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Category → Analysis

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Nik Stauskas

REMINDER: Voting is still open to pick some of this year’s #DraftDreams profiles.

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-6, 190 pounds, sophomore guard from Michigan
  • Key Stats: 17.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists while shooting 48 percent and 45 percent from three
  • Projected: Mid-first round

Matters to No One But Me …

Stauskas attends Michigan. I attended Michigan.

There’s no question I have a stronger allegiance to Stauskas than other draft prospects because of that, though doesn’t mean I want the Pistons to pass over better prospects to draft him. I just wouldn’t mind him being the best prospect available when Detroit picks. See: Burke, Trey.

I also said Stauskas should have turned pro last season, because screw the NCAA, and I believed his skills would get him drafted, maybe even late in the first-round. Patrick gets full credit for seeing Draymond Green’s NBA potential before anyone else did, and I want one of those on my record. Patrick nails something like that at least once per year, though. I’ll gladly take just getting Stauskas correct for bragging rights.

Also, so much swag. I smile a lot while watching Stauskas play. Actually, that should matter to you, too. See more in the next section.

Fits with the Pistons because …

Shooter, shooter, shooter.

The Pistons are one of the NBA’s 3-point shooting teams, and Stauskas is one of the best shooters in college basketball. His range definitely extends to the NBA arc, so he should translate fairly well.

He has also increased his athleticism since last season, working out hard over the summer and then taking advantage of his newly chiseled form during the season. He can run the pick-and-roll and attack off the dribble, and he’s an underrated passer. Without Trey Burke, he’s really blossomed into an all-around player.

Stauskas is most definitely not just a shooter at the college level, which should help him in the NBA.

Players who just stand around and shoot in college generally don’t succeed at the top level. Stauskas will probably never be the center of an NBA offense like he is at Michigan, but those complementary skills should help get him on the court and do what he does best: shoot.

Stauskas also plays with tremendous swagger, blowing kisses and such. Despite all their athleticism, the Pistons have gotten stale as bad shots and mangled defense have become their defining characteristics. Rookies, even those who were exuberant in college, tend to fade into the background. But the potential for Stauskas to be really fun down the road certainly exists. That shouldn’t affect whether the Pistons draft him, but it’s a nice bonus.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

The Pistons can’t pick lower than eighth – if their pick falls after that, it goes to the Bobcats – and No. 8 might be too high to take Stauskas.

This is a stacked draft, and he’s just not up to level of Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Dante Exum and Marcus Smart. That’s six players right there.

With a strong NCAA tournament and workouts, Stauskas could work his way into the next tier, but that’s a small margin for error. Tyler Ennis, Gary Harris, Aaron Gordon and Noah Vonleh already make strong cases for that range.

Also, even though he’s improved on that end, Stauskas is a questionable college defender. Those concerns only get magnified at the next level, when opponents get bigger and faster. Can Stauskas make another leap forward athletically? There have to be diminishing returns at some point.

From the Experts

Chad Ford:

Positives

  • Versatile scoring guard
  • Excellent shooter with deep range
  • Incredible free throw shooter

Negatives

  • Needs to add strength
  • Not an elite athlete

DraftExpress:

While his draft stock has undoubtedly increased substantially as the year has moved on, concerns still exist among scouts regarding his lack of upside defensively, due to his unappealing combination of poor length, average frame and mediocre lateral quickness.

Additionally, it remains to be seen the extent of which he will be able to create his own shot and finish around the basket against NBA caliber defenders, although he has made significant strides in dispelling those doubts this season.

Nevertheless, the premium that teams are placing on perimeter shooting in today’s NBA has put Stauskas in an enviable position as a draft prospect, should he decide to capitalize on his increased stock this upcoming fall.

Highlights


Previously

3-on-3: Armchair general managing (part 3)

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. If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 1 priority with the coaching staff?

Dan Feldman: Convince Tom Gores to increase the coaching budget. It’s not impossible to find good coaches for the money Detroit spent on its most-recent hires, but it’s more difficult when the pool of candidates is limited. Cheaper coaches are much more likely to pan out when they beat out an established coach, not just a field of other cheap options.

