There are no must-wins this early in the NBA season, but this was a necessary step for the Pistons.
They’d lost 21 straight road games against Western Conference foes and had gone just 1-38 record in their last 39 such games. It was a symptom of a team that often couldn’t win, but never believed it would, even when facing similarly weak opponents.
The Pistons lacked talent and were mentally weak. They clearly upgraded their talent this summer, but it hadn’t been clear whether they’d fixed the other problem.
It’s still not clear, but at least their condition has improved.
The Pistons are a much better team than the Kings and should win most games like this. This victory doesn’t deserve wide celebration, but a loss would have caused real worry.
Now that we know the Pistons are progressing, it’s time to set higher expectations – like seeing them win a Western Conference road game outside Sacramento for the first time in more than three years.
|Greg Monroe, PF 30 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +7
The once-oft-made comparisons between Monroe and DeMarcus Cousins have become less relevant now that the Pistons have surrounded Monroe with actual talent. Detroit’s success is no longer so desperately tied to Monroe (though Sacramento’s is still very reliant on Cousins), but I was still drawn to the matchup. I’m not sure which player I’d prefer given all factors, but games like this show why Cousins has a much higher ceiling. Cousins (26 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks) is an amazing athlete and has great size. At times, it seemed like he just flew around the court. Monroe can still produce, but because he’s not on that level athletically, he must labor to make more of his plays.
|Josh Smith, SF 44 MIN | 6-13 FG | 7-10 FT | 8 REB | 7 AST | 5 STL | 4 BLK | 4 TO | 21 PTS | +11
He was more successful on his bad shots than his good shots, so hopefully this game doesn’t reinforce Smith’s desire to take long jumpers early in the shot clock. He was also aggressive getting to the rim and making plays for teammate, though. On the other end, Smith mostly did not force the Kings into offensive mistakes. Rather, they did that to themselves. But Smith put himself in position to take advantage of Sacramento’s miscues. In previous years, the Pistons haven’t had players who have the athleticism and defensive awareness to make opponents pay for making the ball available. I’d like Smith to force the issue more in the long run, but against a bad offense tonight, he successfully made the defensive plays available to him.
|Andre Drummond, C 36 MIN | 7-13 FG | 1-3 FT | 18 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 15 PTS | +7
Used his size well to score and rebound in traffic. As teams focus more on him, Drummond will have less space to operate, so this type of growth is imperative – especially on a Pistons team that struggles to space the floor.
|Brandon Jennings, PG 39 MIN | 5-14 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +11
I didn’t love Jennings’ shot selection, but he did a good job of getting up court and the Pistons’ into their offense quickly. He threw an alley-oop off the backboard to Drummond, who looked stunned to receive it but still finished. Players should use the backboard like that more often.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +1
Caldwell-Pope is clearly a starter in name only, with Rodney Stuckey and Kyle Singler both playing more than him. But it seems Caldwell-Pope is a legitimate part of the rotation now, and that should only help his development. Generally, I believe players should hunt 3-pointers rather than long 2s. But Caldwell-Pope has clearly been jittery from long range early in his rookie year. I definitely don’t mind him scooting inside for slightly easier looks just to get his confidence up, as Caldwell-Pope did a couple times early. Hopefully, that helps put him on the right track.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 7 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -5
Jerebko made the most of his limited minutes, and games like this boost his case for re-joining the rotation. When he focuses on cutting and spotting up for open shots rather than over-dribbling, like he did tonight, Jerebko is effective.
|Luigi Datome, SF 1 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +2
Only the very best shooters in the NBA can come in cold and knock down shots. Maybe we should accept that Datome is not one of the very best shooters in the NBA. He could still become a helpful rotation piece, but it’s time to lower expectations for the time being.
|Kyle Singler, SF 23 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +3
Singler was definitely active, leading both to shots inside on offense and fouls committed on defense.
|Will Bynum, PG 8 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -7
Might Bynum be headed out of the rotation once Chauncey Billups gets healthy? Bynum didn’t do much tonight.
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 30 MIN | 6-13 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +5
Stuckey played well from mid-range, both shooting and passing. He’s not a good 3-point shooter, and he struggles to finish at the rim. Perhaps, this is becoming his niche.
