Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What Cancelation Means

Now, we have finally arrived, the inevitable has happened, the league has canceled the first two weeks of the regular season. Both sides couldn't agree upon the financial aspect of the game. This is disappointing at the very least.

I'm majoring in Econ so it is not like I don't know anything about these kinds of things. Ian Thomson of PointForward correctly pointed out the greatest risk there is for both the players AND the owners:

There has been tremendous fear from both the players and owners of alienating their supporters, who will be infuriated that a relatively small group of adults cannot agree how to share the proceeds of their $4 billion industry. But the bigger risk is indifference. What if a large number of fans realize they can live without the NBA? That they're happy enough to focus on the NFL, March Madness and baseball over the months ahead?

I couldn't say it any better (which is kind of the main reason for quoting anyone I guess). Anyway, I can see it for myself. There isn't anything going on this summer, even less than there usually is. I used to get up every morning and check the newest trade rumors and free agent talk. We'd have Summer League and other basketball related issues. Our star has a strained thigh or whatever could rattle me in my basketball life.

David Stern has formed a highly successful league and I believe it's his right to try everything in order to keep it that way ... except for risking its success. People will switch to other sports, maybe not even other sports, but other countries. In 1998 there weren't any strong basketball leagues in this world besides the NBA. Meanwhile, the European leagues have become really strong, especially the EuroCup and the ULEB Cup offer satisfying basketball. If some of the major stars decide to go over there and play for them their marketing budget while explode and help them to offer NBA salaries quite possibly within the next year. Maybe it's Stern's masterplan to create a European Division in the NBA, maybe it's not.

As for myself, I have already started paying closer attention to my old love German soccer. I will follow the German basketball league, which pretty much sucks, and the other European leagues, heck, maybe I will go to Bologna for a week end and see what Kobe's doing. It's just a one-day-drive away although I bet I'm not the only one thinking this.

Alienating a fanbase who's been so supportive during the past decade and risking losing major stars is a big thing. I'm not entirely sure if David Stern understands the world has changed and the players union has much, much more power than a decade or even five years ago. The European NBA stars, especially the ones near or in their 30s won't struggle with the decision whether to go back home. Kobe loves Europe! The Gasols, Dirk, Kobe, Parker, Ginobili, Ibaka, Bargnani, etc. are just some of the names that come to mind.

The season might be saved by January, the NBA could change forever in the next three months.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stuckey's Contract Situation

This is my first post on BB in a while ever since I took my writing to PistonPowered for the most part. If you were looking for breakdowns, every breakdown I do is on that site.

As most of you know by now the salary situation of the organization is a mess. We have a lot of accomplished players who are overpaid and we have a couple of good contracts (Bynum, McGrady) which are well worth their money. The player who has gotten most attention lately is Rodney Stuckey.

Stuckey, who was supposed to be Chauncey Billups heir which eventually led to the Allen Iverson trade, has never played up to his potential. Now his rookie contract is expiring and Joe Dumars has to decide how much money he wants to dish out to Rodney. A player he is usually compared to is Michael Conley. Most people expect Stuckey to earn around the same amount of money as the former Ohio standout. I will point out that Stuckey should not earn as much money as Conley. The reasoning for this will be elaborated on later in this text.

First of all let's get the numbers. According to Sham Sports, Conley is going to make $44 mio in six years. That is an average of a little above $7 mio per year. This is supposedly what Stuckey is looking for. Stuckey is known to be a great scorer, a good athlete with good basketball instincts. Conley was largely regarded as the sidekick to the injury-prone Greg Oden. Conley never won a scoring award or anything, he is a pure Point Guard though and that is rare. When comparing the two players you will quickly realize that, at this stage of their career, most of it is mainly based on reputation than on actual skill. While Stuckey is indeed very skilled at getting to the hoop and drawing fouls, he is not a great finisher around the basket and simply not a playmaker. Playmaking ability is a must for any PG in the league and Stuckey certainly has the tools as we saw in his 14 assist night the other week. In order to be a Shooting Guard Stuckey doesn't have the jumpshot. He has shown little improvement over the past few seasons and is hitting at a clip of 28%. This is in unacceptable. A jumpshot can be developed! It is just practice. Ray Allen has become the greatest shooter in NBA history by practice, practice and more practice. Now, Allen Iverson might disagree, but that is how it works for most basketball players, at least for the ones playing outside of Turkey.
So you'd expect Conley to trail Stuckey in scoring by a whole lot. Well, he kind of does. Per 36 minutes he scores 3.8 points less than Stuckey, but he dishes out one more assist. Right now, the reputation looks justified. Conley's primary role on the team is running the offense, not scoring. The secondary role is to play defense and then his scoring comes into play. Conley is playing alongside very very good and young scorers such as OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Stuckey's usage rate is 24% whereas Conley's is only 19% He does not need to score that much, yet he is still only 4 points behind Stuckey. Conley gets more steals, more assists, has less turnovers and shoots a higher percentage from the field. Stuckey gets more rebounds which has to be explained by the fact that he is significantly bigger. Moreover, Conley has shown steady improvement in his shooting touch. When he came out of college most scouts doubted he could have a reliable jumper. He shot 33% beyond the arch in his rookie season and is now hitting them at a 37% clip. He peaked in his sophomore year at 40%, he still improved greatly though. He is much better than Stuckey at this point.

