October 16, 2009
Once again back is the incredible ... Ball Don't Lie's NBA previews, outlining offseason moves, projecting win totals, spinning tracks and much, much more. It's a fun, hot mess. This morning, the Detroit Pistons.
2008-09 Record: 39-43, third place in Central Division
Head Coach/Facial Hair: John Kruester/None
Key Additions: Ben Gordon(notes), Charlie Villanueva(notes), Ben Wallace(notes), Chris Wilcox(notes), Austin Daye(notes), Jonas Jerebko(notes)
Key Losses: Rasheed Wallace(notes), Allen Iverson(notes), Amir Johnson(notes), Antonio McDyess(notes), Aaron Afflalo, Walter Herrmann(notes)
There is not a lot to like about this team. I don't like being dour so soon after a pretty significant makeover, but unless quite a few things click above expectation, the Pistons are going to be fighting for a lower-rung playoff spot with several Eastern Conference opponents.
That said, I think there will be a lot to enjoy about this team. Cold comfort for Pistons fans, but for the other 96.7 percent out there, this will be a fun team to watch. John Kuester will have the Pistons running a sound offense, you'd like to think Rip Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey(notes) will perk it up on that end after a tough 2008-09, and the new additions (Ben Gordon, Chris Wilcox, Charlie Villanueva) tend to think offense ... always.
The tough stuff, first. I like a lot of these players, but for a team that is capped-out and will be capped-out next season, damn, this rotation looks awfully thin.
Will Bynum's(notes) the backup point man, and I think he might be one of the league's most underrated guards. Stuckey will get better. Gordon is still a waste as a sixth man; he has his faults, but he's good enough to start. I've been smitten with Austin Daye's game, for whatever reason, for a while. Longtime readers will know that I tend to hype Chris Wilcox more than I should. Tay Prince? Sound player. Rip Hamilton? Can still score. CV? Unfairly maligned and starter quality. Jason Maxiell(notes)? Eats babies. Admire all these guys.
But that's the team. There's no killer here. No overwhelming star meant to push things over the edge. No standout in any area, save for solid perimeter scoring.
And I'm just having a hard time getting behind an NBA team that is just about capped out, featuring this little. Unless the team as a whole is overwhelmingly proficient in either offense or defense.
The Pistons aren't that way defensively. We know that. And as good as the shooters are, as much as the young backcourt can improve, and as sound as Kuester's methods have proven to have been as an assistant over the years, I just don't see them as a top-five knockout offensively.
By now, Pistons fans will want me to mention Ben Wallace and Jonas Jerebko and, while they're both nice players this late/early in their careers, it just isn't happening this year. Unless Kuester can whip up some magic offense that really does take this (potentially potent, I must say) blend of slashers, scorers and shooters and create a killer offensive outfit, I just see the Pistons as being good enough to compete, not strong enough to contend.
Will Joe Dumars' tinkering put the Pistons back among the East elite?
No. No way. But Dumars isn't done tinkering. Even with Rip Hamilton's contract, the new free-agent signings and Dumars' penchant to keep Tayshaun Prince(notes), the Pistons could have a small chunk of salary-cap space for the 2010 summer. Rookie contracts and a shrinking cap could hurt, but if Dumars can move Hamilton for an expiring deal, the Pistons could add another big piece.
• Motown String Music: "What should the starting lineup be? My gut reaction is Stuckey, Hamilton, Prince, Villanueva and Brown. Kuester has indicated recently that Ben Wallace could start instead of Villanueva. I wouldn't mind that flip-flop because it would have the Pistons starting the game with arguably their best defensive players on the floor, setting the tone, and then it makes the bench appear that much deeper. Unlike last year, the Pistons don't have any inflated egos to cater to, so I don't see any big problems arising from Kuester getting creative with his rotations. Assuming he gives Gordon and Villanueva ample time to get their scoring opportunities in, it doesn't really matter if that happens with them coming off the pine or not." [more]
• Need4Sheed: "The most glaring and obvious weakness for Detroit is the 'D.' Always known for defense first, the Pistons now have an offensive-minded squad and a lack of established big men. The Pistons new addition down low, Charlie Villanueva, has a reputation to be allergic to rebounds and has been called 'soft.' Look for Jason Maxiell, Wilcox and Kwame Brown(notes) to do most of the dirty work for the Pistons this season." [more]
• Empty The Bench: "Let's be honest: few teams that experience roster turnover of this magnitude meet with success on the first try. It takes time to get to know your teammates: where they want the ball, how well they play defense, how to compensate for their shortcomings, what they're like in the locker room, in which situations they can and can't be counted on. Throw in a healthy batch of rookies and another inexperienced head coach into the mix, and it all adds up to a team that's going to suffer through frustrating bouts of inconsistency and struggle to beat the NBA's elite. The Pistons we've all come to know over the past decade were mostly defined by their defense; this version has no identity... yet. On a team with its fair share of question marks, that lack of a true identity is their most significant weakness. Don't underestimate just how crucial having one -- or not having one -- can be at this level." [more]
Kings of Leon, "Use Somebody (Remix)"
If you had told me five years ago, when I saw them open for the Strokes, that the Kings of Leon would some day have a dance remix that gets played on Top 40 radio stations nationwide, I would have said, "I'll believe that when the Detroit Pistons spend $85 million, in one summer, on two players who care a lot more about scoring than playing defense. Oh, and one of them won't be able to grow hair on his body because he suffers from a condition that affects 0.01% of humans."
Welcome to the future.
— Trey Kerby, The Blowtorch
Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva were the headline signings for this new version of the Pistons, so this team will want to play some offense. But how much will Gordon's production suffer as a reserve, following 76 starts and 37 minutes per game last season? He's certainly had success as a sixth man in previous seasons, but his fifth-round asking price isn't leaving much room for downside. Charlie V is looking at starters' minutes from the outset for the Pistons, and his career per-36 minute averages include 18 points, nine boards, 1.2 threes, and 1.6 steals-plus-blocks. He's no secret, though, consistently going in the sixth round of drafts.
Richard Hamilton(notes) and Tayshaun Prince are the last remnants of the Pistons' old guard. Both are middling fantasy options at this point of their careers and offer no upside in the late rounds, and upside is typically what you should be looking for at that stage of the draft. Rodney Stuckey is a bit of a wild card for fantasy owners — despite a disappointing season overall, he did show some improvement from his rookie season and he's looking to make some new memories (along with the rest of the franchise). He'll get a push from Will Bynum if he doesn't start strong, but there's little risk in a late pick (125 ADP). It's doubtful that any of the others in the mix for backcourt minutes (Kwame Brown, Ben Wallace, Chris Wilcox) play well and/or consistently enough to warrant fantasy consideration.
Sign up now for Fantasy Basketball '09.
michael_bay: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!! #PistonsPregame
11:26 AM Oct 9th from Tweetie