One man's honest opinion about sports in the Motor City, and beyond.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Big Little Three

As I looked over the boxscore for the Pistons/Bucks game yesterday, I was very pleased with 3 players in particular. Carlos Delfino, Jason Maxiell, and Amir Johnson all were extremely productive. Johnson and Maxiell are rookies, and the argument could be made that Delfino is basically one as well.
Now, I realize the Pistons lost. But, it should be pointed out that the Bucks still have meaning to their season, and were still playing their starters quite a bit. The player combinations the Pistons had on the court, were needless to say, very irregular. Those guys are not used to playing together, especially considering Johnson has been playing in the D-League for a large part of the year. So, outcome of the game aside, I believe the productivity of these 3 players is a really good sign for future of the franchise.

Amir Johnson especially seems to have quite the upside. Earlier in the year I read an article, I believe in the Detroit News, that referenced a Pistons scrimmage where he dunked basically from the free throw line (That was during play and not a dunk contest). He is listed at 6 feet 9 inches and weighs 210 pounds. He has been averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds in the D-League. Most importantly is his age. He doesn't turn 19 for two weeks. Look at his stats for last night's game, and think about this: That was really his first NBA game (In his NBA debut he only played 4 minutes). Johnson was the 56th pick overall of last year's draft... And, right now, it looks like it could end up being an absolute steal.

Delfino's playing time this year has been both limited and sporadic. There doesn't seem to be much question regarding his skills though. Well, at least in my opinion. Yesterday, he performed what I thought was an amazing sign of what he can offer. He drove into the center of the lane, did a 360, and barely missed a left handed kiss off the glass. The shot was immediately thunder dunked in by Jason Maxiell. Although he missed the shot the move was still very impressive, and the attention he received by the defense allowed Maxiell to sneak in for the put-back. I truly believe Delfino will be a productive NBA starter when he gets the chance. I just hope that the Pistons are able to hold on to him long enough for it to happen here (or at least trade him before losing him for nothing).

Jason Maxiell, may possess the least "star" potential, but I believe he has already shown what you can expect from him every game. Passion, toughness, and hard work. Three qualities that Joe Dumars has brought with him from the "Bad Boys" days. The aforementioned put-back dunk by Maxiell, on Delfino's miss, was a statement. It said, "Get the hell out my way before someone gets hurt." Maxiell is listed at 6 feet and 7 inches, and weighs 260 pounds. He may benefit from a little quickness boost over the summer, but for now, he looks like someone capable of putting in good minutes in the NBA. The obvious physical comparison between he and Charles Barkley has been pointed out, I am sure. He doesn't strike me as capable of putting up Barkley type offensive numbers, but he does seem like the type of player who is only going to get better and better every year he plays. Not to mention, when Barkley broke in, he didn't strike anyone as a Hall-of-Famer.



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