October 16, 2008
As the NBA preseason marches on, Ball Don't Lie looks at all 30 teams, outlining off-season transactions, projecting win totals, spinning tracks, and much, much more. It's a fun, hot mess. Today, the Detroit Pistons.
Last Season: 59-23; lost in the Eastern Conference finals to Celtics
Key Players Lost: Juan Dixon (signed the veterans' minimum with Wizards), Jarvis Hayes (signed with Nets), Theo Ratliff (returned to Sixers, thought about going all Jackie Moon on us by playing with the Rome Gladiators)
Kelly Dwyer's Endless Grey Ribbon: It’s not that I wanted to write off the Detroit Pistons, but I did have them in the lower rungs of the 50-win club a few weeks ago.
You see, whether they knew it or not, Flip Saunders could coach. He can draw up plays, set up all sorts of types of defenses, and generally keep things in order. The man has one of the better playbooks in the NBA, and Detroit decided to ignore it (when things counted, in May) for years.
And as well-regarded as Michael Curry is, as much as the Pistons players disrespected (I hate that word) Saunders, Curry’s future was long thought to be in an NBA front office, using his smarts and former role as head of the Players’ Union to work at contracts and the like. Not on a sideline.
So there will be issues from the bench this season. He could be the second coming of Red Auerbach, but it will hardly matter in 2008-09, as Michael Curry is a rookie coach. Detroit will not be as prepared, and they will not have a mountain of Xs and Os experience to fall back upon. That part has nothing to do with Curry, and everything to do with Saunders’ absence. And it will cost them.
But, because the Pistons love to screw things up when the going should be great, and can’t help but rally when things fall apart, it will hardly matter. Detroit will play harder for Curry just to prove a point. I already know what will be proven to me, the Pistons mistreated, misunderstood, and didn’t take advantage of Saunders’ gifts, and they’ll shower Curry with the sort of intensity and enthusiasm that they gave to Flip from October of 2005 until March of 2006 after Larry Brown’s dismissal.
And the team will also prove, once again, that they are ridiculously talented and deep. This is a fantastic roster, and even with a slight and expected drop off from guys like Rasheed Wallace, Rip Hamilton, and Antonio McDyess, the Pistons have more than enough of that talent and depth to make up for things and work their way to the Finals.
This, of course, means they’ll have to stop playing martyrs long enough (I played Martyrs' once, on Rockabilly Tuesday) to win the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2005, but we’ll deal with that in May.
In the meantime, what a roster. Chauncey Billups might be getting up there in terms of age, but age won’t affect his shooting touch, or his sturdy base. He doesn’t rely on a quick first step or blinding athleticism to do what he needs to do, which means he’ll be as brilliant (and as underrated) as ever.
In the frontcourt, Amir Johnson is going to change things. He and Jason Maxiell are enough to keep the train moving, and though Wallace and McDyess will fade just a bit as they get older, it won’t be enough to kill these Pistons. Like Billups, these are smart players who don’t really bank on athleticism to get the job done. When Wallace has screwed up in the past -- like, the last bunch of Eastern Conference finals’ -- it’s been his head that was the problem. Wallace’s issue is consistency, not physical shortcomings.
Still, I’m very worried about how they’ll act under Curry in the long run.
Teams have a tendency to fall apart when they’re working under older brother-ish types as opposed to father figures, and Curry definitely comes off as the seemingly cool big brother who is going to buy them a case of beer on the slide and allow for a bunch of three-pointers in early transition. How well that works in the postseason remains to be seen, but I don’t think it will matter much in the regular season. My win prediction (Detroit won 59 games last season) is based more on an improving East than a faltering or fading Pistons roster.
And the roster, I’m sorry, but it should scare people. Plenty of greybeards, I submit, but most of those greybeards know how to work it, and their production will be sound. Throw in the work of a formidable crew of youngsters, and you have another championship contender in Detroit. Again.
Expected Record: 55-27
A Frustrated Rasheed Wallace Tries To Assemble A 4-Drawer Bedroom Dresser From Ikea:
All right, let's see what we got here ... Malm? Ha, that's a funny name for a dresser. Weird. OK, well we got us some particleboard here, and some beech veneer type looking stuff, and more particleboard, and screws, and some nails— oh, more particleboard! No wonder they only charged Sheed's plastic $180 for this.
