Pistons Recap: New York and Atlanta

NOV 22 – The Pistons finally returned home from their grueling West Coast road trip to face Carmelo Anthony and the struggling New York Knicks. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope found himself in the starting lineup due to the absence of Will Bynum and Chauncey Billups, and looked to make the most out of the opportunity. With the depth of this roster, KCP has often found himself to be the odd man out, lucky to play more than five minutes.

The Pistons led by a slim two-point margin after the first quarter of play. KCP did not disappoint, scoring seven points in the frame. The Knicks were able to turn things around in the second quarter, charging out to a six-point lead halfway through the second. Italian sharpshooter Luigi Datome knocked down a three-pointer with three seconds left to tie the game going into halftime. That was the only shot he made in the game.

With under four minutes to go in the third quarter, the Pistons went on a seven-point run, capped off by a Kyle Singler three. The Knicks could not cut into the Pistons’ lead, and trailed 71-63 going into the final quarter of play. Rodney Stuckey scored five points in a row for the Pistons to open up the fourth quarter. They eventually extended their lead to 15 before the Knicks were forced to call timeout. A pair of free throws by J.R. Smith brought the Pistons’ lead down to five with 3:34 remaining. But that was as close as the Knicks would get, eventually losing 92-86.

Rodney Stuckey had a phenomenal game coming off the bench, scoring 21 points on 8-14 shooting. He’s been playing surprisingly well this season, only increasing his value should the Pistons decide to trade him before the deadline. Josh Smith added 19 points while taking 19 shots. The fearsome Pistons frontcourt of Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond combined for a beastly 48 points and 27 rebounds. KCP finished with 13 points.

Carmelo Anthony did all he could to keep his Knicks in the game, leading all scorers with 25 points. J.R. Smith pitched in with 18 points off the bench in the losing effort. The Pistons had not previously beaten the Knicks since 2011.

The following night, the Pistons headed down to Atlanta to face Josh Smith’s former team, the Hawks. It was a defensive battle in the first quarter, with Detroit only able to score 13 points. Yet they found themselves merely down by two. Then someone flipped a switch, and the Pistons scored 33 in the second quarter. Stuckey scored 10 points in the frame, and it appeared as though both teams forgot how to play defense. Detroit took a 46-43 lead into halftime.

The third quarter was just as entertaining, with both teams trading buckets and neither able to pull away. With less than two minutes remaining in the third, Lou Williams made a three-pointer to give the Hawks a two-point lead that they would not relinquish. Atlanta went on a seven-point run midway through the fourth that the Pistons simply could not come back from. They eventually fell 95-83.

Monroe had a disappointing night, scoring only seven points and grabbing four rebounds. Smith was ice cold as well, shooting 5-15 from the field and 0-4 from behind the arc for 11 points. Brandon Jennings had to do most of the work himself, scoring 21 points. He had to take 21 shots to get there, however. That number is way too high for any point guard, but the Pistons knew what they were getting when they signed Jennings in the offseason. Stuckey continued his hot streak with 18 points off the bench.

The Hawks shot an impressive 50.7% from the field, something that Coach Cheeks will definitely have to address with his players on defense. Big man Paul Millsap scored 18 points, but was a virtual non-factor on the boards. The Hawks as a team had only five offensive rebounds, compared to 15 for the Pistons. Detroit will get another shot at Atlanta on Friday when they return to the Palace for a rematch.

The Pistons are only 1-5 on the road, giving them a 4-7 record overall. The fans might not be happy, but if the season ended today, the Pistons would have the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Prediction: I know, I know, it’s early, but Detroit is right in the thick of it, and as the season goes along, they will improve. The chemistry between Jennings and the big men will improve, and they will start winning more close games.

– See more at: http://impact89fm.org/sports/2013/11/22/pistons-recap-new-york-and-atlanta/#sthash.hOQWBp2u.dpuf

Logjam in Backcourt Hurts KCP, Bynum

Nov 7, 2013 – With the recent return of guards Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Jennings, the Pistons find themselves in a sticky situation. Currently they have five guards on their roster, all of which have performed well when given the opportunity.Stuckey, Jennings, Chauncey Billups, Will Bynum, and rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (KCP) all have had their bright spots this season and look to contend for minutes. But five guards are too many to rotate through in one game. Someone has to sit out or take a significant cut in minutes. So far, the player affected most has been KCP.

