Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Stuckey Trade Haunch

Dan Feldman of PistonPowered, my favorite Piston blogger as you may have noticed due to the countless times I'm quoting him, has a haunch. He thinks Rodney Stuckey is going to be traded from the Pistons. He has good reasoning and great insight on Joe Dumars' treatment of other rookies in the past and Joe's assessment of Stuckey's situation with the team.

The top signal is Joe Dumars’ decision not to extend Stuckey. Dumars had never denied an extension to a player on a rookie contract. When Dumars knew he didn’t want to make the necessary investment for a young player, he cut his losses. He still has a couple months to do that with Stuckey.

Making it work shouldn’t be a problem. If Rodney White and Mateen Cleaves had value when Dumars traded them, so does Stuckey.


Here’s what Dumars told’s Keith Langlois this summer:

KL: Do you see this as something of a crossroads year for Rodney Stuckey?

JD: I wouldn’t use the word crossroads, but I will say this. He and I, we’ve had some conversations about expanding his role on this team, about assuming more responsibility, more leadership, for the success of us going forward. I think it’s important for him. We’ve had a couple of those conversations, so he understands exactly, going into year four. I think he’s been good, but good is not always good enough. He’s been good, but sometimes you have to be more than good and that’s what we’re looking for from him.

As Feldman explains, Stuckey has been improving for all of his campaigns. He is still getting better, but does Joe Dumars think he has the potential to be an All-Star point guard or shooting guard. If you look throughout the league there is not one contender with a great player at either one of these positions or they have a point forward like the Heat. Stuckey is a scoring point guard and a player like that runs a fine line between scoring and harming the team, just ask the Stephon Marbury's and Steve Francis' of this world.

To make thinks easier, Dan gave a few trade options to think about.

- Stuckey to the Cavaliers for Anthony Parker and a first-round pick
- Stuckey and Jason Maxiell to the Lakers for Lamar Odom
- Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince, Greg Monroe and Tracy McGrady to the Heat for Chris Bosh, Dexter Pittman and Mario Chalmers
- Stuckey and Chris Wilcox to the Thunder for James Harden and Byron Mullens
- Stuckey and Chris Wilcox to the Thunder for James Harden and Cole Aldrich
- Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince and Chris Wilcox to the Trail Blazers for Andre Miller, Nicolas Batum and Joel Przybilla
- Stuckey and Greg Monroe to the Kings for DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson
- Stuckey, Jason Maxiell and DaJuan Summers to the Jazz for Mehmet Okur
- Stuckey, Richard Hamilton and DaJuan Summers to the Wizards for Kirk Hinrich, Kevin Seraphin and Josh Howard

I do not want to go into all of these scenarios since I want to give you my own. I do not think Miami would part with Bosh until next year the way things have been going. If he performs subpar in the playoffs, well, Riles will figure something out. Odom won't leave LA.
I like the idea of the Kings trade, because of Cousins. If Cousins keeps acting up Sacramento might settle for a lesser ball player, but a certainly more reliable one. I just do not see the motivation for the Kings to acquire Stuckey when they already have Tyreke Evans, they are basically the same player, big and strong combo-guards without a jumper and a good knack for dring the ball to the hole.
The two trades I would consider most likely are with the Kings and the Blazers, I would not do both of them though. It would be a good proposal, I do not see them upgrading the roster. I would love Andre Miller on our team, I'm a fan of Nick Batum and Joel Pryzbilla is a very capable and underrated big man in this league. The Blazers might exchange STuckey for Miller since he is a younger player and can drive the basketball. The Blazers need a playmaker though, especially since Brandon Roy is having knee problems. I do not see Portland parting with Batum and I think that is the deal breaker actually!

So, after all my smart-assing, here are my ideas with a little bit of reasoning:

- Stuckey, Maxiell and Daye for Atlanta's Josh Smith (acquiring a talented big man and a great athlete)
- Stuckey and Maxiell for Charlotte's Nazr Mohammed (we need big men and it is an expiring contract)

Monday, December 27, 2010

McGrady with yet another vintage performance

Ok, I could title a post like this pretty much every week right now. Let me finally say it, so I won't have to write it again:

Tracy McGrady is officially back. By officially I mean, I said so!