Which brings me to my point. Stuckey hasn't improved. He appears to have peaked one or two years ago. I fully agree that Stuckey would have benefitted from a coach who knows how to play the PG position, players have to accountable for what they do and Stuckey never showed the willingnes to become a great distributor. Conley meanwhile looked like a longshot to remain in the league and has shown steady improvement. He will never be a star, he will be a very good starting PG on any team. Stuckey was supposed to be the savior of this franchise and doesn't even prove he is better than average at this point.

So, when you consider the statistics I think Stuckey should make less than Conley by last year's standard. Taking the new CBA into consideration, which will feature shorter contracts and a lower salary cap, I would argue Rodney should be offered a four year $24 mio contract at a maximum, maybe even a little less. Being the PG on a bad team doesn't help, but the recent flashes of immaturity and lacking leadership won't trigger lots of teams to offer him much more. Try to name one team, which would try to take him on! I mean, there aren't a lot of them. Most of them have a better, an equal or a cheaper PG in place. Would they spend their money on a player who is immature, hasn't improved and cannot run an offense smoothly over the course of the whole season. If a team offers more than that, let him go or sign him and then trade him.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Great win in OT over the Pacers

Great win last night! Remember the times when games against Indiana were pretty much the highlights of the season. I hated their guts, Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O'Neal, Ugh....! They were a tough squad with good players, but they entered the stands and caused the infamous Palace Brawl. Of course no fan needs to throw a beer on some player's head, but in soccer certain players get thrown at with worse things and are similarly crazy in their minds. Don't believe??? Here's another example !

Alright, enough with crazy soccer footage. The Pacers have pretty much traded in the likes of Artest, Jackson and O'neal for a crazy high-flying white guy (Josh McRoberts) a crazy Eminem look-alike and a softer Center (Roy Hibbert). Summing this up, you cannot hate this team anymore, they are kind of likable actually.

Nonetheless, it feels pretty good to win again. After the Pistons last two disastrous performances they had a lot of bright spots in this game going into the All-Star break. I will especially look at Greg Monroe's improved helpside defense and great execution by Detroit down the stretch. They almost surrendered two leads at the end of the game, but the Pistons did a good job of protecting the paint and creating good shots, plus they kept their cool.

Greg Monroe's quick rotation

Last time, as some of you might recall, I blamed Greg Monroe for missing defensive rotations occasionally. It happens to rookies and it was not meant to degrade him or anything. Well, his learning curve is stellar and you will see it in this example.

This is a similar set-up to last time against the TrailBlazers. The Pacers' Darren Collison is holding the ball on the left wing and his center is coming over to set a screen. Ben Wallace decides to show, but Collison goes away from the screen straight towards the basket. Will Bynum does not realize in time what is happening and gets blown by. It happens to the best of us and Collison is a great player.

The area shown in red is marking the space Monroe has to cover when he realizes he has to come over.

Monroe's thinking process is rapidly becoming quicker, so his quick thinking enables him to come over in time to block the shot.

Of course, Darren Collison is not exactly Lamarcus Aldridge. Aldridge is way bigger! Collison is quicker though and I believe the space recovered by GM10 is enough that he could have taken a charge if he had wanted to. Great play by a great player. I like his abilities a lot already. If he continues to progress the way he does and inserting Jonas Jerebko next season, this could be an exciting starting line-up for the Pistons, featuring Jerebko and Monroe at Power Forward and Center!

Great defense does not equal great results

I thought about doing a frame-by-frame analysis on this one. I think this sequence is too long and I have two more coming, so you have to look at the video!

Let me walk you through this. The Pacers start out on the right wing. Collison gets a screen from Granger who sets a screen for McRoberts who receives the ball from Collison. So far it is just movement to make the defense tired. McRoberts (J-Mac) hands the ball off back to Granger who is supposed to be the primary option I would think. McRoberts sets a side screen and immediately rolls down to the basket. Ben Wallace, the great defender that he is, rotates perfectly and J-Mac cannot use his supreme athleticism to get a dunk.

