Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, March 15, 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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Dawn (Allendale, Mich.): Got to give it up to Jonas Jerebko for toughing it out in last night’s win at Sacramento. It seems like chemistry is being created before our eyes. If wins keep coming and the playoffs, Lawrence Frank for Coach of the Year?

Langlois: If they make the playoffs, he’ll have a strong shot, Dawn. Making the playoffs is still going to require a closing rush of epic proportions, but it’s not unthinkable – which in itself is stunning after a 4-20 start. If Minnesota makes the playoffs in the West, especially after the loss of Ricky Rubio, I’d have to believe Rick Adelman will be another strong contender. If the Pistons don’t make the playoffs, then Frank probably isn’t going to get strong consideration for COY, but that won’t diminish the fact that it’s remarkable how much better the Pistons are playing today than six weeks ago. The sense of brotherhood Frank has established is palpable and it has a powerful effect.

Todd (Battle Creek, Mich.): There is only one trade I want to see Dumars make: Andray Blatche for Jason Maxiell and Austin Daye. The money works, Washington saves about $16 million and gets rid of a disgruntled player, plus Dumars has had luck with reclamation picks. Plus, Blatche is 6-foot-11 and 260 pounds and likes the ball in the post.

Langlois: Blatche is one of the five most popular names among Pistons fans. I get it. He’s tall, he’s got an NBA body and he’s really, really talented. But you can’t escape the fact he’s been constantly in and out of the doghouse for a team that has severely underperformed for several seasons now and everybody on the inside points to Blatche as part of the problem. Now, that doesn’t mean Blatche isn’t worth salvaging. It also doesn’t mean the Pistons wouldn’t be interested. Washington, by most accounts, is open to moving him. Would the Pistons do it now? Would they part with Jason Maxiell, who is playing perhaps the best basketball of his career and now has a very attractive contract, just as his insertion into the starting lineup coincided with the Pistons turning their season around? All good questions. We’ll have to let their actions answer them to the degree they can be answered. We’ll know in a few hours … the clock is ticking on the trade deadline.

John (Richmond Hill, Ontario): Just saw the Golden State and Milwaukee trade – a good move again by John Hammond. I’m disappointed the Bucks will be picking up such talent in Udoh and Ellis as well as Kwame’s $7 million coming off the books. I wish the Pistons could have pulled something like that off, especially considering Bogut is injury prone and Jackson is clearly declining. Milwaukee will now be a dangerous team in our division with two amazing guards.

Langlois: Don’t forget that the Bucks had to give up the guy who was clearly the franchise player for a team that looked to be one of the East’s hot risers just two years ago, John. Ellis is a crowd-pleaser who provides plenty of highlight-reel fodder, but if I were starting a team Bogut would be the first pick from the group of players involved in that trade, hands down. He’s only 27. It seems he’s been snake-bitten by injuries three years running, but unless the horrific elbow injury really prevents him from ever being an effective shooter again, there’s no reason to think any of these injuries are career-threatening or debilitating. No question, this deal gives Milwaukee a better shot at making the playoff field this year and gives them some cap relief. But there are huge questions. Will Ellis and Brandon Jennings fit? They’ll be crazy quick and there will be nights they both score 25. I suspect there will also be nights they combine to shoot 10 of 35 and get overpowered defensively. Will Ellis and Scott Skiles clash? We’ll see. The Pistons couldn’t have made a trade like that one unless they were prepared to give up a chip similar to Bogut. Greg Monroe? I don’t think they would have done that.

Peter (Jackson, Mich.): Despite his team’s poor showing in the Big Ten and the firing of his coach, Meyers Leonard from Illinois was to my eye the most physically talented player in the Big Ten. Any chance the Pistons target him with their first-round pick if they end up picking in the 7-10 range?

Langlois: We’ve talked about Leonard a few times here already, Peter. No question, he looks like he was sent from central casting for prototype NBA center – legit 7-footer with a great base who runs well and has plus athleticism. Consistency, motor and basketball IQ are all question marks. Believe he’ll go in the lottery, not sure about top 10.

Conor (Los Angeles): I know the Pistons like John Henson as he is mentioned frequently in Mailbag for his height. They like his height, length, athleticism and defensive instincts. I’m even more impressed with his motor and attitude. But is he a good fit for the Pistons next to Monroe?

Langlois: Let’s be clear, Conor. When Joe Dumars’ staff files their scouting reports, they are confidential and proprietary material. We don’t know how they view Henson. In general, the most credible draft analysts have Henson rated as a solid lottery pick who might not go as high as the top five but should go in the top 10 or 12. If the Pistons get the chance to draft him, I would have to believe – based on Henson’s obvious skills and their needs – that he would be on a short list, perhaps a very short list, of draft candidates. The only concern I have with Henson is his body. Some guys are thin but appear wiry strong; Henson appears thin and I’m not sure he has the capacity to do a great deal about it. Can he still be an effective NBA defender? That’s the great unknown.

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