Detroit Pistons Update: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…

Posted: December 22, 2010 by sabetodo in Professional

Did the Pistons really get housed by the Clippers?By Andrew Bolton | Great Lakes Hoops

By Andrew Bolton | Great Lakes Hoops

I suppose I should congratulate the Pistons for beating a couple of decent teams at home this past week. In case you haven’t been watching (and who could blame you?), the Pistons whipped the Hawks in the fourth quarter behind Tracy McGrady (yes, you read that right) to win by 23, and then later in the week they outlasted the Hornets in overtime. In that game, half the roster was unavailable for one reason or another (we’ll get to that).

I’m guessing you can sense the ‘but’ coming.

But, they lost at home by 21 points to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers, who had not won a road game all season. The Clippers, who have their owner heckling them while they play. Yes, I realize that the Clippers have some young talent. Blake Griffin is a force of nature, Eric Gordon is much improved due to playing with Team USA this past summer, and Eric Bledsoe is an exciting young point guard who will be pretty good in a couple years. However, the Clippers also have an out-of -shape Baron Davis playing point guard, Vinny del Negro as their coach and Chris Kaman as a perpetual suit-wearing, injured list resident.

So it’s time to ask the tough question: Would you switch rosters and coaches with the Clippers right now?

I think I would.

The Clippers have done the rebuilding thing right. They have a solid foundation at all five positions to build upon, and they’re slowly integrating the young guys to get them ready to take over when the veterans are done. Eric Bledsoe backs up Baron Davis, and Bledsoe has shown flashes of real ability. Eric Gordon is a really good shooting guard and will be for some time. Al-Farouq Aminu is a nice shooter and athlete on the wing, sort of like Trevor Ariza, who we know can be a valuable contributor to a championship team.

Blake Griffin is amazing. And Deandre Jordan could develop into a good big man in the middle down the road. It took Javale McGee a few years to become anything; now, he forms a fearsome pick-and-roll tandem with John Wall. The same could happen with Jordan and Bledsoe.

Conversely, when I look at the Pistons, I don’t see a future. All of the key players have been in the league for awhile, and the young guys won’t be ready anytime soon. Rodney Stuckey, I guess, could still become a star. He’s been better this year, but he’s still not a real point guard. The other players on the team have peaked. Ben Gordon’s not going to get better. Neither is Charlie Villanueva, or Ben Wallace, or Tayshaun Prince, or Rip Hamilton, or Jason Maxiell, or Chris Wilcox, or…

At every position, regarding young talent, the Clippers have the Pistons beat. I would rather have Griffin than Monroe and Jerebko and Summers. I’d rather have Gordon than Stuckey. I’d rather have Bledsoe than Bynum. I would rather have Daye than Aminu, I guess, but that’s the only Pistons player I would take over his counterpart on the Clippers.

The real kicker? I would definitely take Vinny del Negro over Jon Kuester. It’s really not close. del Negro, I feel, didn’t get the fairest shake in Chicago, where he did manage to take the Bulls to the playoffs and give us one of the most entertaining playoffs series of all time. He started out really poorly, but got much better, and had his teams competing hard every night. In the East, that was enough to get into the playoffs. With the Clippers roster, I feel like they could be a playoff team in a couple years with him at the helm.

Suffice to say that I don’t have the same confidence in Kuester.

It’s enough to make anyone associated with the Pistons sick to their stomachs, which I guess is what happened to Richard Hamilton. He sat out the win against New Orleans with an “upset stomach.” Yeah, right. Turns out that Rip may have been upset with being demoted to sixth man in favor of Ben Gordon, and so he decided that it hurt his feelings so much his stomach hurt and he couldn’t play at all. If I were coaching, he would be sent away from the team. There is no way I would put up with that. If the only memorable thing you’ve done this season has been to get ejected a couple times, then you have no right to criticize anything the coach has done.

What do you guys think? Would you trade rosters and coaches with the Clippers?

