- Teams: Detroit Pistons (24-37) at Minnesota Timberwolves (30-30)
- Date: March 7, 2014
- Time: 8:00 p.m.
- Television: FS Detroit Plus
What to look for
Expectations are a funny thing in pro sports. When a fan base simply wishes for its team to be competent, and this materializes itself, satisfaction ensues even if the overall record is mediocre.
On the flip side, when great things are expected, and failure is produced, well that tends to suck.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are somewhere in between both scenarios. This was the year the Wolves were supposed to make the playoffs. Over the course of the summer, a panel (as a matter of full disclosure, I was part of it) of ESPN analysts were surveyed, which resulted in the ESPN Summer Forecast.
The general consensus had Minnesota claiming the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings, good enough for the final playoff spot. The Wolves are still alive for this scenario, but the teams in the West are simply too good.
Thus, Minny is projected to miss the postseason despite the fact they will win around 43 games according to Hollinger’s Playoff Odds. Because many believe the season will play itself out as such, there have been rumblings that Kevin Love is overrated.
This is not necessarily a new conversation, but rather one that been gaining steam. A little over a year ago, Ball Don’t Lie’s Eric Freeman offered this point:
While he puts up obscene numbers and deserves his spots on All-Star and All-NBA teams, there’s some question as to whether or not he can be the clear-cut first option on a championship contender. For all his abilities, Love doesn’t always seem like the kind of player who can create good shots by himself.
This observation came on the heels of Derrick Favors stating Love was “just like any other stretch 4 in the league.”
Love is a talented player, and he is good enough for Minnesota to be in the playoff discussion, but perhaps not talented enough himself to elevate them without the aid of another star. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but one can only wonder if Wolves fans view it as such.
Detroit Pistons fans would probably kill for a player like Love regardless of Tyson Chandler’s assertions on his defense. Love is producing 26.5 points, 13.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game on 46.1 percent shooting from the floor this season.
That kind of production is what makes him a big name with respect to the 2015 free-agent class. The enigma of Love will be on full display tonight when Minnesota hosts Detroit.
The Pistons will have to deal with him on the boards, on the block, in the high post and in the pick-and-pop where he is quite lethal. It’s an odd thing: I would definitely want Love on my team, it just depends what team that is.
Read about the Timberwolves
As with any Q and A Zach Lowe does, you should go read his entire chat with Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley on Grantland. But if you’re looking for a cool Pistons-related piece, Lowe was talking with Conley about big men who are great at defending pick and rolls, and Andre Drummond’s name came up:
Flip it the other way. When you’re running a pick-and-roll on offense, which defender concerns you more: the point guard covering you, or the big man covering the screener and helping on you?
The bigger concern is the big guy, and then the help-side defense. That’s what I’m reading most of the time. I trust my big guy to get me open with the pick, so I’m more worried about their man and the guys coming to the weak side — so that I know who I might be able to hit with a pass, or if I might have the opportunity to score myself.
Which big man has given you the most trouble in your career?
I always thought Kevin Garnett was the best. He probably still is. Andre Drummond is pretty good at it.
That’s a surprising name to hear.
Oh, he’s long, and he’s so quick with his hands. He’s really agile.
He does get a lot of steals.
Yep. You have to watch for that every time you come off of pick-and-rolls.
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.
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 44 MIN | 12-20 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 27 PTS | -5
He seemed spooked by Joakim Noah early, but Monroe got really involved – and successful – offensively soon enough. He even made 3-of-6 shots outside the paint. This was not his strongest game defensively.
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 41 MIN | 6-21 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 6 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -1
The Bulls did an excellent job keep Josh Smith from getting inside, holding him to just four shots in the restricted area. But rather than deferring to his teammates on a night he was contained, Smith got his shots elsewhere. He shot 5-for-17 outside the restricted area. On the bright side, Smith defended well and successfully passed ahead after getting stops. He also got frustrated and picked up a technical .
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 36 MIN | 5-11 FG | 6-7 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | 0
Singler scored the Pistons’ first eight points, but he faded into the background after that. He shot 0-for-5 on 3-pointers, and it remains an open question just how good a shooter he really is.
