Observers of the Detroit Pistons/Boston Celtics summer league game on Monday took in an odd sight. Rasheed Wallace walked into the arena in Las Vegas wearing a Pistons polo shirt (ahhaha; lame) and took a seat on the Pistons bench before working the game as an assistant coach. It appears as if Rasheed will be joining newly instated Pistons coach Mo Cheeks’ staff in that capacity for the 2013-14 season, with a specific nod toward working with young Piston big men like Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, and rookie Tony Mitchell.
The Pistons have not made a formal announcement on Wallace's impending hiring, nor on any of the Oklahoma City assistants who will come to Detroit to join Maurice Cheeks' staff, but Wallace is on the bench for today's game against the Boston Celtics.
Wallace will serve the Pistons as a big-man coach after several weeks of discussions between the two sides.
The Piston bigs need all the help they can get. Monroe and Drummond are certainly talented, but both of their respective games feature significant holes. Drummond in particular doesn’t have a post game to speak of, and made just 37 percent of his free throws last season. His foul rate for a rookie (over four per every 36 minutes per game last season) was surprisingly low, but his awareness away from the ball and in pick and roll defense needs fine-tuning.
Monroe’s defense is an absolute mess, he has his head turned on that end more often than anyone would prefer, and he seems to prefer using his length and arms instead of lower body strength and legs when defending the post.
Can Rasheed help any of this? Well, you don’t have to be a Hakeem Olajuwon-type to point out flaws, your resume doesn’t have to do the talking … but at times in Rasheed’s career I’m quite sure his coaches would have preferred a big man coach pull him aside to tell Wallace to start playing like a big man.
Following the 1999-00 season, Wallace rarely took to the low block to make his hay. He had extraordinary length and timing on his turnaround jumpers, but as his career moved along (and we’re not referring to his last few years as a member of the Celtics or Knicks) Rasheed strayed further and further out from the basket. Portland Trail Blazers fans, in particular, are still probably a little peeved Rasheed didn’t play the part of a big man up against the ancient A.C. Green as the Blazers gave away a 15-point lead in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference finals.
Of course, Drummond and Monroe don’t need scads of old Rasheed game tapes to know that their games need refinement. The proof is in the play, and while the developing Drummond was needlessly kept to just 20.7 minutes per game last year by then-Pistons coach Lawrence Frank, we know this duo has both promise and a whole heck of a lot to work on.
Is Rasheed the cat to put them over the top? Don’t bother asking him, because he won’t tell. Assistant coaches aren’t allowed to talk to the media, so in a way Rasheed Wallace has found his dream job.
Even if he does have to wear that polo to work.