Category → Notes
“Kyle’s going to be on the floor,” Cheeks said. “We know that. He’s going to be on the floor.”
“Bobby Jones was a no-nonsense guy, just came in and played, got eight to 10 points, was always a defensive stopper, always guarded the best three man, sometimes four man, and just always knew what you were going to get,” Cheeks said. “He has those same qualities as Bobby – and Bobby was pretty good.”
“There are times where guys in practice make you take a look at them and make you think about giving them more minutes and maybe he’s a guy like that and maybe not,” Cheeks said of Datome. When you’re on the active roster, you always have a chance to play. His opportunity can come, but he’s a little set back because of his injury right now.”
So, Singler reminds Cheeks of a five-time All-Star (four NBA, one ABA), and Datome is only sometimes making Cheeks consider maybe giving him more minutes. Maybe.
I find those quotes pretty telling.
Datome has been injured, so that at least somewhat explains why he’s behind, but he’s still behind.
More preseason games remain, including tonight against the Bulls, but at this point, I’d be surprised Singler is left out of the rotation and Datome makes it.
Jennings out for 3 weeks with impacted wisdom tooth and hairline fracture at the base of the tooth. Will be re-evaluated then
Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks speculated that Charlie Villanueva’s 0-of-8 shooting on 3-pointers in two preseason games is the product of training-camp legs. "If you’re a shooter, you’ve got to get yourself in that shape to be able to make those shots," Cheeks said.
"If you’re a rebounder, you’re not rebounding, they find somebody to rebound. If you’re a shooter, you don’t shoot, they find somebody to shoot," he said.
The Pistons’ newest lefty forward comes in at No. 36, ahead of other trendy big men in Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka and Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins. Not bad company for a guy many seem to think will falter/fail/flop this season.
I’m not sure where this kind of stink of Smith came from. He’s never been a bad player, and there are few forwards who are as versatile as he is. He rebounds, plays good defense on post and perimeter players, can pass the ball along with being a solid offensive player despite his, uh, lapses in shot selection.
There’s just one criticism of Smith that’s completely unfair — he’s not a winner.
First, what the heck is a winner? Second, what is the logic behind saying that Smith isn’t one?
This is a guy who was arguably the best player on teams that made the playoffs in six-straight seasons; including the second round in three of those years. That’s good, if you ask me. That’s something only one Pistons player, Chauncey Billups, can even remotely relate to.
If you want to pick a guy who isn’t a “winner” on the Pistons, well, it’s pretty much the rest of the roster. But I digress, that’s just a player criticism that has always bugged me. If being a winner means being really good and winning championships,then we’ve got about 10 winners in the entire NBA.
If there is one criticism you can sort of reaffirm with Smith (very) early in his tenure with Detroit is how he’s been used offensively. He’s maligned for shooting those long jumpers — once known by Michigan State fans as “the Kalin Lucas” — and through three preseason games, nine of his 19 attempts have been from 3-point range.
Maybe that’s just a useless preseason stat or maybe it’s a sign of not having a comfortable role through three preseason games, but eh. It’s going to happen, maybe not to this volume, but it’ll be an occurrence this season.
Smith is going to shoot from deep — he has to be a threat in order for this offense to work — but as Dan wrote, if he can make all of those loooong 2-point jumpers into 3-point jumpers, it’s a worthy tradeoff.
Regardless of how you feel about Smith’s fit in Detroit, he’s the team’s best player. Period.
The thing about being the best player is that you adapt, and it’d be lazy to assume Smith can’t do that.
Amin Elhassan of ESPN named five NBA general managers on the hot seat, and Joe Dumars is the first name listed:
As the designer of the Pistons teams that won an NBA title in 2004 and lost in the Finals in seven games in 2005, Dumars has long been considered one of the elite executives in the league, and Detroit was once a model for cap management and shrewd personnel decisions. But things began to unravel when Dumars opted to trade Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson‘s expiring deal, a move that created cap flexibility in 2009. However, rather than wait for the following offseason’s talent-laden free-agency class, Dumars decided to grossly overpay Ben Gordon(five years, $58 million) and Charlie Villanueva (five years, $37.7 million). Eventually, Dumars was forced to attach a first-rounder with limited protection just to jettison Gordon’s contract. Villanueva remains on the books for $8.6 million this season.
