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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Which Free Agent C to Pursue?

Whenever the NBA owners and player’s association can agree on a new collective bargaining agreement the Detroit Pistons can resume addressing the roster.  No trades or free agent signings can occur until then.

Currently, our only glaring hole is not having a true center on the roster, assuming you aren’t satisfied with 6’7″ Jason Maxiell manning the position when Greg Monroe and Ben Wallace aren’t in the game.  While I expect rookie Vernon Macklin to make the team-but not the active roster-he was a power forward in college at Florida and players typically don’t assume “bigger” positions in the move to the pros.  Our only options at this point will be to try to move some of our “bad” contracts in SGs Richard Hamilton and Ben Gordon and PF Ben Gordon for a center, or attempt to find a diamond in the rough in the 2011 free agent class.

Here is a link to all the 2011 free agents that had their contracts expire after the 2010-2011 season, as well as some others that have been linked to the NBA: http://hoopshype.com/free_agency.htm

Assuming that Greg Monroe is going to play primarily at C and that Ben Wallace is ready and able to be his primary backup, we can take a flyer on a young big with potential.  Allow me to throw out some names:

Of course I’d also like to throw (reasonable) bucks at Greg Oden and see how he and Portland respond, but I think Portland matches.  He is the only dominant defensive post player available.  Besides him, the best we can do are FCs that complement Monroe or plodding Cs that can back him up.
 
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Posted by on June 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The Case for a Third Draft Round

The second round of the 2011 NBA draft was downright silly.  Several foreign prospects were selected, many of which will likely never come stateside, while many local prospects went undrafted.  Michigan State saw Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers go sixty picks without hearing their names called.  Greg Smith out of Fresno State, Scotty Hopson of Tennessee, Demetri McCamey of Illinois, Malcolm Thomas of San Diego State University, and many more have seen a wrench thrown in their NBA plans, while a player who wasn’t even eligible for the NBA draft was selected in Targuy Ngombo.

If I were drafting a new CBA, I would include a third round.  In doing so, I would alter the rights and privileges granted to those drafted in the second round.  In order to better cultivate local talent, second round draft picks would be guaranteed a contract with the NBDL affiliate team of the NBA club that drafted them.  In this setup, all the local fans in Ohio that are shocked about David Lighty being passed up sixty times could have instead seen him drafted where Milan Macvan was, as the third round would unofficially be a draft-and-stash round where major projects are selected.  The NBDL would benefit from having “big names” play for them, the draftees would benefit from having a contract and the chance of getting called up to the big leagues, and we as fans wouldn’t see our favorite college players immediately fade into obscurity by virtue of playing overseas.

Win-win-win?

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Are Hamilton/Gordon/Villanueva Underproducing?

When listening to talk radio and reading opinion on the interwebs, Rip Hamilton is the consensus choice of player to be moved.  They point to his advancing age (33), his decreasing statistical output (last two seasons were his two lowest scoring totals besides his rookie year), and the logjam at shooting guard as pros (with Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon and Terrico White).

If he’s moved, it should be because he’s developed a reputation as a coach killer and wants out, not because the new coach can’t be creative and find ways to get the most talented players on the floor or find them ample shot opportunities.  Hamilton isn’t the only player that was improperly utilized under head coach John Kuester, and the other two names also find themselves on the trading block: Ben Gordon and power forward Charlie Villanueva.

Let’s take a look at how they’ve done statistically:

Richard Hamilton

Season Age Tm Lg G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2009-10 31 DET NBA 46 46 1552 6.8 16.6 .409 1.0 3.2 .297 4.7 5.6 .846 0.7 2.1 2.8 4.7 0.7 0.1 2.7 2.7 19.3
2010-11 32 DET NBA 55 39 1498 6.9 16.1 .429 1.3 3.5 .382 3.5 4.1 .849 0.6 2.5 3.0 4.1 0.9 0.1 2.1 2.3 18.7
Career NBA 843 710 27774 7.3 16.2 .450 0.6 1.9 .347 4.1 4.8 .852 1.0 2.5 3.5 3.8 0.9 0.2 2.4 2.8 19.3

As you can see, per 36 minutes, Hamilton’s statistical output the past two seasons was on par with his career averages.  Rip Hamilton’s problems last season were simply due to his playing fewer minutes per game and fewer games overall.  The fact that his on-court production per minute wasn’t affected by coaching “buffoonery” is to his credit.  Rip’s trademark playing style was virtually absent last season, as he wasn’t ran off of screens or enjoying the offense being ran through him off the ball.
I suggest moving him to SF, not sitting him when he’s healthy, playing him 30-36 minutes a game, and emphasizing the the plays that brought him and the team success in the past.

