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Caldwell-Pope’s career-night not enough in season-ending loss at Thunder

Detroit Pistons 111 FinalRecap | Box Score 112 Oklahoma City Thunder
Greg Monroe, PF 38 MIN | 9-19 FG | 4-9 FT | 8 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 22 PTS | -7The shooting percentage wasn’t pretty, but the rest of Monroe’s game screamed PAY ME tonight. He’s at his best when the offense is run through him, and from the third quarter on he controlled the game. The Pistons really had no point guard tonight, and Monroe showed how capable a playmaker he can be when he’s not suffocated in the paint by opposing defenses. It’s weird to think that this could be his last game in a Pistons uniform.

Kyle Singler, SF 38 MIN | 6-9 FG | 6-6 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | -7The good? Singler scored 20 points on just nine attempts.
The bad? Kevin Durant treated him like a folding chair in the fourth quarter.Singler has solidified the fact that he can be a very valuable role player off the bench with his play this season. He’s just so overwhelmed defensively as a big-minute starter.

Andre Drummond, C 28 MIN | 9-16 FG | 4-8 FT | 13 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 22 PTS | +9Detroit’s lead really didn’t start to dwindle until Drummond fouled out midway through the fourth quarter. Drummond was active all night with his usual array of put-backs and hustle plays. He opened the game with a few nice hook shots, too. If he can come back next season with one — that’s it — post move, watch out.

Brandon Jennings, PG 34 MIN | 2-9 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 8 TO | 6 PTS | -1The best point guard on the roster tonight was Peyton Siva, and it wasn’t close. Jennings’ hailmary shot at the buzzer may have been thisclose to dropping, but he played a completely discombobulated game otherwise. The seven assists is nice, but the eight turnovers and 2-for-9 shooting were not.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 44 MIN | 11-19 FG | 3-5 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 30 PTS | +6Meet Kentavious Confidence-Pope. Tonight’s effort was easily the best game of Caldwell-Pope’s rookie year. You know how he’s usually timid and indecisive? He knew exactly what he wanted tonight, and looked confident on offense and defense where he gave Russell Westbrook fits. I can’t give him an A+ because he kind of forced that late Monroe turnover by not committing to his cut, but this was absolutely the best way for the rookie to enter his first offseason as a pro.

Tony Mitchell, PF 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +4Mitchell and the other young players got a taste of first-half action tonight, but Mitchell looked a bit scrambled in his six minutes of work. He grabbed a board and moved his feet on defense, but offensively it seemed like he was just floating and setting random screens.

Jonas Jerebko, PF 25 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -5I have no idea why Jerebko would be dribbling the ball in the final seconds of a one-point game, but alas, he was dribbling and losing the ball late tonight. Jerebko may have his limitations, but he usually provides energy when he’s on the floor — it’s just he also still tries to do too much at times.

Luigi Datome, SF 9 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +3When Datome hits the floor, chances are he’s hoisting a shot soon after he touches it. He didn’t shoot well tonight, but his effort was admirable and he crashed the boards very well. I’m really rooting for him to find his jumper and be a factor next season.

Peyton Siva, PG 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -7Remember how I said Siva played a better game than Jennings tonight? He did, but it wasn’t by much. Siva is a caretaker when he’s on the floor. He’s not going to create a ton of easy looks, and he’ll occasionally make a shot, but he’s just kind of a guy who can bring the ball up court well. If he had a consistent 3-point shot… well, let’s talk when that’s a thing.

John Loyer
This is how Loyer should have been coaching games all month long. Give the young guys a chance when the game is in the balance? Check. Try to get Caldwell-Pope engaged by running plays for him and seeing what he’s capable of? Check. Play Monroe and Drummond together? Check. I know Loyer has been coaching to win — which makes perfect sense for an interim coach aspiring to eventually become full time head coach — but even through all the tanking and all the losing, this was a loss that actually hurt. It would have been great to play spoilers and bump the Thunder down to the No. 3 seed out West. It’d be fun to do so despite a huge night from Durant. It’d be fun to beat a title contender to end the year. But, instead, the team choked away a fourth-quarter lead and ended the season in the most 2013-14 Pistons way possible.Good riddance.

Pistons play finale in OKC

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (29-52) at Oklahoma City Thunder (58-23)
  • Date: April 16, 2014
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

Game 82 folks.