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 38 MIN | 7-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | -16
Drummond padded his scoring stats once the Bulls went up 15 late in the fourth quarter. Prior, the Bulls attacked him, and his defense was not sharp.
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 32 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-1 FT | 2 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +8
Jennings looked for his teammates before looking for his own shots, and it worked for him. He has the skills to become a solid true point guard, but not the mindset (at least beyond tonight). He also got a technical for arguing a foul.
|Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 16 MIN | 1-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -19
Avert your eyes.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 4 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -9
Committed a foul to avoid the trillion.
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 29 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -13
Stuckey is a mediocre to slightly above average scorer focused almost solely on scoring. In 2014, I’m not sure that will get him the big contract this offseason he’s surely seeking.
Loyer joined Smith and Jennings in getting technical fouls. Hey, that’s not a bad way to tank. 1. It shows your players you care, and they can feed off your passion. 2. It gives the opponent easy points.
- Teams: Chicago Bulls (33-27) at Detroit Pistons (24-36)
- Date: March 5, 2014
- Time: 7:30 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
When the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons tip off tonight, it will be a clear battle of future versus present.
The Bulls are exactly where the Pistons hoped they would be despite the prolonged absence of Derrick Rose. There are two reasons why Chicago continues to overachieve despite losing their best player in consecutive seasons: defense and big men.
Since Tom Thibodeau became the Bulls’ head coach in 2010, the team has finished with a top-five defense in every campaign. Chicago is a physical team that challenges shooters, ball-handlers and interior players on each and every possession.
The Bulls grind out games and consistently remain within striking distance, thus affording them opportunities to win games late.
The second facet that makes Chicago so impressive is their combination of interior players, and the Pistons should most definitely pay attention.
The Bulls have a trio of big men that all complement each other in various ways that most teams in the league could only hope. On paper, the top-flight teams in the NBA have excellent interior players, but an argument could be made that with the exception of LeBron James and Chris Bosh, none of them have the synergy that occurs on a nightly basis in Chicago on both ends.
Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson consistently function (obviously, only two of them share the court together at a given time) as a solid tandem on both ends of the court at all times.
Boozer provides scoring punch via post-ups and jump shooting, but he is not a great defensive player. He lacks foot speed and can occasionally rotate late. Noah helps facilitate the offense with his passing and high-basketball IQ.
What’s more, Noah is a good deterrent at the rim and also a strong rebounder. He can switch in the pick-and-roll and defend perimeter players, a clear indication that he can blow up isolations and the screen-and-roll action of opponents.
In many ways, Noah protects Boozer defensively.
Gibson is a good finisher around the hoop and also a decent midrange shooter. On defense, he has the toughness and versatility to guard interior and perimeter players. Very rarely is he ever pushed around.
Put all three on the same team, and Thibodeau gets to pick and choose who starts and finishes games. Noah and Gibson are terrific at protecting the paint, while Boozer’s scoring and offensive might be needed if is struck in an offensive rut.
On the flip side, Detroit has three solid interior players in Greg Monroe, Josh Smith and Andre Drummond. They have not yet found the right formula with respect to playing well together, but the answer could be in Chicago.
Instead of playing all three guys together, the Pistons might be better served by only using two of them at a time and then tweak things from there. The Pistons have the potential to be a scary defensive unit by virtue of their frontcourt, but that potential is still locked away somewhere.
Detroit will not morph into a defensive juggernaut overnight, but it’s worth observing if the changes progressively occur this season going into the next one. The frontcourts tonight should make for an entertaining battle that will decide the contest.
Read about the Bulls
sources do not expect Dumars to stay in the position much longer—either he’ll step down or owner Tom Gores will go in a new direction. Dumars, one source said, is weary of the criticism he has received in trying to rebuild the Pistons after constructing a franchise that went to the Eastern Conference Finals six years in a row (2003-2008). The criticism, the source said, fails to account for a dismal Detroit economy and restraints placed on Dumars while the franchise was up for sale and ultimately changed ownership hands.
