Pistons Mailbag - Monday, April 2, 2012
Pistons.com editor Keith Langlois answers your questions about the Pistons and NBA. Click here to submit your questions - please include your name, email address and city/state on the form. Return to the Mailbag homepage.
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Tony (River Rouge, Mich.): I think coach Frank has done an excellent job with the Pistons in his first year. His attention to detail and structure makes me feel Rip would still be a productive Piston if he had played under Frank instead of Kuester. Do you agree?
Langlois: It would make for a great bar discussion, Tony, and ultimately no one could really say with any authority what might have been different. Coaching in the NBA is something that looks easier the farther you get from the reality of the situation. Look at whatís happening in Los Angeles with the Lakers. When a coach with the gravitas of Phil Jackson leaves, there is a huge leadership void created. The players whoíve been under Jackson, some of them with undying loyalty to him, do not Ė they most definitely do not Ė automatically confer the same degree of respect onto the next coach. The next coach has to prove himself, and he will be tested. So there was always some of that going on once Larry Brown left. Flip Saunders felt it and Saunders came from the cocoon of Minnesota, where his best player, Kevin Garnett, was unfailingly loyal to him and made it easy to command the Minnesota locker room. Iíve seen enough of Frank to believe that he would have made the best of it the past few years, but I donít think there are many coaches of such stature that they would be immune to the effects of player unrest. The other factor with Rip, mind-set aside, that affects his ability to be productive no matter whose uniform he wears is the fact that his body appears to be breaking down. Heís missed big stretches of time over the last three seasons with an assortment of injuries.
Felipe (Sao Paulo, Brazil): Last year I asked why not consider Kevin Love for MVP and said I would pick him in a draft ahead of Derrick Rose. You disagreed. What about this year? Would you consider Love ahead of Rose?
Langlois: Iíd still take Rose, but with greater deliberation, and I suspect if you now polled NBA coaches and personnel staffers it would be Rose, probably still by a comfortable margin, but not by quite the landslide it would have been. That said, if anyone cares to cast an MVP vote for Love this year, I wouldnít object in the least. Heís had a marvelous year and heís beat every projection for what his NBA career would become by a mile. If you recall the draft-night trade that sent Love from Memphis to Minnesota for a package centered around O.J. Mayo, I think most people thought Memphis won that deal. Itís pretty clear now that Minnesota won by a wide margin.
Lee (Detroit): What do you think Joe Dumars should do with his three picks in the draft? I say the first pick should be for a big man (Davis, Henson, Drummond, Robinson); the second pick should be for a versatile shooting guard with size and the final pick for another versatile power forward. What do you think?
Langlois: I think when you go into the draft with a plan like that one, you wind up reaching and projecting those qualities you wish to obtain on prospects who may or may not actually possess them. For example, it was well known that the Pistons went into last yearís draft hoping to find the ideal complementary big man to pair next to Greg Monroe. And all indications leading up to draft night were that they would find one. Even a day before the draft, it seemed about 80 percent likely at least that their worst-case scenario would be landing Tristan Thompson. Then Cleveland shocked everyone by taking Thompson with the No. 4 pick. Charlotte, a few hours before the draft, engineered a trade that bumped them one spot ahead of the Pistons at No. 7, clearly a deal intended to block the Pistons from getting a big man they coveted, and most believe the Bobcats had their sights on Thompson. They were left with Bismack Biyombo. Now, had the Pistons stuck with the design that seemed certain to net them a big man, they would have reached and taken, perhaps, Markieff Morris instead of Brandon Knight. Morris could well turn out to be a very good NBA player. But the Pistons believe Knight has a dazzling future. If they hadnít gone into the draft prepared to switch gears, they would have missed on a player who they now comfortably project as a franchise cornerstone. So Iíll stand by ďtake the best player available,Ē as trite as it sounds, and I especially endorse that philosophy the deeper you go in the draft, where the chances of finding anyone good enough to crack a rotation or stick on a roster diminish with every five or 10 picks.
Norman (Warren, Mich.): Does the new CBA include any language with respect to when a player may enter the NBA from an age perspective?
Langlois: Because there was urgency to get a deal formally concluded last fall so training camps could open, the age issue was tabled and referred to a subcommittee for further discussion. The NBA would like to see the current rule Ė at least 19 years and one year removed from high school for American-born players Ė changed to 20 years and two years removed from high school. The players association takes the view that players should be draft eligible out of high school. The smart money is that theyíll agree to disagree and keep the current rule intact, though thatís not a certainty. For this draft, at least, it will remain as is.
Nick (Harrison Twp., Mich.): I would love to see the Pistons trade for a second lottery pick. Take Harrison Barnes with the first and Perry Jones with the second. Both are high risk but even higher reward. What are your thoughts?
Langlois: I donít think anyone views Barnes as high risk, but some are wondering how high the reward will be after a sophomore season many found disappointing. If Barnes is unable to create shots for himself, heíll still help teams for his shooting range but wonít be anybodyís No. 1 scoring option. Jones appears a more classic boom or bust type. But the Pistons are most unlikely to wind up with two lottery picks. The only wiggle room I could see is if theyíre willing to trade Rodney Stuckey. Iím not suggesting itís a slam dunk that someone would offer a lottery pick, nor am I suggesting the Pistons would bite. But a young veteran with Stuckeyís career arc fits the profile of what a team that isnít interested in rebuilding would pursue with a lottery pick.
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