Get Ready Here They Come – Pistons Preview

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Fire in the Palace

LeftosaNeed4Sheed Guest Writer – Lefteris Aslanoglou – Pistons fan from Greece following his team and getting very little sleep watching games in the middle of the night: @Leftosa

This lockout has given us a season that’s going to be different. 66 games until April means that the schedule is quite crowded, and each team has 2 or 3 back-to-back-to-back’s. That’s 3 games in 3 nights, and that’s something that GMs can’t take lightly into account. Bench depth is going to be really important, as well as keeping your players healthy. Some veterans may have the experience in training to know how to keep their body sharp. Grant Hill, a Phoenix Suns great, is 39 years old and getting his career to a close sooner or later, but has managed to play over 80 games a season for the past 3 years. However, wear and tear comes with age, and a season like this requires fresh legs, durable players. The younger players will have a lot of playing time, and a lot to prove.

As the off-season is everything but over, teams must make sure their roster has the proper depth for a season like this, and that they can manage to put together a starting 5 with a good bench even on the third night of consecutive games. So how do the Pistons compare on this front?

The official Pistons roster currently has 14 players; that includes Kyle Singler who won’t be joining the Pistons until the next season, since he decided to stay in Spain. So, will 13 players cut it? The answer is, it depends on the players. Pistons have gotten some great picks the past few years, and are heading towards a younger, rebuilding direction. Jonas Jerebko, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight, are some of the young players that are the most promising, with the first two having played a good year each.

Let’s look at each position individually, starting from Center.

Greg Monroe played 80 games last year, averaging 28 minutes per game, and is sure to be staying on court for a few more this season. He’s one of the lone bright spots of the Pistons last year, bringing the team from the bottom of the pack as far as rebounding goes to the middle of it after the all-star break. Don’t let his minutes fool you, Last year’s Pistons coach, John Kuester, didn’t give Monroe many minutes until December, when he made his break-out with his first career start, recording 8 points, 15 rebounds and a block in 35 minutes. He’s a guy that can withstand both the amount of games as well as minutes, and perform great at the same time.

Greg Monroe 12 points and 12 boards

Photo/Getty Images Editing Need4Sheed.com

Problem is, the Pistons don’t have any durable backup on Center. Ben Wallace has reached the late part of his career, and was widely believed to be retiring, but decided to stay with the team for another year. He played 54 games last season, averaging 23 minutes and providing the Pistons with good defense, but he’s shown signs (his stat-line deteriorated in every single stat) that the team can’t depend on him.

So the Pistons will need to bring a forward that can play Center to rotate along with Greg and Ben at Center, but do the Pistons really have a player like that? Let’s look at the forwards, shall we?

The players noted in the official roster as both C and PF are Greg Monroe (who won’t have any time to play at PF, in my opinion) and Jason Maxiell, so let’s start with the baby-eater. Jason is, to say the least, inconsistent. We love him because he breaks out once in a while with put-backs and impressive plays, but those are way too sparse to consider him a steady role player. He played 57 games last season, 16 minutes per game, and had a second-lowest career year in scoring, with only 4.2 PPG (his best year was 07-08, with career highs in games, minutes, FT%, rebounds, assists, blocks and points). He didn’t contribute much in either rebounding or blocking up to last year, but he’s shown sparks of defensive quality, which under current coach Lawrence Frank, may shine even more, making him a needed part of the rotation in late 2nd and 4th quarter situations. He may get the same minutes as last year, but that’s only because of the crowded season.

Jason Maxiell

Photo/Getty Images editing Need4Sheed.com

So what else do we have? CV. And we won’t see him until the 4th game of the regular season, because of the suspension he’s carrying over from last season. He and Jerebko are going to be the main contenders for the starting spot at PF, and unless he picks up his game, he’s leaving a lot to the Swede.

Jonas Jerebko, who managed to become a fan favorite in just a year, is the player that seems to be needed the most to be durable and versatile. He’s active, he jumps for the rebound, he’s tall and with good reach, he can be grown into a good defender along with his good stroke. Main problem? He lost a year with injury. He said he learnt a lot from the sidelines, but we all know that another year’s experience on the court could be quite useful when challenged with this year’s season. In 09-10 he averaged 28 minutes with 9.3 points and 6 rebounds per game. His hustle doesn’t show in the stat-line, and if he worked on his game during the lock-out and made sure to get back to top physical condition, he and Monroe will be the main guys manning the front.

Photo/Getty Images editing Need4Sheed.com

Vernon Macklin is something of a wildcard. We haven’t seem much of him; coach Frank says that he’s progressing well, and bringing some good time outside of the NBA, he will be a valuable piece in the rotation when his number is called during the 2nd and 3rd consecutive games. Here’s hoping that he proves to be the break-out guy that Jonas was, both of them being second-round quite unknown picks at the time of drafting. He started all 37 games that he played last year in Florida, averaging 60% on the floor over the past 3 years, with his points per game reaching a career high 11.6 last year, along with 5.5 rebounds and nearly a block per game.