Not only does he have one of the most awesome profile pictures on I've ever seen, he is also productive!

Let me remind me, this is the player who used to be on par with Kobe Bryant. He is a two-time scoring champion and quite possibly the greatest player ever to never win a playoff series. He was the player who scored 13 points in 35 seconds to beat the best defensive team of the decade, the San Antonio Spurs (sorry Boston)! This is the guy who once averaged 32.1 ppg, 6.5rpg and 5.5apg. If he can regain 80 per cent of that productivity, the Pistons would have one hell of a player. Even at 50 per cent he would be a starter for this team!

When Joe Dumars signed him many wondered (including myself), why he would sign a player for a position which the Pistons are stacked with. In retrospect it was low-risk, high-reward gamble. There are several players with an extensive injury history who have become more reliable the older they became. Somehow all of these players are or have been playing for the Suns at one point or the other (read: Steve Nash, Shaquille O'Neal, Grant Hill, etc.). I think it is a lot about the right habits, great training staff and a fountain of youth near-by.

I think McGrady should be rewarded. Dan Feldman at PistonsPowered has already mentioned he would like McGrady as a starter, I will jump on that bandwagon. He's such a versatile player that you can actually put people around him. There would not be the issue of two players with the same style of play (Gordon and Rip) and how to make them fit. Mc Grady can morph into passer, scorer and playmaker whenever he wants. As I explained in my last post, he rarely forces the action and he can drain midrange jumpers off the dribble all day.

It would still be better to give Rip away for the team's balances sake, but I think it could work anyway. McGrady has the potential to help Detroit make a push for the playoffs and at the very least he could make them enjoyable to watch again. I must admit, last night's game against the Bulls was the best Piston effort I have seen for quite a while. They actually defended well and the offense looked fluent in the second half due to McGrady's increased roll on the offensive end of the floor.

We currently are sorely lacking a player with one-on-one go-to moves. The players capable of doing so are Ben Gordon, McGrady and Rodney Stuckey to a certain degree. John Kuester has already tried giving Stuckey control of the offense. While he is showing the skill set to do so, his decision making is often very bad. He is pushing the ball too often and settling for the midrange jumper which he cannot knock down on a consistent basis. I would like to have him as the sixth man, but not as a our primary or even secondary option on offense.

Maybe the Pistons need to change their way of thinking and stop playing with a traditional point guard and start the five players that are most comfortable playing with each other. The line-up might look awkward (Starting Five: McGrady, Gordon, Tay, Monroe(Maxiell) and Ben), but since we do not have a starting point guard on our roster and McGrady being the best potential starting point guard on the team, it might be worth a shot.

We are still within the playoff picture. Let's draw an eighth seed!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

McGrady with vintage performance

Let me start with a poem:

"'Twas only a few years ago
A soldier named Tracy
Put up a nightly show
Laying the ball up
Throwing it down
Left the crowd in awe
Breathlessly saying 'Wow'

Then came years of agony and pain
Young Tracy
Had lost his game
Surgeries and rehab and unkindly fans
He left the Rocket and hoped for better times
In Piston land

At first there were skeptics
Questioning his shape
Then they said his former form
Could not be regained
But on a cold night just before Christmas
He finally fulfilled all of our wishes"

Okay, this was just for fun, but let's hope we'll remember this game as the turning point for not only McGrady but for the entire season. Tracy exploded for 17 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds and one insult to Chris Bosh in just 24 minutes of playing time. NICE!!!

While most people know he is a great scorer his most underrated skill has always been his passing and all-around game. Somehow he was reduced by the media as a poor version of Kobe Bryant, most people don't realize in which way consecutive injuries affect you. Do you think if Kobe had the injury report McGrady has he would be a practice monster. You ought to learn to rest and recover and you can't go all out every game. Kobe is playing through injuries and I really respect playing with broken fingers. Screwed up knees and a bad shoulder is something you cannot play through though ...