OK, so first we just put these screws here in this big piece of wood. Sounds easy enough. So, um, where's Sheed's drill at? I thought I had left it just behind ... damn, where the hell is it? Oh boy, Rip better pray he don't have it or Sheed will be drillin’ that mask straight into his motherfli— oh, here it is.
Cool, cool, cool. OK, so now we just take this piece right here, and we just line it up and place it over top of this other big piece, like this, and then we just lightly push on both pieces until they come together like Shaq and Ko— [EXPLETIVE]! [EXPLETIVE] CHEAP SWEDISH [EXPLETIVE]! [EXPLETIVE!] Damn end just snapped in two. All right, stay cool, we a'ight. Yeah, we'll just get us some glue and clamp this down like the Pistons on D.
[EXPLETIVE]! Why the hell won't this line up? I mean, Sheed followed the directions perfectly, and this cheap piece of crap still be wobbling around like a junkie down by Bagley Ave. Why are there no freakin' words with these directions? It's just pictures. How is Sheed supposed to properly decipher this garbage? Where are the words? Give Sheed some words, dammit!
Oh come on, what the— this is ridiculous. Look, this thing looks just like a screw, right? So why doesn't Sheed's drill work with it? It won't screw in. I mean, how in the world is Sheed supposed to work with this bush league [EXPLETIVE]? Ah, man, Desperate Housewives starts in five. Seriously. Why. Won’t. You. Screw. In. Your. Stupid. Little. [EXPLETIVE]. Hole. Ahhh— [EXPLETIVE]! MY HAND!
OK, OK, Sheed you can do this. Keep it cool. We a'ight. Maybe the drill just doesn't work with these screws. Yeah, these things look a little different. Sort of hexagonal or something weird. Oh! Maybe I have to use this little tool right here instead? Yeah, if I just put this one end in here and then turn it sort of— YES! IT WORKS! YES! YES! There we go! Oh yeah! The allen key don’t lie, people! THE ALLEN KEY DON’T LIE!
(By the way, if you remember this post. Wow. Just wow.)
Real Talk, Blog Talk (aka excerpts from other blogger team previews):
Upside and Motor: "I hate Kwame Brown. I think everyone does by now. Usually high draft picks who fall short of their promise still maintain some sort of cheeky charisma. Call it sympathy, call it pity, call it good ol' comedy. Whatever you want. But aside from being a punchline for how much I despise MJ as a suit, Kwame is utterly useless to me. His time for excuses is over. I don't want to hear about the pressure of going #1 overall, coming straight out of high school, or small hands. When you somehow coax one of the greatest GMs in the game today to dish out some serious dough to put you in his team's uniform, you better produce. I'll be damned if Joe D's reputation is tarnished based on Kwame's account."
Need4Sheed.com: "If Joe Dumars doesn’t like the way things are going early in the season you can bet that he will move whoever he can to take this team to the Finals again. Rasheed’s contract (just about 14 million) comes off the books at the end of the year, which makes him an attractive trading piece. And let’s not forget his game. Bundling him up with another major player on the team could give Dumars just what he was looking for when he vowed to do whatever it took to get the right deal done this summer. Come trade deadline, you could see a drastically different Pistons team take the floor, but that all depends on what they do coming out of the gate."
Empty The Bench: "What are the Pistons’ biggest weaknesses? The answer to this feels like something you’d say in a job interview when asked what your weakness is. You know ... “oh, I work too hard sometimes and get too wrapped up in my job.” But in this case, it’s actually true —what could technically be considered a strength must now be talked about as somewhat of a weakness: familiarity. [...] The hope is that the injection of guys like Stuckey, Johnson, and Afflalo into the regular rotation will help shake things up some and push the vets to adopt a new, more urgent mentality and to stop subconsciously thinking that when push comes to shove, they should and deserve to win. You know, that whole “flip the switch” garbage that has plagued the Pistons at various points since they won the title in ‘04."
Dramatic Chipmunk Walter Herrmann:
Associated Wax: Blake Babies, Innocence and Experience
Michael Bay's Twitter Season Projection:
michael_bay: "Now that's how you supposed to drive! From now on that's how you drive!" Mike Lowrey. Bad Boys. I wrote that. It works.
about 7 hours ago from web