I was very curious what Cheeks would do after pledging lineup changes, but Billups’ injury forced his hand. Interestingly, Cheeks used Smith, Monroe and Drummond together 31 minutes, just shy of the season-high 32 minutes they played together against the Grizzlies. Is that a long-term shift? Not necessarily. Those three have struggled defensively as a trio, though they were excellent together tonight. Usually, Detroit’s jumbo front line leaves too many shooters open, because Smith, Monroe and Drummond lack the collective foot speed to cover enough ground. But the Kings, who are still getting used to running an actual offense after years of bad ball, weren’t prepared to take advantage with deft passing.
- Teams: Detroit Pistons (2-5) at Sacramento Kings (2-5)
- Date: November 15, 2013
- Time: 10:30 p.m.
- Television: ESPN
What to look for
The Sacramento Kings are a team of multiple identities. Last season, they were arguably the most selfish unit in basketball based on their style of play. The extra pass was a luxury more than anything because their players operated under the premise that the first man with the ball got to shoot it.
To be fair, it was entertaining to watch because the Kings had very little chemistry and the players often appeared irritated with the way things went on the floor. Sacramento was a ticking time bomb that never detonated but certainly came close.
No one exhibited this better than DeMarcus Cousins. The volatile center led me to write a series of posts about him that rarely had any correlation with each other. One day he had Hall of Fame talent and the next day he was the perfect illustration of what was holding the Kings back.
The present speaks to an entirely different reality. The Kings brought in Michael Malone as the team’s head coach during the 2013 offseason and he has clearly made a difference.
Granted, it’s still early in the season but Sacramento looks like a different group even though the record might not exactly indicate it. The Kings have an actual offense that requires ball movement and screens.
Players are no longer simply drifting around the floor hoping the rock finds them. Instead, there is action with purpose. Malone even has a few misdirection plays where the sets look as though they are designed to get Cousins the ball on the block.
Mind you, it’s a setup. Indeed, they will run a cross screen for the big man from the opposite baseline and have him pop up around the free-throw line area and begin to drift towards the low post. From there he will explode and set a ball screen and get himself into the open area on the court.
The ball-handler is then afforded with a series of high-percentage decisions.
What’s surprising is the fact that the players seem genuinely invested in running the offense and finding the best possible shots. Keep in mind, Boogie Cousins is at the forefront of this based on his play.
The big man has also made the commitment defensively and is doing small things he failed to accomplish last season. He bumps cutters, helps out on off-ball screens and recovers back to his man and contests shots. Cousins must do a better job of avoiding fouls, but there is a lot to like in his maturation process.
Sacramento is a smarter ball club in 2013-14 and that also means they are a better team. Mind you, an argument can be made that after last season the only direction they could go was up.
This is still a talent driven league and the Kings do not have good complementary parts around Cousins. They have ball-handlers and scorers, which is one way to build a team but not a great one.
The Kings lack knockdown shooters and playmaking can be an issue every now and then even though Sacto does a good job of protecting the ball. Complicating matters some is the lack of smart defenders on the team.
Opponents can take advantage of them especially on the interior with clever screen actions that result in throwing the ball over the top of the defense. The Pistons run some pretty bland stuff from that standpoint, but simple post-ups are also one way of attacking the Kings.
The tandem of Jason Thompson and Cousins are certainly more eager to defend this season, but they are also a little too active. Both have very high foul rates and thus can be exploited.
Watch out for a neat trick that Malone uses to protect his big people: pack the paint. The Kings will essentially give up mid-range jumpers and even some long-range ones in an effort to provide some help to his frontline.
That philosophy will be tough on the Pistons given their lack of perimeter shooting. They certainly will be tested, but Detroit’s offensive rebounding prowess will serve as the equalizer.
One fun tidbit to keep an eye on as the season progresses: The Pistons started the second half of their last game (versus the Golden State Warriors) with Josh Smith on the bench.
They eventually had him retake the floor at the 5:24 mark of the third quarter to replace Andre Drummond. That might be a small concession from the coaching staff that they no longer believe in the trio of Drummond, Smith and Greg Monroe.
The sample size is small but telling nonetheless. In 141 minutes together (averages out to 20.1 minutes per game), the trio is allowing 116.9 points per 100 possessions according to NBA.com. To put that figure into context, no team in the league is scoring as many points.
In other words, the combination of Smith, Drummond and Monroe turns opposing offenses into the best in the league. Tonight’s contest might give us an indication of whether the experiment is truly doomed.
Read about the Kings
Jennings is right, and Smith is a hypocrite.