And that is why McGrady's performance was so heart-warming last night. He is showing flashes of his old self, last night he did not show flashes, he put together a complete performance and made the Pistons look like a contender. Will he be able to do it every night? Probably not ... Let's be honest, Calderon, Barbosa and DeRozan are not what one would call a lockdown backcourt. Will he be able to perform in a similar way regularly? I would think so.


I picked one moment which is, in my opinion, typical of how McGrady helps our offense. In this case he is stuck in the high post, doubled near the freethrow line after a Monroe screen. Monroe goes out to the three point line to open things up.

I especially like the spacing. Tay and Will are in the corner or at least near the corner and Rip is at the wing. McGrady is being pressured by Ed Davis and his own defender, but McGrady stays calm. A rookie or a smaller player or a player with less skills what either throw the ball away or pass it back to Monroe and just wasted half of the shot clock probably causing a bad look.

McGrady, smart player he is, waits for the Toronto defense to rotate. Kleiza has to watch out for the three second violation and he also wants to catch a possible pass to Prince in the corner. He leaves the middle and thereby creates the huge hole in the next picture.

Rip recognizes this, cuts right to the basket and receives the ball from McGrady for an easy jumper.

T-Mac held the ball under pressure for three or four seconds! He then used his length to find the open cutter who then got a rather easy look for the bucket. Gotta love the patience!

It's Rip City

Gotta give love to Rip for backing up my last post with this performance! 35 points off the bench. You could say either he is making the case for starting or he is making the case for coming off the bench. I would take the latter. As long as he performs like this, we'll be good.

Then again, it's the Raptors. They could make a team look good who's fastest stars are a turtle and a snail. It's a win and I'll take it. Maybe we can get some momentum going, maybe John Kuester is finally figuring out his rotation (it's just been a year or so). Or, quite possibly, the next game will be horrible to watch. You never know with this team. For a decade we knew they were going to win and play well or play badly and still be better than the other team. Now they gotta bring their A-game every night!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rip Hamilton's quit on the Pistons??? Come on now!

I just got done reading this great piece by Dan Feldman of Piston Powered about Rip Hamilton having quit on the team and the history of him with the Pistons.

Alright, I think now it's really getting unfair to him. Dan Feldman is not wrong with his presumption that Hamilton should get his act together and just go out there and play and that Rip has taken on too much of Ben and Rasheed's way of treating coaches and referees.

But look: He's a very accomplished player. He's been with our organization for 9 years and has done nothing but giving his all for us. How many games have I watched enjoying his endless curling, cutting and jumping, all the while wonderin if he could have become a world class marathon runner ... He and Chauncey were the guys one could count on night in and night out without having to worry about their offense. Rasheed was a nightly spectacle between "Oh my! I feel like shooting 15 threes tonight" and "Maybe I should only take left handed jumpers!" and "Tonight I'm gonna completely shut down the best Center in the league!" Sheed was my favorite player on the team, I also happen to have a Rip Jersey in my closet!

All I'm saying is. I don't think Rip has quit on this team. He's a great competitor after all. All of his career he's been committed to winning. Are people really blaming him for being frustrated. The ejections were bad, but at least he shows he cares. He's frustrated and at the back end of his career, I don't think he will get used to losing now. He never was as big a star as Iverson, he doesn't have the "leverage" of a former MVP. He's given the Pistons all he's had, let's appreciate it!

Hamilton accomplished a lot in Detroit, and nothing will ever take that from him. But history isn’t objective. How Hamilton handles this situation will play a huge part in his legacy – whether he’s remembered as the Pistons’ all-time leading playoff scorer or that malcontent who drained three years and $37.5 million from the organization.

Telling like it is! Everybody has his ups and downs though, especially in a losing situation. Remember when Kobe had quit on the Lakers and on Andrew Bynum?

