drummond, Smith, Monroe or Jennings than hell with it, too bad, put their butts on the bench.

Pistons run out of gas in entertainingly competitive loss to Warriors

Golden State Warriors 104 Final

Recap | Box Score

96 Detroit Pistons
Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 40 MIN | 8-20 FG | 7-9 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 23 PTS | -8Monroe got all the shots he wanted tonight… but he was met with multiple defenders every time. Finishing near the rim has always been an issue for him, and he just played soft near the rim tonight. It’s funny, historically, some of Monroe’s best night’s as a pro came against Andrew Bogut when he was in Milwaukee.

Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 39 MIN | 9-24 FG | 0-3 FT | 11 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | -6We literally saw both versions of Smith — Josh the Distributor and Josh the Clanker of Jumpers. He was great rebounding and distributing, obviously a plus, but he had chances in the post late (albeit after dribbling 10,000 times first) and couldn’t finish. His defense on Andre Igoudala — he went 0-for-7 in the second half — was good to see, though Igoudala did a number on him defensively.

Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 44 MIN | 7-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | -6Let’s just get the baptism out of the way now.

You back? Ready? It’s too bad that play is going to shade a very strong night from Singler. He’s starting to really embrace his role as the starting lineup’s shooter, and his play was a catalyst for the 37-point first quarter. Here’s a player comparison for y’all to chew on tonight while you stew.

Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 25 MIN | 5-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | +2Jermaine O’Neal circa 2004 schooled Drummond with smart low-post scoring throughout the evening. Really, everyone who saw front court minutes should lose points for O’Neal’s 16 point, 10 rebound effort. He missed twice, TWICE! Anyways, Drummond wasn’t used much offensively — despite flashing in the post a number of times — and he wasn’t a part of Pistons shocking fourth-quarter drought.

Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 37 MIN | 4-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | -6When Josh Smith shoots a jumper, I cringe, but I think I cringe more when Jennings takes that 4-foot step back jumper right in front of the 3-point line. I can roll with 10 assists and zero turnovers any day of the week though. It’s just zero assists in the fourth quarter is rough. The offense continues to stagnate into continuous isolation plays, and the remedy for that lies in Jennings’ hands as the point guard.

Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 10 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -4Jerebko’s effort is there, which you can’t get on much. He’s really tuned down the wild jump shooting as well, and as long as his shot selection continues to improve, he’ll continue to be a serviceable-enough player for those 10-12 minutes he plays.

Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 16 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -4Bynum did a nice job taking control midway through the second quarter, but he was so up and down otherwise. It’s crazy how fast Bynum goes from WMFB to MF, WB sometimes. He took two or three blah long jumpers in the fourth quarter, which was also when we saw a Jennings-Bynum lineup. Sounds more fun than it was after they scored six points in five minutes.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0Don’t remember seeing KCP? That’s ok, neither do I. His two minutes came during Tom Izzo’s “I LOVE DRAYMOND GREEN” interview, so Caldwell-Pope’s so-so play was hidden. He made a nice recovery after getting beat off the dribble — at least he’s trying?

Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 26 MIN | 2-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -8Woof. Contract Year Rodney Stuckey has definitely hit a wall, and this is just his latest rough shooting night. He only took three shots in the second half. Maybe he realized he was off, so good. But, it’s also bad because when he doesn’t shoot he’s not really worth playing.

John Loyer
I feel for Loyer. Imagine how frustrating it must be for Joe Dumars to have to watch his team with one shooter get pelted with 3-pointers by good teams on nights like this. Loyer must feel the same because there ain’t a whole lot he can do. They hung with a really good team, and he deserves credit for that. I just think shooting is the biggest part of the Pistons’ issue in the fourth quarter — teams just let them shoot themselves out of a lead. Loyer’s trying new things with giving Bynum more responsibility in the fourth quarter to add another creator, but there’s only so much you can do when you lack shooting; which the Warriors have no shortage of.