The last five years of putting time into following and writing about the Pistons have been pretty hard to justify from a return on investment standpoint, but this season has been particularly challenging. The Pistons, as we know, actually came into the season with expectations. Their collection of athletes made them an intriguing team league-wide for the first time in ages (so sad for the out-of-towners who picked the Pistons as one of their League Pass teams). And, with playoffs or bust a goal, the team was gifted with an Eastern Conference playoff race that only had like five teams actively trying to make the playoffs. With the team failing to live up to even those modest expectations (and getting tossed into rumors about hiring one of the worst executives in sports history to right the ship on top of the failed on-court product), I think questioning why you bother watching the team, attending games, commenting online or otherwise spending time on the Pistons is a completely appropriate response.
Maybe it’s just this awful winter making me a little more fat and sassy than normal, but being associated with following a team like this has had me at breaking points during the season. It’s easy to get irritated with the obnoxious, loud, dumb fans who take sports far too seriously while combining that passion with almost no knowledge — the stereotypical talk radio calling mouth-breathers, a small, select handful of brain moron PistonPowered commenters, the people who try to organize movements to get coaches fired, the people who think buying a ticket gives them the right to yell any awful insult they can think of at players and coaches. No one wants to be associated with those types of weirdos. In fact, I think it’s preferable for normal people to deny liking sports altogether rather than try to engage in a sports conversation with the type of person who would paint his shirtless body in team colors to attend a game, for example.
But having to convince yourself of your own sanity while surrounded by louts who are way too into sports has long been a common issue associated with fandom. I’ve long built up coping mechanisms to tune that out. Lately, it’s attempting to interact as a “smart” fan (please quit calling yourself “fanalysts” … reminds me of this guy) that has me down on following sports too.
The annual Sloan Sports Analytics Conference/Van Gundy Brothers Open Mic Night was last week (seriously … the Van Gundy Bros. would be my Nos. 1-100 reasons for ever wanting to attend Sloan). For those who aren’t familiar, it’s an annual conference attended by any number of team and league executives, national media, bloggers and many others aspiring to careers in sports administration or media. It’s full of smart people and there is always a lot of great coverage and ideas that result from the conference. But there are also moments like this:
Gladwell: driving a car is equally as hard as cardiac surgery We just view it differently #SSAC14
I look forward to Gladwell picking New York City’s most talented taxi driver to perform his next heart procedure. That will make a great longform piece in the New Yorker that I can’t wait to read.
This is the problem with advanced stats and why pushback still exists — for all of the incredible information that new statistical work gives us to make us more informed fans and change conventional thinking, its proponents’ penchant for know-it-all-ism and the eagerness of some to proclaim their expertise on literally anything as a result of statistical work is a major turn-off.
It’s valuable that many people covering the NBA are versed in the economics of the game, understand the complexities of the salary cap and can use that information in analysis of the team. The problem, however is that I don’t really care if players are overpaid or not. As fans, rooting for your team to be competitive means rooting for them to spend money wisely. I get that. But I also don’t care that Josh Smith, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva got paid big money. In fact, I’m pretty happy for them. Who am I to say whether or not they deserve it? This is America, right? I’ve done jobs in my life that I’ve probably been overpaid for (including writing for PistonPowered … what is this, like my third post this year?). Good for me and good for them for finding someone who believed they were worth it. Obsessing over what teams are spending on players ruins my enjoyment of the game, so I’m just flat out going to quit doing it. I hope everyone finds their own personal Joe Dumars to hand them generous contracts.
I fully admit to not being smart enough or not investing the time to understand some of the more complex statistical methods out there related to basketball, but I do understand the value of having access to that information and appreciate the writers who are willing to study it, wade through and condense it into plain English. I do hope the Pistons assemble a front office when Joe Dumars is mercifully let go that values statistical analysis (or at least values a version of statistical analysis that doesn’t tell you, “Hey, Brandon Jennings is totally the answer at point guard!”). I think there are writers, including Monsieur Feldman at this site (or at least at this site before linking you to Pro Basketball Talk) and the crew at Detroit Bad Boys, doing really interesting, easily digestible statistical work that makes sense, is informative and adds value to what your eyes show you is happening on the court (we can all see Josh Smith is a bad decision-maker, but it’s nice that we’ve had countless illustrations this season of how historically bad a decision-maker he’s been). That deeper context is important to anyone who truly wants to understand a full picture of what’s going on on the court.