Detroit hasn’t finished .500 since the 2007-08 season, and is on its fourth coach since then. Although Dumars struck gold in the draft with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, the Pistons have lacked any sort of roster cohesion or team identity. This past offseason, he signed Josh Smith for four years, $56 million and Brandon Jennings for three years, $24 million, despite both being odd fits to the roster. This continued mismanagement of cap resources puts the onus on the team to start paying dividends, or else a change is in store.
There is wiggle room, of course, but I would be surprised if the Pistons miss the playoffs and Dumars keeps his job/the Pistons make the playoffs and Dumars loses his job. I don’t even think injuries would work as an excuse. Dumars needs a playoff berth, because that would come with sold tickets, and that’s what Tom Gores’ needs.
By the way, a former Pistons front office member made Elhassan’s list of those ready to be a general manager:
Scott Perry | Orlando Magic | VP of Basketball Operations
Another former Dumars lieutenant, Perry also spent a season hitting the reset button with the then-Seattle Supersonics under Sam Presti and brings the added benefit of coaching experience.
3. Who’s the Pistons’ most intriguing player?
Feldman: Andre Drummond. Drummond has the athletic tools to become a superstar, and he will determine the Pistons’ ceiling. If he produces for a full season the way he did in limited minutes last season, this could be a championship team in the making. He was that good as a rookie.
Hayes: Andre Drummond. New coach Maurice Cheeks says Drummond will play as many minutes as he can handle. If his per-minute production from last season is sustainable in bigger minutes, he’ll have a Dwight Howard-like impact on the Pistons.
Poulard: Brandon Jennings. It’s tempting to go with Smith, but Jennings’ vow to become more of a playmaker as opposed to a low-percentage shooter is a fascinating change. He struggled at times with the Milwaukee Bucks because of his ill-advised shots, and it will be interesting to see if that happens again in Detroit.
Schmidt: Andre Drummond. It seems like the sky is the limit for a player everyone largely overlooked at this time last year. It’s always an intriguing thing when a player who supposedly lacks motor suddenly finds fuel and makes everyone pay attention.
Thorpe: Brandon Jennings. Who is he? I’m not sure he even knows, but the league, at this point, thinks it knows (and Jennings does not like what they think). If he can elevate his game the way, say, Ty Lawson and Mike Conley did last season, then suddenly Detroit has both the bigs and the point guard to use as a foundation going forward.
On paper, SCHOENE thinks it’s going to work out swimmingly: 49 wins, neck-and-neck with Chicago, Brooklyn and Indiana in the race for seeds 2-through-5 in the East, a top-10 finish in efficiency on both ends of the floor.
The Denver Nuggets proved last season that you can field a highly efficient offense without a glut of floor spacers. The antidote is to attack the rim and get your looks near the basket. That’s the formula the Pistons will need to follow this year and beyond. Smith and Jennings both have reputations for shooting teams out of games, while Monroe joins them as a prolific midrange bricklayer. If Cheeks can instill the same kind of attacking mentality that George Karl brought to last season’s Nuggets, the Pistons should up the ante on the offensive end. All of those players are good passers, and a decentralized offense that features attacking, cutting, ball movement and an emphasis on offensive rebounding should work given the talent on hand.
It’ll all depend on shot selection. No team can forgo midrange jumpers, but all teams can de-emphasize them. For the Pistons, that will be the biggest factor in their ability to reach the ceiling the metrics have established. Not only will a spate of midrange Js by low-percentage shooters wreck their offensive efficiency, but because such an attack will by necessity rely on second-chance points, floor balance could be compromised. Teams are already planning to attack Detroit’s big lineup in transition, and Cheeks can’t have Jennings and Smith aiding that cause with ill-conceived long 2s.
Are there a lot of variables in this equation? Sure. The Pistons will be asking a number of frontline players to alter their games in ways they haven’t had to before. The risk of implosion is very real. However, it’s a gamble worth taking. Talent is always worth the gamble.
Like Doolittle, I see the Pistons having a high-than-average risk of implosion. There are just too many risky pieces.
But before factoring that risk, a 49-win baseline is fantastic. There’s also a “risk” of the Pistons exceeding the baseline, too.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, two weaknesses of SCHOENE are its ability to account for fit and coaching – two areas the Pistons could struggle. Still, even if you dock a few games for those factors, that would still have the Pistons in the playoffs.
A 2-through-5 seed would be great, but don’t forget, the Pistons’ main goal is just making the playoffs.
With just two names to go, the Pistons’ second-highest ranked player in the #NBArank countdown is the guy many (seemingly) want traded, ASAP.
