Category → Analysis
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. It seems like the general consensus is that the Pistons ultimate goal this season should now be keeping their draft pick and not making the playoffs. Correct move?
Dan Feldman: Yes. The Pistons shouldn’t have an opportunity to pick this high in the draft anytime soon, and they’d be wise not to squander it now. In five years, they could be trying to re-sign Andre Drummond, wondering why they never could surround him with enough talent. That’s when concerns me — not the tail end of an already-lost 2013-14 season.
Brady Fredericksen: Heck yes. Once the Bobcats punked the Pistons on back-to-back nights, it was essentially the nail in the coffin. If you’re that far behind the No. 8 (!!) team in the East, you need to re-evaluate everything. If you’re into watching the world burn and all that, Tankathon is a great website to monitor the league’s who-can-out-suck-the-other race over the final few months. I just want to float out there that, while this idea of tanking may be a general consensus today, wouldn’t it be so Pistons’ luck for Atlanta to fall out of the playoffs and the Pistons to back in by default?
Patrick Hayes: There’s value in young players getting into the playoffs, even if they get trounced. I don’t discount that — it would be good for Drummond, Greg Monroe, Brandon Jennings, etc., to play prominent rolls in a playoff series even if the result was a spectacular beating by Miami or Indiana. But the stakes for doing that are high. The Pistons have serious talent deficiencies on the perimeter, this draft is loaded with potential impact players on the wing and missing out on the opportunity to get one of those players would be a major setback for the franchise. I’d much rather see the Pistons add another young player to the promising Drummond-Monroe duo, then get that first taste of the playoffs next season.
2. Fans sometimes make tanking out to be something really simple and easy to accomplish, when in reality, it’s not. What’s the Pistons best strategy to tank?
Dan Feldman: The front office directing John Loyer to develop the team’s younger players while sticking with the same starting lineup. More Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Peyton Siva and Tony Mitchell off the bench should help. Also, any injured players should get plenty of time to come back.
Brady Fredericksen: Is there really a strategy? I saw the Philadelphia 76ers in person this past weekend — that’s a team trying to suck. To be as bad as they are, they’ve dismantled their team so much that outside of Michael Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young, they’re playing guys whose only chance to make it on any other NBA team is on 10-day contracts. As for the Pistons, who have a heckuva lot more talent, the easiest route would be experimentation with their end-of-bench players. Give Luigi Datome some run — Say he’s good? Cool. Say he’s still bad? Also, cool. — and give Mitchell some of those Jonas Jerebko minutes while finding some time for Siva here and there. See what those guys can do while dealing with the (likely) consequences.
Patrick Hayes: I believe there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what tanking actually means, as evidenced by some of the the insane comments in recent days from readers who are beyond insulted at the notion that teams would ever consider doing it. The misunderstanding is that people assume when you saying ‘tanking,’ you mean that players should stop trying. That’s completely false. I think there are instances — organizational frustrations, brutal schedule, contract concerns, etc. — where players don’t necessarily play hard, but for the most part, guys in the NBA are professionals who give their best effort. Put simply, players don’t tank, and no one should ever want them to do anything but play with maximum effort. Organizations tank by deciding what’s best for the future of the franchise, independent of the players. They take the decision out of the players and coaches hands by limiting the options on the roster. Realistically, it’s already too late for the Pistons to tank. If you look at what the several obviously tanking teams around the league do each year, much of that work is set in motion in the offseason — they trade veterans for picks either in the offseason or at the deadline, they audition D-League guys, they play rookies and young players in prominent roles, ready or not and they don’t bench those players for making mistakes, they let them play through them. The Pistons haven’t really done any of that, so I don’t think the Pistons are tanking. Loyer is clearly playing the players in his rotation who play the toughest (though his options are clearly limited some nights), he has no problem benching young players (especially Caldwell-Pope) for mistakes and limited but tough veterans like Will Bynum figure prominently into his rotation. The only thing they could really do — and should do, simply to find out what they have in these two players — is find consistent minutes for Siva and Mitchell. At worst, they prove (like most second round picks) that they aren’t rotation caliber players on good teams. At best, they show some promise and perhaps get a jumpstart on earning roles next season.
3.Hypothetically, say the Pistons find a way to tumble down the standings and land a top-five pick, what prospect do you like most for them right now?