In the first two games of the season, KCP averaged over 22 minutes on the court. He scored 13 points in only 18 minutes in a loss to Memphis. He added nine points in 27 minutes in the season opener versus Washington, in which both Stuckey and Jennings were inactive. With the return of both guards, there was just nowhere for coach Maurice Cheeks to place the rookie.

In the last two games against Boston and Indiana, KCP played zero and four minutes, respectively. Barring more injuries, it appears as if this will be a trend for KCP, unless Cheeks decides to give Billups games off for rest. Another option would be to move Pope to the small forward position. At 6-foot-5, it might be a bit of a stretch, but his shooting abilities make him well suited as a wingman.

The other guard that could see his role diminish is Will “The Thrill” Bynum, who started the first three games of the season alongside Billups. In his first two games, Bynum averaged 18.5 points and 5.5 assists. But when Jennings returned to the lineup against Boston, Bynum saw his minutes nearly cut in half.

In the two games Jennings has been active, Bynum only scored a total of nine points. The only way Bynum could see his minutes increase would be if Billups was given a night off or if Cheeks decided to move KCP over to the small forward position for a game.

Chauncey Billups has started every game for the Pistons so far this season. Although he’s seen his minutes slightly diminish in the last two games, it was expected. When he was signed in the offseason, the plan was for Chauncey to come off the bench and play 20-something minutes per game.

With all the injuries in the backcourt, Billups has been thrust into a starting role. Cheeks will likely shuffle the starting rotation as the season goes on, with Stuckey being the most likely to take the starting position from Billups.

The logjam at the guard position is a problem, but one that Coach Cheeks doesn’t mind having. This team is one of the deepest Pistons squads in years, and it will help in the dog days of the season. Players will be fresh, but not rusty. Being a former player himself, Cheeks knows how to handle the rotation, especially at the guard position.

For the remainder of the season, look for Jennings and Stuckey to get the bulk of the playing time in the backcourt, with Billups first off the bench. KCP will continue to get DNP’s next to his name, but could also sporadically see significant minutes to give someone rest. Bynum will see about 20 minutes of action per night, and will start a handful of games going forward.

– Original link to article: http://impact89fm.org/sports/2013/11/07/logjam-in-backcourt-hurts-kcp-bynum/#sthash.MaAljruJ.dpuf

Pistons Weekend Recap: Memphis and Boston

Nov 5, 2013 – After an impressive opening night win against Washington, the Pistons packed their bags and headed for the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll to face the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. Memphis had just lost their first game of the season in San Antonio, and was looking to bounce back against the new-look Pistons.

Detroit had not beaten Memphis since October 28, 2009. With Rodney Stuckey returning to the lineup, the Pistons added much-needed depth to their backcourt.

With 1:08 left in the fourth quarter, Josh Smith hit a three-pointer to give Detroit a six-point lead. But the Grizzlies charged back, tying the game with eight seconds left on a Marc Gasol layup. A missed three-pointer by Chauncey Billups sent the game into overtime.

The Pistons played catch-up the entire overtime period. Zach Randolph and Tony Allen took advantage of Pistons miscues and opened up a 106-97 Grizzlies lead with 1:30 left. The Pistons never had a chance after that, eventually losing 111-108.

Josh Smith had 19 points on a paltry 7-23 shooting, including 3-11 from beyond the arc. Smith was much more effective when he drove to the basket, making four of his seven shots in the paint. Andre Drummond logged 48 minutes, the most of any player on either team. Drummond finished with an impressive stat line, posting 12 points, 16 rebounds, three steals and two blocks with only one turnover. Greg Monroe had an equally impressive night, scoring 16 and grabbing eight boards.

Rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 13 points and Rodney Stuckey scored 19 off the bench. Will Bynum, once thought to be the odd man out in the Pistons’ backcourt, started alongside Billups and scored 18 points on 7-11 shooting. With Brandon Jennings returning to the lineup in Boston, it will be interesting to see how Head Coach Maurice Cheeks rotates his guards.

On the Memphis side, Mike Conley led all scorers with 22 points and five steals. Frontcourt duo Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for 31 points and 18 rebounds in the contest. Memphis had never won a home opener since the team moved from Vancouver in 2001.

The Pistons then headed home on Sunday, where they wore their new “Motor City” jerseys. They plan to wear them during every Sunday night game this season. Their opponent was the Boston Celtics, a franchise in rebuilding mode.

