Archive for the ‘Detroit Pistons’ Category

Sometimes, as HoopSpeak’s Beckley Mason points out, the best alley-oops come from the worst passes. I’m not sure if that’s technically an oxymoron, but it’s close enough.

And it’s the reason why Mo Williams remains the best alley-oop passer in recent memory, because that guy couldn’t get a lob close to the rim if he tried, which was very cool when he played with LeBron James. Bad passes are awesome.

Join me as I count down my predictions of the regular season finishes for the 2012-13 NBA season, at a rate of three teams per day. Tell me why I’m wrong in the comments.

21. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons were 21-21 over the final 42 games of last season, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight figure to improve with another season of NBA experience, and rookie center Andre Drummond appears to be more NBA-ready than previously expected. Knight could be the key catalyst for the Pistons possibly knocking on the door to the playoffs, since they still appear to lack offensive firepower unless he can improve as a playmaker.

Monroe showed signs of reaching All-Star level last season, but he’ll probably play a significant number of minutes at power forward next to Drummond and Slava Kravtsov so there could be an adjustment period. He frequently got torched on the defensive end at center so it could actually be a net positive for the Pistons to play him next to a superior help defender at the five. As for how minutes will be distributed at the Pistons’ wing positions among their collection of misfit guards and forwards, your guess is as good as mine.

20. Golden State Warriors
As far as “nothing to lose” gambles go, the Warriors’ trade of Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson was a very good one. Jackson was immediately flipped to the Spurs for Richard Jefferson, T.J. Ford and a draft pick, but Bogut will anchor a team defense that figures to be not completely atrocious for the first time since the mid-2000s. To get a sense of Bogut’s potential impact on that end of the floor, consider that the Milwaukee Bucks were top-five in Defensive Rating in 2009-10 and 2010-11 when he played at least 60 games each season. He played just 12 games for them last season and the Bucks’ team defense fell to 16th in the league.

Of course, Bogut will need to be on the court to make that impact, and that’s become an increasingly dodgy prospect in recent years. He fractured his ankle in January and it’s still giving him enough trouble that he’s questionable to be ready for the Warriors’ season opener. Speaking of which, that’s a recurring problem for point guard Stephen Curry, who missed 40 games last season with his own ankle injury. If most of the Warriors top players can spend more time on the hardwood instead of the trainer’s table, there’s no question they have the talent to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

19. Toronto Raptors
With the arrivals of Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas, the Raptors are the beneficiaries of significant upgrades at point guard and center. Valanciunas is a particular source of excitement for Raptors fans since he shows potential of developing into their first star center since… ever, I guess. He’s probably not a threat for Rookie of the Year honors, but fans and broadcasters alike will be forced to learn how to pronounce his name (“Val-en-chew-nus”) with the impact he’ll have on both ends of the court.

Now entering his seventh NBA season, power forward Andrea Bargnani remains a frustrating enigma. He missed 35 games last season to a weirdly recurring calf injury, but he showed flashes of finally putting it all together early in the season. Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo appears to have structured this lineup to surround him with strong defenders and rebounders so that Bargnani can focus on his “Dirk-Lite” scoring ability. And if anyone can get the most out of this roster, second-year Raptors coach Dwane Casey is that man. He took an atrocious defensive team and brought them up to league average in his first year at the helm, and now we’ll see if he has the firepower to match that level of success offensively.

Previously in the countdown: 30-28 | 27-25 | 24-22

You’re likely wondering how someone can be good and bad at disguises at the same time? And that’s a fair thing to wonder, considering good and bad are complete opposites, especially when it comes to disguises. You’re either fooling people or they know you’re wearing a disguise. There’s not much middle ground.

Unless you’re Detroit Pistons rookie Andre Drummond, I guess. From the Detroit News:

Considering he’s still of college age, spending time [at a Michigan State football game] isn’t a stretch and despite his size, he isn’t recognized by everybody just yet. He left from his seats and went to the student section, where he felt right at home.

“I had fun, my seats were boring. It was fun being around different people,” he said.

He couldn’t quite get away unseen, though, a reminder that he’s in a different world.

“I had shades on and a hat, I was trying to blend in then I realized it was nighttime,” he said, laughing. “Everybody kept calling me (Michigan State’s) Adreian Payne. One kid recognized me and then everybody started following me.”