It’s an open secret that the New York Knicks signed Chris Smith only to appease J.R. Smith, a fine player but not one who deserves that level of special treatment. Jennings might not have anything to gain by pointing that out, though he used it as an opening to say that two of his friends should be the NBA. But he certainly isn’t wrong.
J.R. Smith chides Jennings for deleting tweets and tweeting about someone without including the @ symbol so the tweet appears in the other person’s mentions. But Smith deleted most his aforementioned tweets and doesn’t tweet to Jennings’ actual username once.
Jennings’ only mistake here was deleting his tweet. If you’re going to be a jerk, own it.
I have no reason to believe that Jennings isn’t working hard enough to become a better basketball player. Jennings spending part of his day tweeting is not a distraction nor detriment to the Pistons.
People have opinions, and Jennings shouldn’t be pressured into hiding his — especially when he’s clearly right. This is all good fun, and it only brings more intrigue to Tuesday’s Pistons-Knicks matchup.
Maybe by then, Jennings will be playing better and will have meshed more with his new teammates. But there’s still plenty of time for him to settle in.
For now, I just hope Jennings grows the courage to stand by his opinions, even if they rattle a few people.
Jennings apologized, according to David Mayo of MLive, and I’m cool with that, too – as long as that’s what Jennings wanted to do. But, now everyone knows what he thinks about Chris Smith, so Jennings might as well own it.
OK, so if the Pistons don’t immediately salvage another awful early season West Coast trip, they could be exactly where they’ve been the last four seasons — desperately trying to recover from an awful start. Now, awful starts are acceptable when you’re starting Jason Maxiell or when your big offseason acquisition was half of Tracy McGrady’s remaining knee. But when you spend significant money on talent upgrades, when everyone from your team owner on down is full of bluster about making the playoffs and when you play reasonably well against good teams at home early in the season, there isn’t exactly a lot of patience to struggle with figuring out lineup combinations.
For four years, people following the Pistons have watched irrelevant coaches comically ponder lineup shakeups that replace marginal players with other marginal players as if those types of shakeups ever matter on any team. Maurice Cheeks has more talent to work with, but here we are again, with a team struggling a bit and a coach “pondering lineup changes,” whatever that means. Here’s the thing … the Pistons’ top three players — Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith — are pretty formidable. Their fourth best player, Brandon Jennings, is not a bad fourth option when he’s not behaving like a first option. No amount of messing with combinations beyond those four is going to have much of an impact on the season.
Decent teams don’t typically spend a lot of time messing with their supporting players. For all of the complaining fans did (and, admittedly, I was one of them) about the lack of use of bench players not named Antonio McDyess and Lindsey Hunter during the Larry Brown/Flip Saunders days, those Pistons teams wouldn’t have been drastically improved if, say, Carlos Delfino had supplanted Maurice Evans in the rotation. NBA teams are as good as their best players. If Drummond, Monroe, Smith and Jennings figure out how to play with each other effectively, this team will be solid. If they lack cohesion or, in Smith’s and Jennings’ cases, play undisciplined or shoot too much, this team will be disappointing.
That was essentially the debate before the season started and seven games into the season, we’re no close to having an answer — there’s evidence that the season could go either way, depending on which argument you’d prefer to make. The Pistons certainly have plenty of time to figure it out, but based on the team’s rhetoric and playoff talk, it’s certainly reasonable to be impatient with uninspired play that is reminiscent of the past four years rather than a glimpse at an up-and-coming team with a bright future.
So, with that backstory out of the way, let’s get to this week’s questions.