Some of you might ask, why haven’t you mentioned Daye yet? Isn’t he a possible candidate for the PF spot? In my opinion… No. He does have the height and length, but he’s tied for second lightest in the roster, and he hasn’t done much work in the post to give me any reason to believe he’s right for the job. He’s a player that needs to run the wings, not the bored-out-of-my-head way Villanueva does, but the way that got Daye 18.5 PPG as a SF and SG in the two pre-season games. His lightness allows him to move around the court quickly, and when he hustles he provides the occasional block as well. However, his defense is nearly non-existant, so he’s mainly a scorer for the team, a player that should be developed as such, someone that Knight can pass the ball to and get his shot to fall as close to every time as possible. For me, Daye should be exactly what he was during the pre-season. A SF with the occasional rotational role as SG.

However, Tayshaun Prince is also with us this year, and his experience at SF as well as incredible wingspan could serve the team well. He’s consistent even if unimpressive, is a veteran that could mentor the younger ones, can play both SF and PF, and is durable when not injured, having the Pistons record (not sure how close he was to the NBA one) for most consecutive games started over the years. He didn’t miss a game from 03 to 09, averaging about 35 minutes per game. He’s going to be the starter at SF, he’ll get us around 14 points a night on a .464, he’ll get his 3s, he’ll rebound, he’ll pass, he’ll block, he’ll hustle on the Defense and make life difficult for the opposing team. He has good support in Daye and Jerebko, and I think this will be a good year for him.

Damien Wilkins, entering his 8th season in the NBA, has been somewhat of a sleeper role player this far, and I guess he’s the second-round equivalent of a veteran. His best year was a long time ago and his stats have steadily decreased since then. 3.5 PPG in 13 minutes was what he got in 52 games last year in Atlanta, and should be able to come off the bench to provide some minutes in SF if he plays well. His minutes may be around that point, and maybe even lower, if CV and Maxiell manage to man the 4 spot and leave Prince, along with Daye and Jerebko at the 3.

Time for the backcourt, where we have Stuckey, Knight, Gordon and Bynum.

Rodney Stuckey was, up to last year, considered the centerpiece of the organization, the future of the Pistons. Until we actually got to see him play, which was to be frank, a disappointment. After an impressive 3rd year where he started 67 of 73, averaging 34 minutes per game along with 4 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal and a half, as well as near 17 points, last year, when the team needed a leader, he didn’t show up. He joined the whole buffoonery, and his performance was nowhere near an excuse for his attitude. His stat-line was actually quite close to the 3rd year, when everybody expected him to improve; his potential and high ceiling was touted as one of his main pros when he was drafted. There are some excuses regarding the low number of assists, such as that the receivers (-cough-Rip-cough-) didn’t score often enough. But truth is, Stuckey wasn’t in his natural environment at Point Guard. He likes to shoot the ball, he likes to attack the basket, get fouls, dunk on people. Right now, he needs to build his strength and get his shot above the .439 that he got from the floor, and act as the Pistons main SG. We know he can play the games and the minutes, and a good performance out of him is a necessity, especially since the other SG we have is…

Stucktacular

Photo/Getty Images editing Need4Sheed.com

Ben Gordon. –sigh- Oh Ben Gordon. He, along with CV, weere Joe Dumars’ big Free Agent pick-ups. Both were given contracts that could get a whole neighborhood out of poverty for life, and Ben Gordon managed to be worse than CV, as if that was even possible. In 7 less minutes than his career year (26 instead of 33), he managed to score almost half the points (11.2 vs 21.4). The Pistons needed a consistent scorer to come off the bench for Rip, and Ben Gordon will still need to be that, this time behind Stuckey. Whether this will be a 3rd year of mediocrity, or whether the absence of Rip, more minutes on the floor and a chance to shine will bring the old Ben Gordon back, is yet to be seen. We know he can get open, he can get up and shoot nearly every way possible, and he’s averaged .404 3P% in his career. He just needs to be the consistent 20 PPG scorer he was in Chicago his last 3 years there.

At Point Guard, we have Knight and Bynum. Knight is a quick, agile, highly-conditioned player who had the most impressive of High School and University years. Full of awards and honors, he’s already a record-breaker for points, assists, 3-pointers and free throw percentage. He’s intelligent, he plays the inside-out game impressively as we saw in the preseason games, he can pass from the most awkward of positions and get his man (usually Daye) open for the shot, as well as use his agility to open himself up; he has a nice shot from anywhere on the court, inside or outside of the 3pt line. He’s also a good defender, something the Pistons lacked in their backcourt, with Stuckey being unwilling to play defense most of the time, and his size allows him to guard both opposing guards.