Dan Feldman: If the Pistons are picking near the top of the draft, I love Andrew Wiggins as a fit and like him as a prospect. He could definitely become the high-scoring wing with capable-enough defense the Pistons need. A little lower, Gary Harris and Tyler Ennis would be intriguing.
Brady Fredericksen: Any of the perimeter players. Obviously a player like Andrew Wiggins is exactly what a team like this needs, but that, of course, would require some uncharacteristic luck in the draft lottery. Realistically, any of the perimeter players projected to go in the top 10 would be significant, cheap additions to the Pistons. Even further down the lottery line, local college guys like Gary Harris or Nik Stauskas would automatically step onto the floor as the best shooters — pretty much any of these prospects are going to help tremendously in some way.
Patrick Hayes: My favorite guy in the draft is Jabari Parker. People have soured on him a bit, and my theory is just that he’s been on the radar as a top high school prospect for so long, that it has given people time to nitpick his flaws. He’s insanely productive, plays so fluidly and intelligently, rebounds and I love the way Coach K uses him at Duke. It’s really depressing to admit considering my longstanding Duke hatred, but they’ve been one of my favorite college teams to watch this season. As we all know, the Pistons could use an infusion of not only talent, but guys who play intelligently, and Parker fits that bill for me, even if he’s no longer considered the draft’s top prospect.
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.
There are about 8 teams right now that are pretty decent. Detroit is a sleeper also
— Metta World Peace (@MettaWorldPeace) February 25, 2014
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:
As of right now, who do you think will win the finals and who did you have winning in September?
— Metta World Peace (@MettaWorldPeace) February 25, 2014
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.
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.
|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.|
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.
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 not-so-surprisingly didn’t make a move at the NBA’s trade deadline on Thursday. Does this tell you anything about the state of the franchise?
Dan Feldman: In itself, no. Maybe the Pistons were aggressively — and quietly — negotiating trades that just didn’t get done. Or maybe Tom Gores has stripped Joe Dumars‘ power, including the ability to make trades. I suspect the truth sits somewhere between, but where on the spectrum it falls would mean a lot of different things.
Patrick Hayes: Not anything that we didn’t already know — the only assets the team has that others would be really interested in giving up good value for (Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe) were likely not available. And the players that the Pistons would probably be open to moving (Josh Smith, Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva, Jonas Jerebko, etc.) probably weren’t appealing enough to any suitors to give up anything remotely valuable in exchange. As for the state of the franchise, the Pistons are a bad team suffering the consequences of several years of mismanagement. We already knew that before the trade deadline.
Brady Fredericksen: That the team knows minor deals wouldn’t fix them. There were probably opportunities to shuffle minor pieces around, but outside of trading Smith, there probably weren’t any deals that would help push the Pistons ahead of the apparently far superior Bobcats. They don’t need to make moves for the sake of making moves, especially when they’ve made, what, one good move (last season’s Prince-Calderon trade) in the past four years?
Jameson Draper: This tells me that the franchise isn’t going for the playoffs this year. If they were, they would probably make a couple small moves to put them into better position. They didn’t, and it looks like this season is another lost one.
2. It’s rumored that the Pistons wanted more than just empty expiring contracts for Smith — smart strategy to hold off on moving him?
Dan Feldman: First of all, I’d be fairly surprised if the Pistons actually got any offers of only expiring contracts for him. So, keeping him probably was smart. I don’t want to repeat the Ben Gordon mistake and deal a valuable asset just to dump a contract. The Pistons aren’t in a position where that makes sense.
Patrick Hayes: Pretend you’re Dumars. You’re on the verge of failing to deliver on a mandate to make the playoffs, coming off of back-to-back blowout losses to the Charlotte Bobcats, having your hand-picked coach fired 50 games into the job and for the second time in less than five years, watching two major, expensive acquisitions flop. Would you (again, pretending you’re Dumars, not a person who can objectively see the summer of 2013 for the failure it was) follow up that awful recent track record by essentially giving away Smith for nothing but an expiring contract? It would be admitting less than a year into the Smith signing that you failed yet again. Also, I think it’s a stretch to assume an expiring deal was even on the table for Smith. Maybe the Pistons leaking that they wouldn’t take just an expiring for Smith was their subtle way of saying, “SOMEONE PLEASE OFFER US AN EXPIRING DEAL!”
Brady Fredericksen: Smart. First, I don’t think Dumars will be back next season, so why would ownership allow a potentially lame-duck GM to make more moves? Secondly, Smith has been a trainwreck this season, but he isn’t a bad player. He has a PER of 12.2 at small forward, but a very good rating of 19.9 at power forward. His contract is big, but there are a lot of inferior players with terrible contracts. Smith could be a big trade chip when the draft rolls around for whoever’s in charge.