This may just be knee jerk reaction … but I think we should consider benching Dre. He’s been great, no question, but I think it would be better for the team to split the front court minutes between him, Moose and Josh. If we simply had a 3 man rotation all of them could get 32 min and we would never see a drop off in our big men. This would also allow for more floor spacing by playing Singler, Datome, and Stuckey at the three … which in turn opens up more room for KCP at SG. Am i crazy or do you agree?– Mark
You’re not that crazy, Mark, but I think it’s impractical. I don’t disagree with you — there’s evidence supporting that the Pistons are better with two of their three bigs on the court than they are with all three sharing the court. So the obvious answer is to move one to the bench and evenly divide minutes. In theory, that would be a great solution. In practice … not so much. I doubt any of the three would say so because Smith, Drummond and Monroe are all good at giving athlete-speak, non-controversial answers to media, but I guarantee that none of the three would be pleased about not starting, even if it meant the team played better and even if it meant their minutes were not being drastically cut. Starting is hugely important to most NBA players — calling yourself a NBA starter sounds much better than simply ‘NBA player,’ ya know? So who do you pick to go to the bench? Drummond could be a choice because he’s the youngest and seems easygoing enough to take it in stride. But he’s also been their best player this season. So symbolically, do you want to bench your best player, someone who has the talent to develop into maybe the most dominant defensive player in the league? Or do you want to tell Monroe, in a contract year in which he’s trying to prove he’s worth a max deal, that you want him to come off the bench? Or how about Smith, the biggest name and most expensive free agent signing in franchise history who has been a near All-Star for years, who has reportedly had trust issues with previous coaches and how they’ve handled him and who has more playoff experience than anyone on the team other than Chauncey Billups?
I agree with you, the Pistons desperately need to find minutes for Datome and Caldwell-Pope, in particular. I also agree that their lineups have looked better offensively without the supersized lineup sharing the frontline. But I think when the team signed Smith, they committed to starting those three players for better or worse. If they solve their offensive and defensive issues, it’s not going to be by making Drummond, Smith or Monroe a sixth man unless one of the three volunteers to go to the bench Rodney Stuckey-style, and I just don’t see that happening.
Watching J.Smith and Jennings throw bricks after bricks, I fear the CEILING for this team is 2011 Hawks. Agree? – FT33
I dunno … unless they traded for Al Horford, I’m not sure they can even be 2011 Hawks good yet. That Hawks team won 44 games. I think the Pistons, as sad as it sounds, would be thrilled with a 44-win season. Although the Hawks have certainly never been among the league’s elite, they have been a playoff team for six straight seasons (and should make it seven this season) with three appearances in the second round in that stretch. They had a 53-win season in there and won 61 percent of their games in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season. I share your hope that the Pistons as a franchise have higher aspirations than simply being a team that, best case scenario, can get to the second round every year, but I’m also hesitant to say they’re even at that level yet.
Horford has long been one of the most underrated players in the league, and I don’t think the Pistons have anyone on their roster who is as good as he is yet. The good news, however, is that they have a couple of young bigs in Drummond and Monroe who are both pretty close to Horford-level now and both have significant potential that they’re still yet to tap into. I’m cautiously optimistic that a Monroe-Drummond frontcourt combination can grow into something truly dominant, and if that happens, they’ll certainly be better than those Hawks teams. But I also don’t think it’s close to a given that they’ll get to that Hawks level either.
Billups looks effective some games and just plain old others. Should the pistons consider giving him the old/often injured treatment of sitting one of the back to back games? This would keep him fresh, efficient when playing and open up more KCP time. – Travis
I have no problem admitting that there was nothing I was rooting harder for this season than season for Billups in the twilight of his career like the surprising one Ben Wallace had in his first season back with the Pistons. It’s not going to happen, though. Billups is coming off a more significant injury, he plays a position where speed and athleticism are more of a necessity and I just don’t think he’s going to help the Pistons much on the court this season.
It’s great hearing his name called in the starting lineup at the Palace, but the Pistons just flat out stand a better chance of competing with Caldwell-Pope taking those shooting guard minutes. The Pistons still need Billups’ steadying hand in the halfcourt on occasion with the erratic point guards they feature, but that role should be severely limited. So to answer your question, yes, I would be in favor of a reduced role for Billups. In fact, I think it’s vital if the team is going to progress.
With all the talk of expiring contracts next season and apparent trade rumors of Greg Monroe, is it possible/probable for the Pistons to be in a position to nab Chris Bosh next summer assuming he takes his early termination option on his deal in Miami? — Evan
Anything is certainly possible, Evan (Man … that was a total Keith Langlois go-to line, wasn’t it? Apologies Evan, let’s start over).
Bosh would be an interesting fit in Detroit’s lineup, albeit at age 30, not a long-term solution and likely super expensive. He’d still give the Pistons a frontcourt-heavy offense, but his perimeter-happiness (the merits of which may have been learned from playing with Charlie Villanueva and Andrea Bargnani in Toronto) would help spread the floor. In fact, Bosh has been adding a competent three-point shot to his arsenal over the past few seasons, shooting 8-for-16 from three so far this season. His rebounding has been progressively getting worse (again, perhaps influenced by all that time with monsieurs Villanueva and Bargnani), but that wouldn’t matter much in a lineup with Smith and Drummond crashing the boards. If Bosh’s good shooting continues, he could almost move into the small forward role on offense, move Smith down to the post more and then have them switch positions on defense. I don’t love that lineup, but I could talk myself into an aspect or two of it.