Will Bynum

Photo/Getty Images editing Need4Sheed.com

Bynum can play the minutes to cover Knight, he proved this to be so back in 09-10, averaging 27 minutes per game along with 10 points and 4 assists. His stat-line may seem less impressive for the 10-11 season, but his minutes were quite less as well. He knows he’s going to man the point behind nobody else than Knight, and he’s worked on his game this offseason, along with the improvement he showed last year in 3P% and FT%. We know he hustles, he can steal the ball and finish explosively; he’s still averaging a steal per game and .45 from the floor even though he played 8 less minutes last year. So here’s hoping he’ll be a good backup at the point, providing the much needed minutes.

So, the Pistons have a less crowded backcourt with players that can pass (Knight, Bynum, Stuckey), players that if on a good year we know can score lots (Daye, Stuckey, Prince, Gordon, Knight, even Monroe) and we have a mixture of experienced and young forwards who can rotate well. The position that worries me the most this year? Center. We may criticize Villanueva and Maxiell a lot, but they have good backup in Jonas, and with Daye and Prince on the 3, he’ll be able to fulfill his duty quite well. However, if Pistons want to plan for the future, they need another PF/C combo player. There’s no player skilled enough to provide proper backup at the 5 if something happens to Monroe or Wallace, and even Wallace won’t be able to keep up with the crowded schedule so late in his career.

The Pistons could prove to be a good team, with a reliable bench. I’m not overly excited about our current roster, but with some luck, with better chemistry now in the team and Lawrence Frank at the helm, we might finally see some better performance from players who have disappointed us the past years, and see the younger ones develop into the stars the Pistons need after the departure of Billups and Wallace. We have sufficient depth, and if JD follows Danny’s advice and gets someone like Humphries out of free agency and into the team, we should be left with more positive things than any of the last few years have given us. Are we ready to contend for Playoffs yet? No, I don’t think so. But with the right moves and a bit of luck, we should be fighting near the middle of the Eastern Conference.

14 Responses to "Get Ready Here They Come – Pistons Preview"
  1. edt says:

    sorry for being pedantic but it’s not

    “one of the lone bright spots”

    It’s

    “the one lone bright spot”

    or

    “one of the bright spots”

    and I think every athlete is

    “durable when not injured”

    It is just those darn injuries that keep you from being durable how does that even work.

    I think that like Kobe, Prince plays through pain, though he’s not the attention whore Kobe is.

  2. ZANE says:

    Amen… NOW LET’S PLAY SOME BASKETBALL

  3. Pistons4ever says:

    Good review! I’m also a Pistons fan from Europe and will miss much sleep from now on, but I’m lookin forward to this season and our team’s play!

    One thing I have to mention: Kris Humphries ain’t available anymore. At least I read some days ago that he re-signed with the Nets.

    • Leftos says:

      I guess it was to be expected. However, he only signed up on a year’s contract, so I guess the front office should still keep an eye on him for a trade or FA signing the next off-season.

  4. N1ck says:

    Awesome article.

    Much respect from yet another European fan.

  5. terry says:

    Good assessment overall. Detroit needs to work out something to get a center any center to back up Monroe. Other than that This is the perfect opportunity for these maligned players to show what they are going to be in this league. with the absence of the negative veteran leadership of Richard Hamilton and the ineptitude of Kuester I expect them to step it up.

  6. Leftos says:

    @edt: All corrections are welcome, although you’ve got me thinking if Monroe was actually the lone bright spot, or if there’s something else positive to take out of last year, in order for him to be one of the “few bright spots”.

    @everyone else: Thank you for your kind comments. I hope I’ll get the chance to give you some more detailed editorials later in the season.

    Question that got to me after I had sent the article to Nat. Would you rather see Prince at the 3 and Jonas at the 4, or the opposite?

  7. Bellllissimo says:

    our power forward position is the only position that is right. If we had a center so Greg Monroe could move to power forward then jonas backing him up that would be awesome. In my opinion everyone other position should be upgrade from everyone on the roster.

    But still do you guys think the pacers are going to cry worse than the heat when they got wooped by like the worst margin ever in a opening night game after a team won a championship a few years ago?

  8. Enoc (Mexico) says:

    Excellent review!

    I’m looking forward for this season…

    Let’s go Pistons

  9. Hoops4life says:

    Good luck to the Pistons…greetings from Italy.

  10. Drew says:

    Low blow at Stuckey. He’s the only guard that CAN play defense, including last year. F— that low blow.