That’d be Greg Monroe, of course.
Monroe comes in ranked at No. 42, but the most interesting part of that ranking is who he beats out. It’s not like Indiana’s David West (44), Denver’s Kenneth Faried (47) or Atlanta’s Paul Millsap (50) are way better/worse than Monroe, but it’s interesting to see Monroe get the nod over them.
Sometimes it feels like his successes are lost in the shuffle. There are a lot of good big men around, and Monroe isn’t even the most talked about good big man on his own team. Those three have been to the playoffs, they’ve put up numbers. Not that Monroe couldn’t do that if he was in position, but he’s never played a really meaningful NBA game.
Either way, Monroe has earned his ranking; even if it’s only seven spots higher than last season’s 49.
One could debate the ranking of Monroe and the guy ahead of him, Brooklyn’s Kevin Garnett, too. Garnett’s still awesome, and he’s still an uber-productive player when he’s not falling apart due to old age. It’s just, well, Monroe has cooked Garnett and his Celtics over the past two seasons (20 points, 12 boards a night in six games).
It’s yet to be seen how Monroe will improve this season. If he comes into the regular season with a semi-reliable 15-footer and some improved defensive mechanics, that’s more than solid. Chances are that could be all he’ll need to finally be able to showcase his skills in the postseason.
Stuckey out with a fractured thumb. Happened yesterday. Caught in a door jamb. Surgery Friday. That’ll keep him out a while.
Official diagnosis: Fracture of the distal phalanx of the right thumb. Caught inside his car door.
First of all, this is a terrible break for Stuckey, and this could be costly to him in a contract year. Maurice Cheeks just said the Pistons will use up to four guards, and I suspect he’ll still use four with Stuckey out: Brandon Jennings, Chauncey Billups, Will Bynum and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (or maybe Kyle Singler over Caldwell-Pope). When Stuckey returns – in several weeks, I predict – where will he fit? By then, Caldwell-Pope will be more comfortable in the NBA, and the only thing keeping Bynum behind Stuckey the last few years was a lack of opportunity.
However, as anyone who has read my last couple posts on the Pistons’ shooting guards knows, I think starting Stuckey would have been a huge mistake. Now, that potential error is averted. It seems Billups will get the nod, and he’s a much better fit with a non-shooting front line of Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
Stuckey could have been helpful off the bench, but considering I don’t see Bynum or Caldwell-Pope as a huge downgrade, I’m much happier to avoid the risk of Stuckey starting. In a Machiavellian sense, of course. Mostly, I’m just cringing at the thought of closing a car door on my thumb. Ouch!
There weren’t many bigger surprises in the NBA last season than the immediate production of Andre Drummond for the Pistons. So it makes sense that he made one of the biggest jumps in the #NBArank countdown this season, coming in at No. 54 — 223 spots higher than his debut ranking last season.
That jump is third-largest in the NBA behind Chicago Bulls’ forward Jimmy Butler and Indiana Pacers’ forward Lance Stephenson. Both of those players surprisingly solid play were big reasons for their team’s success last season.
Whether or not those two players can sustain that level of improvement this season is murky, but even if they plateau for a season, the Pacers and Bulls are still in great position. Drummond doesn’t quite have that luxury.
I don’t want to say the Pistons are going to rely on Drummond to be successful — they’re too talented on paper now to need to rely on a 20 year old — but he’s going to need to keep improving for the team to be successful.
Right now, he’s more specialist than he is complete player. If Drummond can rebound and defend at a slightly better level than he did last season while making, say, 55 percent of his free throws, that’s a huge upgrade. Even if his post game is limited to “dunk” and “dunk harder” he’s still going to be of value if he can make teams pay for fouling him by converting at the line.
Drummond’s ranking also presents another interesting thought. He’s ranked in a cluster of big men, trailing Warriors’ David Lee, Bobcats Al Jefferson and T’wolves Nikola Pekovic. Is he a better overall basketball player than those guys right now? No, but is he going to be more valuable to his team’s success this season? Probably, though the Bobcats minor successes will probably be credited to Jefferson.
Really, for Drummond to make the kind of impact he did last season in such inconsistent playing time is pretty remarkable. There are questions as to whether or not those flashes are sustainable if he’s on the court for 30 minutes a night.
But if he proves to be the kind of player he showed in stretches last season in a full-time capacity this season, he’ll make another big move up these rankings next season.