Elsewhere Around the League

The Spurs keep on rolling with the best record in the league. Remind me again why we didn’t draft Dejuan Blair when he was still available in the second round? Do I need to point out that he now starts for the team with the best record in the league, and that Dajuan Summers barely plays for us?

–Miami has gained steam in recent days, and Erik Spoelstra has removed himself from the coaching hot seat. The thing I don’t get is, why did Wade and LeBron need to be told to play like themselves? Couldn’t they have figured that out on their own?

–I’ve seen Dallas a few times this season, and they look really good, which is a mystery to me. Dirk has been ridiculously good this season, but other than that, when I look at the roster, it’s basically the same team it has been the last few seasons, which was good-but-not-that-good. This year’s iteration is that good. Here’s a good question: what would’ve happened had the Pistons not gotten rid of Rick Carlisle?

–The big trades that Orlando made will not improve their team. Bringing Hedo back might improve the offense a little, but they lost a lot defensively by trading Pietrus and Gortat. Orlando looks rather pedestrian outside of Dwight Howard, who looks much improved.

–My favorite player Kevin Durant looks to be hitting his stride, as well. After a so-so start to the year, the team is back among the West’s elite.

Let’s do some end-of-the-calendar-year awards:

MVP–Dirk Nowitzki

Rookie–Blake Griffin

Coach–Jerry Sloan/Gregg Popovich (Tie)

Defensive–Miami (team)

Sixth Man–Jason Terry

Most Improved–Kevin Love

Game of the Year–New York vs. Boston at MSG. Boston wins by 2 after one of the most entertaining regular-season games in recent memory.

Least Valuable Player–Richard Hamilton

Most Regressed–Chris Bosh/Andray Blatche/Richard Hamilton (Tie)

Worst Coach–Jon Kuester (no ties)

Worst Game of the Year–Last night, the Bulls-Sixers game. Bulls won by 45. That’s MML vs. Indiana Elite bad (remember, Jared?)

A Quick College Note

–Don’t look now, but the Michigan Wolverines are 9-2 with a couple quality victories among the nine. They lost by 3 to Syracuse (and just ask the Spartans how good the Orange are), beat Clemson on the road (yes, the Tigers are down, but a road win against a high-major opponent is good no matter who it is), beat Utah, and laid the smackdown on Oakland, whom many, including some on this site, thought was the second-best basketball team in the state. Michigan’s big backcourt and ability to shoot the three will make them a tough team to play against in the Big Ten. I think they will struggle with the bigger teams like Ohio State and Wisconsin, but I think they could beat MSU. The Big Ten is hard to predict this year: all the usual suspects are good (MSU, OSU, UW), but the fringe teams are good this year, too (UM, NW, Minnesota, Illinois). It’s going to be fun, that’s for sure.

Next Time: What the Pistons and other NBA teams received for Christmas.

  1. Jared Field says:

    Please never mention that game versus the Indiana Elite (with Ray Jr.) ever again!

  2. Sorry, but mentioning Chris Bosh as most regressed is insane. Completely insane. He went from primary option on a bad team to third option on a good team and he’s still putting up 18 and 8 and shooting 50 percent. In fact, he’s only shot 50 percent in two of his 7 seasons in the league. So he’s scoring efficiently in the opportunities he gets. To mention him in the same category as a player like Hamilton, who is aging and has clearly shown signs of decline over a three-year period to get to where he is now is ridiculous.

    • sabetodo says:

      Sorry, but I’d like to have my All-NBA, Max-Contract Power Forward on a team with no other inside presence average more than 8 rebounds a game. But that’s just me.

      • That’s a different point than saying he’s “regressed.” I don’t think Bosh is a franchise/max player. But he’s still as productive as he was in Toronto, where he was never a dominant rebounder.

        You said “regressed.” How has he regressed?

      • sabetodo says:

        Bosh in 08-09–22.7 points, 10 rebounds, 2.5 assists, .9 steals, 1 block per game, along with 49% shooting from the field.