That, my friends, is how you achieve the rare feat of being both good and bad at disguises — by wearing a disguise so ostentatious that everyone still recognizes that you are in disguise, while still being disguised enough to fool people in to thinking you are someone else. Truly an amazing feat.

This is especially hard to do when you are a giant, though all the short people around are probably just thinking, “Whoa, that guy is huge. He must play basketball.” Once you get past that 6-foot-8 barrier, pretending to be someone else is pretty easy, I guess. Nice work, Mr. Cool Disguise.

This is one of Kyle Singler’s images from yesterday’s rookie photo shoot. I just have one question, which you see in the title and are surely wondering for yourself — is Kyle Singler the human embodiment of the famous “I’m With Coco” posters that flooded the internet following Conan O’Brien’s ouster from “The Tonight Show?”

The hair and ruddy complexion suggest that the answer is yes, but let’s do a quick comparison.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ben Gordon left Chicago for Detroit three summers ago in rather bitter circumstances. After two summers of failed contract negotiations, while on his way out the door, Gordon unsubtly stated that he was leaving to join an organization “where winning is the number one priority.”

This has been the exact opposite of what has actually transpired, and last night, he found himself in a trade that proved it. Gordon was traded to Charlotte, along with a protected first round pick, to Charlotte in exchange for Corey Maggette. More pertinently, Gordon and the pick were traded for Maggette’s expiring $10.9 million contract. With all due respect to Corey Maggette, he’s otherwise irrelevant here.

Perhaps Gordon thought that Detroit spending big, on him and Charlie Villanueva, was synonymous with prioritizing winning. If so, he was wrong. Since that summer of expenditure, the Pistons have been a moribund franchise, hamstrung by a lack of cohesiveness, submarined by infighting, and unable to do much about it due to the payroll inflexibility they saddled themselves with. Indeed, despite not winning more than 30 games in any season since signing the duo, the Pistons have been the least active team in recent years with regards to roster turnover, sticking with what they had even while knowing it wasn’t working. With so many big, underperforming contracts, they hadn’t the flexibility to do anything else. Last summer’s business was spent on re-signing a team that had just lost 52 games. The Pistons have been stranded in a wilderness of their own making.

The only salvation since that time has been some success in the draft. Greg Monroe is well on his way to a maximum value contract, Jonas Jerebko has made Villanueva completely obsolete, and Brandon Knight pretty much matches Gordon’s production already while being only 20. There’s another top 10 pick coming. The only thing missing from quite a nice situation going forward has been financial flexibility.

With this trade, they now have it. Gordon’s contract runs for two more years for a total of $25.6 million, whereas Maggette expires after this year. The financial savings in the upcoming year are negligible to the point of irrelevancy. In the summer of 2013, however, the Pistons can finally start again. Between Maggette, Jason Maxiell, Will Bynum, Austin Daye and the remainder of Rip Hamilton’s bought-out deal, the Pistons will see over $28 million of expiring (and largely dead) salary fall off their cap. If the amnesty clause is used on Villanueva at some point between now and then, that figure rises to $37 million. Waiving Rodney Stuckey — whose final season is not fully guaranteed — could add an extra $4.5 million if needs be. And the young talent will still be there.

Read the rest of this entry »

Witness testimony in the case of Dominican national basketball team vs. Charlie Villanueva’s gut, as given by head coach John Calipari, as provided by the Detroit News:

“Charlie was not in good form when we saw him,” Calipari told Deportes en la Z. “He was overweight, and unfortunately, we could not slow down the entire team and it was a decision taken collectively. Last year, Charlie behaved really well with us and his only problem was his weight.”

Rebuttal in the case of Dominican national basketball team vs. Charlie Villanueva’s gut, as given by Charlie Villanueva, as provided by Charlie Villanueva:

Lol case closed

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you’ve heard the testimonies and seen the evidence. Now it falls to you to make a decision — are you going to believe a slimy coach who has had huge successes followed by embarrassing punishments at each of his stops or are you going to believe an overpaid underachiever who has played for three teams in seven seasons and just missed the majority of this past season? It’s a tough decision but we have every confidence that you will make the correct choice.

If a unanimous decision cannot be reached, the case will be declared a mistrial and everyone will go back to not caring about the Dominican national basketball team or Charlie Villanueva. The case is in your hands.

(via BDL)

From our pal Joe Mande comes “The Ultimate Rick Mahorn Fan Video,” which isn’t something you knew you needed in your life. As you’ll see when you watch this, you do need it in your life. Badly.