But I also loved watching Allen Iverson trying to crossover fools on a 1-on-4 break. I don’t need to feel guilty about watching Iverson or any of the many talented but flawed non-darlings of statistical analysis. I won’t claim that as a positive or efficient style or even good basketball if you don’t tell me I can’t enjoy it. I think we’re at the point in statistical analysis where all but only a few dinosaurs accept its importance to the game. But the hostility towards stats is still occasionally present just because of the nature of basketball — the game is beautiful to people for different reasons. Yeah, I like efficient offense, tough defense and teams that play intelligently and win. But I also like guys who lack self-awareness, have great style, who may not always make the smartest play but are fun to watch because of their athleticism, their unrelenting fearlessness to attack anyone at anytime, their burning desire to get triple doubles at all costs, their weird personalities or any other number of quirks that other people may find irritating. To each their own.
Rant over. Hopefully I’ll be less cranky if the Pistons manage to get bad enough to not lose their first round pick. Onto some questions (also, keep them coming … it’s going to be a long offseason, so send me any random thought/question/insult you have to help make the rest of this season a little more interesting).
With Sacramento reportedly ready to buy out the contract of Jimmer Fredette, is there any reason that the Pistons shouldn’t/wouldn’t put a waiver claim on him? The guy is shooting 49.3% from 3-point range this year (47.5% overall), a mystical, magical land that the Pistons can’t buy, lease, or rent a bucket from this year (31.2% as a team). I know that he isn’t starter material, but the guy could earn minutes on what has turned into one of the worst benches in the league, right?…..right? — Alex
I intended to get this mailbag done last week (see above about me being overpaid), so apologies to Alex for not getting to this before Fredette signed with the Bulls. Let me give an answer anyway though — if the Pistons were actively trying to make the playoffs and in a better position to do so (i.e. not just beating the Knicks in the battle for most uninterested team in the league), I would’ve loved them bringing in Fredette for the rest of the season. His shooting would’ve been a definite plus and I think he could’ve helped them as a reserve. But now that the Pistons are falling further behind the playoff race? I wouldn’t be in favor of them doing anything that improves the team, even minimally. An extra win or two could mean the difference between keeping their pick and losing it. Don’t sign anyone that helps. In fact, if you want to shut down Monroe and Drummond the rest of the season and play Tony Mitchell and Peyton Siva 40 minutes per game, I’m all in on that strategy.
Sure looks like Joe is no longer trusted to make any major decision anymore… Any insight on who might be available this off season to take his place? — Mark
Well, I think Phil Jackson subtly tossed his name out there. Jackson hinted that he’d be interested in a front office job, and discussed some opportunities. His comments about the Pistons made it seem like they’re down on his list — like he’d prefer something more glamorous, but would possibly be open to the Pistons because of his relationship with Gores. Jackson in Detroit would be … weird. Ken Berger of CBS Sports has a list of several names, including Jeff Bower and Chris Wallace, who could be in play for any GM openings that come up in the offseason. As far as non-established names, there are plenty of good teams who could have front office staff members ready to make the leap to top GM job somewhere else — I’d be interested in the Pistons looking at potential candidates from places like Oklahoma City, Houston, San Antonio, Portland, Indiana or Chicago if they decide to go with an unknown. And speaking of Jackson …
Never liked him (Jackson) and never will. How can you hire a man who helped destroy the organization with MJ? He’s never had anything good to say about the organization. — Andre
Hey, he was the coach of the team’s greatest rival, what do you expect him to say about a team that routinely tried to kill his team (and occasionally nearly succeeded) and vice versa? Also, if Jackson “helped destroy the organization,” what would you call what Joe Dumars has done to it over the last five years?
Honestly, I’d be much more interested in Jackson as GM if he were willing to coach too. I know his track record as a coach. He has no track record as an exec. I think he’s been successful enough that he deserves a shot, but I also don’t think being a great coach translates to being a great executive, necessarily. Jackson would be a credible candidate, but I would hope the Pistons do their diligence on a lot of credible candidates to replace Dumars, even if they aren’t names that can compete with Jackson.