Meanwhile, Ben Gordon does a great job of fighting the way bigger Roy Hibbert for position down low. He might not get perfect position, but then again he gives up well over 9 inches. He disturbs Hibbert enough so J-Mac does not think he has a window to pass and he the pass is denied. I personally think he could have hit the target, in a split-second situation of a game-deciding play, as a coach I would forgive him for wanting to make the best pass and not the first pass.

J-Mac instead throws the ball to the opposite side of the court into the hands of Collison. Collision makes the right decision and immediately starts penetrating blowing past Rodney Stuckey. But look who rotates over perfectly yet again! GREG MONROE! He blocks the shot with both and hands. Great defense so far by the Pistons! There is a loose ball and it touches several hands before it reaches Danny Granger's hands on the three-point line. Granger hits a heavily contested jumper going to the bank! Wanna how contested? Look at this screenshot!

If you would want your opponent to have a look, wouldn't it be this exact look? A contested, long three with the shot clock winding down and a hand right in his face?! Unfortunately, a great player hit a tough shot!

Detroit had an answer: Ben Gordon

What I especially liked last night and why I broke this down in more detail than usual is that Detroit kept its poise. They could have broken together after this possession. The usual events would have played out like this: Stuckey gets the ball, Stuckey runs a one-on-five fastbreak, Stuckey takes a highly contested lay-up, Stuckey misses, Indiana hits another three, Indiana wins.

This time the Pistons kept their cool and executed. Ben Gordon played during crunch time (oh what a rarity!) and it paid dividends. Stuckey dribbled the ball to the right wing.

He gets an on-ball screen set by Tay, he uses it. At the same time Ben Wallace and Greg Monroe set off-ball screens for Ben Gordon. Gordon curls off of the two screens and Stuckey does a great job of hitting him right in stride. Gordon takes the wide open jumper and it is Swish-City!

First play in OT

So, one could understand if the Pistons had let this one go. After all they played pretty well down the stretch and the Pacers hit a couple of lucky shots and somehow managed to get into overtime.
Overtime is a curious thing. You basically are where you started, the score is 0-0 or 104-104 for that matter. You could call it a five-minute mini-basketballgame. Often it is important how you start out in OT. Either you miss a shot or you make it and I would like to see a stat how often the team which scored the first basket in overtime ends up winning the entire game.

The Pistons came out to play. They got the ball and ran a nice play for Ben Gordon. Basketball is all about utilizing your players' biggest strengths and minimizing the impact of their weaknesses, a system which has been perfectly working for the San Antonio Spurs and Greg Popovich.

Gordon dribbles the ball up the court. Tayshaun is posting up, Ben Wallace is in the high-post and Monroe and Stuckey look to get out of the way. It's a nice set-up and Gordon enters the ball into Tay who is a little too far out since he couldn't hold his position.

Ben Wallace then sets a screen on Brandon Rush who gets caught by surprise a little bit, because Ben sets it into his back. Monroe and Stuckey have spaced the floor so the free-throw line area is not occupied at all. Wallace does a great job of setting the screen, this is a very underrated skill in basketball and, quite frankly, not a lot of players set great screens anymore. Ben Wallace would not have become an All-Time great if he didn't have some trick up his sleeve on offense. It might not get him great stats, but it gives Gordon an open jumper. Tayshaun lobs the ball to Ben Gordon who gets another wide open look.

You don't win games with one or two plays, but Detroit executed very well against the Pacers. There are cases in basketball, when a few unlucky bounces cause you to lose a game that you were supposed to win. The Pistons almost lost this one. Instead of slipping they decided to keep the composure and executed as well as they did.

Have a great All-Star break! Go Greg Monroe!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Detroit's defense dooms them

The Detroit Pistons played well last night, for the most part, yet they still lost 105-100 to the Portland Trailblazers. A team with one of the finest big men in the league, Lamarcus Aldridge. To me he is one of the biggest All-Star snubs of recent NBA history! This man can flat-out play. He has postmoves, a great jumper and is not a liability on defense.

After a slow start to the game he really got going. He finished with 36 points on 12-of-17-shooting. He is not just another big men dominating Detroits big men, I have rarely seen a finesse player scoring on Ben Wallace this easily. He made it look easy and I don't there are a lot of better Power Forwards in the league right now.