Either give him some time or trade him. I don't believe in him quitting on the organization for one second. I believe he cares too much, that's all!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pistons blow huge lead (Big Ben hit a 3)

My teachers taught me to always start with a positive. So let's start with a few positives:

- Big Ben Wallace sort of had a career night (23pts, 14 reb, 5 steals, 4 ass PLUS a three-pointer at the end)
- The Pistons had a great first half, dropping 72 points to take a 19 point lead
- we had a rather good first half of the third quarter as well extending the lead to 25

Well, after that it all broke apart. In the fourth we got outscored by 20, 23 respectively if Ben hadn't hit his three.

I made three Screenshot breakdowns. Two about the incredibly bad defense and one about a very nice play when I thought the Pistons had pulled it together.

Please start executing!!!!

This play reminded me of the Pistons of the past. Stuckey had the roll of Chauncey, there was a lot of off-ball movement with the ball barely moving at all. It's a perfect example of sharp execution and how it would enable an average team to play above average. Sorry for the quality of this sequence, my internet slowed down considerably, don't know why!

Stuckey passes the ball to Ben Wallace at the three point line (where he was especially efficient last night).

As soon as Rodney passed the ball he cuts towards the basket and curls around a Tayshaun Prince screen in order to get the ball back from Wallace.

Ben and Tay then set a double-screen on the weakside. Rip acts as if he was cutting baseline, fools his defender and uses the screens to get himself open for his trademark midrange jumper.

It looks like an old play, because it was so incredibly fluent. The players have been playing together for a lot of years and just reminded me of old times so I thought I'd include this one.


What especially annoys me and has been annoying me for quite some time now is the horrible pick and roll defense. It's almost an insult to the word horrible. I'd think even Shaq could potentially improve the pick and roll defense. Want proof? Look no further!

Charlie Villanueva does his best Nowitzki impersonation in this one!! I'm sorry, I love Dirk, he's German like me and he has the sweetest jumper in the league, but he used to blow so many defensive assignments that it was funny. Nothing's funny about this one though.
Leandro Barbosa gets the ball on the left wing and is guarded by Will Bynum. Amir Johnson is running over to set a baseline screen.

Smart fella that CV31 is he knows he has to show on the screen to stop Barbosa from penetrating, Leandro's bread and butter. For a reason that is beyond me, CV31 decides to show on the WRONG SIDE of the screen.

Barbosa uses the screen and converts the easy two. Admittedly it was a well designed play. Monroe has to stay with Bargnani on the perimeter since he is a real threat out there. Daye could've taken one more step towards the basket so he would've been in better help position. It doesn't excuse Charlie V for this disastrous decision though.

Want another example just how bad the Pistons defend the P&R? I got one more! Detroit gives up a lot of threes in decisive moment. Remember the games against the Knicks or Orlando where the opponents seemingly got open looks at will and burnt the Pistons badly.

Coach Kuester is a defensive minded coach, that's why he got the job in the first place. He's been coaching this team for well over a year now and I just cannot understand why the team is still incapable of defending one of the easier offensive schemes. The Pistons aren't playing against Stockton and Malone, not even Deron Williams or Al Jefferson. They were playing Bargnani and Jerryd Bayless...

So let's see how easy it is to get an open three pointer in crunch time.

The Raptors single out Bargnani for an iso-play against Ben Wallace, not a big mismatch there because Bargnani isn't known for his strong post moves and Ben Wallace has made a Hall of Fame career out of defending the post. I probably would've content happy with a one-on-one situation in this instance. Rip Hamilton thinks otherwise and decides to double-team leaving his man wide open. I don't know if Kuester told his team to do so, then he's at fault. If Hamilton decided this on his own, well, then it's on Rip!

So we have an unnecessary double-team. If the team had been informed I would've believed the team had rotated: Stuckey to Bayless and Prince to Barbosa. You always want to make the opposing team make the toughest pass, not the easiest. Usually the double-team should've come from Stuckey or (and this is a sneaky one) from Prince from the baseline. as I mentioned before, I wouldn't have doubled at all.
What's incredible though is that when Bargnani passes the ball to the hot-shooting Jerryd Bayless, Rip looks completely puzzled (illustrated by the question marks) and first tries to run to the left wing not realizing that his man never moved at all. Bayless gets a wide open look hence three points for the Raptors.