Would Tom Izzo really consider coaching the Pistons? — Jared
I think so. (Note: Sean Corp had a really good analysis on this at DBB). The main factor here is that when Izzo flirted with the Cleveland job a few years ago, he ultimately said he would stay at MSU for life. I believe he was being truthful, as much as college coaches are ever truthful. In that moment, he decided he was satisfied at MSU, and I think he meant it. But I don’t think someone as competitive as Izzo can ever fully put coaching in the NBA out of his mind.
He was reportedly closer to taking the Cleveland job than he ever had been to taking a pro job, and that wasn’t even a good job. LeBron was leaving, that roster was a barren wasteland (pre-Kyrie Irving) and … it’s Cleveland. Compare that with Detroit’s situation. They have a potential franchise player in place in Drummond, they have another very good young big in Monroe, they have an interesting young defensive guard in Caldwell-Pope who would really fit Izzo’s love of ball-hawking, athletic perimeter defense and I could also see Izzo really loving and finding great use for Kyle Singler and Jonas Jerebko. Plus Detroit is not so far from East Lansing that it would be a major uprooting of his family. The complicating factors are obviously what to do with this offseason’s busts, Smith and Jennings, and Izzo would certainly have to tone down his in-your-face approach a bit, but as Corp pointed out, I think his offensive and defensive schemes would be a fit in the NBA. It wouldn’t be like Rick Pitino coming to the NBA and trying to convince NBA players to do a full-court press for 48 minutes. Izzo’s systems are already very similar to what a lot of pro teams run, particularly this year when the team has featured two bigs in Adreian Payne and Kenny Kaminsky who are floor-stretchers.
Izzo has never been particularly fond of recruiting, and MSU actually hasn’t had an easy go on the recruiting front of late. He has a talented team that is losing at least three key starters (Harris*, Payne, Appling) after the season and that has dealt with a ridiculous number of injuries in an overall frustrating season. I still think it’s a major longshot for him to leave, but the NBA door isn’t going to be open that much longer, and I don’t even know how much longer Izzo plans to coach, period. The timing and location of the job might not get much better than right now.
* Harris is only a sophomore, but is currently projected as a top 10 pick, so it’s highly unlikely he stays.
If u r a GM, which would u rather have? Pistons roster or Bulls roster sans Derrick Rose? — FT33
The Bulls have Joakim Noah, who might be the best non-Dwight center in the league right now, plus two first round picks this year and some nice complementary pieces like Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy and Taj Gibson. The Pistons have Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe as the only pieces I would count as major assets right now, with Kyle Singler and KCP in the potentially nice pieces category. I love Drummond, but I would probably lean toward taking the Bulls roster/picks, especially if I also get Thibs as coach in the deal. If the Pistons end up keeping their lottery pick this year, that would likely change my answer.
Why do I go to Pistons games? One word: D-Town.
Their Fresh Prince bit is the best in The Association. Between D-Town and Dancing Usher, Pistons have some pieces to build on. But Flight Squad misses way too many dunks, Hooper is painfully average and the drumline is probably the biggest mistake in the Joe Dumars era. Oh and Mason is still clutch as can be. Still the overall in-game experience is sour because of the lack of video replays and screens to display stats. Isn’t it more important to fix the in-arena entertainment problems before fixing the coach or players? Gores loves entertainment right? — PT
Wow, totally agree with the D-Town analysis — I’ve been to three games this season, and D-Town is BY FAR the best part of halftime (with apologies to the Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy guys, of course). I do actually think you need to give Gores credit for his entertainment investment. Yeah, some of the halftime acts have been easy to clown, but the Pistons have by my count at least 321 different dance teams this season, concerts at halftime, giveaways and he’s also spent millions on upgrades to the Palace (though you are right, updated video boards would be nice). With the basketball product lacking, the Pistons have certainly gone to great lengths to at least try to make the arena experience fun.
Seriously though, Gores deserves major credit for one thing so far — resisting the urge to rip off taxpayers in Michigan on a new stadium in downtown Detroit the way the Ilitch family is with the new Red Wings stadium. Kudos to Gores for instead taking a completely serviceable, nice arena and spending his own money to upgrade rather than demanding public money to help finance a new one.