Ben Gordon

Season Age Tm Lg G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2009-10 31 DET NBA 46 46 1552 6.8 16.6 .409 1.0 3.2 .297 4.7 5.6 .846 0.7 2.1 2.8 4.7 0.7 0.1 2.7 2.7 19.3
2010-11 32 DET NBA 55 39 1498 6.9 16.1 .429 1.3 3.5 .382 3.5 4.1 .849 0.6 2.5 3.0 4.1 0.9 0.1 2.1 2.3 18.7
Career NBA 843 710 27774 7.3 16.2 .450 0.6 1.9 .347 4.1 4.8 .852 1.0 2.5 3.5 3.8 0.9 0.2 2.4 2.8 19.3

Again, Gordon’s stats are very similar to his career averages per36 minutes.  His overall field goal percentage is slightly down, but otherwise he’s the same player he was with Chicago.  John Kuester essentially turned BG7 (soon to be BG8) into a spot-up jumpshooter, when really he’s an assassin that demands the ball in his hands and the ability to create his own shot.  If you need a refresher, watch this video of him dominating the Celtics in a playoff game a few years back:

Watching Ben Gordon from 2009-2011 and contrasting it with how he played as a Chicago Bull would lead you to believe that they are two different people.  Gordon needs to start at SG, receive starting minutes, and always be the #1 or 2 option at all times when on the court with the green light to look for his own shot.

Charlie Villanueva

Season Age Tm Lg G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2009-10 25 DET NBA 78 16 1848 7.1 16.1 .439 1.9 5.5 .351 2.1 2.5 .815 1.7 5.5 7.1 1.0 0.9 1.1 1.4 4.3 18.1
2010-11 26 DET NBA 76 11 1666 6.8 15.3 .442 2.7 7.0 .387 1.9 2.5 .767 1.1 5.3 6.4 1.0 0.9 0.9 1.4 3.8 18.2
Career NBA 428 158 10783 7.1 15.9 .448 1.6 4.5 .346 2.4 3.0 .790 2.3 5.7 8.0 1.5 0.8 0.9 1.8 3.9 18.1
As we can see, Charlie has been pretty consistent relative to his career statistics except for less of an effort on the defensive class and many more three point attempts.  Lest he take a Rasheed Wallace career trajectory, we need him to fall out of love with the three ball and get his butt back in the post, where he is a match-up nightmare for most players.  He averaged 25 minutes per game for his career but only 23.7 and 21.9 in his first two season with the Pistons.  Villanueva needs to play at least 24 minutes a game to be worth his contract.
In summary: all three of these bloated contracts are actually producing similarly per minute as they always have.  If the new Pistons coach can find a way to get all three the minutes they deserve (24 for CV, about 32 for Hamilton, 30 for BG) and have them score the way they used to.  Hamilton needs to curl off of screens, Gordon needs to break down defenders using his dribble and hesitation moves, and Villanueva needs to stop being so one-dimensional.
 
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Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Post Draft: Where Do We Stand?

I hope it”s not breaking news that the Pistons selected PG Brandon Knight from Kentucky at #8, SF Kyle Singler at #33, and big man Vernon Macklni at #52 in the NBA Draft last night.  At the Pistons draft party, Joe Dumars indicated that he expected all three to contribute and alluded to the positions that they will play.  At first glance, we filled all three of our biggest needs: a) PG more pure than Bynum and Stuckey with range, b) SF that brings toughness that Austin Daye may lack, and c) big man capable of playing center and banging in the post.  Unexpectedly, we acquired these players in an order that was reverse of the expected.

Anybody with an ounce of sense can see that the Pistons still have need for a rotation-worthy big man, and are offering up one of SGs Richard Hamilton or Ben Gordon.  The most obvious targets are any of the four preexisting big  men on the Utah Jazz: PFs Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors and FCs Al Jefferson and Mehmet Okur.

I argue that we hold off on that trade.