Warriors come to town

Essentials

  • Teams: Golden State Warriors (34-22) at Detroit Pistons (23-33)
  • Date: February 24, 2014
  • Time: 7: 30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

Over at Warriors World, Vytis Lasaitis wrote a strong preview outlining what to expect from this contest. Give it a look here.

Read about the Warriors

Warriors World

Did Chauncey Billups support Josh Smith’s bid to get Maurice Cheeks fired?

Peter Vecsey:

Source reveals Cheeks was doomed when Josh went 2 Dumars & wanted Mo fired & Billups went w him.

Trust Vecsey at your own peril.

You can read my thoughts at ProBasketballTalk.

Is there any way Pistons’ loss to Mavericks doesn’t begin four-game losing streak?

Dallas Mavericks 113 Final
Recap | Box Score
102 Detroit Pistons
Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 40 MIN | 7-13 FG | 3-6 FT | 17 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -9

The Pistons got killed on the glass (50-39), but it would have been worse if not for Monroe. He also scored effectively, notching his fifth-career game with so many points and rebounds.

Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 38 MIN | 14-20 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 4 TO | 32 PTS | -2

A strong post-up game formed the base of Smith’s offensively successful night, and making his jumper complemented it. When Smith prioritizes getting inside, that limits what can go wrong. His risk-reward gauge on passes, though, needs a big overhaul. Smith makes some of the Pistons’ most impressive passes, but for each one, he has too many turnovers. Smith didn’t score in the final 16:40 of the game, though he at least defended well in that final stretch. Still, he finished with 32 points, a season high

Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 34 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -4

Singler had his worst offensive game since becoming a starter, though I somewhat attribute that to the bar being superficially high. I don’t believe he’s anything more than an OK offensive fit with the other four starters. I think he just went through a random hot streak that coincided with his move into the starting lineup. A Jennings-Singler-Smith-Monroe-Drummond lineup remains awful offensively, though.

Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 20 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -7

Drummond started strong (by playing like himself), but once he got into foul trouble, he never recovered. He was just too timid, too disjointed after long stretches on the bench. Drummond must learn to play with foul trouble and have a confidence to keep playing his game. His coach can help with that, though I’ll cover that in the John Loyer section.

Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 29 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -14

Jennings left before the midpoint of the third quarter and didn’t return until the Pistons trailed by nine with 3:23 left in the game. Loyer isn’t showing trust in him late, and the way Jennings played earlier, there was no reason to.

Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 10 MIN | 1-2 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -9

Jerebko was lively on both ends, a welcome sight. His strong cuts, whether as the roll man in a screen-and-roll or crashing the glass, stood out.

Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 32 MIN | 7-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -4

The Mavericks played Bynum to crash relentlessly to the rim, but he showed a hesitation game that really helped him set up his teammates well. Bynum also hit his long 2s for an overall impressive offensive game against a defense that took away his bread and butter.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 14 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -7

Look who finally put up some numbers. He was probably about net-neutral, anyway, but at least the effort is more apparent.

Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 24 MIN | 2-9 FG | 5-5 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +1

Stuckey is a willing transition passer, but once the Pistons get into their halfcourt offense, he’s looking to score.

John Loyer

A combination of a high willingness to help, switching on pick and rolls and zone defense had the Pistons facing several mismatches defensively, and the Mavericks took advantage. That’s what Dallas does, and Loyer didn’t turn the tide by outcoaching Rick Carlisle – not that anyone expected Loyer to have the upper hand tonight. Loyer must also allow Drummond to play confidently with foul trouble. These quick hooks help nobody. Drummond just gets out rhythm, and when he plays, he’s too passive. Not to mention the Pistons go long stretches without their best player on the floor. Drummond didn’t even foul out anyway. What are you saving him for? At least Loyer had the Pistons, who are steadily slipping from playoff contention, playing hard once again.

Up Next: vs. Golden State on Monday, at San Antonio on Wednesday, at Houston on Saturday. The Pistons will be big underdogs in each of those games.