This failed Detroit Pistons season ends tonight. All the free-agency plans from last season have led to…the lottery. The franchise will have to rebuild once more and try to field a competitive team this summer.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Before any of this takes place, there’s the OKC Thunder to deal with.

It appears as though the league will crown Kevin Durant as the league MVP at some point during the spring, and it will be a well-deserved award. Over the course of the year, KD has averaged 31.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists on 50.4 percent shooting from the floor and 39.3 percent from long range.

The ridiculous efficiency prompted a post where yours truly openly wondered whether Durant is the greatest perimeter scorer since Michael Jordan. Durant is certainly in that stratosphere as he gets ready to secure his fourth scoring title in seven seasons.

For those worried that head coach Scott Brooks might rest his superstar tonight, it appears as though it won’t be the case per ESPN.com. The Thunder want the No. 2 seed, and a victory tonight clinches it.

In the event OKC were to lose, and that the Los Angeles Clippers defeat the Portland Trail Blazers, LAC would get the second seed by virtue of a superior conference record.

Doc Rivers has already announced his plans to sit Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick in the finale, which gives OKC the inside track. Still, the Thunder’s best shot is to determine their own fate with a win.

Hence, we should get a good game tonight.

Enjoy 82.

Read about the Thunder

Daily Thunder

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.

Grant Hill, Scott Perry emerge as candidates to replace Joe Dumars

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Pistons vowing broad search for Joe Dumars’ successor, but two names already in circulation to be on their list: Scott Perry and Grant Hill

You can read my thoughts at ProBasketballTalk.

3-on-3: Digging for positives from the Pistons’ 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. It’s obviously been a rough season for both the Pistons and their fans, but what has been the biggest positive to come out of the 2013-14 season?

Dan Feldman: Andre Drummond producing near All-Star levels. Drummond appeared to be on this track as a rookie, but sometimes, players can’t maintain their production in larger minutes. Drummond did, and that gives the Pistons legitimate hope they have a superstar in the making.

Brady Fredericksen: Drummond doing Drummond things. It gives you hope, which fans haven’t had much of over the past five years. That’s something, right?

Tim Thielke: We can’t know yet because the most likely answer is whoever the Pistons take in the first round. However, that pick could yet be lost or a total bust.

2. Are there any hidden positives that may not make themselves known until later on?

Dan Feldman: Brandon Jennings‘ development as a passer. If you’ve been reading carefully lately, I often refers to Joe Dumars‘ major free agent busts as only Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Josh Smith. I’m not ready to lump in Jennings. A three-year, $24 million contract just isn’t that bad for a starting-caliber point guard, which Jennings is, even if he’s on the low end of the range. This season, Jennings averaged more assists than ever and did so with a career-best assist-to-turnover ratio. His shot selection and shooting were out of whack, but maybe, just maybe, he can put it all together a little better next season.

Brady Fredericksen: They didn’t play themselves out of the lottery’s top eight. There couldn’t have been a worse way for this dumpster-fire season to end than if the Pistons did enough to play themselves into that true danger zone. It’s well known that the Pistons tend to put together meaningless winning streaks to end the year, and luckily they bucked the trend this year. Now, they still aren’t guaranteed to keep the pick, but seriously, if they’d played themselves out of the top eight it’d rank near the top of Detroit’s most futile sports  moments — somewhere behind the 2003 Tigers and the 2008 Lions.

 

Tim Thielke: Sure, Smith/Monroe/Drummond could develop a surprising amount of chemistry, become a devastating frontcourt, and attribute it to working through the kinks this year. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

3. You’re drawing for straws here, I know, but what the best moment of the year?

Dan Feldman: Assuming we’re talking about moments during only the regular season and not the extended season, which would include the lottery: Pistons firing Maurice Cheeks. More than anything, that gave me faith the franchise would move quickly to fix its mistakes. The Pistons have been going nowhere slowly for years. Cheeks’ firing was a refreshing sign they’re going… well, maybe still nowhere, but at least they’re doing it more quickly.

Brady Fredericksen: December 7, 2013. That was the last time the Pistons were .500, and they actually were fun and exciting and everything looked so promising — even though they were a blah 10-10. They’d just pounded the Bulls and beaten the Heat on the road, and it really felt like the team was on the way up. Of course, everything came crashing down soon after, but we’ll always have December 7th.