Brady Fredericksen: Letting go of John Loyer. It’s pretty simple, the team got worse under Loyer’s watch and I don’t think he was ever really a legit option to return as head coach next season. He was a cheap alternative after the firing of Maurice Cheeks, plain and simple. The team’s 4-12 under Loyer, and the team’s defense has completely gone off the tracks by allowing 106 points per game.

Tim Thielke: Make sure the prospects are getting as much playing time as they can handle. Put Tony Mitchell, Luigi Datome and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope out there for heavy minutes and see what happens. Hopefully the Pistons fall through the standings while also seeing some flashes of promise.

2. If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 2 priority with the coaching staff?

Dan Feldman: Pursue George Karl, Lionel Hollins, Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Van Gundy and identify an ideal candidate from that pool. He becomes my baseline. If I can’t find anyone better, I’ll happily hire him. But I’ll still look deeper first.

Brady Fredericksen: Calling up Hollins. The former Grizzlies coach has already made it known publicly that he’d be interested in the job, which is always the first step. If you glance around the NBA over the past five years, I think his Memphis teams fit the exact mold that many Pistons fans remember from the last great teams in Detroit. Defense, rebounding, some grit, it really would fit the culture of Detroit as a whole.

Tim Thielke: In the offseason, find a new head coach. His priorities, whether through personal strengths or the staff he puts around himself, should be maximizing defensive talents and creativity with meshing an unorthodox roster.

3. If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 3 priority with the coaching staff?

Dan Feldman: Scour the assistant and college ranks for up-and-coming coaches. If I find a gem — someone who impresses me more than my baseline choice (Karl, Hollins or a Van Gundy) — I’ll hire him. Otherwise, I’ll hire the baseline choice. I just don’t want to end up with someone like John Kuester only because he was more impressive than someone like Michael Curry. There must be proven talent in the mix.

Brady Fredericksen: Making sure that he’s at least semi-involved in the roster-building process. As a GM, you probably never want to give a coach too much say in building the team, but he is the guy who is going to be coaching them. One of the most important aspect of the next regime is being in sync. That means from Gores to new GM to new coach — all three on the same page — because if the top is in sync, the players will buy in, too.

Tim Thielke: Have the coach start immediately yanking players (especially Josh Smith) after taking bad shots. Don’t keep him out there because of his talent. Start teaching him that any time he attempts a shot he shouldn’t, he’ll be sitting for the next five minutes — whether it goes in or not.

3-on-3: Armchair general managing (part 2)

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. If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 1 priority with players not currently on the roster?

Dan Feldman: Acquiring a top-eight pick through tanking. The Pistons shouldn’t have another opportunity to pick this high anytime soon, and I don’t want to squander it. This is an excellent chance to add a talented and high-potential player on a cheap contract. With one more of those, I’d feel really good about the roster going forward.

Brady Fredericksen: Throw all of Tom Gores’ money at Eric Bledsoe and Lance Stephenson. Both are among the NBA’s top up-and-coming wings, Bledsoe a restricted free agent and Stephenson unrestricted. The Pistons won’t be able to sign both, but being able to get one will be a big boost for the Pistons terrible perimeter game. The argument for both of these guys is simple — they’re significantly better than any Pistons’ guard since… um… Chauncey Billups in 2008? But the argument against them is totally reasonable, too. Bledsoe has played at a max-contract level for 26 games, and Lance Stephenson has a screw or two loose and also doesn’t have to deal with the spotlight of being THE guy in Indiana. Risky, but what team builds without risk?

Tim Thielke: The first priority has to be looking into the possibility of landing a star. There’s a long-shot chance that Kevin Love or Carmelo Anthony or Rajon Rondo may be attainable; maybe even Dirk Nowitzki or Chris Bosh. If any of those guys could be acquired without giving up Andre Drummond, that needs to be done. Everything else can be sorted out later.

