Pistons Mailbag - Monday, February 13, 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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Carl (Lansing, Mich.): What did you see as the biggest reason the Pistons started playing better and won four in a row before losing to Washington?

Langlois: Better play at both ends – and another reminder that it’s no coincidence that when a team plays better defense, its offensive efficiency picks up, as well. The Pistons held opponents to 42 percent shooting over their four wins. That led to more transition scoring chances than they’ve had all season. When you see the ball go through your net, everybody starts feeling a little better and playing with a little more jump in their step. It’s probably too small a sample size to reach any other definitive conclusions, Carl. The turnaround pretty much coincided with Lawrence Frank’s decision to move Jason Maxiell into the starting lineup. Maxiell is playing well. I would expect Frank to stick with that combination for the foreseeable future, but as the Washington result reminded again, things can change quickly. The Pistons have two games with Boston and one with San Antonio coming up over the next week, so the competition gets tougher again.

Zak (Albany, N.Y.): It looks like Jonas Jerebko is really playing well. What’s gotten him going?

Langlois: As much as anyone – and probably more than anyone – on the team, Jerebko benefits when the Pistons are playing at a faster tempo and getting improved ball movement. Ball movement and player movement in a half-court offense gets the defense moving, as well, and because Jerebko is a high-energy player who is constantly on the move, he’s better able to exploit the seams created when a defense isn’t able to settle into positions against a stagnant offense. As the Pistons become more attuned to Lawrence Frank’s system and as they become a better defensive team that doesn’t have to turn around and play against set defenses on a high percentage of possessions, my guess is we’ll see Jerebko’s offensive output become more consistent.

Wilbert (New Orleans): I like the way the Pistons are playing – attacking the rim and defending. Now if we can get Charlie Villanueva playing the way he did in Milwaukee and Austin producing, we’ll look good.

Langlois: Had the same thought over the weekend, Wilbert. Even one or the other of Austin Daye and Villanueva, providing the 3-point shooting they can at their best, would really help diversify the offense further and make those “attack the rack” possessions, as Lawrence Frank calls them, more available for players like Rodney Stuckey, Brandon Knight, Jonas Jerebko and Ben Gordon. Villanueva isn’t very likely to be able to provide much help anytime soon. Even if he gets cleared to play relatively soon, with as much time as he’s missed and the fact that with a foot injury he really hasn’t been able to do the type of conditioning he’ll need to do to be prepared to play, it will be a few more weeks after that before he’s thrown back into the mix. Daye put together a nice run of games a few weeks ago, but his shot has gone AWOL again – he’s 10 of 49 over his last six games. We’ve seen, just since Ben Gordon returned last week, how much of a difference it can make for the second unit when two players are scoring efficiently (Gordon and Jerebko). If Daye can provide another scorer off the bench, Frank’s depth will suddenly look pretty good.

Kira (Hamtramck, Mich.): What do you think of Andray Blatche? Would he be a good addition for the Pistons? I’ve heard he is on the trading block. What would the Pistons have to give up to get him?

Langlois: Talented guy, not having a very good season. The Wizards have to be open for business what with their 6-22 record and the fact they don’t have the right mix of players. They desperately need some shooting. John Wall is the centerpiece of the team; his strength is his speed and penetration ability, but he’s not a good shooter and he’s not surrounded by anyone who’s really a good shooter or good natural scorer other than Nick Young, and he hasn’t been a very steady player or a sound decision-maker for much of his career. The Wizards do have some nice pieces with young athletes like No. 1 picks Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton, plus JaVale McGee and Trevor Booker. They need scorers. Charlie Villanueva would help them, but he’s hurt and thus has very little trade value at the moment. Austin Daye’s outside shot would be attractive, but Daye’s struggles make his trade value uncertain. Ben Gordon’s contract would make it a tough trade fit.

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