Now, could they afford to sign him outright? With their expiring deals and if they were to trade Monroe for something like future first round picks and take no long-term salary in return, then decline Billups’ team option, they could conceivably be in position to offer Bosh the max-level contract I assume he’d command. The question is, would the want to? He’s possibly a slightly better short-term fit, but he’s older, rebounds worse and, if you’re going to hand out a max contract for a player, why pick Bosh over Monroe? Monroe is still improving, has yet to hit his prime and would probably still have more trade value than Bosh even if both were at max-level salaries. I just don’t see a great incentive for Detroit to pursue Bosh at the expense of Monroe.
Now, an in-season trade could be an intriguing match. I’ve long maintained that I don’t think Monroe is likely to get traded, but if the Pistons struggle, I think his name gets discussed more and it’s possible the Pistons make a panic deal, sacrificing long-term logic to try to win in the short-term. In that case, Bosh could be a possible target. He’s a big name who would add some balance (although the lineup would still have issues) and championship experience to the lineup
I don’t think Miami is likely to explore any in-season trades for any of their big three, but after watching Dwyane Wade game deteriorate because of the physical pounding his body has taken during his career and watching Bosh slowly morph into Villanueva and Bargnani with his plummeting rebounding totals, I’m less certain of my prediction for a Heat three-peat. But I also don’t think there’s much of a chance Miami would blow up that core before they’ve had a chance at a third straight title.
Now with that disclaimer out there, if the Pistons for some reason had serious interest in Bosh and were willing to dangle Monroe … that might be fairly enticing for Miami. Monroe would command a max contract, but the Heat would replace a player who will turn 30 in March with a 23-year-old big man who is a great rebounder, great passer and has a developing post game. There is no doubt that Monroe’s skillset would add a really interesting dimension to the Miami offense, and his youth would give Miami enough of an established transitional building block to perhaps convince LeBron James to re-sign with the team.
So, what would I conclude with this whole exercise? Playing fantasy GM is always fun, but I think Bosh on the Pistons as a replacement for Monroe doesn’t make much sense. If the Pistons trade Monroe — and I still feel like that would be a major mistake under most circumstances — they better do it to acquire an impactful long-term asset, not a veteran, even a good one, who makes them marginally better in the present but sacrifices potential future success.
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. There’s not a whole lot to like about the first two games of this western road trip, but who has impressed you most for the Pistons?
Dan Feldman: Andre Drummond. After a little lull, this has been the Drummond I hoped to see this season. He had 16 points, 16 rebounds, two steals and a block against Portland and then followed with 16 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and three blocks against Golden State. I’m not convinced this a turning point rather than a randomly positive spell, but for now, I’ll take bursts of brilliance from Drummond.
Jameson Draper: Drummond. He’s been killing it on the boards and playing relatively well on offense. There’s not much to discuss about his game other than that he’s a budding star, and he seems to be making small improvements with each game. He’s been really fun to watch.
Tim Thielke: Is there any answer besides Drummond? In the two games he has 32 points, 30 boards (15 of them offensive), four blocks, five steals, zero turnovers and hit 16-of-19 shots. If the Pistons had won those games, Drummond would probably have won Eastern Conference Player of the Week, something no current Piston but Rodney Stuckey has ever done.
2. Brandon Jennings was supposed to be trying to evolve into a true point guard. Early in this road trip, he’s been quite the opposite — is this a concern going forward for the now-struggling Pistons?
Dan Feldman: No more so than it was before. I never believed Jennings would magically transform into more of a passer, but I thought — and still do — his talent upgrade would help. Hopefully, Jennings find a happier medium, but the Pistons have much bigger fish to fry — mainly patching the holes in their defense.
Jameson Draper: I don’t think it’s an issue. I don’t know about everyone else, but I really like what Jennings is doing. He’s slowly breaking out of his former shell, averaging a career high in assists thus far. He’s spreading the ball around and shooting at a relatively efficient rate. I’d like to see him become a little bit more of a point guard, but I like what we have seen so far.