Detroit never recovered from this shot!

I liked the lob play Kuester drew up. As Kelser said, it was just a little too far away from the basket for Stuckey to convert. We ran a similar play in high school called "O", never worked for us either... But it could've worked!

What's to learn? The Pistons cannot hold a 25 point 3rd quarter lead to get a desperately needed win at home. The defense gets worse and worse and I don't know why Kuester cannot fix it. It's not entirely his fault. Dumars gets a defensive oriented coach and signs Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, both not known for defense. We'll have to see how it plays out, I'd take a good defensive squad with bad offense over a good offensive team with bad defense any day.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pistons get stomped by Hornets

A really, really, REALLY bad 93-74 loss to the Hornets. As Dan Feldman from Piston Powered puts it:

No Piston had a positive plus-minus at halftime – and the Hornets were only up 10. It was incredible how every Piston did his small part to help the team fall behind.

More amazing: they did it again in the second half. All the Pistons who played in the first also posted negative plus-minuses in the second half.

Talking about a team effort, right? Gotta keep a sense of humor here ... This loss was truly annoying. I only got to watch the second half, but boy was that horrible. Ben Gordon was the only player playing well, showing what he's best at, shooting, shooting and more shooting. It was bad enough to hear the New Orleans announcers make fun of the roster (they really got a kick out of the number of guards. Quote when Bynum entered the game: "Oh, a substitution, look, another guard [laughter]".

We have so many guards and neither one of them gets a rhythm. The announcers talked about Bellinelli and how much confidence he has now because he is not afraid anymore to get pulled out after a missed jumper ... Well, how are you not afraid if you are a declining Rip Hamilton when Ben Gordon and T-Mac are sitting on the bench waiting to gobble up your playing time? Same issue for the other too!
I'm still wondering why we got McGrady if we are not going to use him a lot more. I'm starting to beg to make a trade so we don't have this jam at guard. Shooting is 50% about confidence and 50% about practice and talent. None of the players are truly confident. We have two potential game changers sitting on the bench most of the time (Gordon and T-Mac).

Another question: Why did we get Gordon if he's obviously not allowed to take jumpers? What made him great for the Bulls was that he was the leader of the second unit and got the green light. He could any shot anytime he wanted. He had 20+ quarters for Jesus Shuttlesworth's sake. You can't bring in players and take away their biggest strengths, they've been developing them for a mighty long time. Gordon won't be anything else BUT a jumpshooter. If you aren't going to use him you might as well sit him.

You can make the case Kuester is trying to develop the young talent. While Monroe is getting a lot more burn he's still not playing enough minutes. He's lacking confidence in a major way. He's trying to adjust but let's face it, it is not as easy for a big man, because they don't handle the ball as much.

What really annoyed me last night though, was passing up good looks for bad looks. I don't know how many times I saw a player catching the ball with a wide open look, faking, taking one dribble INSIDE the three-point line and fading away for the jumper. That's a streetball move, but you aren't going to win games with that. The Hornets didn't respect the jumper so they didn't leave their feet since they learnt rather quickly Detroit was going to take a bad shot anyway.

Detroit needs to change something! Coach, players ... I don't know, but this roster isn't built to compete. The Hornets are a bad opponent for the Pistons. They match up very well. They have a big man with a great touch (David West), a guard who's strong and fast enough to keep Stuckey from driving at will (Chris Paul) and quick and athletic wing defenders to close out on the jumpshooters (Trevor Ariza). But that's just not good enough of an excuse ...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tayshaun at the Four

The Pistons started Tayshaun Prince at the four last game against Cleveland! I've been waiting for this move for quite a while. In my opinion, Kuester just doesn't have that much of a choice, but playing Tay at the four a lot more than Prince might like to.