The trade values of Gordon and Hamilton were low before, if not negative, and now every team in the league knows that we need to unload at least one of our high-paid guards.  We need to play both of them heavy minutes and provide them with enough shots to get their values back up.  Similar to how Don Nelson’s Golden State Warriors and Phoenix’s Mark D’Antonio used to push the ball and “artificially” inflate their players’ stats, the Pistons should hire a coach that is willing to run and employ small lineups.  When you have many weaknesses and are not able to mask them, you may as well play up your strengths, that being our backcourt.

Here is the three-deep, nine-man  lineup I suggest:

PG Brandon Knight/Rodney Stuckey/Will Bynum
SG Rodney Stuckey/Ben Gordon/Richard Hamilton
SF Richard Hamilton/Austin Daye/Jonas Jerebko
PF Jonas Jerebko/Charlie Villanueva/Jason Maxiell
C Greg Monroe/Ben Wallace/Vernon Macklin*

That team may seem undersized (because it is) but it’s the best way to give minutes to the players that need and deserve them.  Ben Gordon needs to be allowed to create his own shots and shoot with a green light, and Hamilton needs to have plays ran for him off of curls, both as the #1 or 2 option at all times on the floor.  This is the best way to convince other teams that our 12.5 and 11.6 million dollar men are worth trading for without major incentives (draft picks, young prospects, taking back a bad contract).
This team would have to have to rely on Ben Wallace for reasonably heavy minutes until a younger center is acquired, and all three of Ben and Jerebko and Monroe are going to have to focus the majority of their efforts on rebounding and finding bunnies for themselves.

Tomorrow I’ll detail why Lawrence Frank is now the man for the job after our new additions…yet there’s still a place for Bill Laimbeer.  Stay tuned.

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

What Not To Expect Tonight

Tonight’s draft promises to be very unpredictable.  Teams are blowing up phone lines trying to switch spots so that they can land their man, and this is an ever-increasing trend in the NBA.  In fact, in the 1990s there were only 5.2 traded picks on draft day.  Today, that number has risen to a remarkable 13.4.

Unfortunately, the Pistons have only taken part in TWO draft day deal since Joe Dumars has taken over the General Manager position.  In 2008 the Pistons selected DJ White on behalf of the then Super Sonics at #29 in exchange for the 32nd and 46th picks.  As I detailed in an earlier rant, this was not a wise move as Detroit selected Walter Sharpe and Trent Plaisted, both who never amounted to a damn thing in the NBA.  In 2009 the Pistons selected GF Chase Budinger for the Houston Rockets in exchange for future 2nd rounders.

On draft night Joe and the Pistons usually just set their sights on a small set of players and select their BPA, according to their draft board, when the time comes.  They haven’t been shown to react to players who have inexplicably slipped in the draft, either by trading up or into the draft to select a targeted player or trading with another team so that they can land said slider.  The NBA Draft can be like a game, wherein you win by getting the most value out of your picks, and sometimes you can manipulate other teams into surrendering value.  Chase Budinger was one instance of this, yet the Houston Rockets had to contact Joe Dumars and indicate their interest.

Forgive the shitty picture quality, but it hasn’t appeared that Joe has been as aggressive as he was in the early 2000s (when the pic was snapped) or taken the initiative to find deals that will shrewdly benefit the Pistons.

NBA draft picks do have a cap hold against the salary cap, but do not require matching salaries to be traded away.  This makes it possible for teams to purchase draft picks for $$$, up to 3  million per.  The Pistons have never purchased a draft pick outright, or even with the addition of a present or future draft pick.  Other teams have been much more proactive, and in 2009 cash was involved in the acquisition of no less than four draft picks, and the exchange of future picks was featured in three trades.  In 2008 there was more of the same, as five more deals involving the movement of cash and/or future draft picks were seen.  Many players were had or could have  been taken at these draft slots, and many would have been of great aid to Detroit, such as Mario Chalmers, Goran Dragic, Ramon Sessions, Eric Bledsoe, and more.

Joe built a championship team via trades, acquiring Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins for Grant Hill, Rasheed Wallace from Atlanta for a bunch of scubs, and Richard Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse.  Now we find ourselves building our roster via the draft, with Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey and Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko set to make a big impact next season, along with whomever we select tonight.  Dumars would be wise to combine both of those philosophies and make deals to land coveted prospects as we continue along the rebuilding process.

