Where Are They Now? Spartans in the NBA: Alan Anderson

Alan Anderson’s path to the NBA is a perfect example of how perseverance pays off.

The 6-foot-6, 220 pound guard was known as one of the best ball handlers on Coach Izzo’s teams from 2002-2005. Anderson led the Spartans to the Final Four in his senior season in 2005, averaging a team-high 13.6 points per game while adding 5.4 rebounds. He was a two-time team MVP in 2003 and 2005 and also won MSU’s John E. Benington Defensive Player Award in his freshman and senior seasons.

Anderson did not hear his name called during the 2005 NBA Draft, but was signed two months later by the Charlotte Bobcats. In his rookie season, he averaged just over five points per game in 36 appearances, while shooting a stellar 41 percent from beyond the arc. Less than a month into his sophomore campaign in the NBA, the Bobcats waived him from the team.

After he went unsigned in free agency, Anderson spent the next four months tearing up the NBA Development League (NBADL) with the Tulsa 66ers. He averaged 15.8 points per game while shooting 54.5 percent from the field and over 45 percent from long range. Anderson even earned a spot on the NBADL All-Star team before being re-signed by the Bobcats for the final two months of the season.

An unsuccessful free agency in 2007 forced Anderson to pursue a professional career overseas, where he spent the next four years playing Euroleague ball for four teams. In that span he averaged 13.7 points per game and also led his teams to five different championships. In 2010, Anderson had a brief stint with the New Mexico Thunderbirds of the NBADL, where he averaged over 21 points per game before returning to Europe.

The years of hard work in Europe and the NBADL finally paid off for Anderson in 2012. He was signed to a 10-day contract with the Toronto Raptors, who were impressed by his level of play and signed him for the remainder of the season. He was able to crack the starting lineup in 12 of the 17 games he appeared in, averaging nearly 10 points per game in 27 minutes of time on the floor.

Anderson’s return to the NBA was successful and he has stayed ever since. The Raptors re-signed him in July of 2012 to a one-year contract and he played in 65 games for Toronto. The former Spartan posted a solid 10.2 points per game, mostly off the bench, while shooting a phenomenal 85.7 percent from the charity stripe.

The following season, Anderson took his talents to Brooklyn, where he appeared in all but five contests and played a prominent role off the bench during their playoff run.

This past offseason, Anderson was signed to a two-year, $3 million contract with the Nets. For the first time in his career, Anderson finally has some job security, and it only took nine years, 12 teams and a couple continents to get there.

Spartans’ Draft Stocks after NCAA Tournament

APRIL 4 – After a disappointing loss to UConn in the Elite Eight, four Spartans now have time to think about their NBA futures.

Adreian PayneKeith ApplingGary Harris and Branden Dawson are all targets of NBA scouts and general managers. Their draft stocks have gone up and down throughout the season, especially in the tournament. Here is where each player’s draft stock stands.

* * *

Adreian Payne’s Draft Stock: UP

Payne had the best season of his college career and is peaking at the right time. He averaged 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game while shooting just over 50 percent from the field and over 42 percent from beyond the arc.

Payne really developed his outside game this season, hitting 27 more three-pointers than his first three years combined. At 6-foot-10 and 245 pounds, he has an NBA-ready body that would be perfect for a power forward. His inside-out game has high value, but his post game needs a little work to be effective against the giants in the Association.

Payne projects to be a mid-first round pick just outside of the lottery. At age 23, he is mature enough to be a plug-and-play guy and could contribute right away in his rookie year.

A contender would like to have someone like Payne on their roster to be a role player that can handle the bright lights of the NBA.

* * *

Keith Appling’s Draft Stock: DOWN

Through the first seven games of the season, Appling was in the conversation for best point guard in the NCAA. He averaged 16.9 points and 5.6 assists per game, shot 59 percent from the floor and 52 percent from long range. Those were All-American numbers.

In the eighth game of the season against North Carolina, Appling took a nasty spill and injured his right wrist. No one really knew the severity of the injury, and he played through the pain for 14 more games. His shooting numbers declined, but his overall production only diminished slightly.

Then, Appling missed three games in the middle of the Big Ten season. The idea was to let him fully heal and be ready for the final stretch. That is when things really went downhill.

For the rest of the season, he averaged 4.7 points and 3.7 assists per game, shot 45 percent from the field and only made two three-pointers. It seemed as if his injury became more of a mental problem than a physical one towards the end.

Appling is small for the NBA at 6-foot-1 (and that is a very generous measurement). He is lightning quick and is great at taking the ball to the hole, but might struggle with the trees down low when trying to drive. NBA scouts saw Appling’s true potential at the beginning of the season as a great shooter and an even better defender.

Appling is projected to go in the late second round or undrafted. He could be a solid backup point guard for a team that has a star guard already. He likely would not play much, if at all, right away, but is worth the gamble for a team late in the draft.

* * *

Gary Harris’ Draft Stock: UP

Harris could have left after his freshman campaign, but shocked many MSU fans by staying another year. This decision worked in his favor, as he led the team in scoring and ranked sixth in the Big Ten.

However, his shooting numbers did go down from last year and he really struggled at times. Harris’ field goal percentage dropped to 42.9 percent, down from 45.6 percent last year. His three-point numbers dropped even more. He shot 35.2 percent this year and 41.1 percent last year. This drop off is due to Harris having to take over the majority of the scoring load with Payne, Appling and Dawson missing significant time.

Harris is projected to be a lottery pick in this year’s draft. He is a bit small for a shooting guard in the NBA at 6-foot-4, but has huge scoring potential. His outside shooting numbers will have to improve for him to make a huge impact with his new team right away. As a role player who could come off the bench, he could quickly develop into a top-tier two-guard.

Based on where he is projected to be drafted, he will get a good amount of minutes right away. Harris plays lock-down defense, but might struggle initially trying to guard bigger two-guards. Given time and developed properly, he could have All-Star potential down the road.

* * *

Branden Dawson’s Draft Stock: UNCHANGED

Dawson’s future at MSU is uncertain, but odds are he will stay in school for his senior season. He has not made an official decision yet, but making the leap right now would be a mistake. His draft stock is unchanged because he was not ready for the NBA coming into this season and is not ready now.

After missing nine games with a broken hand, Dawson’s scoring output greatly increased. He finished the year averaging 11.2 points and a team-high 8.9 rebounds per game. He shot over 61 percent just because he never left the paint.

At 6-foot-6, he is vastly undersized as a power forward and would never be able to play the same role he does at State, which is to swallow rebounds and make layups. Dawson does have springs for legs and is a freakish athlete, but athleticism only carries you so far in the NBA. He has absolutely no jump shot and needs to refine his ball-handling skills.

If Dawson stays a Spartan for one more year, he could develop a jump shot and use the season to prove to NBA scouts he can consistently score outside of the paint. He is basically the opposite of Kenny Kaminski, who is a big man that cannot score inside. The majority of NBA experts either do not think Dawson will go pro or think he will go undrafted.

An NBA team could take a chance on him based on his pure athleticism in the hopes that next-level coaching could help him with his jumper.

He is entertaining to watch and has tremendous upside, but is just not ready for the Association.

– See more at: http://impact89fm.org/sports/2014/04/04/spartans-draft-stocks-after-ncaa-tournament/#sthash.A8ApbYnW.dpuf

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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

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

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