Tim Thielke: Probably when the Pistons beat the Spurs in John Loyer’s debut. That game produced a brief moment of hope that this team might actually be good with the right coach. Granted, that’s still true, but ti didn’t take long to discover Loyer’s not the right coach.

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Aaron Craft

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-2, 195 lbs, senior point guard from Ohio State
  • Key Stats: 9.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 2.6 turnovers, 2.5 steals per game, 47 FG%, 30 3pt% and 74 FT%
  • Projected: Second round

Matters to No One But Me …

OK … so I will admit that I wasn’t exactly pumped when Aaron Craft was one of the prospects readers chose in the informal poll I did before starting this season’s Draft Dreams series. As I’ve written before, I’m not a fan of the way basketball is played in the NCAA. One of my biggest complaints is that offenses choke the life out of the ball, college officials seem to have no clue how to call a charge (often rewarding guys for diving under players in the air, for flopping on minor off-arm contact from the ball-handler or, my personal biggest grievance, giving charge calls to defenders who stand around and take a bump from someone long after that player has passed the ball) and the rules are basically geared to help less talented teams even the playing field against more talented ones. Ridiculous zones that allow teams to just keep multiple defenders under the basket along with way to much clutching and grabbing allowed for perimeter defenders.

Which brings me to Aaron Craft. For all of the positive attention Craft received for maximizing his talent, for hustling, for defending his ass off, during his college career, he also got a tremendous amount of leeway to be ultra physical that not every guard in the country received. Personally, I’m a Michigan State fan, so I’ve spent the last four years watching Craft play clutch and grab (and, admittedly, effective) defense on the much faster, more athletic and more talented Keith Appling. But it’s not just my bias speaking here — ask a Michigan fan what they thought of how Craft defended Trey Burke, for example.

It’s not that I hate physical defense — as a Pistons fan, I pretty clearly don’t. It’s just that Craft’s … we’ll say, handsiness … doesn’t exactly have me sold that his reputation as an elite defender will carry over to the pros.

Fits with the Pistons because …

The pros of Craft are easy — he’s tough, he’s strong, he understands not only one-on-one defense but team defense, he’s passionate, he plays hard all the time and he’s willing to throw his body all over the court to make plays. Those attributes are sorely lacking from this version of the Pistons, with a roster that often plays passive, soft and disinterested basketball.

The Pistons would consider drafting a player like Craft for many of the same reasons they took Peyton Siva last season — defense, intelligence, experience and intangibles. Second round choices don’t stand a great chance at making a roster. If they do make it, most don’t hang around particularly long. So if there’s no prospect you’re in love with when you choose in the second round, why not take a proven player who you know will work hard, push the players on your roster and challenge them with physical play in practice?

Craft’s claim to fame is defense. He’s not the quickest player in the world, but he moves his feet well, he beats guys to spots, he’s strong and he’s willing to step in front of anyone to take a charge. The Pistons currently have maybe the worst combination of defensive point guards in the league with Brandon Jennings and Will Bynum. If nothing else, bringing in Craft as a third point guard (assuming the Pistons have the same top two next season) (please don’t have the same top two next season) gives them a more viable defensive option to cool off opposing PGs who find things too easy against Jennings/Bynum.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

As I mentioned above, Craft is a college star whose reputation allowed him some luxuries with officials. That’s great for his college team, but he will have to adjust his physicality if he’s going to carve out a NBA role. Hand-checks and upper body contact as an impediment to driving guards are called much more regularly in the NBA, and both were part of Craft’s repertoire to help nullify the quickness of opposing guards.

I think he’ll figure out the defense though. My much larger issue with Craft is that he can’t shoot. For all of the coverage (and he got a TON of coverage) praising his work ethic and desire during his career, the fact that he never really improved much in four years always seems to escape the narrative. In fact, his three-point shooting got worse — from 38 percent as a freshman to 30 percent each of the last two seasons. On top of that, he has a wonky looking shot that suggests he has quite a bit of work to do if he’s ever going to add a reliable spot-up jumper to his repertoire, something that will be vital to him sticking in the league.

Also, somewhat contrary to his rep as the ultimate heady player, he is not opposed to being a bit of a risk taker at times, occasionally throwing low-percentage passes into traffic or taking bad shots.