Jameson Draper: I think so, only because I think any moves at this point would be kind of pointless, and it kind of is like Dumars admitting his errors, which he would never ever do.
3. This is going to be who the Pistons are the rest of the way, what’s the outlook for the final 28 games?
Dan Feldman: The Bobcats are on pace to win 37 games. To best that — remember Charlotte has the tiebreaker — the Pistons would have to go 16-12. They haven’t done that well in a 28-game stretch since one that began in 2008! The outlook? Dim.
Patrick Hayes: It’s bad, bordering on disaster. We all know what disaster is — missing the playoffs AND not being bad enough to keep their lottery pick, which is top-eight protected. I think we can all agree that we HATE THE DISASTER OPTION SO MUCH. But let’s not pretend either of the non-disaster options are all that great. Making the playoffs only to get destroyed by Miami or Indiana brings them a couple of home playoff games worth of revenue, but based on attendance and waning fan interest do you think those playoff games are selling out? And if they miss the playoffs and keep their lottery pick? Sure, that gives the promise of hopefully getting another impact player in the draft. But at the end of the day, it’s another trip to the lottery and a likely reset button/rebuilding effort if there are major regime changes in the offseason, so who knows how long it could be before the Pistons are a relevant franchise again?
Brady Fredericksen: We’ll see the same inconsistencies. These guys are who they are, they’ve been together for over 50 games — the adjustment period is over — and they’re not going to magically change their style of play. They won’t flame out quite like they did last season, which could be a huge problem. In order to 100 percent keep their pick, they’ll have to finish in the league’s bottom five. If the playoffs are unlikely, their best hope is that Cleveland passes them (likely) and the Knicks get hot and do the same (ditto) before they’re battling with true tanking teams. It’s an uphill climb no matter what direction they go — fitting, considering how much of a struggle the last five seasons have been.
Jameson Draper: Poor. I said in the last 3-on-3 that the Pistons would not make the playoffs if they lost both games after the break to the Bobcats, and that’s exactly what they did. The Bobcats are a “playoff” team and are several games under .500. This Pistons squad can’t match up with THAT? Yeah, no way they’re a playoff team.
The Pistons not making a move at the trade deadline probably was OK.
Unless it was an utter disaster.
Sure, it would have been nice if the Pistons unloaded Josh Smith or got value for the expiring contracts of Rodney Stuckey or Charlie Villanueva. But missing those opportunities won’t cost the team in the long run. This summer, Smith’s contract will be shorter and more tradable, and Stuckey and Villanueva will come off the books and offer enough salary cap room to add an impact player.
But not trading Greg Monroe? If that was a mistake, it’s irreversible.
Hopefully, it wasn’t a mistake.
For the record, I wanted the Pistons to keep Monroe. I believe he can play with Andre Drummond (though with Smith at small forward), and I like Monroe’s efficiency-based skill set. He obviously needs work defensively, and he’s not a great athlete. But at 23, he likely hasn’t peaked.
However, as I’ve said since the extension deadline passed in October, the Pistons should keep Monroe past the trade deadline only if they’re willing to give him a max contract this summer.
Now, I wonder how certain the Pistons are about Monroe. Did they decide they’d pay him max money if necessary? Or does Gores just want the team to make that choice when he sees fit, regardless of how big a bind the timing puts the team in? This was the last chance to trade Monroe in a non-sign-and-trade, so deferring the decision would only mean fewer options.
Complicating matters, the Pistons might have a new general manager when Monroe hits free agency. After Gores stepped in to fire Cheeks, Joe Dumars might not carry the same power within the organization anymore. Could he even trade Monroe if he wanted to?
Hopefully, someone in the front office who will remain there this summer — even if it’s Gores himself — drove the decision to keep Monroe and did so for all the right reasons. This would be simpler if the Pistons had a more stable general manager, someone executing a multiyear plan. If they don’t, though, the responsibility falls to Gores to ensure that the long term is accounted for.
If the Pistons made a conscious choice to keep Monroe because they’re willing to give him a max contract, we’re fine here. But if they’re just delaying their assessment of Monroe’s value, they’re asking for trouble this summer.
Not surprisingly, the Pistons kept relatively quiet during Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.
