Pistons Mailbag - Monday, April 16, 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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Mack (Shelby Twp., Mich.): I am very disappointed in the Pistons. For the life of me, I can’t understand why they don’t foul when they are up by three points and the clock is under 20 seconds instead of giving up 3-pointers. If they foul, they don’t go into overtime. Do you think Lawrence Frank is against using this tactic?

Langlois: Frank wants to foul when he’s ahead by three if there are nine seconds or less to play, Mack. It was the intention in Sunday night’s loss to Chicago when Derrick Rose hit a 3-pointer that he released with just under nine seconds to play, but it’s not as simple as you make it seem. Rose got the ball off of a missed free throw and was going full speed ahead. Joakim Noah set a solid screen on Ben Gordon to keep him from getting close enough to lay a hand on Rose, as fast and powerful with the basketball as anyone other than LeBron James. It’s like asking why teams didn’t do a better job tackling Barry Sanders. Frank has been a believer in fouling when ahead by three in the final seconds since Chauncey Billups hit the half-court triple against the Nets in Game 5 of the 2004 Eastern Conference playoffs to force overtime.

Byron (Detroit): What do you think Joe Dumars saw as he watched the Bulls and Pistons go at it Sunday night? Who do you think should stay on the roster in order to become the best team possible?

Langlois: I can’t speak for what Joe D saw, Byron, but my guess is he would largely agree with what Lawrence Frank said after the game – that he was proud of the fight the Pistons showed, that they did everything they could to win the game except win the game, and that the next step is to play with similar passion and focus every night and not sporadically. As for who needs to stay, the long-term core includes Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey with at least another couple of solid role players likely in place and a few young or middle-career veterans who could help them take that next step or be used, perhaps, to acquire most compatible roster fits.

Darrin (Mio, Mich.): Why didn’t Jonas Jerebko play vs. the Bulls?

Langlois: Lawrence Frank said afterward that it stemmed from the struggles the Pistons have had scoring against Chicago this season with their second unit. Villanueva’s scoring punch makes a big difference as long as he’s living up to the standards Frank demands in other areas. Charlie V has achieved levels of conditioning he hasn’t approached previously in his NBA career, as I wrote about earlier this month, and Frank has said that the fact Villanueva wasn’t in the rotation was a matter of circumstance – the ankle injury that kept him out of the lineup for more than 30 games and allowed the four players ahead of him up front to solidify their roles – and no reflection of dissatisfaction with Villanueva’s attitude or approach. Similarly, he said the fact Jerebko didn’t play on Sunday had nothing to do with his recent play but merely an opportunity to get Villanueva some meaningful minutes while addressing the need to get more second-unit scoring against an elite defensive team. He also said there will be more lineup experimentation in the season’s final six games. Among the things he’d like to do: play Jerebko some at small forward.

Tony (Roseville, Mich.): If you were Joe Dumars, wouldn’t you draft the next Reggie Miller over the next David West? Why is there no talk of Jeremy Lamb on our radar?

Langlois: Not sure which power forward projected to go in the 7-10 range you’re comparing to David West, Tony. But is there anyone who confidently predicts Lamb is going to have a career half as accomplished as Miller? I’m not suggesting he won’t be a pretty good NBA player, or even that he could potentially be a star, but if there’s a consensus building that Lamb is a sure-fire great shooting guard, I’ve missed it. By the way, if the Pistons could land somebody with their lottery pick who gives them eight or nine years as good as David West in his prime, I’d take that.

Dave (Lenox, Mich.): If second-round picks have such a limited chance of sticking in the NBA, shouldn’t the Pistons take a shot on a big like Jeff Withey? Big men seem to have more value and we are in dire need of someone who can protect the rim when perimeter defense breaks down. Anything else he brings to the table would be frosting.

Langlois: The success rate is pretty good for picks in the first third of the second round, Dave, 31-40, and you’ll generally find some good players available in the middle third, too, 41-50. It gets pretty thin from 51-60, though. I looked at the success rate of picking in the final third of the second round when the Pistons had the 52nd pick last year and took Vernon Macklin. In general, you could expect about one player a year to go on to anything resembling a meaningful NBA career when you get picked that late, and even that was a little skewed by players like Luis Scola and Manu Ginobili having been late picks at a time when the international market wasn’t as thoroughly scouted as it is today. The Pistons’ own second-rounder this year will probably come right at the tail end of the first third. They also own Houston’s second-rounder, which figures to be mid- to late 40s. Withey could still be on the board for either of those picks – if he enters the draft.

Dawn (Allendale, Mich.): Besides the draft, is getting Chris Kaman still a viable option? He is playing a productive 25-30 minutes a game and is still under 30. The Pistons could have used his 7-foot presence under the basket in many of our losses this year.

Langlois: Written here before, Dawn, that I think the most likely target for the Pistons in free agency will be Kaman. It’s tough to say what it would take to get him. If the Pistons are over the cap, they could offer Kaman the full mid-level exception. Will that be enough to land him? Great, unknowable question at this point. Logic says a 7-footer with his history of productivity and at his age – Kaman turns 30 later this month – would command more than the MLE. But Kaman also has an injury history to consider and we can’t yet project what effect the new CBA will have on salaries offered in free agency. Stay tuned.

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