Pistons Mailbag - Monday, January 23 - Page 2
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Marvin (Richmond, Va.): We’re the lowest-scoring team in the league with a high turnover rate, low shooting percentage, assists totals and rebounding. Instead of Ben Wallace, Jason Maxiell and Damien Wilkins, how about a second unit of Stuckey, Daye, Charlie V and Vernon Macklin along with Ben Gordon and Brandon Knight. You’d have size, scoring and rebounding.
Langlois: I imagine the coaches would wonder if they have enough defense and rebounding from a Villanueva-Macklin interior duo, Marvin. Ben Wallace has swapped roles with Jonas Jerebko for now, Wallace starting and Jerebko off the bench. Wallace and Jason Maxiell have the coaching staff’s trust for their assignment-sure defense, but there is a question of scoring punch when they’re on the floor together. But first things first: Charlie V is out with an ankle injury. He hasn’t been practicing – on those rare occasions when the Pistons have a hole in their schedule that allows practice – and he’s probably going to need at least a week or so of conditioning once he is cleared for a return. Macklin has gotten some time late in lopsided games, but it’s really tough to judge how ready he is for a greater role.
Bob (Lancaster, Calif.): The Pistons have a good shot at a top-three pick and I think they have three tradeable commodities in Prince, Gordon and Stuckey. Do you think there is any way they can trade one or more and get draft picks in return? A solid 2012 draft to go with Jerebko, Monroe and Knight will do more to turn the team around than anything.
Langlois: Prince and Stuckey cannot be traded until March 1 because they, as well as Jonas Jerebko, were signed as free agents. Trades of players for draft picks that don’t include similar salaries being exchanged require the trade partner to be under the cap by enough to accommodate the contract it is assuming. Would there be contenders willing to trade a No. 1 pick for a starting-caliber talent like Prince, Gordon or Stuckey come March 1? More than likely. But a contender is going to be picking in the 20s. The Pistons would have to weigh the strength of the draft and the likelihood that a player picked in that range could make enough of an impact to give up a player of that caliber.
Jens (Cologne, Germany): Like most Pistons fans, I am buying into the hype around Brandon Knight. His numbers have been solid, but not sensational, and I really believe he is playing too many minutes. I feel 25 to 28 minutes a night is pretty good and I see Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon as more efficient right now.
Langlois: The minutes Knight is accumulating stem from a combination of factors, Jens. One is his readiness. But injuries to Stuckey and Will Bynum – and, most recently, to Ben Gordon – have factored, as well. Without those injuries – Stuckey has missed 5½ games, Bynum four, Gordon one – Knight’s minutes per game, about 32, would be in the range you describe.
Frank (Hastings, Mich.): I have watched every game this year. Although Austin Daye has struggled on the offense end, he has rebounded well and blocked several shots. Don’t you think we need to play him so we can see if he has a future here? His confidence is shot and he just needs to play through it.
Langlois: That’s a tough balancing act for a coach, Frank. I’m sure Lawrence Frank would love Daye to make the decision easy for him by starting to knock down shots and – an even surer way to cement his spot in the rotation – by eliminating the sloppy passes and other turnovers from his game and by being more consistent defensively. No question, Daye is an unusually skilled offensive player for someone almost 7 feet. He’s an intriguing talent. He looked like he was ready to emerge in his third season off of the admittedly small sample size of two preseason games, when he averaged 18.5 points. He still has 49 games to prove himself.
Osai (Grand Rapids, Mich.): Watching the Pistons, I can see a glaring weakness is shot blocking. If we had a shot blocker, our record would be better. What do you think about Anthony Davis? He’s my favorite player in the NCAA and he and Monroe would put the Pistons back into contention quickly.
Langlois: The Pistons are 30th in the league in blocked shots, Osai. So you’re right: blocking shots is a weakness. But Lawrence Frank would scoff at the notion that you can’t be a good defensive team without a dominant shot blocker. He’s fond of saying there are five “paint consequences.” A blocked shot is one of them. The others are a steal, a deflection, a charge and a foul. The sixth, of course, is giving up a basket. Now, having a great shot blocker is one way to build a great defense. But it’s not the only way. As for Davis, he’s not only your favorite college player. He’s pretty well liked by 30 NBA general managers, too. I suspect the only way the Pistons get a shot at him is by falling into the lottery and drawing the No. 1 pick.
Frank (Canton, Mich.): Does Brandon Knight have the assets to become a true, pass-first point guard? It’s still scaring me that he’s averaging more turnovers than assists.
Langlois: I talked to Joe Dumars last week, Frank, and he talked about the burden that falls on rookie point guards. He acknowledged that Knight has a lot to learn, but he followed by saying he knows – given what he’s seen of Knight’s talent, coachability and work ethic – that it’s certain to come for him. He also compared it to a young NFL quarterback learning and getting to a point where he sees everything and knows how to pick the defense apart. I looked it up. As an NFL rookie, Peyton Manning threw 26 touchdown passes – and 28 interceptions. After Saturday’s Portland game, Knight has racked up 56 assists and 55 turnovers.
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