2. If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 2 priority with players not currently on the roster?

Dan Feldman: Draft the best prospect available, using fit as a tiebreaker only when multiple prospects fit on the same tier. Drafting is too difficult to get right, anyway. I’m not complicating it by choosing a rookie based on how he fits with a roster that could change very quickly.

Brady Fredericksen: Find shooters. If you don’t have a superstar-caliber wing scorer — which, believe it or not, are extremely hard to come by — you need shooters to succeed in the NBA. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade all fit that superstar wing bill, and all three have led their teams to the NBA Finals in the past eight seasons. The teams that won without those kind of guys were Dallas and San Antonio, two teams built around smart coaching, great big men and fantastic floor spacing. The Pistons lack all three of those aspects currently, but finding shooters is a good place to start copying the blue print.

Tim Thielke: Get some shooters. This overlaps with both of my other priorities, but it is also the roster’s biggest need. I still believe much of the defensive woes could be fixed schematically because Detroit actually has good defensive players. But shooting just requires shooters.

3. If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 3 priority with players not currently on the roster?

Dan Feldman: Use all available cap space to offer Stephenson a contract the moment free agency opens. Yes, I’d be concerned about removing Stephenson from his stable Indiana environment and paying him eight figures per year. But as current players get raises, the Pistons probably won’t have an opportunity to sign a near-All-Star anytime soon, either. By offering Stephenson a contract immediately, I’d ensure I’d act before Monroe signs and increases his cap hit. It’s all about taking advantage of an opportunity, even if the risk is high.

Brady Fredericksen: Sign-and-trade Monroe for role players and picks. If the Pistons were to successfully land a Bledsoe or Stephenson, it’d probably spell the end of Greg Monroe’s tenure in Detroit. If that’s the case, you have got to value for him, plain and simple.

Tim Thielke: Find a good wing or two. Ideally in trade for one of the big men on the roster. But if not, in free agency. Stephenson, Gordon Hayward, Trevor Ariza, Luol Deng and Paul Pierce (in order or desirability) are all viable options. Even if the Pistons draft a wing in the lottery, they should still go after another at least as insurance.

3-on-3: Armchair general managing (part 1)

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. If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 1 priority with players currently on the roster?

Dan Feldman: Trying to trade Josh Smith. Because he’s closer to Andre Drummond in age, Greg Monroe is a better fit than smith with franchise player Andre Drummond – regardless of how their on-court skills complement him. And because this season showed all three can’t play together, that means Smith must go. I know that won’t be easy with his contract, but I won’t be seeking much, and Smith’s contract gets better by the day as it gets closer to expiring. I won’t sacrifice assets to dump Smith and would stagger minutes between the bigs if it were necessary to keep him, but trading him is the preference.

Brady Fredericksen: Figure out whether Josh Smith or Greg Monroe are going to be paired with Andre Drummond for the foreseeable future. There is a lot, like A LOT, that this team needs to be where it wants to be, but until there’s some sort of direction with the dysfunctional front court, it’s going to be hard to make decisions elsewhere. Monroe and Smith have both had down years this season — albeit due to completely different things — but they both cannot stay. I don’t care if we clone Phil Jackson, add some stem cells from Red Auerbach and have Gregg Popovich spit on it all before finally throwing in a little Vince Lombardi for good measure; there’s no coach making those three players work as a cohesive unit.

Tim Thielke: Try to find decent value in trade for one of the big three. The trio has vastly under-performed. I believe any pair out of it, though, can form an effective front line. Some of that talent, though, has to be moved to the perimeter. I think the simplest option would be Eric Gordon for Smith.

2. If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 2 priority with players currently on the roster?

Dan Feldman: Declining the team option on Chauncey Billups. I love what Billups brought in his prime, but those days are long gone. There’s just no way to justify him occupying a roster spot for $2.5 million anymore. This is a relatively simple move, but it has to be done before July begins, so it ranks highly on the priority list.

