Bright Spots in a Bleak Season

JAN 9 – What was once considered a slow start is now turning into a disappointing season for the Detroit Pistons.

As owners of a 14-22 record and a six-game losing streak after their loss to the Raptors Wednesday, underachieving might be an understatement. There have been a rash of injuries and a few benchings along the way, but the season is still young. Luckily for Pistons fans, there are a few bright spots for coach Cheeks’ squad.

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Andre Drummond:

The former UConn Husky has lived up to, and exceeded, expectations that the “experts” had for him coming into his sophomore season in the Association. In a team filled with streaky shooters and plagued with injuries, Drummond has been one of the few consistent bright spots. The second-year center is averaging 12.8 points and 12.7 rebounds while shooting a stellar 60.5 percent from the field.

Drummond has not missed a game so far this season, showing that the back injury he suffered last year is not a lingering issue. Drummond is currently in eighth place in All-Star voting for frontcourt players in the Eastern Conference.

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Rodney Stuckey:

In the last year of his contract, he has also exceeded expectations thus far. As the Pistons’ sixth man, has given coach Cheeks the opportunity to switch up the backcourt combinations during the game without seeing a drop-off in production. Unfortunately, Stuckey has missed eight games already with various injuries.

Through the Pistons’ first 36 games, in which Stuckey has played in 28, Rodney is averaging 14 points per game, up 2.5 from last season. His shooting has also improved, up four percent from a year ago. When comparing Stuckey and Brandon Jennings using per 36-minute stats, Stuckey actually averages 2.6 more points per game than Jennings. The Pistons could capitalize on Stuckey’s impressive season and his expiring contract by shopping him before the trade deadline.

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Greg Monroe:

Moose, who is also in the last year of his contract, has given the Pistons solid production from the power forward position. Along with Drummond, you can almost always count on Monroe to post a double-double every night. He averages 14.6 points and nearly nine boards per game.

Many scouts believe that he has hit his ceiling in terms of potential, which is one reason why the Pistons decided not to give Monroe a contract extension this year. If Detroit decides to break up the “Big Three” of Drummond, Monroe and Josh Smith, then Greg would be the first one to go. There have not been any rumors as to who might trade for the big man, but there are several teams in need of a power forward like Monroe.

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The Eastern Conference:

Yes, the Conference itself is a bright spot for the Pistons. The teams are so atrocious this year that Detroit finds itself only one game out of the playoffs despite being eight games under .500. If the Pistons were in the Western Conference, they would be merely three games ahead of last place.

With so many games remaining in the season, the Pistons have an excellent shot at making the playoffs this year. Eighth place will likely need a win total in the mid-thirties by year’s end, which is very doable for the Pistons. So cheer up Pistons fans, we stink, but so does everyone else.

– See more at: http://impact89fm.org/sports/2014/01/09/bright-spots-in-a-bleak-season/#sthash.4EmL5z4e.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