For this reason, I do not foresee us trading up to land a top prospect, nor do I see us snagging a can’t-miss prospect unless the Pistons were targeting him from the get-go.  If we do trade down, expect it to be for a name we’ve been linked to for a while, as the Pistons tend to make their desires more available than they ought to.  New owner Tom Gores may provide the front office with a looser leash than seen under William Davidson’s ownership, which would give Dumars few excuses to not fix the team by the end of the three year window he’s been allotted.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Obligatory Darko Post

Every year there’s a draft, and, predictably, every year since 2003 we’ve had to tolerate Darko Milicic talk.  I don’t plan on talking about him as a solo subject often…

…But I’ll say this much:

  • No, he wasn’t the next Dirk Nowitzki or Pau Gasol, as he was hyped up to be before the selection.  He never displayed an elite jumper and hasn’t played a minute at SF.
  • He did, however, become a top 5 shotblocker in the league, both in terms of total blocks and average per game.  When Larry Brown said he wanted Darko to pattern his game after Bill Russell, he listened.
  • Unlike most rejection specialists, he’s not a total liability on offense, and is a capable, but not stellar rebounder, averaging 8.3 rebounds PER36.
  • He could fit in the rotation of almost every team in the league and thus I’d gladly welcome him back on the Pistons.
  • He may have developed further had he not had six different coaches and played for five different teams in his seven seasons in the league.
  • A few pretty good bigs have played next to Darko; Ben/Rasheed Wallace->Dwight Howard->David Lee->Al Jefferson->Kevin Love.

Nobody knows how good Darko could have been had he ever experienced some consistency as a priority big on a good team.  He is certainly not, however, a bad player, and there have been worse #2 picks in the last decade, and not all have had the perfect careers set out for them on draft day:

  • Evan Turner was considered the most NBA ready player and he wasn’t a starter…
  • Hasheem Thabeet was the highest draft pick to land in the D-League…
  • Michael Beasley was traded for future 2nd round picks after his rookie season…
  • Marvin Williams has only had one season with a PER higher than the average player when his 16.5 bested 15.0…
  • Emeka Okafor never developed as a scorer and couldn’t come close to matching his defensive impact achieved at UCONN…
  • Jay Williams motorcycled himself out the league…
  • and finally, Stromile Swift flamed out of the league entirely.
Of course, the Pistons could have been better off had they drafted Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, or Chris Bosh (and maybe the goddamned Big Three would never have formed in Miami), but this post is about Darko.  In summary, he was a bust, but he’s also a keeper.
Get Some.
 
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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Mock Lotto 8

I’ve been reading so many silly things about the draft lately, particularly the Pistons.  In the past two days we’ve been rumored to have promised Kawhi Leonard, zeroed in on Tristan Thompson, been blown away by Markieff Morris (same for Marcus earlier), narrowed things down to only Kemba Walker and Jonas Valanciunas, and that we’ve decided on Biyombo.  Including Jan Vesely, there are eight players rumored to be in play at the #8 pick, and we have ourselves a clusterfuck.

Let me share with how things should play out, assuming teams are worried about need and role than they are about potential and workout-warriors.

1) Cleveland Cavaliers-SF Derrick Williams.

The Cavaliers have four players that are capable of playing SF under contract next season in Antawn Jamison, Joey Graham, Christian Eyenga, and Alonzo Gee.  Jamison’s played PF for them,  Eyenga is raw and equally suited for the SG position, and Graham/Gee are scrubs.
The Cavs can afford to pass on a PG because they have Baron Davis’ monster contract to play, Ramon Sessions (who puts up better PER36 numbers than Rodney Stuckey), and Boobie Gibson as options at PG.

Davis/Sessions
Manny Harris/Gibson
WILLIAMS/Eyenga
JJ Hickson/Jamison
Anderson Varejao/Ryan Hollins

2) Minnesota Timberwolves-C Enes Kanter


The Wolves need another rebounder besides Kevin Love on the roster.   Love has a great face-up game and needs to remain exclusively at PF, so acquiring a back-to-the-basket complement would be ideal, and Enes Kanter can be that guy.  Darko is their starting C and is a great shot-blocker, but his rebounding leaves a lot to be desired.  Between the two #2 picks in Milicic and Kanter and the contributions of Nikola Pekovic the Wolves suddenly would have one of the strongest C rotations in the league.
The Wolves pass on a PG because of Rubio coming stateside, Luke Ridnour making 4 million a year, and not having success moving Jonny Flynn  yet.