The Pistons dominated the paint the entire game, outscoring Boston 54-38 down low. Detroit opened up a 10-point lead in the first half and seemed in control of the game. But the young Boston team rallied back, taking a 64-63 lead early in the fourth quarter. A few short minutes later, the Pistons went on a run of their own, extending their lead back to 10. The Pistons never looked back, going on to win 87-77. The Celtics dropped to 0-3, while the Pistons moved to 2-1 on the season.

Smith, Drummond, and Monroe combined for 45 points and 29 rebounds, while Drummond had his way with the Celtics, dunks and put-backs galore. Brandon Jennings made his regular season debut after returning from tooth and jaw problems and was forced to wear a mask but was still able to score 14 points and dish out four assists.

The Pistons stay in Detroit this week,  facing Paul George and the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday and Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.

Original link to article: http://impact89fm.org/sports/2013/11/05/pistons-weekend-recap-memphis-and-boston/#sthash.2YjllrN0.dpuf

Game 1 Preview: Wizards vs. Pistons

 Oct 30, 2013 – Pistons fans have waited 196 days for tonight’s game. It’s a new beginning for a new-look franchise. With promising off-season upgrades and solid draft picks, this year’s team will be entertaining to say the least. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s focus on tonight’s matchup.

Continue reading “Game 1 Preview: Wizards vs. Pistons”

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Joe Dumars

 Oct 29, 2013 – Since Joe Dumars was hired to be the General Manager of the Detroit Pistons, the former all-star has made some “interesting” moves. Some contributed to the 2004 championship win, others contributed to the franchise’s demise. Now Joe’s seat is getting warmer and warmer, and this season could make or break his chances of having a job in June. Let’s take a look back at the highlights and lowlights of Dumars’ tenure in the Motor City.

 The Good

Before I start “the good” section, I must explain why I’m not including the Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings acquisitions. Since they haven’t played a single regular season game with Detroit, I cannot say that they have been good or bad for the Pistons. They seem like a sure bet, but nothing is guaranteed in the NBA (see Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon).

August 3, 2000 – Signed and traded forward Grant Hill to the Orlando Magic for guard Chucky Atkins and center Ben Wallace.

Wallace played eight seasons with Detroit (2001 to 2006, 2010 to 2012). He averaged 7.9 PPG and 12.9 RPG in his first six seasons with Detroit, including a championship in ‘04, four All-Star Game appearances, and four Defensive Player of the Year selections. Chucky Atkins played for the Pistons for five non-consecutive seasons, averaging 8.3 PPG and 3 APG. Grant Hill, meanwhile, was injury plagued for the rest of his career, only playing in an average of 49 games per season after being traded to Orlando.

Draft 2002 – Selected forward Tayshaun Prince 23rd overall.

Prince was key in the Pistons championship run in 2004, and remained a key piece of the team for 11 seasons before being traded to Memphis in the middle of last season. Tayshaun averaged 12.4 PPG and started all but two Pistons games from 2004-2009. He was selected to four consecutive NBA Defensive Second Teams and won a gold medal with Team USA in 2008.

July 17, 2002 – Signed guard Chauncey Billups to a multi-year contract.

At the time the Pistons signed Billups, he had been with four teams in six seasons and only averaged 11.1 PPG. But Mr. Big Shot came into his own in Detroit. In his six seasons with the Pistons, he averaged 17 PPG and 6.3 APG. He was named Finals MVP in 2004, made five all-star teams, and two NBA Defensive Second Teams. He was a part of one of the worst trades in NBA history in 2009 (I’ll get to that later).

September 11, 2002 – Traded guard Jerry Stackhouse, forward Brian Cardinal and center Ratko Varda to the Washington Wizards for guards Richard Hamilton and Hubert Davis and forward Bobby Simmons.

2002 was a great year for Joe Dumars. He was able to assemble the Pistons’ “Big Three” all in one offseason. The last part came in the form of this trade for Richard “Rip” Hamilton.

Rip was coming off the best season of his career, averaging 20 PPG and shooting a near-perfect 89% from the charity stripe. Only 24 at the time, Dumars saw a future all-star in Hamilton. However, the Pistons did have to give up a great player in Jerry Stackhouse. In four seasons with the Pistons, Stackhouse averaged 22.3 PPG and was selected to two all-star teams.

After the trade, Stackhouse had one more solid year before injuries plagued him. Since 2003, Jerry has not played in more than 17 games in one season. He has played with five teams in the last five years. Hamilton, meanwhile, saw his career skyrocket. In nine seasons with Detroit, Hamilton averaged 18.2 PPG, won an NBA Championship in 2004 and made three all-star teams.