Tim Thielke: Yes, Jennings plays with some very efficient scorers in Greg Monroe and Drummond. He should make opponents pay when they focus on stopping those two, but he has been calling his own number far too often when that hasn’t been the case.
3. Josh Smith’s lackluster stretch reached a possible breaking point last night when Maurice Cheeks kept him glued to the bench for much of the massacre at Golden State. How do you think he rebounds these last two games?
Dan Feldman: I like Josh Smith‘s attitude. I doubt he’s fazed. There are few, if any, questions about his effort. For better or worse, I bet he goes back to being the same Smith he’s been his whole career, including so far with the Pistons.
Jameson Draper: He needs to quietly dominate. In the first half against Portland, I really liked what I saw from Smith. He was 4-5 from the field, distributing and playing stellar defense. That was the last good thing I’ve seen out of him. Hopefully in their next games, Smith can go under the radar and play some solid basketball.
Tim Thielke: Smith had a couple bad games. It happens to everyone. But he probably won’t spend much time in the next two games matched up with DeMarcus Cousins or Pau Gasol. Smith should dominate anyone else in those games.
Brandon Jennings (retweeted by Holly MacKenzie, because Jennings deleted his tweet):
— Holly MacKenzie (@stackmack) November 14, 2013
— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) November 14, 2013
— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) November 14, 2013
— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) November 14, 2013
Don't hype this it's not beef. It's just basketball talk. I know how twitter get!!!
— BRANDON JENNINGS (@BrandonJennings) November 14, 2013
Here we go sub tweeting again! I didn't hear nothing when @joshselby32 got in them pockets! Money on me all day everyday go get who u want!
— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) November 14, 2013
— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) November 14, 2013
|Greg Monroe, PF 31 MIN | 6-15 FG | 3-6 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | -29Monroe’s offense was underwhelming and his defense brought back memories of last year. His two free throw misses to close out the first quarter were killers. The Pistons were struggling so much to put the ball in the basket and couldn’t afford to waste freebies.|
|Josh Smith, SF 19 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -15Smith continued to attempt bad shots. This time, they weren’t falling. And he wasn’t contributing in other ways either. Completely unacceptable.|
|Andre Drummond, C 29 MIN | 8-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | +1Drummond was the only good Piston starter in the game. Without him, Detroit probably loses by 30+.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG 27 MIN | 5-14 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | -31This performance was the epitome of bad Jennings. He was quick to hoist shots, missed a lot more than he made, didn’t get his teammates involved, and had 3 TOs to no steals.|
|Chauncey Billups, SG 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -12Billups is still technically a starter. but probably not for much longer. His role is rapidly declining. With games like this, it’s no surprise. But Billups’ ineffectiveness is relatively excusable relative to many of his teammates’ because it wasn’t sustained over much time on the floor.|
|Tony Mitchell, PF 13 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -4Mitchell put Lee on the line on two separate occasions when he wasn’t even shooting. And he made a goaltend. His numbers were decent for how much time he spent on the floor but he wasn’t playing smart.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 9 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +1Jerebko only played garbage minutes, but he doesn’t look likely to get much more in most games these days. If he wants to regain a larger role, he has to do better in these limited opportunities.|
|Luigi Datome, SF 17 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +3Datome was a rare bright spot in this matchup. He shot well, defended adequately, and generally did a good job of being somewhere the ball could get to him. Performances like this should be consistently achievable. If that happens, Datome should team with Singler and maybe Pope to form a solid, reliable corps on the wing.|
|Kyle Singler, SF 18 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -5Singler needs to grab a few boards in 18 minutes. He was part of the reason the Warriors creamed the Pistons on the glass. Given how poorly his teammates shot the ball, Singler should have tried to take on a bit more of a scoring role. But his play in this game wasn’t going to move the needle much either way.|
|Will Bynum, PG 21 MIN | 4-8 FG | 6-10 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +13Bynum did exciting Bynum things. He came into the game, brought a ton of energy, didn’t get sloppy, scored efficiently (although not as rapidly as we’ve sometimes seen), and would have given Detroit a shot at a comeback if the hole wasn’t so big.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 24 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -1Pope’s shooting left something to be desired, but it looked a lot better than it has in some games. His D was also solid and he got his most minutes of the season. Here’s hoping he has played his way into a bigger role because his upside is a lot better than Singler’s or Jerebko’s.|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 28 MIN | 2-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -11I would say that Stuckey’s shockingly good shooting to start the season had made him overconfident, but he’s always been that way. Stuckey, if you have to take a tough shot because the team’s sets got blown up, go for it and I hope it goes in. But they should be a last resort. Today, we saw more typical results to Stuckey’s shooting.|
Cheeks didn’t coach particularly well, but i don’t think he could have manufactured a win here by coaching the best game anyone ever has. Still his grade has to suffer for pulling Drummond with foul trouble, especially in the 2nd quarter. He was easily the best Piston on the floor. Trust him to rein it in a bit. Also, Smith should have gotten some more time. He was awful, but given the desperate situation, he was more likely to play superstar ball and bring the Pistons back into the game than almost anyone else on the roster.