The first play occurred with nine minutes to play in the third quarter. Detroit has had problems all year defending the pick and roll. It does not get much easier when the other team has players like Lamarcus Aldridge and Andre Miller. Miller is a master at the P&R and and LA is the prototype big man with a great 20-foot-range and the athletic ability to drive it to the hole.
The Blazers used a reverse swing play against a set Detroit zone defense. Miller swings it to the right wing, gets the ball back and swings it to the left wing. This is used to get the zone moving. The more a zone, the more holes are created to attack. Wanna beat a zone? Swing the ball!

Now it gets brilliant. Portland uses two high-post players! LA sets a screen and Dante Cunningham stands at the free-throw line. The defense needs to respect his jumpshot so Ben Wallace cannot sack all the way down into the zone. Cunningham receives a pin-point pass.

Simultaneously to the pass LA rolls to the basket. When Cunningham catches the ball he splits Wallace and Prince with a pin-point pass down-low. Greg Monroe needs to recognize this earlier so he can get in better help position. He is one of the smarter rookies when it comes to this and this is game speed and beautiful execution! But Monroe is still a rookie so he will have missed rotations. At least he goes in hard and saves the dunk!
As you can see, swinging the ball created the glaring hole in the middle and Detroit does a really bad job of moving the zone as a unit. Usually Stuckey would have to guard Cunningham in the high-post since he is not really guarding anyone!

The second play was partially already covered by Patrick Hayes! Allow me to break it down even more detailedly!
The play occured with :36 to play in the game with Detroit being down by one. Miller handles the ball on the left wing and Aldridge come up to set a screen to the middle of the court. This helps Portland, because instead of having two predictable options (pass or drive) this creates several options (pass to LA, Batum, Matthews or drive).

In order to deny the drive, Chris Wilcox shows really hard on the screen, way too hard in my opinion.

Then again, I'd rather have a play show too hard on a P&R then not at all like it happened so many times during the first two months of the season. Stuckey does not have the height to bother a wide open LA jumper and Daye is too far away. This is not Daye's fault, it's just a fact.
Miller realizes Wilcox is showing too hard and finds Lamarcus Aldridge who nails the jumper.

Quite honestly, it is puzzling to me Coach Kuester didn't sub in Tayshaun Prince at some point. Prince is the only player on the roster who has the speed and length to bother Aldridge's shot and still stay in front of him. You don't have to worry about Miller's shot all that much since he is not known for a great midrange game. Instead of subbing in Stuckey Kuester should have gone with Tay and we would have had a combination of length and athleticism, a combination much harder to beat off pick and roll plays which involves a finesse Power Forward.

Detroit is in a lot of games, but we come up short a lot of times. We just don't have the talent. Bynum can be great and at the same time overly aggressive. He had great plays last night and then screwed it all up with three unnecessary drives late in the game which led to transition buckets for Portland. I don't know if our Pistons were tired, but they looked slow getting back on D.

Ben Gordon did a terrific job keeping the balance of driving and shooting. He was very aggressive penetrating when given the chance and knocking down jumpers when defenders left him a little space. The Pistons could have and probably should have won this game. Maybe the players will get older (that's for sure) and wiser (fingy's crossed) and make better decisions down the stretch on a more frequent basis!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pistons make S-Jax look like MJ and lose 87-97 to the Bobcats

It was just one of those nights! At the beginning of the second half I thought the Pistons had a real shot at winning this. They started with an 11-2 run playing great defense and executing on offense. Ben Gordon was curling around screens, like, uhm, Rip in his better days and McGrady ran the offense smoothly near perfection.

The Pistons then decided to play less defense and play sluggish offense, considering the game was over with an 8-point lead in the third quarter. Surprisingly, the Bobcats hustled back with great defense and fast-breaks and within a minute the game was tied by a Stephen Jackson three-pointer.

Stephen Jackson had a stellar performance scoring 39 points on 14 of 26 shooting. Detroit did their part to make sure he did not cool off until later in the fourth. He first had to hit 8 of his first ten shots before things changed. Daye fouled Captain Jack on a three-point attempt, but at least he hustled and tried to compensate for his mistakte. Not so good that he tripped and fouled, well, it happens.
Jackson made 15 of his 17 first half points against McGrady. Kuester decided to switch Prince onto him which left McGrady guarding Gerald Wallace. The ice-cold Wallace (7 points per game over his last three games) scored six points in the third quarter. Prince did not guard Jackson a lot better either.

Speaking of Prince, the entire game he looked kind of moody to me. I know he usually looks a little bit irritated, but last night he appeared especially mad to me. He played a good game, going for 16 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists, yet I cannot shake the feeling something was wrong. Maybe it was the referees who did not call fouls on Wallace when Prince tried to score. Prince is a veteran though, he should not be all that bothered by a couple of calls not going his way. I hope he will regain his mental stability by the next game, maybe it was just a fluke.
I also did not understand why Kuester let so many plays get run through Prince in the third quarter when we desperately needed a score. Prince was covered by Wallace, one of the best and most athletic defenders on the forward position, and Prince did not get any clean look from the isos. I would have liked Ben Gordon get more shots, because he was stroking it well.