February 19, 2004 – Traded guards Chucky Atkins and Lindsey Hunter, a first-round pick and cash to the Boston Celtics and guard Bob Sura and center Zeljko Rebraca to the Atlanta Hawks for Mike James from the Boston Celtics and forward Rasheed Wallace from the Atlanta Hawks.

Joe Dumars really worked his magic here. Look at whom he gave up in this trade: nobody. Sheed was a huge factor in the Pistons’ championship run, averaging 13.7 PPG and 7.0 RPG in the second half of the 2004 season. He went on to play five more seasons in Detroit, appearing in two All-Star Games. Now he is back with the team as an assistant coach. I wonder how many games Wallace can go before earning his first technical four; my guess is four, but don’t be surprised if it’s less.

Draft 2010 – Selected forward Greg Monroe seventh overall.

Monroe is as close to a human double-double as you can get in the NBA. The former Hoya is poised to be one of the best power forwards in the Association. In his last two seasons, he averaged 15.7 PPG and 9.7 RPG and was named to the All-Rookie Second Team in 2010. He will be a key part of the Pistons’ success in the future, if he’s not traded first.

Monroe is in the final year of his rookie contract, and it seems unlikely that the Pistons will sign him to an extension right away. There have been strong trade rumors involving him; the strongest being him and Rodney Stuckey for Celtics guard Rajon Rondo. Only time will tell how long Monroe will be wearing the Pistons’ red, blue and white.

The Bad

The following moves made by Joe Dumars weren’t his brightest, but they didn’t ruin the franchise or put his job in jeopardy. These were simply bad moves that he and Pistons fans are trying to forget.

Draft 2000 – Selected guard Mateen Cleaves 14th overall.

In Dumars’ first draft as General Manager of the Pistons, he selected a hometown favorite in Mateen Cleaves. The former MSU standout played just one season with Detroit, averaging 5.4 PPG. The following season, Cleaves was traded to Sacramento. Cleaves lasted five more seasons in the NBA after being traded from the Pistons, and he only appeared in 89 games total. I still love Mateen, but he hit his peak here at MSU, where he won the 2000 National Championship.

Draft 2001 – Selected forward Rodney White 9th overall.

Rodney who? Exactly. White only played in 16 games in the 2002 season, averaging 3.5 PPG. He was traded to Denver the following season, where he played slightly better, averaging 7.4 PPG in three seasons with the team. In the 2005 season, White was again traded to Golden State, where he only appeared in 16 games. He has not played in the NBA since 2005, and is currently playing overseas.

Draft 2005 – Selected forward Jason Maxiell 26th overall.

Maxiell never developed into the player Dumars envisioned him to be. At 6’7”, he wasn’t athletic enough to play at small forward and was too small to play at power forward. In 2008, the Pistons gave Maxiell a 4-year, $20 million contract extension that he definitely wasn’t worth. Jason only averaged 6.1 PPG and 4.4 RPG in eight seasons with the Pistons. This offseason, he signed a two-year, $5 million contract with the Orlando Magic.

Draft 2007 – Selected guard Rodney Stuckey 15th overall.

Stuckey has had a rocky relationship with every head coach he has played for. Some say he was the main reason why John Kuester was fired in 2011 (besides the fact that he was a bad head coach). While 13.4 PPG and 4.2 APG isn’t bad, he has a career 42% field-goal percentage and only shoots 29% from beyond the arc. For being drafted 15th overall, you expect that player to perform better than that. His stats have been in decline for the past three seasons and is the owner of a really bad contract. He takes up $8.5 million in cap space and has one year left on his deal. If the Pistons are unable to trade him before the deadline this year, he will most likely not be re-signed.

Draft 2009 – Selected forward Austin Daye 15th overall.

Dumars had high hopes for Daye, who was a standout at Gonzaga. He only averaged 5.6 PPG in three and a half seasons in Detroit before being traded to the Grizzlies along with Tayshaun Prince last season. Daye has only started 24 games in his career, a shockingly low number for a player drafted so high. Daye signed a two-year contract in the offseason with the Toronto Raptors.

The Ugly

Women and children look away. While writing this section, I got sick twice and wept for twenty minutes.

Draft 2003 – Selected forward Darko Milicic second overall.

This is the worst draft pick in Detroit sports history. Yes, even worse than Joey Harrington. Not much was known about the Serbian big man when he entered the draft in 2003. The first thing Dumars noticed was his size: Darko was seven feet tall.