  11. g2daner says:

    lets go pistons

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2014 - 2015 Schedule

@ Denver
Wed Oct 29       79-89
@ Minnesota
Thurs Oct 30       91-97
Brooklyn
Sat Nov 1       90-102
New York
Wed Nov 5       95-97
Milwaukee
Fri Nov 7       95-98
Utah
Sun. Nov 9       97-96
@ Chicago
Mon Nov 10       91-102
@ Washington
Wed Nov 12       103-107
@ Oklahoma
Fri Nov 14       96-89 OT
@ Memphis
Sat Nov 15       88-95
Orlando
Mon Nov 17       107-93
Phoenix
Wed Nov 19       88-86
@ Atlanta
Fri Nov 21       89-99
@ Milwaukee
Tue Nov 25        Tipoff: 8:00 PM
LA Clippers
Wed Nov 26        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
Fri Nov 28        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
Golden State
Sun Nov 30        Tipoff: 3:30 PM
LA Lakers
Tue Dec 2        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ Boston
Wed Dec 3        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
Philadelphia
Sat Dec 6        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
Oklahoma
Sun Dec 7        Tipoff: 6:00 PM
Portland
Tue Dec 9        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ Phoenix
Fri Dec 12        Tipoff: 9:00 PM
@ Sacramento
Sat Dec 13        Tipoff: 10:00 PM
@ LA Clippers
Mon Dec 15        Tipoff: 10:30 PM
Dallas
Wed Dec 17        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
Toronto
Fri Dec 19        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ Brooklyn
Sun Dec 21         Tipoff: 6:00 PM
Indiana
Fri Dec 26        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ Cleveland
Sun Dec 28        Tipoff: 4:30 PM
@ Orlando
Tue Dec 30        Tipoff: 7:00 PM
@ New York
Fri Jan 2        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
Sacramento
Sun Jan 4        Tipoff: 6:00 PM
@ San Antonio
Tue Jan 6        Tipoff: 8:30 PM
@ Dallas
Wed Jan 7        Tipoff: 8:30 PM
Atlanta
Fri Jan 9        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
Brooklyn
Sat Jan 10        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ Toronto
Mon Jan 12         Tipoff: 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Wed Jan 14        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ Indiana
Fri Jan 16        Tipoff: 7:00 PM
Philadelphia
Sat Jan 17        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ Atlanta
Mon Jan 19        Tipoff: 2:30 PM
Orlando
Wed Jan 21        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ Milwaukee
Sat Jan 24        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ Toronto
Sun Jan 25        Tipoff: 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Tue Jan 27        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ Philadelphia
Wed Jan 28        Tipoff: 7:00 PM
Houston
Sat Jan 31        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
Miami
Tue Feb 3        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ Indiana
Wed Feb 4        Tipoff: 7:00 PM
Denver
Fri Feb 6        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
Minnesota
Sun Feb 8        Tipoff: 6:00 PM
@ Charlotte
Tue Feb 10        Tipoff: 7:00 PM
San Antonio
Wed Feb 11        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
Chicago
Fri Feb 20        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
Washington
Sun Feb 22        Tipoff: 3:30 PM
Cleveland
Tue Feb 24        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ New York
Fri Feb 27        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ Washington
Sat Feb 28        Tipoff: 7:00 PM
@ New Orleans
Wed Mar 4        Tipoff: 8:00 PM
@ Houston
Fri Mar 6        Tipoff: 8:00 PM
Charlotte
Sun Mar 8        Tipoff: 6:00 PM
@ LA Lakers
Tue Mar 10        Tipoff: 10:30 PM
@ Golden State
Wed Mar 11        Tipoff: 10:30 PM
@ Portland
Fri Mar 13        Tipoff: 10:00 PM
@ Utah
Sat Mar 14        Tipoff: 9:00 PM
Memphis
Tue Mar 17        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ Philadelphia
Wed Mar 18        Tipoff: 7:00 PM
Chicago
Sat Mar 21        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ Boston
Sun Mar 22        Tipoff: 6:00 PM
Toronto
Tue Mar 24        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ Orlando
Fri Mar 27        Tipoff: 7:00 PM
@ Miami
Sun Mar 29        Tipoff: 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Tue Mar 31        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
@ Charlotte
Wed Apr 1        Tipoff: 7:00 PM
@ Chicago
Fri Apr 3 ESPN        Tipoff: 8:00 PM
Miami
Sat Apr 4         Tipoff: 7:30 PM
Boston
Wed Apr 8        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
Indiana
Fri Apr 10        Tipoff: 7:30 PM
Charlotte
Sun Apr 12        Tipoff: 3:30 PM
@ Cleveland
Mon Apr 13        Tipoff: 7:00 PM
@ New York
Wed Apr 15        Tipoff: 8:00 PM