Brady Fredericksen: Handle the Monroe’s free agency smartly. My previous answer dictates this one, but no matter what the Pistons decide on Monroe, they need to make sure they get something from him in the future. Whether that’s actual Monroe production or production from the players signed-and-traded for him, who knows. I think it’ll be very difficult to find a good sign and trade for him, mainly because if team’s are looking to sign a young big to (presumably) a max contract, they either have no inclination to give away a quality young wing player or have no quality young players to trade and are just throwing crazy money at Monroe ala Charlotte with Al Jefferson this summer.

Tim Thielke: Let the market dictate the price of Monroe. The Pistons’ worst case scenario (unless they choose to further screw themselves) is Monroe getting a max offer. That would put his contract very slightly higher than what Smith makes. If another team does so, the Pistons will probably be best off trying to sign and trade Monroe to that team unless they’ve already worked out a trade for another big.

The longer Monroe goes without being offered a deal, the lower his price tag drops. But if a GM offered $12 million per year early on, he won’t be able to adjust that to $10.5 million per just because the market stiffed him; so not tipping your hand is key.

3.If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 3 priority with players currently on the roster?

Dan Feldman: Re-signing Greg Monroe at market value. I’m definitely willing to pay him max money – at least the maximum he can get on an offer sheet with another team. But he’ll have to sign an offer sheet to get it. Otherwise, I’m negotiating to get him for less. Plus, the longer Monroe goes before signing – either with me or an offer sheet that I’ll match – the longer I’ll have extra cap flexibility, because Monroe’s cap hold is less than his likely starting salary. I definitely want Monroe back, and I’ll match any offer, but I won’t rush to overpay him.

Brady Fredericksen: Make a decision on Brandon Jennings. The NBA’s a point guard’s league right now, and the Pistons have never been able to replace Chauncey Billups. Jennings has flashes of really good play, but he’s been around for five years. In five years he’s been the same player, and he’s continued that after a change of scenery with the Pistons. Again, this comes down to Drummond. Every player the Pistons look at going forward needs to be thought of with him in mind. How do they complement Drummond? How can they make Drummond better and how can Drummond make them better?

Tim Thielke: Let Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva, Chauncey Billups, and Peyton Siva walk. Try to convince Jonas Jerebko to opt out of his player option. Look into dumping Jerebko, Will Bynum or Luigi Datome if it can be done without giving anything up. Middling, non-core players are a waste of valuable cap space. Those are the guys you find to fill out the roster after you’ve spent up to the cap. Get as many stars (who fit together) as possible, then pick up guys on minimum deals and with cap exceptions as needed.

The numbers behind the Pistons’ and Andre Drummond’s historically great offensive rebounding

Me at the Detroit Free Press:

The Pistons offensively rebound 31.1% of their missed shots, No. 1 in the NBA this season by a wide margin. The difference between the Pistons and the second-place Portland Trail Blazers is greater than the difference between Portland and the 15th-place Milwaukee Bucks.

Their offensive-rebounding percentage tops the league average by 5.4 percentage points, the 12th-best mark all-time.

The Pistons miss 55% of their shots, a higher mark than league average. Really, offensive rebounds are propping up their offense.

Detroit leads the league with 15.7% of its scoring coming on second-chance points.

On an individual level, Andre Drummond is absolutely destroying the offensive glass.

Drummond leads the league in offensive-rebounding percentage (17.3). The difference between Drummond and second-place Steven Adams matches the difference between Adams and 11th-place Joakim Noah.

Drummond is having the 20th-best offensive rebounding season of all time. Dennis Rodman holds the single-season record (20.8, with the San Antonio Spurs in 1994-95) and also holds the only two spots on the Pistons’ leader board above Drummond (18.1 in 1991-92 and 17.6 in 1988-89).

Drummond’s offensive rebounds aren’t going to waste, either. He leads the league with 348 second-chance points, well ahead of second-place Carmelo Anthony’s 283.

3-on-3: Tanking 101

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.

If not Parker, then give me Marcus Smart. The Pistons need some attitude and toughness.

 

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.

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.