The Milicic pick is also arguably the worst pick in the history of the NBA draft (some would say the worst was Portland picking Sam Bowie second overall in 1984, ahead of Michael Jordan). Darko was picked ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Kirk Hinrich, David West, Boris Diaw, Kendrick Perkins, Mo Williams and Kyle Korver. Had Dumars picked someone else, almost anyone else besides Milicic, the Pistons could’ve gone on to win more than one championship.

Milicic lasted only two and a half seasons in Detroit, playing the role of human victory cigar. He averaged less than three points per game and played in less than seven minutes per game during his time in Detroit. During the 2006 season, he was traded to Orlando, where he saw slightly more playing time. Since then he’s bounced around with several teams, most recently with Boston last year, appearing in just one game. His best season came in 2011, where he averaged over eight points per game with the Timberwolves.

Every head coach choice since 2008

After the Pistons fired Flip Saunders following the 2008 season, the Pistons have had four coaches in six years, including Maurice Cheeks. Since then, the Pistons have gone 150-244 with one playoff appearance. Michael Curry lasted one season as head coach in 2008-2009 after serving as assistant coach in Detroit for one year. The team went 39-43 and lost in the first round of the playoffs to Cleveland. Curry also played for the Pistons in 1997 and 1999-2003.

John Keuster was the next selection by Dumars. He lasted two years with the team, going 57-107. His tenure was marked by his feuds with players, including Rodney Stuckey and Rip Hamilton. The next-in-line for the Pistons was Lawrence Frank. Frank also lasted two seasons with the team, winning three fewer games than Keuster. This offseason, after firing Frank, the Pistons hired Maurice Cheeks to be their next head coach. Whether or not he ends the streak of bad coaches for the Pistons remains to be seen.

November 3, 2008 – Traded guard Chauncey Billups, forward Antonio McDyess and center Cheikh Samb to the Denver Nuggets for guard Allen Iverson.

This trade destroyed the franchise. Since that fateful day, the Pistons have only made the playoffs once, where they were promptly swept by the Cavaliers. Allen “The Answer” Iverson was a cancer to the team. Although he averaged 17.4 PPG, he showed how big his ego was by refusing to come off the bench. AI only lasted one season in Detroit before briefly returning to the 76ers and later the Grizzles. He has not played professionally since 2011 in Turkey, and is set to announce his retirement soon.

Chauncey was able to return to where he played his college basketball in Denver. Billups averaged 17.9 PPG in his first year with the Nuggets. Since then, he was traded to the Knicks, where he stayed for the remainder of the season, and then signed with the Clippers for two years. In the last two seasons, Billups has been hampered by injuries, playing in only 43 games total with the Clippers. Now, Mr. Big Shot is back where he belongs in the Motor City.

July 8, 2009 – Signed guard Ben Gordon and forward Charlie Villanueva.

At the time, these two acquisitions seemed like a huge step in the right direction for Joe Dumars and the Pistons. In five seasons with the Bulls, Gordon averaged 18.5 PPG and won NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2005. He was also named to the NBA All-Rookie First team in the same year. Dumars signed him to a five-year, $55 million contract. In his three years with the Pistons, things quickly went south.

Gordon only averaged 12.5 PPG off the bench and was extremely inconsistent. Ben was traded in the 2012 offseason to the Bobcats for Corey Maggette. Charlie Villanueva was coming off the best season of his career in 2009, averaging 16.2 PPG and 6.7 RPG with the Bucks. Dumars was so impressed with Charlie V that he signed the former Connecticut Huskie to a five-year deal worth $35 million. Since he’s been with the Pistons, Charlie’s numbers have taken a nosedive.

In the last four seasons, Villanueva has averaged 9.2 PPG while seeing his minutes shrivel up. Entering the final year of his contract, Charlie has been the center of much trade speculation. The Pistons want to free up cap space by dealing him and possibly Rodney Stuckey.

So there you have it: the good, the bad, and the ugly of Joe Dumars’ reign in Detroit. This season, however, will determine whether the streets will be filled with Detroiters picketing outside the Palace, chanting “Fire Dumars!” or Detroiters standing outside of the Palace, waiting to get into their first playoff game since 2009.

Photo: Detroit Pistons

Original link to article: http://impact89fm.org/sports/2013/10/29/the-good-bad-and-ugly-of-joe-dumars/#sthash.oSJinszS.dpuf