Detroit’s silence at the deadline should have been expected. There were Josh Smith rumors floating about, and there were murmurs of minor deals — Will Bynum for Jerryd Bayless — but no small trade was going to make this dysfunctional roster much better.
The issue is who makes the next move. This is a franchise that just fired Maurice Cheeks after 50 games on the job, and that move alone says a lot about owner Tom Gores — and probably more about how the Pistons would handle business at the deadline.
Joe Dumars is in the last year of his contract, and the fact that his coach was fired so quickly says, I think, a lot about how he’s viewed by ownership; there weren’t going to be any more mistakes made.
It appears Gores was the one who wouldn’t allow Dumars to spend more money on a mid-season replacement like Lionel Hollins, so why allow him to make more of a mess before his contract runs out this summer?
From everything we’ve seen, it looks like Dumars tried to wiggle out of his latest mistake (Smith), albeit to no avail.
Now, you just have to wonder if it was his last trade deadline in Detroit.
|Greg Monroe, PF 31 MIN | 5-15 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | -26You ever seen a kids’ basketball game? You know, one where everyone is huddled in the paint and there’s no room to do anything? That must be how Greg Monroe feels every night. He struggled mightily, missing his first nine shots of the night. He wasn’t bad in his stint defensively against Al Jefferson late, though.|
|Josh Smith, SF 41 MIN | 7-18 FG | 0-1 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | -26He padded his stats late in the game, but he struggled right alongside Monroe. Both struggled with the interior demon known as Bismack Biyombo (five blocks) and Smith couldn’t keep up with the Bobcats’ supastar stretch-four, Josh McRoberts (three 3-pointers).|
|Kyle Singler, SF 29 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -20He’s solid, he’s steady and he did what he’s out there to do. Singler made both of his early 3-point attempts, he didn’t get burnt too horribly on defense and that’s about it. He is what he is, and his 3-point ability helps the starting five.|
|Andre Drummond, C 33 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -12Do you think Drummond will wake up late tonight in a cold sweat thinking about the awful things Al Jefferson has done to him the past two nights? Drummond’s a great young player, but his weaknesses as a post defender have been totally exposed in these last two games — albeit against arguably the craftiest post scorer in the NBA.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG 35 MIN | 7-18 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | -17He let his emotions get the best of him late in the game, collecting a pair of technicals and an early trip to the locker room, but he was decent otherwise with six assists and just two turnovers. Kemba Walker piled up 24 points, 16 assists against him, but he only shot 8-for-20.|
|Tony Mitchell, PF 1 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +2Mitchell came in and made an effort play, grabbing an offensive rebound. The only problem was Jeff Adrien blocked his put-back.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 20 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +4There haven’t been many personnel differences between Maurice Cheeks and John Loyer — except the sudden emergence of Jerebko. It’s tough to watch him play these days. He was such a fun, grimy player when the Pistons drafted him in 2009. Hopefully he realizes that he should rebound and defend, not float around and shoot long-2s.|
|Luigi Datome, SF 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +2His beard and pony tail looked stylish, as always.|
|Will Bynum, PG 21 MIN | 5-9 FG | 3-5 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -2Solid night’s work from Bynum, who has been the other player revived by Loyer. Bynum worked well against Walker, he didn’t fare too poorly on his wild drives to the basket, and his eight-assist, two-turnover night is a refreshing reminder of what he’s capable of on a good night.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +4Poor kid did absolutely nothing but stand around and run up and down the court for three minutes. I don’t know that he’s hit a wall physically, but it sure as heck looks like he has mentally.|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 23 MIN | 6-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | +1Who knows if Stuckey (or Jerebko or Bynum or Smith or Monroe) will be Pistons by 3 p.m. on Thursday, but Stuckey rebounded nicely from a nightmarish 1-for-11 night against the Bobcats on Tuesday. If this loss means the Pistons are changing course from playoffs to lottery, getting rid of Stuckey’s production would jumpstart the tanking.|
It’s funny, against San Antonio and Cleveland, Loyer had the Pistons playing defense. They were legitimately trying and having some success forcing turnovers and generating offense off of that. But against the Bobcats it’s been absolutely the opposite. Charlotte is legitimately a good defense, so the frustration created by that may have an affect on the Pistons’ defensive effort, but watching both of these defenses is like night and day. Loyer can only do so much — he’s an interim coach for a reason — but he hasn’t looked a whole lot better than Cheeks four games, and three losses, into his tryout period.