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 31 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-4 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | +4Monroe seemed to have dead legs. Early, just corralling the ball inside was a struggle. Eventually, Monroe upgraded that to finishing problems. Plus, he allowed an over-the-hill Amar’e Stoudemire (22 points on 9-of-11 shooting) to carve him up. At least Monroe rebounded well, and that afforded him a few extra points.|
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 42 MIN | 5-17 FG | 5-9 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | +7Brick city. His defense on Carmelo Anthony (28 points on 11-of-21) was up and down, which isn’t bad considering Melo’s offensive prowess.|
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 32 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -1Singler moves really well to get open. If only his shooting stroke were a wee bit better. Oh, well. Players combine those two skills to produce points, and Singler does so reasonably efficiently. His method just skews toward the pre-shot end of the spectrum.|
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 46 MIN | 6-9 FG | 5-7 FT | 26 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | +13Jennette McCurdy recently went on Pete Holmes’ “You Made It Weird” podcast and discussed her relationship with Drummond. She said she was never as into it as he was, laughing as she shared details that sort of made Drummond look immature. Really, she didn’t say anything awful about Drummond, but it was a little more revealing than I would have preferred personally. Then again, their entire relationship was more revealing than I would have preferred personally. Drummond responded to TMZ:
He also posted this Vine:
Then, lingerie shots of McCurdy appeared online, causing many to speculate Drummond leaked them. Just 45 minutes before game time, he tweeted:
Drummond backed that up in a big way. He scored with a craftiness indicative of, with all his other skills, a future superstar. His 26 rebounds matched Dwight Howard for most by any player this season and were most by a Piston since Ben Wallace in 2002. Defensively, Drummond both cleaned up his teammates’ mistakes and forced the Knicks into new problems. He even made 5-of-7 free throws. Drummond was the total package.
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 30 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 11 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 9 PTS | +3Jennings, for better or worse, kept the ball moving.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 10 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +3Jerebko crashed the boards hard to make his impact. What is this, 2010?|
|Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 18 MIN | 5-10 FG | 5-6 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 16 PTS | +8Bynum drove to the rim with ease, but the results were only moderate once he got there. He can be an effective defender when playing for steals, and this sorry Knicks backcourt allowed him to play for steals.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +7Turning strong man-to-man defense on J.R. Smith into a steal saved Caldwell-Pope from another trillion.|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 27 MIN | 6-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 16 PTS | +11High-volume Rodney Stuckey is high volume.|
Loyer has a difficult job, developing players and keeping them engaged while losing. Whether or not direction from above dictates tanking, the Pistons should tank, and I’m grading Loyer on his ability to guide the Pistons on the path they should go. It’s great Drummond played so well while on the court, and I wouldn’t root against that for a second. But did Loyer really need to give Drummond 46 minutes, his career high in a non-overtime game? Rest your top player a little more, and maybe the Knicks win the pivotal contest for lottery positioning – though probably not. Even a typical amount of playing time from Drummond would have likely been enough to beat New York. The Knicks are awful, and they’re not tanking. Even tanking teams can’t lose every game, anyway (except the 76ers). Loyer hurt Detroit’s tanking cause, but I suspect it was out of his hands anyway. Dear Knicks, please get better.
- Teams: New York Knicks (21-39) at Detroit Pistons (23-36)
- Date: March 3, 2014
- Time: 7:30 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
The Detroit Pistons are mired in a four-game losing streak, which is causing them to lose ground in the race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. What’s more, the defeats have not been all that close.
During the streak, Detroit has been losing games by 8.8 points per game. They need a change in fortunes, and perhaps tonight is when that occurs. The Pistons will host the stumbling New York Knicks.
New York is in the midst of a six-game losing streak that makes them look practically like the Philadelphia 76ers. During this run, the Knicks are losing on average by 15 points per game.
Philly (currently on a 14-game losing streak) is losing games on average by 10.8 points this season, which suggests that they are closer to New York in terms of output than most would be willing to acknowledge.
It’s an interesting place for New York to be considering that owner James Dolan reportedly stated earlier in the season that he thought the team had enough to win the title this year. Yikes!
The Knicks were never truthfully talented enough to contend for a championship this season, but they should be much better than what they have looked like this season.