Craft’s defense is good enough to get him in the second round conversation. His offense is not NBA-caliber, and the fact that he’s played four years of college with little offensive improvement makes it a longshot that he has much room to grow there.

From the Experts

Chad Ford:

Craft isn’t your traditional NBA point guard by almost any standard. But his toughness and defense have led many NBA scouts to contend that he’ll find a way to make and stick on a team. He’s a likely second-round pick to undrafted, but so many scouts admire the way he plays that someone will give him a chance.

DraftExpress:

One area Craft will have to focus on to stick in the NBA is his ability to create out of the pick and roll. Craft has shown he can be a distributor in this area, but he often doesn’t have a passing lane because the defense goes under the screen, daring him to take a jump shot. Craft looks uncomfortable shooting off the dribble (27% FG%), as he struggles to get balanced and has a slow release that will allow NBA defenders to recover and challenge the shot when they see him prepare to shoot. Craft took only 1.8 three point attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted,third lowest among point guards in our top 100. He shot only 30% on these three pointers, on par with the rest of his career and not high enough to make defenses guard him at this distance. If he doesn’t develop a passable jump shot, it will be harder for him to stay in the league because defenses will not need to guard him in this area, making it harder for him to create for his teammates.

Highlights

Previously:

Joe Dumars era, defined by change, brought down by what Dumars never learned to change

The vision changed too many times, and now, the general manager had to also.

Joe Dumars has overseen several iterations of Pistons Basketball, the team changing identities too rapidly under his watch despite a reputation for measured stability. The latest change, made official today, removes Dumars from his role as general manager.

On days like this, it’s impossible not to reflect on Dumars’ reign – and how much he’s changed since it began in 2000.

He once praised players like Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace for contributing without the ball in their hands.

Then, he said the league was going another direction.

He needed players who could break down opponents off the dribble. Rodney Stuckey became a sacred cow.

He emphasized players who could play multiple positions. Ben Gordon got a fat contract, and Richard Hamilton received an extension.

He coveted stretch fours. Austin Daye was drafted in the top half of the first round, and Charlie Villanueva drew a sizable contract.

But the NBA hadn’t changed as sharply as Dumars believed. Defense remained a priority to successful teams, and as Dumars de-emphasized it in Detroit – through his actions, though not his words – the Pistons fell into the cellar.

Again, the plan changed.

Suddenly athleticism became Dumars’ necessity. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope passed Trey Burke in the draft, and Josh Smith received the largest per-year salary in team history.

The result of this latest, half-baked scheme? A mess on the court, yet another season that ends before the playoffs and Dumars effectively being fired from his position (even if it’s disguised as an accepted demotion).

And don’t get me started on coaches, who’ve changed more rapidly than Dumars’ philosophy. George Irvine, Rick Carlisle, Larry Brown, Flip Saunders, Michael Curry, John Kuester, Lawrence Frank and Maurice Cheeks were all scapegoated for Dumars’ failings.

Today, the tables have turned. Dumars is taking the fall for, at least in part, mistakes made by others after years of doing the same to his coaches. So, I have no sympathy – sadness yes, sympathy no – for Dumars. What goes around comes around, and Dumars put himself in this position

Nearly a decade-and-a-half of change came to this, but throughout the destructive transitions emerged three constants that led to Dumars’ downfall: failed pursuits of superstars, repeated unwillingness to challenge players and a lack of long-term planning.

Failed pursuits of superstars

Dumars began his tenure with a flop.

Tasked, above all else, with re-signing Grant Hill, Dumars helplessly watched the Pistons’ biggest star since Isiah Thomas leave for Orlando.

As the narrative went, Dumars realized right then and there he didn’t want superstars. Detroit was a blue-collar city, and the Pistons would win through effort and teamwork.

It’s a great story. It’s just not true.

Dumars always wanted a star, and he never hid that.

He tried to sign Chris Webber, and he tried to trade for Allen Iverson years before he actually did. In fact, Dumars put the writing on the wall while he was still playing. Jackie MacMullan of Sports Illustrated:

Retiring Detroit veteran Joe Dumars’s final gift to the game was the advice he gave Philly guard Allen Iverson during the season. Dumars says he reminded Iverson to keep doing the right things. "He was very receptive," Dumars says. "Allen is what I call an ‘environment guy’ Put him with the right people, and he’ll be fine."…

Dumars believed he had that environment when he actually traded for Iverson, convincing himelf the Pistons were somehow organizationally superior to the rest of the league.