Three Things We Saw
- The Pistons attempted 17 more shots than the Warriors! And they took more from downtown and got to the line more frequently. They had 12 steals and just 12 TOs, to Golden State’s 5 and 23. It’s really hard to lose when those sorts of numbers happen. To lose by 18? That’s insane.
- Apart from the lack of minutes for Smith, the lineups looked a lot better this game. Lots of time with two of Detroit’s “big three”. Relatively big minutes for Pope and Datome. I want to see how this rotation holds up when they’re not playing an opponent that hits 60% of their shots.
- The Pistons may have only been losing to better teams so far, but this is unacceptable. Worse teams beat better teams regularly. Any given loss is understandable, but the succession of them isn’t. Detroit should probably be winning at least 30% of their games against teams expected to make the playoffs.
We’re adding a new aspect to PistonPowered.com for this NBA season- during halftimes of Pistons games, we’ll be doing a short live show about the game, featuring a guest from the opposing team’s blog.
Tonight’s guest on PistonPowered Live for the Pistons-Warriors game is blogger and stat head Jacob Frankel (@jacob_frankel) writer for Hickory High. Tune in at halftime to watch the show!
- Teams: Detroit Pistons (2-4) at Golden State Warriors (4-3)
- Date: November 12, 2013
- Time: 10:30 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
After losing last night to the Portland Trail Blazers, the Detroit Pistons will make the second stop of their four-game western road trip tonight. The visitors will take on a Golden State Warriors team that has lost back-to-back games to the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies.
The Warriors have only played two homes games so far in this young season and have won both by double digits. Golden State has the feel of a team that might challenge for one of the top-four spots in the Western Conference playoffs in April.
Their three defeats have come against teams that were postseason participants during the 2012-13 campaign and in addition, Golden State is a better team this season in comparison to the previous.
The front office smartly put the full-court press during the offseason on Andre Iguodala and secured his services. The former Denver Nugget gives the Dubs a great perimeter defender to help complement Andrew Bogut’s work on the interior.
Also, Klay Thompson is an emerging defender that does a good job of playing position defense. Mind you, he is prone to biting on pump fakes. Even David Lee is doing a better job this season in contesting shots at the rim despite being a notoriously bad defender.
The change in roster construction (the team also brought in other solid defenders such as Toney Douglas and Jermaine O’Neal) and philosophy has allowed Golden State to defend at a league top-five rate.
What’s scary about the Warriors is actually the way they play on the other side of the ball. They possess one of the best offenses in the league, but have struggled to demonstrate it because of ball security issues.
In an effort to diversify the offense, Mark Jackson has put the ball in the hands of his perimeter players and put them in situations to make plays. It has not been a consistent option, but one that his team has explored nonetheless and it’s resulted in a multitude of turnovers.
The biggest culprit has been Stephen Curry. He has been incredibly sloppy with the ball and the team has suffered from it. At some point Golden State will figure out how to avoid the miscues and spend more time bombing away from deep then giving away the rock.
Indeed, the Warriors put teams in tough situations by forcing them to help defend players coming off screens with big men instead of guards. For instance, Golden State loves running pick-and-rolls between their guards to create mismatches.
Some teams will defend the action by switching, while others prefer to play it straight up. Curry ran the set against Memphis and look at the result:
Zach Randolph came over to thwart Thompson’s scoring attempt and also, because Thompson is such a great shooter, Mike Conley cheated over to help out as well. The Warriors 2-guard quickly fed Curry who hit the open 3-pointer.
This is merely one of the numerous ways Golden State will create high-percentage looks from downtown for perhaps the best shooting backcourt in the league. Teams typically adjust by having their big men step out a little further out on the hardwood to provide some help.