One of the issues plaguing the team is the inability to play in concert with each other on offense, and the complete lack of accountability on defense. Knicks players routinely are the last people in the arena to notice their own defensive breakdowns.
For instance, in yesterday’s loss against the Chicago Bulls, Joakim Noah conducted a basketball clinic on backdoor passing. For all the talent Noah possesses, none of the Knicks ever realized that the Chicago players wanted to be overplayed so that they could cut hard to the basket for scores courtesy of the Bulls center.
In related news, New York is second to last in defensive efficiency.
Fair or not, this will be a mark on Carmelo Anthony, who just happens to be playing the best basketball of his career during this mess of a season. I have been critical of Anthony previously, but this year from hell is one of the most fascinating developments in recent memory.
All-Stars that are playing at the peak of their powers usually produce wins, but that simply has not been the case in Gotham. Since the All-Star break, the Knicks have only been victorious once in their eight tries despite the fact Melo has been sensational.
During this timeframe, Anthony is averaging 32.5 points, 8 rebounds and 2.8 assists on 47.4 percent shooting from the floor and a sizzling 44.1 percent 3-point shooting. In addition, Anthony has played hard and remained engaged throughout the course of this stretch.
An argument could be made that Anthony has ceased caring about the season, and that he is instead focused on securing the biggest deal possible elsewhere this offseason when he hits free agency. Obviously, there is little proof to suggest this, but it has to be in the back of the minds of fans.
The Knicks are on the verge of becoming the league’s laughingstock… again (remember the Stephon Marbury years?). Last season, some New York fans were convinced the Orange and Blue were going to make it to the NBA Finals, and it resulted in this amazingly comical fan commentary (language not safe for work, but it’s worth a few giggles, especially when we know how their season ended).
This time around, the mood is much more somber in the Big Apple, and it’s certainly warranted. New York is now looking for very little victories (perhaps even moral ones), because of the way this season has gone. The team is losing games and perhaps even its franchise cornerstone in the process.
As bad as Detroit needs a win tonight, New York needs it more. That doesn’t mean they will play like it though based on their recent string of games.
Read about the Knicks
Phil Jackson, in a Q&A with Sam Amick of USA Today:
Q: With that in mind, the natural question is what does that mean going forward? That was a unique situation, but do you see opportunity elsewhere that you like?
A: There are a few (opportunities), but I shouldn’t name them. It wouldn’t be right to talk about it, name anything. But yeah, there are some. There are winners and losers in the NBA, and a lot of people are trying to reclaim their position or change their culture or whatever. So yeah, there is. I’ve had conversations. Some of them are feelers. "Are you interested?" type of thing. I did go out to Detroit last year and sit with (Pistons President) Joe (Dumars). I guess we weren’t successful, but I really encouraged (Pistons owner) Tom Gores that the general manager has to be able to pick his coach so they can win it together. And Joe wanted Maurice, so it didn’t work out, unfortunately for Maurice. I developed a relationship with the owner, who lives in LA. We have conversations.
Q: So is that still an ongoing relationship?
A: I’m just like an adviser, an unpaid adviser. So far, my advice hasn’t been too great (laughs).
Q: Well at least they’re not wasting their money on you…
A: Tom is a generous guy, but I really don’t want to make him feel like it’s more than it is. It’s a professional kind of opinion that I have. But I like their chances as they go forward. They had some curious free agent (selections) but I like their young guys. (Andre) Drummond is good.
Phil Jackson, advising in the Pistons’ last coaching search, didn’t get his apparent choice of Brian Shaw. But it’s interesting Jackson, if you take him at his word, told Tom Gores it was important Joe Dumars get to pick his own coach.
Obviously, that coach, Maurice Cheeks, failed in Detroit – and if Jackson’s re-telling of events is accurate, Dumars deserves blame for hiring Cheeks. Jackson also deserves credit for understanding how a functional franchise runs best, even if his own place at the table undermined the Pistons’ cohesiveness.
It sounds like Jackson is still filling his role as unpaid advisor. I wonder how Jackson will will fit in Gores’ plans this offseason.
Jackson is unproven as a general manager, though I’d strongly consider taking a chance on him in that role. But first I’d push for him to also coach for a couple years, groom his replacement and then slide into a solely front-office position.