They weren’t.

And not only did it cost them Chauncey Billups, Dumars’ miscalculation further eroded the Pistons’ culture. But it didn’t stop him from seeking that superstar.

It was almost as if he believed paying Ben Gordon and Josh Smith like superstars would turn them into ones. Instead, both players – and many others like them – sulked and regressed due to Dumars’…

Repeated unwillingness to challenge players

What did Dumars do best? Trading and drafting – two areas where he was trying to outwit other general managers.

But when it came to free agency, Dumars, a former player, never had the stomach for using leverage on former players. He gave out big contracts, enabled bad behavior and then fired coaches to back his players.

As I wrote at one point when the John Kuester-Richard Hamilton-Tayshaun Prince fiasco reached boiling point with the Philly shootaround boycott:

Dumars has left his coaches on an island to fend for themselves and done so under the guise of providing freedom for the coaches to run their teams. This wasn’t a sinister decision by Dumars. He thinks it’s best course for the franchise.

But the side effects of the philosophy – four fired coaches in six years and near-consistent player bickering between – negate the positives of Dumars’ hands-off policy.

Dumars gives his coaches enough rope to hang themselves, and when the noose is tightening, Dumars still won’t step in to help the man he hired. He’ll just provide the final yank.

The title of that post? “Joe Dumars let the Pistons’ intra-team bickering go too far – and now he can’t keep John Kuester/ can’t fire John Kuester

How does a general get to the point where he can neither effectively keep or fire his coach?

A lack of long-term planning

Under Dumars, the Pistons never properly rebuilt.

His first direction as general manager was to make the team good. It sounds simple, but it’s a difficult plan to execute, and Dumars did it amazing well. He mined the league for undervalued players like Ben Wallace, Clifford Robinson, Chucky Atkins, Corliss Williamson, Jon Barry and Zeljko Rebraca – and everyone fit together seamlessly. He then flipped several of those players to upgrade Detroit’s talent, and the team won a championship.

The Pistons are revered for being the rare team to win a title without a star, but that’s an improper label. Ben Wallace, at that time, played like a star. He didn’t hold the stature, and his elite-level peak was short. But in that moment on the court, the only things that mattered toward Detroit’s championship hopes, he was a star behind only Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. (Shaquille O’Neal lacked conditioning and motivation, and Kobe Bryant hadn’t yet learned how to assert himself without harming his team.)

What really set the Pistons apart: They won a championship without significant contribution from a lottery pick they drafted or acquired on draft night. Dumars should be hailed for how meticulously he built that 2004 team without getting bad first.

Really, it was part of an incredible run of general-managing. As I wrote a few years ago:

In 2001-02, Detroit won 50 games with a starting lineup of Chucky Atkins, Jerry Stackhouse, Michael Curry, Ben Wallace and Clifford Robinson.

The Pistons won at least 50 games the next six years. Last year, the final season of the streak, Detroit started Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Antonio McDyess and Rasheed Wallace. And the entire bench was different, too.

No other team has ever completely turned over its roster during a streak of 50-win seasons.

Anyone complaining that it’s impossible to rebuild on the fly is wrong. Dumars already did it once.

But it’s such a difficult route to go, Dumars erred by trying to catch lightning again. The Pistons’ next general manager will be fortunate to have Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe’s bird/matching rights, but it very easily could have been John Henson and Ekpe Udoh’s.

Dumars left the Pistons in better shape than he found them, but they were a lost franchise in 2000. Now, well… I guess not all that much has changed.

Joe Dumars officially out as general manager

Pistons team release:

The Detroit Pistons announced today that Joe Dumars will step aside as President of Basketball Operations, effective immediately. The team has launched a search for a new head of basketball operations.

“Joe Dumars is a great champion who has meant so much to this franchise and this community,” said Pistons owner Tom Gores. “We are turning the page with great respect for what he has accomplished not only as a player and a front office executive, but as a person who has represented this team and the NBA with extraordinary dignity.”

