Pistons Mailbag - Monday, January 16
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Paul (Essexville, Mich.): Monroe has really looked good so far. Fans want a low-post presence and I get it, but Monroe’s probable progression means in a few years he could be dominant. With improvement from Knight, Jerebko and Daye and a more veteran Stuckey, the future looks brighter. There isn’t much Joe Dumars can do realistically to improve the team this year. We’ve been spoiled for a few years, but we won’t have to wait too much longer.
Langlois: Well, I haven’t been getting many Mailbag questions lately that suggest Monroe is a nice player but he doesn’t project as a future All-Star, Paul. You could make a pretty good case that he’s the No. 2 big man in the East behind Dwight Howard right now if you consider players like Kevin Garnett and Amare Stoudemire power forwards. I would have said Andew Bogut or Joakim Noah, but Monroe convincingly outplayed Bogut last week and Noah, for whatever reason, hasn’t been the same force so far this season. Brook Lopez took a step backward last season and is now hurt. Al Horford is out, probably for the rest of the season. The intriguing thing about Monroe is he feels he still has so much more to his game. He told me after Sunday’s game with Golden State that he and assistant coach Roy Rogers have really focused on just a short list of things that Rogers, based on watching the limited evidence of Monroe getting a chance to operate with the ball in the post last year, felt he already did pretty well. He worked out this summer under one of his old Georgetown assistant coaches on campus and with a personal trainer in New Orleans. Next off-season, I expect he’ll spend time with Rogers, as well. Pretty exciting to wonder what the next step in his evolution might be.
Naif (Roseville, Calif.): I’m actually really excited about the future. Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Jonas Jerebko are players I would consider untouchables. I’ve been really impressed with them. It’s exciting to see Monroe improve so much. Did you know he was in the top five in field-goal percentage?
Langlois: Monroe has shown that he’s up to the challenge of shouldering a greater role, which he certainly has in Lawrence Frank’s offense. The fact he’s still scoring with great efficiency even though he’s now shooting more mid-range shots and creating shots for himself, as opposed to last year when almost all of his scoring came off of second chances or cuts to the basket, is especially encouraging. I’m also impressed that he managed such off-season improvement even in the face of a lockout. That speaks to Monroe’s level of maturity.
Bradley (New York City): From the perspective of current production, the Pistons got the steal of the 2010 draft at No. 7. Agree or disagree?
Langlois: Last season, once Monroe established himself as a starter, the point was made repeatedly that if the draft were to be redone, Monroe would have a strong case to be the No. 2 pick of Philadelphia. You could argue this year, so far, that he’s having the best season of any 2010 draftee. I still think Derrick Favors is going to be a very good pro and if DeMarcus Cousins keeps his emotions under control he, too, should have a tremendous career. But I don’t think the Pistons would swap Monroe for anyone from that draft at this point.
Henry (Honolulu, Hawaii): I heard that Rasheed is considering a comeback. Which team do you think will land him? I would love to have him back, but it sounds like he’s looking for a contender. I’m sure he would instantly increase the championship possibilities of any contender. I hope he goes anywhere but Miami.
Langlois: Chicago has been mentioned as a team in which Rasheed has expressed interest. Not sure there’s a real need for him in Chicago, though, with Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson already giving the Bulls one of the NBA’s deepest frontcourts. I’m sure Miami would love to land him and the Heat, perhaps, have the greatest need for him. I’d find it a little curious if he joined Miami, though; Rasheed doesn’t fancy himself a front-runner. As I wrote on Twitter last week, when news of Rasheed’s supposed interest in a comeback was first reported, a Rasheed Wallace in his prime would have been the perfect frontcourt complement to Greg Monroe.
Tom (Watervliet, Mich.): Before the season started, Greg Monroe, Jonas Jerebko and Austin Daye were the hope for the future. Greg Monroe is more amazing each game and Jonas brings great energy and is very valuable. What has happened to Austin Daye? He is lost. Could a trip to the D-League help or is there further risk to his confidence? What are the rules for going and coming to the D-League?
Langlois: Austin Daye is eligible for D-League assignments, Tom, and that’s a change made in the new collective bargaining agreement. Under the old CBA, players under NBA contract could only be assigned to the D-League if they were in their first or second season. Under the new CBA, they can be assigned to a D-League affiliate during their first three seasons. Also, veteran players who give their consent can go to the D-League for injury rehab assignments. Whether the Pistons choose to use the D-League for Daye or any of their players – Vernon Macklin, perhaps – is another matter. They only have a 13-player roster and Charlie Villanueva is idled as of now. But it’s an option, at least. It might do him good. Daye is clearly lacking confidence right now.
Lennie (Hamilton, New Zealand): Against the Bucks and Bobcats, Brandon Knight showed a lot of improvement, took better shots and turned the ball over a lot less. Do you think coach Frank should keep Knight in the starting lineup and have Stuckey continue to come off the bench. Or even start Stuckey at shooting guard alongside Knight and have Gordon come off the bench?
Langlois: Frank hasn’t tipped his hand on what the future holds, Lennie. He said before Sunday’s game against Golden State that right now the plan is to get Stuckey back to playing the number of minutes he’s accustomed to playing, whether he starts or comes off the bench. He said that with Stuckey missing the first week of training camp and then getting hurt, he’s not yet playing at the level they expect of him but he’s seeing progress and believes that eventually Stuckey will play at a higher level than we’ve yet seen. Ultimately, the Pistons could start any combination in the backcourt. Gordon, given his past success as a sixth man in Chicago, could return to that role. Or Knight could go back to coming off the bench, as he was before Stuckey’s injury.
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