        Bosh in 09-10–24 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, .6 steals, 1 block per game, along with 52% shooting from the field.

        This season–18.2 points, 8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, .8 steals, .7 blocks per game along with 50% shooting from the field.

        Playing with two superstars, his assists have actually gone down. Playing with superstars who attract 95% of the defensive attention has caused his field goal percentage to go down (though 50% is good; I’m not going to argue that). Playing with no interior help (meaning the bulk of the rebounds and blocks would be his) has caused his rebounds and blocks per game to go way down. In fact, his rebounds per game average is the worst it’s been since his rookie year, and his blocks per game average is the lowest it’s been in his career.

        I expected his scoring to go down, but not any of the other categories. He’s gotten significantly worse (by his standards) in those other areas of the game, and it shows in his PER. His PER (John Hollinger’s statistic to measure per-minute effectiveness) is at 19.25, which is the lowest it’s been since his second year in the league, making him merely good (an average PER is 15). By comparison, his PER last year was 25.11, which put him up with the elite players in the league. Digging deeper into the numbers, his points and rebounds per 40 minutes are the lowest they’ve been since his second season. Ditto for his true shooting percentage. By every quantitative measure, Bosh has been significantly worse this season.

        (Aside: yes, I read Hollinger’s stuff, but I read just about everything having to do with the NBA. Don’t think I take his stuff as gospel. I know numbers don’t tell the whole story.)

        Qualitatively, this sums it up: Sometimes, I forget that he’s on the court when I watch the Heat play. That shouldn’t happen with him.

        I think this is a better answer than the knee-jerk response I had earlier. Yes, Bosh is a good player, but he used to be a superstar. That still counts as regression to me.

  3. Jared Field says:

    Don’t worry…Patrick loves the weird basketball metrics as much as you do.

  4. I’m not arguing that his numbers are down slightly. I just can’t understand how anyone could consider him one of the three most regressed players in the league. It makes no sense.

    Bosh’s numbers are down slightly because he’s the third option on a good team rather than the primary option on a mediocre one. Toronto ran its offense through him. He touched the ball on every possession. Miami will never run its offense through him, so he now has to score by moving without the ball, getting offensive rebounds, etc., i.e. things that weren’t really natural for him or things he didn’t have to do much to get shots in Toronto. And sure, his numbers are down as a result of that. But they’re not down that significantly, other than scoring, which is to be expected.

    Honestly, Blatche doesn’t belong on that list either. You really think Bosh and Blatche have back-slid more than guys like Baron Davis, Troy Murphy, Rashard Lewis, Chris Duhon, Lou Williams, Caron Butler, Ron Artest, John Salmons or Gerald Wallace? And those guys are just off the top of my head. They are all guys whose shooting percentages have seriously plummeted (12 percent in Williams’ case) and all are putting up far below their typical numbers without the excuse of playing vastly different roles from last season. There’s just absolutely no way he’s dropped off like any of these players have, and probably a few more if I took the time to look them up.

    • sabetodo says:

      All of those guys you mentioned except maybe Wallace and Murphy were slipping before this season; Blatche and Bosh were peaking coming into this season. Lou Williams and John Salmons were never that good to begin with. In Salmons’s case, we know from past experiences that he only plays well in contract years, so his disappointing start to the season came as no surprise to me; he did the same thing when he went to Chicago (I’ve also had him on fantasy teams). Chris Duhon is a backup, and didn’t New York play Toney Douglas over him for stretches last year? Caron Butler started to slip as soon as he left Washington, Rashard Lewis started to slip after he got busted and couldn’t use PED’s anymore (joking, but he’s been worse than Ryan Anderson for the past couple years). Baron Davis has been bad since he left Golden State.

      Wallace and Murphy I can understand the argument, though Gerald’s style of play did not lend itself to longevity. The crash was coming for him. Murphy puzzles me a little more; usually big men who can shoot stay reasonably effective for a long time (Matt Bonner, anyone?). But, the level from which he was coming was not as high as Bosh’s.