During the transition, Director of Basketball Operations Ken Catanella and Assistant General Manager George David will continue preparing for the upcoming NBA Draft and free agency signing period, reporting to ownership executives Phil Norment and Bob Wentworth. Mr. Norment said the organization has developed a preliminary list of candidates that includes “the best executives in the business,” but he declined to place a specific timetable on selecting a replacement.

Mr. Dumars will continue his relationship with the franchise as an advisor to the organization and its ownership team.

“It’s time to turn the page on a wonderful chapter and begin writing a new one,” Dumars said. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with some great people throughout the last 29 years as both a player and executive, and I’m proud of our accomplishments. Tom Gores and ownership is committed to winning and they will continue to move the franchise forward.”

You can read my initial thoughts at ProBasketballTalk, and I’ll have more here this afternoon.

Alternate Pistons-Raptors grades

Ed: Pardeep is a Raptors fan with a sizable interest in the Pistons. He attended yesterday’s game and provides fresh perspective on Detroit.
Toronto Raptors 116 Final
Recap | Box Score
107 Detroit Pistons
Greg Monroe, PF 34 MIN | 8-13 FG | 7-11 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 23 PTS | +6Moose is great and I love that Mason exclusively refers to him as “Moose Monroe” in arena. Every time I get down on Moose, which I have been for the past couple weeks, I watch him play and I’m back on the bandwagon again. Also, love that Chuck Hayes was put in as the “Moose Stoppa” (like Ruben Patterson was the Kobe Stoppa and DeShawn Stevenson the LeBron Stoppa) on multiple occasions during the game. He was better on Moose than anybody else the Raptors had today.

Kyle Singler, SF 41 MIN | 4-9 FG | 4-6 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | -14Singler was having a such a good game and season too. It’s a shame that it had to end this way.

“The Atlantic Division Champion Slam”

The saddest part about this crime scene is that it wasn’t his fault. If you watch the first five seconds of the clip below, Drummond is way out of position and then decides to jump out on DeRozan rather than let Singler recover. It was an unnecessary switch that led to a very necessary incident. Singler’s only fault is that he tried to make the right basketball rotation on a team that doesn’t care for such things.

Andre Drummond, C 31 MIN | 5-9 FG | 4-8 FT | 17 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 3 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | +2Another monster game for Drummond. He’s was active and dominant around the ball and didn’t bite on Valanciunas’ pump fakes this time around. The Raptors could have drafted him and established the modern version of the twin towers but they took Terrence Ross one pick ahead of Drummond instead to fill a need rather than stockpile raw talent. As intriguing as this hypothetical is, it still doesn’t rank in the top-three imaginary scenarios for Toronto. Here are the top-three: 1) What if Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter stayed together? 2) What if the Raptors kept the pick that landed Roy Hibbert (to pair with Chris Bosh) rather than trade it for an aging Jermaine O’Neal? 3) What if Joakim Noah declared for the draft in 2006 when he was projected as the number one pick rather than going back to Florida for one more year? A Noah/Bosh front court could have changed everything. Instead they got a Bosh/Bargnani front court. Drummond gets docked points for his aloofness on the defensive end when he’s away from the ball but this is a bigger story than just this game.

Brandon Jennings, PG 29 MIN | 6-18 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -4Why are you still shooting? Why? Please stop. I can’t talk about this right now. I need more space and time. Lowry/Vasquez combined to go 14-of-27 from the field, including 6-of-11 from three-point territory and 8-of-10 from the free throw line.

Rodney Stuckey, SG 28 MIN | 5-11 FG | 8-10 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 18 PTS | -4Stuckey was fantastic today.His ball denials on Grevis Vasquez in the first half and DeRozan in fourth quarter were inspiring. He got to the line and put enormous pressure on the defense. Forgive my ignorance but has he been this good all year? Somebody pay this man. At least the April 13, 2014 version of him.

Tony Mitchell, PF 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -3Poor Tony Mitchell. After not playing most of the season, he finds himself guarding Jonas Valanciunas one-on-one in the post in the first quarter. This leads to three consecutive Valanciunas post-ups and the end of Mitchell’s afternoon. Of course the guards didn’t sag to help and a double-team never came.Either the Pistons really believe in Mitchell’s one-on-one defense versus a creative and skilled big man or this was a classic case of rookie hazing. I felt bad for Mitchell. Hopefully there are better days ahead in his career.