That opens up the floor for David Lee. The former Florida Gator moves well off the ball and also does a good job of catching and driving to the hoop for scores. The Warriors offense is a complex puzzle that changes form within the same contest.
With that said, the Pistons have an advantage that most teams can only dream of: Their team has mobile big men that step out on the perimeter occasionally. That’s a terrific luxury to have as far as trapping players coming off screens and then recovering back to the initial assignment.
The Pistons’ big men will probably end up deciding how the game is played and who the victors are.
Read about the Warriors
|Greg Monroe, PF 37 MIN | 9-17 FG | 1-1 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 19 PTS | +3Pretty good effort from Monroe, who may have run out of gas late. Like it or not, he’s been the team’s most improved player this season. He’s not perfect, but when the offense ran through him, it looked good. It’s hard to knock him a ton defensively either, considering he helped contain LaMarcus Aldridge, who’s historically cooked the Pistons, to 8-of-19 shooting.|
|Josh Smith, SF 36 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -7For someone who’s been active on the boards all year long, Smith was a non-factor tonight. Shot selection wasn’t the problem — making shots was the problem. Nicolas Batum is a heckuva matchup for anyone, and Smith slowed him, but Batum still won this round with Smith. Smith’s best role in this offense is as a distributor. It’s just a matter of when he figures it out.|
|Andre Drummond, C 42 MIN | 8-9 FG | 0-2 FT | 16 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | -3Drummond came back strong after a lackluster couple of games. He rebounded, dunked and just did Andre Drummond things. His game is so elementary, but what he does, he does great. Heck, Maurice Cheeks even trusted him on the floor late in game, which is nice to see.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG 32 MIN | 11-24 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 28 PTS | -6Where to start? He’s the reason the Pistons made another late comeback, but he’s probably one of the main reasons they fell behind. He freelanced enough on defense to the point of legitimately having no idea where his man was at times. He used about 90 percent of his screens as avenues to the basket, rarely looking for the pop or roll man. He has glimpses of being a, ya know, point guard. But just as many glimpses of being the volume shooter that no one wants to play with.|
|Chauncey Billups, SG 14 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -4He’s looking his age, and it’s becoming more and more clear that his days starting are nearing an end. He definitely can still help this team, but trying to guard starting shooting guards isn’t that role. I’d bet, with Tuesday’s game at the Warriors being a back-to-back, he’ll sit while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope gets a shot.|
|Charlie Villanueva, PF 5 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -6So, you want to know how to “Villanueva” a game? First, come in and hoist up a 3-pointer immediately. Alright? But follow that up by just hovering around the 3-point line on defense, then miss a box out or two and come out of the game with two or so points points and a minus-6 plus/minus in five minutes. Charlie V’s season debut? Villanueva’d it.|
|Kyle Singler, SF 23 MIN | 0-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -5It’s hard to hate Singler when he plays hard. He does little things when his shot isn’t falling, and that’s good. Problem is his shot hasn’t fallen this season. He’s 2-for-12 from deep, and that has to change for the Pistons’ second unit to succeed — and for him to stick in the rotation.|
|Will Bynum, PG 16 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | 0Typical game that makes you love, hate, then love again before eventually hating Bynum once again. When he’s out there, the team runs a little bit and he makes things happen. But he just wasn’t as big a spark against the Blazers. Plus, all the guards lose points for the massacre that was defending Mo Williams in the first half.|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 34 MIN | 4-15 FG | 4-6 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | -2The shot wasn’t falling today — and, strangely, it has been recently — but he didn’t play a terrible game outside that. His block of a Joel Freeland dunk in the second half was really impressive, and during the Pistons’ fourth-quarter comeback, he shared the lead guard duties while Jennings playing off ball a bit.|
Well, the Pistons’ defense wasn’t totally his fault, but boy was it bad enough to feel like it. I can’t even think of a joke to make about the team’s 3-point defense because the defense was the joke. It just didn’t seem like there were many, if any, adjustments on that end. Also, why play Charlie Villanueva? Honestly? If he was just going to shoot from deep, why not play Luigi Datome? This was another game where the team showed flashes, but as the coach, he has to start finding a way to capture those flashes. I did like that he shortened the rotation, but it’s still not a finished product. Until he figures out who can be the floor spacer — Caldwell-Pope? Datome? — then there are going to be some ups and downs. He needs the team to start playing defense before worrying about making 3-pointers, though.