When Detroit was down by five, Kuester subbed T-Mac out and brought in Bynum. Bynum has the ability to get Detroit up again or increases the deficit with poor decision making and sloppy defense, last night it was the latter. Using Bynum often appears like a do or die decision to me. I was skeptical, to say the least, when Bynum came in. Charlotte is a good defensive squad with athletic guards and good team defense, a system in which even Kwame Brown is not a liability anymore (kudos to Paul Silas, making Brown a good NBA player should win him coach of the year honors). Bynum executed poorly, especially on passes, which were off by two to three feet at times, because he was either off-balance or off focus. He missed a wide open Daye who had to move away from his spot to catch a pass thrown by Will. The pass was not hard to make, just poorly thrown. Bynum finished a team-low -14 for the game in 19 minutes of action!!! According to 82games.com. the Pistons play 1.3 points better with Bynum on the court. Then again, Bynum usually plays in the second unit which is one of the best in the NBA. When he gets to play with the starters, he usually destroys the flow of the game. I love to watch him play, but he has got to get smarter and become less of a scorer and more of a playmaker.

Detroit is now 4-6 during their last ten games. I'm curious to see if letting Rip sit and winning more games was coincidental. I don't mean totally incidental, but the effect (5-3 at one point) was just too big. Detroit usually won 38% of their games without Rip and 31% of their games with him over the past two years. So going from a 30ish winning percentage to 60ish winning percentage appeared kind of big. I don't think it makes that much of a difference if Rip sits or if he plays. I would rather see him play or get traded.

Next game is on Friday against New Jersey. We should be very well rested. We don't have any must-win games this season so let's just hope we play well!

I will do video analysis again soon. Bare with me but I got a math and economics exam coming up next week and I don't have time for a lot of writing right now!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Great Looks, bad results! Pistons lose to Boston!

The Detroit Pistons played very well in this game and gave the Boston Celtics a lot to chew on. They were playing pretty much dead even until the fourth quarter. The Pistons went into it with a three point lead and it all fell apart from there since they lost the last quarter 28-21 for a hurtful 82-86 loss.

We are not Boston's level yet. Beating them twice in a row for the fourth consecutive victory would have been huge. We have a roster that is not fit to win. Rip is not going anywhere since the Nets owner Mikhal Prokorov will not further pursue Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets!
This is a delicate situation, because I believe Joe Dumars was fine with Rip sitting a few games before getting traded, I do not believe though he would want this player to sit for the remainder of the contract. Dumars either needs to move Rip right now for anything he can get, even if it is just an expiring contract OR *gulp* insert him back into the line-up.

This game showed perfectly what Detroit is missing and what Boston has. Cohesiveness, trust in teammates, execution. I love some of the pieces we have, the Cs have the best, that is most balanced, roster in the NBA in my opinion. Everything fits together perfectly, they are deep, they have been playing together for a few years now and they have veteran leadership. They are everything Detroit is not right now, but Detroit was for so many years. Maybe that is why Boston is my favorite team of all the contenders.

Late Game Execution
Henry Abbott of TrueHoop recently quoted a friend of his who told him the job of a coach is to put the team in a position to win. Well John Kuester did just that last night. The Pistons got great looks to score at the end of the game and just did not capitalize. Rodney Stuckey missed a floater to tie the game and Ben Gordon missed a lay-up to get within one. Instead he missed and Glen Davis sealed the deal. To be honest, putting Gordon for this play is kind of weird. He is cold ... Anyone who has ever played basketball knows how hard it is to make shots when still cold. Kuester might want to sub him in at the 2 min market if he intends to let him take a last second shot.

Ray Allen hit a late long-jumper and the game was over. The play shows how similar the Celtics run their plays compared to our circa '05 Pistons! Rondo holds the ball on top of the key (like Billups) and Allen curls around one or two screens for a knockdown jumpshot (like Rip). So here are the frames. Rondo dribbling the ball, Allen is curling around a Big Baby screen. Stuckey does a great job of staying with Allen through the screen!

But in the last picture you will see what separates an average defender (like Stuckey) from a great defender (like Bruce Bowen). When Allen goes up to shoot, Stuckey's hands are down. Heard the expression "To put a hand in the guys' face!"? Rodney does not do it. He needs to at least put the hand up when Allen goes up, of course not fouling Allen, but that is just what great defenders do! It can go wrong as you saw with Igoudala and J-Rich last night, in general the refs won't call a foul!