There are way too many advantages for this roster than not exploiting Prince's versatility. I didn't get to watch or tape the game against Cleveland, so I can't give any strong evidence, but Prince has been a successful pro in this league for quite a while. He's a tremendous competitor and despite his lacking weight he gets quite a few rebounds. He can take the ball outside and either shoot or drive or he can go into the post and hit his babyhook. He's pretty much unguardable for a lot of Power Forward's in this league!

It is intriguing for this team to play small ball. We aren't going to win a lot of championships soon. Heck, we won't make the Playoffs this year, possibly next season too (if next season isn't a complete lockout anyway)!! The team is for sale and Joe Dumars pretty much can't do anything about it, he can't make major moves and we'll have to live with the logjam we have at the guard position.
Moving Tay out of the three and into the four makes room for Ben Gordon and Rip Hamilton to play more minutes. Well, I actually want to see Tracy McGrady get more burn at the position. Everytime he enters the game, Detroit plays more fluently. He gets the ball into the right spots and hits the right players. He's so incredibly intelligent that he doesn't need big plays to contribute, he can do a lot of small things and be very effective at that!

We desperately need a trade, there's just nothing out there. Dumars can't make a major decision without the future owner's approval. And given that pretty much all the players on the roster have equal value, any trade would be considered a major move. I'm not saying Austin Daye equals Rip Hamilton, but Hamilton earns so much more that a team would probably rather have Daye than Rip right now. We don't have a clear-cut leader of this team so either one of them is substitutable, as harsh as it might sound.

So our hands are tied and we need to make the best out of this situation and pull closer together!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Use Greg Monroe in the High Post!

Hey folks,

the people of Piston Powered have made a great case of using Rodney Stuckey in the post against weaker PGs, which is pretty much any PG whose name is not Tyreke Evans ... Last night he had some beautiful passes that led to three pointers, because the Orlando's defense had to respect the mismatch he had against Chris Duhon.

That's not what I want to talk about though. As I watched the game I realized what John Kuester should do within the next couple of months is put Greg Monroe in as a starter. Greg Monroe is getting better and better and his learning curve has been truly impressive. Although his stats of 6 points on 3 of 6 shooting, 2 rebounds and 4 assists don't look that impressive, he had a real nice game once again. The two rebounds don't take into account how many balls he tipped to teammates and his overall hustle was a nice display of his attempt to try really hard which is nice to watch during this season.

In the second quarter the Pistons had two consecutive possessions where they scored out of a half-court set-up getting clean looks, once Tracy McGrady at the basket and Ben Gordon for the jumper. So let me show those two plays to you NBA Playbook style!!!

The Pistons start the play out with Ben Gordon on top and with Monroe in the high post. Monroe will set the screen and immediately cut into the lane.

Since the defense has to respect Gordon's shot both defenders go out to contest the jumper and Gordon can get a pass into the lane where Monroe's waiting with his soft hands.

McGrady sees this and cuts to the basket. Monroe is a pass first Big Man (boy that's a rarity) and instead of shooting the 4-footer over a smaller but (still) more athletic Carter he drops it off to McGrady for the easy deuce.

Right on the next possession, McGrady passes the ball to Charlie V on the right wing and runs to the weakside. Simulataneously Monroe sets a soft Pick for Gordon on the weakside and then shows up at the high post position to receive the ball.

Gordon, meanwhile, has arrived on the strong block gets a weak pick from Villanueva but still manages to get enough room to receive the hand-off by Monroe and score an easy midrange jumper, Gordon's bread'n'butter!

As you can see, the Pistons played to their players strengths and got off clean looks. I think we could really create an offense around that player. He could be like Chris Webber in Adelmann's system with the Kings in the early 2000's.

Unfortunately, we didn't get the win last night, but I see how this team could work together. The roster needs some tweaks, but overall I see a few bright spots! The reason I want Monroe to get as much playing time as possible, is simply that he'll be a corner stone for years to come hopefully. I like his attitude and his hustle! We're not going to make the Playoffs anyway and if we should happen to make them, we aren't going to go past the first round ... So why not develop Monroe? What's at stake????