Rubio/Ridnour or Flynn
Wes Johnson/Wayne Ellington
Michael Beasley/Martell Webster
Kevin Love/Anthony Randolph
Enes Kanter or Darko Milicic

That’s actually a solid, well-rounded two-deep.  It’s amazing how underrated Michael Beasley has become; last I checked 19/6 was nothing to scoff at.

3) Utah Jazz-PG Kyrie Irving


I know, its controversial that I have likely #1 pick Kyrie Irving falling to #3 overall.
There’s not much to be said for the rationale behind this pick.  They don’t need frontcourt help between Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, and Derrick Favors, and they just used a lotto pick on a SF last year in Gordon Hayward.  If there were a stud SG prospect available they would probably opt for that, as incumbent PG Devin Harris is no slouch, but alas, the best SG prospects would be reaches at #3.

Harris or Irving
Miles/Bell
Hayward/?
Millsap or Favors
Jefferson/Fesenko

4) Cleveland Cavaliers-F Jan Vesely


The Cavs would also love for there to be an elite SG prospect available here, but they settle for flexibility and depth with Jan Vesely.  It is unclear whether he’s a SF or PF, but his tenacity and big play ability would make him a fan favorite on the rebuilding Cavs.  If he plays PF, that would allow Hickson to play more minutes at C (if he isn’t moved).  If he plays SF then that pushes Eyenga to SG full-time and Williams has a super-sub as a backup.  Either way, Antawn Jamison shouldn’t be a deterrent for the selection of a F tweener.

Davis/Sessions
Harris/Gibson
Williams/Eyenga and Vesely
Hickson/Jamison and Vesely
Varejao/Hickson/Hollins

5) Toronto Raptors-C Jonas Valanciunas


The Raptors are looking at PGs IRL, but the position is covered by Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless, who somehow fell out of the top 10 in the 2008 draft and hasn’t really been given a fair shake.  Throw in Leandro Barbosa who can play some PG and ought to receive minutes to justify his 7.6 million dollar salary, and I’m surprised to hear how sold they are on Kemba Walker.
They take a C because Andrea Bargnani is a horribly inadequate rebounder and defender at the C position, and his perimeter-oriented skill-set is better justified elsewhere.  Prospect Bismack Biyombo would be redundant with Amir Johnson a Raptor, so Valanciunas is the pick.

Calderon/Bayless
DeMar DeRozan/Barbosa
James Johnson/Sonny Weems
Bargnani/Johnson
Valanciunas or Ed Davis

6) Washington Wizards-SF Kawhi Leonard


Sorry Brandon Knight, but the Wizards already have John Wall at PG.  Washington opts for a SF because all their other positions are covered by young talent; you have Wall, the volume-shooting Nick Young at SG, the versatile Andray Blatche at PF, and Marcus Camby-esque JaVale McGee at C.  Leonard should infuse some toughness into a lineup that has several soft players: Young, Blatche, Jianlian.
They’d consider a reliable C to compensate for McGee’s mental lapses, but there aren’t any polished five-men available.

Wall/Jordan Crawford
Young/Mo Evans
Leonard/Lewis
Blatche/Rashard  Lewis
McGee/Kevin Seraphin

7) Sacramento Kings-PG Brandon Knight


Tyreke Evans hit a sophomore wall last season and didn’t match the 20/5/5 we enjoyed out of his rookie campaign.  There are debates as to whether he’s a SG or PG, and Brandon Knight’s selection would clear things up nicely.  Both are considered combo guards, but Evans is more of a slasher and Knight is an underrated shooter.    Beno Udrih and Marcus Thornton would be great backups, and in one fell swoop the Kings would have one of the more promising young backcourt units around.

Knight/Udrih
Evans/Thornton
Omri Casspi/Francisco Garcia
Jason Thompson/Darnell Jackson
DeMarcus Cousins/Hassan Whiteside

8) Detroit Pistons-C Bismack Biyombo


I consider him the fourth best prospect overall, and having him slide to #8 is not an indictment on his abilities or homerific on my part.  If teams are paying attention to roles/balance/depth the way I do, Biyombo only makes sense at #2 or #8, and there he lands.

Stuckey/Bynum
Gordon/Hamilton
Hamilton/Daye
Jerebko/Villanueva
Monroe/Biyombo

A bunch of teams are going to GET NONE tomorrow if the reports are true about all the promises being handed out and reaches about to be made.

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Uncategorized