Stuckey's also on his heels. In case he did not put his hand up to stop the drive, being on his heels wouldn't help his cause either, because he would be too slow to hold Ray Ray! I'm not blaming Stuckey for the loss here. It is just one of those small things that CAN decide ball games. Even if he had played perfect defense, Allen might have hit the shot anyway.

One General Thought
The Pistons went to the Hack-a-Shack late in the game. I do not mind Kuester's call to do that. Shaq missed both free throws and Detroit could not stop the Celts. I just cannot believe the league has not fixed this rule!!! In Europe the rule is pretty clear:

Whenever a player is intentionally fouled without an attempt on the ball, it's a flagrant foul. The fouled player gets two free throws and his team remains in possession of the ball.

You think this would fix it?

I just don't like it, because it is unsportsmanlike behavior to me. Fouling should not be a reasonable way to get an advantage, there should be a punishment. While I realize Shaq does not get harmed, it is still not good for the league!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday morning coffee...

... tastes a lot better with the Pistons beating Sacramento 110-106 at home for the second straight victory. After losing the first half 59-70 the Pistons came back to win it!

Greg Monroe

Had another nice performance, 11 points and 7 rebounds and 2 assists. The assists may not catch your attention, but he got them when he was playing in the high post. The Pistons should definitely utilize his skill set better. He is going to be a very special player in this league. He won't be a star, possibly not even an All-Star, I expect him to be underrated pretty much his entire career. He might top out at 15 PPG and 9RPG, he wil contribute in other ways though and that is fine with me. I'd see him as a Power Forward, not a Center, we do not have Centers, so I will have to live with that.

Here's how we used him in the third quarter.

He gets the ball in the high post and just holds on to the ball. Detroit did a real nice job moving off the ball the entire game. THey got high quality looks and converted them most of the time. In this case, Stuckey sets a screen for Tay on the right wing. Tay's left-handed and a lot of defenders are going to be caught off-guard by that because their instincts are not used to it as much as they are used to right-handed ball players.

Stuckey is very strong so he can get Tay open with the screen. It is a rather unorthodox play since you would expect the big guy setting the screen for the little guy. Prince has the ability to dribble and drive, therefore the Pistons can make this play the other way around. In my opinion, Kuester should look more for unorthodox plays like this. Defenses will have problems with Detroit if the execution is right. I will come back to that later though.
Monroe makes eye-contact with Prince, passes the ball to him and Prince goes up for the and-one dunking. Great Play!

Next trip down, Stuckey takes an ill-advised jumper and Monroe gets the rebound.

There is not a lot of analyzing to be done in this one, it is just a perfect example of why I like Greg Monroe so much. He is well positioned to get the offensive board. A player with little confidence would look for passing the ball out to the perimeter. A selfish big man, like, let's say Al Jefferson would wait for the cutters to clear and go one-on-one. Monroe is a passing big man though, so he looks for Stuckey as Stuck is cutting hard to the basket. He passes him the ball and we get another lay-up.

I think all that Monroe has to do is improve his midrange jumper so he can knock it down from 18-feet. He can put the ball down and drive. He needs to improve his athleticism as well, but it is not as easy as improving your jumpshot. He would be really tough to guard if he had that jumper. The defender would have to respect his shot, his drive and his passing. Talking about a triple-threat here, son!

Basic Thoughts

The Pistons won the third quarter 23-10. They improved their effort on the defensive end and kept on executing nicely offensively. They did not get rattled because of a few bad calls at the beginning of the fourth quarter and just kept on playing. Talking about keeping on playing. The Kings knocked down a lot of shots in the first half. Teams will go on spurts and even great defense cannot stop that. The Pistons kept on guarding them and in the second half Detroit got the results!

We have great roll players. Austin Daye is playing well. He will never be a great one-on-one defender but he is trying hard and I think is team defense has greatly improved. He is shutting down passing lanes and contesting shots, I do not expect a lot more from him right now.

Wilcox is a deserving starter. He might have fouled out, his energy until then was great. His sixth foul was kind of stupid. He missed a wide open dunk, hustled back and then fouled hard. I like the effort when you have 3 fouls, you have to be smarter with five!

Every time I see Charlie Villanueva I think he should be a Top 20 scorer in this league. He has the skill set! He can go into the post, he can shoot, he even has a floater. He needs to be more assertive, because the potential is there. I'd like to see him in the post-up a lot more, then again, I would have liked Sheed there too...