      That, I guess, is my central point: the level from which Bosh was coming was higher than anyone else’s. Like you, I expected his scoring to come down, even though 6 points per game is a bigger drop than I expected. I did not expect him to disappear for stretches and rebound and defend as poorly as he has. 3 rebounds per game is not “down slightly”, it’s down a lot, especially when he’s playing next to nobody in the paint (Joel Anthony doesn’t count). He blocked more shots per game as a rookie than he is now, as well; that’s huge. A 6-point drop in PER is nothing to sneeze at, either.

      Is he better than all those players you mentioned? Yes. Is he a top-3 power forward in the NBA? Not anymore. He’s more like LaMarcus Aldridge now. Since Bosh used to be great, that’s a heck of a comedown.

      Blatche is easier to see. I’ve watched the Wizards a few times this season, and he’s doing stupid Andray Blatche things again. Toward the end of last season, he was blowing up, and I thought maybe he had finally figured it out. Um, no:

      Blatche in 09-10, final three months of the year:
      Feb–21 points, 8.5 boards, 2.4 assists, 1.36 steals, 1.18 blocks
      Mar–20 points, 7 boards, 3 assists, 1.6 steals, .7 blocks
      Apr–21.5 points, 8.6 boards, 5 assists, 1.4 steals, .5 blocks

      These are all-star numbers. This season, however…
      16.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.35 steals, .5 blocks, a dozen possessions where he dribbles between his legs pretending to be a point guard. He quit doing that last part (mostly) during the final three months of the season last year; he’s back at it this year. Good numbers still? Yes, but he was playing so much better last year.

      • Funny you should mention contract years. That’s why I don’t find the “three rebounds per game” drop you mention that alarming. Bosh rebounded way better last year, his contract year, than he has the rest of his career. So his 7.9 boards per game this year are only about 1 less than his career average, and he’s playing 2.5 fewer minutes this season than in his career. I don’t think that points to regression. He’ll be in the 8-9 per game range by the end of the season, just like virtually every other season in his career. He struggled the 10 or 12 games of the season and he’s been pretty good since.

        And since we’re looking at rebounding as the benchmark for big men, how about Brook Lopez? He’s down about three a game this season as well, and unlike Bosh, he didn’t change teams and get surrounded by much more talent. Has he not regressed then?

        As for your other arguments, you say guys like Davis, Butler, Lewis, Artest, etc. were slipping before this year. Maybe they were. But then how do you explain putting Hamilton on the list? His shooting percentage has been declining for three straight seasons, all the way down to 40 percent and 29 percent from three last season. Surely, there have been major signs of Hamilton declining over the last several years, just like those other players I mentioned.

        And maybe Lou Williams isn’t that good. But a lot like Blatche, he’s a young player who looked to be improving each of the last two seasons who has fallen off the map this year, shooting about 12 percent lower than he did a year ago. If Blatche should be considered among the most regressed, then certainly there’s a case to be made for Williams.

      • sabetodo says:

        What numbers might be at the end of the season never entered my mind when I made my choices. I was solely looking at the first couple months of the year. I’m sure Bosh will end up just fine by season’s end. But as of right now, he’s taken a big step back.

        Brook Lopez has gone from a borderline all-star to a solid, productive big man. Chris Bosh has gone from an All-NBA player to a solid, productive, efficient big man. That difference is what makes Bosh’s season so far stand out to me.

        I chose Hamilton because of the combination of the continued physical regression and the sudden mental collapse he’s had this season, what with the ejections and the “upset stomach.” The mental aspect of it has been shocking; I don’t remember him being this much of a distraction even when AI was around (speaking of regression…).

        Williams might not be the most regressed on his own team. Marreese Speights can’t seem to make it off the bench anymore.

  5. Jared Field says:

    I watched Gerald Wallace twice this season (once at the Palace and another in Charlotte) and he looked horrible.

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