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

Monday, November 23, 2009

68 to go

After five straight losses - over an eight-day span - the Pistons’ record stands at 5-9. Not a pleasant start, but I still don’t think we have a true sense of how good this team is or will be. It’s pretty clear they won’t be making a run for the championship, but we knew that heading into the season. They have one glaring deficiency – they can’t get an easy bucket to save their lives (or a game).

They’re lack of easy points boils down to two things. The first is that nobody can score in the low post. Occasionally Charlie Villanueva shows a little touch down low, but it’s not consistent. Without an inside threat the Pistons have to work much harder to score. They are 18th (out of 30) in field goal percentage (45% on the year) - which I suppose isn’t horrible, but it does put them in the bottom half of the league. They have the 4th lowest team scoring average at 92.5 points per game.

The second offensive woe is ball movement. Averaging 15.6 assists per game, the Pistons are second from the bottom (just ahead of New Jersey). This is a real problem. Too often the Pistons are not moving the ball around in their half-court sets.

Stuck on Shoot

Rodney Stuckey, the starting point guard, is taking way too many bad shots. On the season he’s taken a team high 224 shots, but has only scored 231 points. That is very inefficient basketball. On top of that, he’s only averaging 4 assists per game.

Will Bynum, on the season, has scored only 31 less points than Stuckey, but has taken 84 less shots – that is staggering. Bynum is putting together a strong case to become the starter even though his scoring off the bench has been important. When Richard Hamilton returns – and if Stuckey hasn’t improved his offensive efficiency – I think you make that move for sure. Right now there is a defensive concern having Gordon and Bynum together for too long – seeing as they are both, um, “vertically-challenged” individuals, but I think you need a true point guard on the floor, and Bynum is starting to look like the best option.

With all that said, I still have hope for Stuckey. He seems to have a decent skill set. Let’s not forget that he had an abridged rookie season, an inept coach (Michael Curry) in his second, and we’re only 14 games into his third. His development was set back a bit. The only problem is that if a better option is sitting on the bench – well, sooner or later, you have to go to it.


Defensively, I think the Pistons are "not that bad" – at least not for the players they have. Ben Wallace, as I and others have written this season, is playing incredible. The energy he brings really does make the team work harder on the defensive end. They could stand to beef up inside, and could use a shot blocker, but you can say that for most teams. John Hollinger – ESPN’s stat guru – has the Pistons ranked 18th in defensive efficiency. Bring back Rip and Prince, and I think they turn into an above-average defense.

Speaking of which

The absence of Rip (played 1 game) and Prince (played 3 games) is enormous. They are the Pistons’ best all-around players. Rip is an underrated defensive player, in my opinion, and gives maximum effort on both ends of the court. It is not surprising that the Pistons are starting to struggle without those two guys on the floor.

The “what-if” game

Let’s imagine Rip and Prince come back healthy, and the Pistons’ have not sunk too far in the standings to compete for a playoff spot. Either Stuckey will have become more efficient or Bynum will have been inserted into the starting lineup. You are looking at Stuckey or Bynum, Rip, Prince, Villanueva, and Wallace as your starting unit. Off the bench you have Gordon, Stuckey or Bynum and Jerebko. That’s not going to win a championship, but that should get you into the playoffs.

The Unknown

The Pistons need Rip and Prince back, but it doesn’t look like it is going to happen any time soon. The only hope is the Pistons can scrap their way to some victories, and not fall too low in the standings. I am an optimist when it comes to the Pistons – always will be – and I think they should be alright.

I mean, they have a 6-10 Swede… how bad could it be?

~Matthew Penridge


Post a Comment

<< Home