Will Bynum had a Bynumite performance. He scored 20 points off the bench along with a 5 of 9 shooting night and he was really clutch in the fourth quarter. I especially liked his defense down the stretch and how he orchestrated the fast-break opportunities for the Pistons. Dribbling a little is the only criticism I could find for him.

T-Mac left the game early and did not return. It was probably a precautious action by Kuester. McGrady played 35 minutes the other night and we all know his history. Rip Hamilton still did not get to play, so I guess we have seen the last of Rip in a Detroit jersey, unless Gordon and T-Mac get injured at the same time. During the game I saw Tay talking to Rip more than a couple of times, it's got to be hard for Tay seeing his buddy in this situation. Prince played very well and it did not appear to affect his game.

Next up is Dallas on Monday. Let's build some momentum!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Let Rip go! (Pistons win 101-95 in Toronto)

One of the ugliest wins I have seen all year. Pistons played horrible in the second half and still pulled out a win against an even worse Raptors team. Somehow these two teams play bad games against each other. It is probably because one of them cannot really score and they other one tries to guard Tracy McGrady with Jose Calderon. So as a surprise, T-Mac went for 22 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds to help the Pistons steal this one. I don't think the Pistons would have won this game against any other team in this league, maybe the Cavs, that's about it!

Basic Thoughts
Can someone please tell Charlie to put some arch on his shot and stop trying to get charges like this one?

Chris Wilcox made great use of his minutes really contributing with his energy. He grabbed 12 rebounds and five offensive boards at that. He was +7 on the night and a real joy to watch.

This was a game where Charlie V and Ben Gordon did what they were signed to do. Scoring a combined 27 points with .500 shooting off the bench sounds like a nice contribution. CV31 shot is too flat in my opinion, I think his three-point-percentage would go way up if he put a little more arch on it, as mentioned above. But still, I don't wanna complain.

Let Rip Go

Another DNP-CD for Rip ... I mean, come on! He is one of the most accomplished players in franchise history. He may never have been a star like Chauncey or Sheed or Isiah, yet he probably ran the more during his Pistons career than any other player ever. He needs to be traded and he will be traded soon. I don't know what is going on here, if Joe D wants to zero the risk of Hamilton injuring himself during a game and then the Nets pull out of the trade, or if Kuester just wants to go on and get a consistent rotation with the players he will have for the rest of the year. I just don't like Rip sitting, unlike many other fans I hear talking, I will never forget what he did for this franchise and it hurts seeing this happening to him.

À propos consistent rotation

Most of you guys know I'm not a big fan of Kuester. I realize though that he doesn't have the greatest roster in the league and he is really trying to figure things out. It is really tough for him to find a consistens rotation. Just as one would think he has the right starting line-up because some of the people have been playing well, they start playing poorly again.

He inserted Gordon into the starting 5 just to see him playing worse. Stuckey has been in and out more than I had expected. T-Mac appears to be a starter for the rest of the season barring injury (knocking on wood). Surprisingly, Wilcox is a starter right now despite Kuester not using him for much of his stint with Detroit, therefor Maxiell is getting DNP-CDs now. Pretty much every player on this team has been between starting and DNP-CD in the first 39 games of this campaign, safe for Ben Wallace and Prince. I hope Kuester has his rotation set by now. I really like the starting five right now.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sheed coming out of retirement to help Celtics

Via TheScore.com:

Rasheed Wallace will reportedly come out of retirement to play for the Boston Celtics, according to Stephen A. Smith of SI.com.

Smith says that Wallace made it known to him that he wants another shot at the Lakers in the NBA Finals, and that the Celtics will use him to add "brute size" to Miami's athleticism.

Awesome! Classic Sheed! Since he was basically tanking the entire regular season anyway for the past, uuuhm, 6 years or so, just retiring until the postseason is a brilliant move!

Lebron, Dwyane, Bosh and all the others, y'all can pack your bags and go home, nobody's gonna beat Boston this year!

I'm sure looking forward to all the technicals! Let's be honest, we all kind of missed the goofball!

Defensive adjustments propel Bulls past Pistons

First off, condolences to Joe Dumars since his brother past away at the age of 49.

The game had two halves, which usually holds true. In this case, it really had two halves. The Bulls played horrible basketball in the first. Lazy on offense, lazy on defense, allowing Detroit open looks and the Pistons actually did a nice job hindering penetration.

