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3-on-3: Burying the Pistons’ negatives from the 2013-14 season

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. I know the list is huge, but with the Pistons season officially over after tonight, what was the biggest negative to come out of the 2013-14 season?

Dan Feldman: I made the mistake of reading Tim’s answer before writing my own, and now I don’t have an original thought. I agree wholeheartedly with him.

Brady Fredericksen: The final result. There are plenty of negatives, but the fact that this team could only muster 29 wins this season is the real joke. The Hawks lost 20 of 26 games at one point and this team couldn’t even muster a push to get back into the realistic playoff picture. They were armed with one of the least-effective offenses around and played as much defense as those of you reading this at home. The fact that this team, with as much ill-fitting talent as it has, was so putrid is the biggest downer for me.

Tim Thielke: The most likely answer is the decline of Josh Smith‘s value. I still think Smith is fairly paid for a player of his ability and he would live up to the contract with many rosters, but he could no longer be traded under that evaluation. He is now a semi-albatross.

2. Don’t list everything at once, but which negative was the most painful to see?

Dan Feldman: Joe Dumars getting forced out. It was absolutely the right move. I just wish it hadn’t come to that. Dumars is great – as a Piston and person – and I wanted to see him pull it together. Unfortunately, he never did.

Brady Fredericksen: How Joe Dumars struck out on every acquisition this summer. For most of the Pistons stretch of futility, we’ve seen the same core group of guys. This season, Dumars finally made moves and completely revamped the team by getting rid of eight guys. The resulting acquisitions were three complete flops — the "shooters" in Luigi Datome and Chauncey Billups and, of course, Josh Smith — and one enigma in Brandon Jennings. I’m not going to call Kentavious Caldwell-Pope a strike out yet, but I also wouldn’t use the word "good" to describe him, either.

Tim Thielke: The fact that the Pistons had two different coaches and neither was willing to try staggering the Smith/Greg Monroe/Andre Drummond frontcourt. Seriously, most fans could come up with that strategy within seconds of hearing who was on this team, but two different NBA head coaches couldn’t give it a shot? I’d understand if what they did was at least sort of working and they didn’t want to take a risk that may blow their playoff berth. But the game plan was clearly in shambles. It was time to experiment.

3. What was the biggest negative from the season?

Dan Feldman: Chauncey Billups not getting the sendoff I hoped to see. The Pistons might be best off in the long run with this losing season – if they keep their draft pick – but I wished Billups could have gotten the fond farewell he deserved.

Brady Fredericksen: Everything Smith had to deal with. I’m not absolving him of anything, but he was put in the crappiest situation of all — even if it was by his own cash-driven doing. I don’t think Smith actually thinks he’s a good 3-point shooter and I don’t think Smith thinks he’s a good perimeter player. I think this season has probably humbled him because, to be honest, he was terrible for most of it. He played for two coaches who had no idea what to do with him, Drummond and Monroe and he had two frontcourt mates who are either too young or too limited to play in such an odd-fitting lineup. From my interactions and from what I’ve read, Smith isn’t a bad guy. I still think he’s a good player, but I think it’s tough for any good player to go from 7-8 years of playing with good, smart teams to playing with a bad, not-so-smart one. Smith was bad, but I think the general fans’ idea that he’s like a Charlie Villanueva clone is unfair.

Tim Thielke: The fact that I had to go back to rooting for Pistons’ losses. I didn’t expect the Pistons to be anything spectacular this season. But there was enough talent on the roster that I was expecting a season in which I’d be hoping for every game to be a win. Instead, the Pistons were clearly not going to make the playoffs with almost 30 games remaining. And then they still didn’t trot out the prospects for extended minutes.

Pistons fall to Wolves in a mostly noncompetitive game

Detroit Pistons 101 Final

Recap | Box Score

114 Minnesota Timberwolves
Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 32 MIN | 8-17 FG | 4-4 FT | 15 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | -8Monroe was the only guy keeping the Pistons in the game early. Sorry, I retract that. The Pistons weren’t in the game early. But Monroe may have been the only reason they weren’t down 40.

He was also a part of one of the stranger sequences I’ve seen recently in which a Minnesota turnover led to an easy dunk for Greg… which he proceeded to clang hard off iron. That put the ball far behind the Pistons who’d led the break (Monroe, Drummond, and Smith???). So that gave Pekovic on easy dunk on the other end… which he clanged hard off iron. The Pistons actually managed to convert the ensuing fast break.

Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 29 MIN | 4-14 FG | 5-8 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 13 PTS | -32Smith shot poorly (Smithly?) and his defense wasn’t exactly impressive. He did have a nice fast break block to clean up his own mistake, though.

Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 30 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -33Singler, as has been discovered long ago, is not a highly capable defender at SG. Hence some assertions that the Pistons look like they’re tanking. But Singler didn’t do much with his 30 minutes.

Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 21 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -9Drummond fouled out in 21 minutes and didn’t have too much of an impact in those minutes. For those hoping for a Pistons victory, that’s unacceptable.

Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 31 MIN | 6-13 FG | 4-8 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | -23I was conflicted on Jennings as he never looked like he was playing well, so I intended to give him a poor grade. But then I looked at his box score and it was excellent, apart from the fact that he was part of the lineup that let the Wolves put this game out of reach.

Good game anyway, Brandon. Why couldn’t you do this more when a successful season was still a possibility?

Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 18 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +4Jerebko did all we could reasonably expect of him and more.

Charlie Villanueva, PF Shot Chart 8 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +8Villanueva played? Are we sure the Pistons aren’t tanking? Anyway, his production was about what it should be for 8 minutes.

Luigi Datome, SF 14 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +18Datome couldn’t hit a shot (his only reason for being one the team), but somehow, his defense was a part of the Pistons storming back. Not that they ever put the game in doubt, but at least they made the final score respectable.
Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 21 MIN | 6-14 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +12Bynum was awesome. And he was really fun to watch. And that wasn’t diminished by any concern by the possibility that he may cost the Pistons a loss thanks to the early performance by the starters.

Somehow, Detroit’s PGs (in 53 minutes, so there were 5 minutes of SG there) combined in this game for 34, 8, and 8 with 2 steals to 3 turnovers and rock solid shooting.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 20 MIN | 2-5 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +13KCP had his first good game in a while. Nothing especially noteworthy, though.

Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 16 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -15Stuckey really helped Detroit lose this one.

John Loyer
Some would give him credit for the Pistons’ comeback. I do too, but I also give him credit for the early going that made that ultimately futile.

The Pistons lost by a reasonable margin to a better team. The rotations and plays looked decent, but not exactly brilliant.

Loyer coached a mediocre game.

Two Things We Saw

  1. Man, that was fast. For the first while, I had to check my browser settings because it looked like the video feed may have been playing at a slightly increased rate. But no, the Pistons and Wolves were just running hard on every early possession. That style of play favors the Wolves.
  2. Minnesota rapidly jumped out to a huge lead early, taking a 20 point edge in the first quarter. That’s really hard to do. They continued to dominate for most of the game, getting a 31 point lead just before the end of the third.The fourth quarter was all Pistons as the Detroit bench hammered the Wolves’ reserves. If I believed in the sports version of “momentum”, I would have thought the Pistons had a legitimate shot when Bynum brought them within 11 with 2:44 remaining.

    But in spite of the domination required to close the gap that much, overcoming a double-digit deficit in under 3 minutes is awfully implausible.