Jonas Jerebko, PF 23 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -20I must have been on a 23-minute pretzel break when when Jerebko played because I don’t remember seeing him out there. Looks like he did fine.

Luigi Datome, SF 13 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1Datome receives an outstanding grade for interrupting the halftime t-shirt toss by coming back out to the court at the 8:31 mark of halftime (meaning he only spent 5:30 in the locker room) to launch mid-range jumpers despite the chaos around him. Datome made his point. He will not be intimated by a t-shirt cannon.

Peyton Siva, PG 20 MIN | 2-9 FG | 5-7 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -5Siva does not impact the game in a positive way on either end of the court. Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez waltzed to anywhere they wanted on the court without resistance when Siva (or Jennings for that matter) was in the game. Offensively, the Raptors went under on screens which jammed the bigs and stunted the offense even more because Siva is not a threat to shoot.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 15 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -2KCP – look at me. Listen to me. It’s not your fault. This season is not your fault. You are innocent. It’s not your fault that the team never runs a set play for you or tries to get you open. It’s not your fault that you had to force up multiple off-the-dribble jumpers today because that’s the only way you can get a shot. It’s not your fault that you had to play with Peyton Siva. It’s not your fault that you used to start and now play sparingly. Your rookie season has been mismanaged and you are not to be blamed for that. Hopefully you will have a Terrence Ross-esque comeback next year meaning you will get consistent minutes no matter how much you are struggling, will be held accountable on defense, will be asked to drive and kick as well as launch long distance jumpers and have screens set specifically for you to get open.

Josh Smith, SF DNP LEFT KNEE TENDINITISGrade is for the entire season.

John Loyer
I’m not sure about the strategy to play Stuckey/Jennings in the first and third quarter and then Siva/Caldwell-Pope in the second and fourth (until the game got close at which point Jennings and Stuckey were brought back in). Simultaneously, there was a lack of commitment to player development and winning. It felt like a middle ground of indifference. We shouldn’t expect anything else at this point in the season.

Raptors beat Pistons as the end of the bench finally gets a little burn

Toronto Raptors 116 Final
Recap | Box Score
107 Detroit Pistons
Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 34 MIN | 8-13 FG | 7-11 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 23 PTS | +6

Monroe’s play has been criticized lately. But there’s not a lot negative you can say about this outing. Against a pretty good team with a lot to play for (they want that 3rd seed), Greg scored efficiently and often, he rebounded well, and he kept Johnson and Patterson in check.

Oh, and he did all of that as a PF if anyone cares.

Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 41 MIN | 4-9 FG | 4-6 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | -14

Singler put up a solid line, but he wasn’t able to keep up with Toronto’s perimeter players. And, once again, he got way too many minutes. But I can’t really blame him for that.

Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 31 MIN | 5-9 FG | 4-8 FT | 17 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 3 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | +2

Drummond continued to grab every board in sight. His help defense could be a lot better, but, over the past 8 games, Drummond is averaging 17 points and 18 rebounds in 35 minutes. He is even a +17 in that time frame in spite of the Pistons being -42.

Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 29 MIN | 6-18 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -4

A 17 and 7 line sounds solid but Jennings was awful. Besides bricking all game, he was almost as bad defensively as some of our more exaggerating commenters like to insinuate that he typically is.

Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 28 MIN | 5-11 FG | 8-10 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 18 PTS | -4

Stuckey not only scored well, he actually filled out his stat sheet a bit for once.

Tony Mitchell, PF Shot Chart 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -3

Yay, minutes for Mitchell. As always, his per minute numbers were excellent. And, as always, that tells us nothing because he got so few of them.

Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 23 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -20

Jerebko was efficient enough, but his usual hustle was lacking to my eyes. And really, he didn’t produce as much as could be hoped for in half a game.

Peyton Siva, PG Shot Chart 20 MIN | 2-9 FG | 5-7 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -5

Siva has vastly improved his assist to turnover ratio since early in the season. But he was still terrible in this one. He missed more shots than he should have taken total and he didn’t play a lick of defense.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 15 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -2

I still hope KCP can turn back into a useful player. But right now, he doesn’t look like one.

John Loyer

Loyer still gives way too many minutes to Singler and Stuckey and honestly Monroe and Drummond too. But at least he finally gave a little more than garbage time to some of the guys whose abilities are not completely known.

Given how bad of a coach he is, that makes almost a commendable performance.

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