You can say all you want that we lost the game because of inferior players on the court, in this case, the Pistons got out-coached in this game once again. I know I'm not a Kuester supporter and I'm not yelling "Fire him!" yet. Tom Thibodeau is one of the best coaches in the league, period! The defensive adjustments he made during halftime were magnificent, a display of how a coach can reach his players and control the game in so many different ways. Of course it helps to have a guy named Derrick Rose around, but still. Oh, and D-Rose did this

via NBA.com

After giving up 55 points in the first half, the Pistons only scored 27 more to finish the game with 82. The Bulls took away passing lanes, switched Deng onto McGrady and inserted Kurt Thomas. Thomas might be old, but he is a veteran and he never misses a rotation and is effective despite his age. I love to watch those kind of players. Throw in a little Ronnie Brewer all-around effort and you got a great second half.

The Pistons were over-matched, but teams usually struggle when your two best scorers (Gordon, Rip) go 2-for-15 from the field. McGrady and Austin Daye picked up the scoring load in the first half. In the second half Kuester tried to get Tayshaun Prince mor involved, as Prince missed his first five shots and let Chicago back into the game. Those were shots he usually makes, so we should be fine with that.

Our Pistons won't go anywhere this season. It is almost laughable that we are only three games out of a playoff spot. I do not want us in the playoffs! What is the thrill? Get beat up badly by Miami, Boston or Orlando and go home without a lottery pick? I do not encourage tanking the season, in our circumstances we would be better off with another lottery pick. Again, I do not want us to tank! I do not think we have a shot at the playoffs anyway.

If Kuester plays Daye, Monroe and other young players this much, I can take the losing. I enjoyed watching Daye last night and how he showed so much confidence in the first half and even in the second half. Shots will not always fall, but as long as he tries, I am alright with it. I enjoy watching Monroe get double-doubles on a nightly basis. I doubt a turn-around will happen soon, so let's just look at the little things.

SIDE NOTE: Chicago's announcers went on and on about how great a bench we have. Detroit actually has the highest scoring bench in basketball right now! We have three starters who come off the bench (Rip, Tracy, Wilcox). We just need a first-unit that outscores other teams first-units.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Utah's Deja-Vu

Alright, Pistons lost against one of the Wester Conference's top teams. Boo fricking hoo, we should have expected it especially considering that we played Utah. Did you see the starting fives when we beat them in Utah the last time? Crazy world ...

Anyway, the teams flaws have been covered on several sites, blogs, etc.. We can talk about the lack of Ben Gordon in crunchtime. I just want to say this, Rip in his prime without Billups and Gordon in his prime, who would I rather have on the floor with two minutes left, Go!!! Gordon, hands down.

I want to talk about something different though, which made me so mad last night. Tim-outs are really precious especially in the last two minutes of a close game. The coach can tell his players how he intends to end the game, they can discuss it, talk it over, get some rest and look at the nicest plays of the game on video hanging from the rafters. Sounds great! So why did John Kuester treat them like a little kid treats candy on helloween??? We took our last time-out with 50 seconds left and down three. What's even more astonishing, look at the usage:

Third to last: Pistons come out, Tayshaun Prince gets the ball, Kuester takes 20 because he apparently does not like what he sees.

Second to last: McGrady gets the ball and holds it for a second, while Tayshaun sets a screen for Hamilton. Hamilton receives the ball on the left wing.

Tay posts up against AK47, a great defender and one of the few ones who match up very well with Prince, and receives the ball. He then goes to work and hits a nice, although contested, jump-hook for the tie.

In video:

Then Utah goes on and Raja Bell hits the three which really was not a three-pointer. Now it gets interesting.

Last time-out: Remember, we have 50 seconds to go in the game and we just used our last time-out. So you would expect a fancy play. No, John Kuester apparently is a fan of The Big Lebowski's Walter with his utterance "A plan should not be too difficult otherwise you screw up! The plan is easy, that's the beauty of it!"
So the Pistons use their last TO to set up the exact same play. AK47 realizes it immediately and denies the entry pass to Prince. Prince goes up and sets a screen for a pick'n'pop play and ends up with a heavily contested three-point shot. Daye does a great job of getting the rebound and chaos reigns until McGrady finally gets the ball and sets up Monroe's dunk.

I would consider McGrady, Prince and Hamilton veterans in this league. I would assume they can run the exact same play twice in a row without throwing the ball away. Do you need a time-out for that? Do you need to use two time-outs within five seconds with 1:20min left in the game? I would say no!

So when Bell hits both of his free-throws with 17 seconds left, the Pistons are out of time-outs and have to go up against a set defense. Instead of drawing up a play and subbing in, uhm, our best three point shooter, McGrady has to take a one-on-one three-pointer which is a miss.

I do not want to be too harsh with my criticism, but those are the things that seperate great, mediocre and bad coaches. We could have had two time-outs in the last 50 seconds instead we did not have any, and no real shot at getting a great look from the outside. That was just frustrating to me, especially going up against "Mad Kobe" tomorrow night!