Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - Page 2

by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

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.

We reserve the right to edit your question for the sake of brevity or clarity.

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Peter (Jackson, Mich.): Why is Frank playing Wilkins before Daye? Wilkins is a journeyman with no offensive game. The only he can do that Daye cannot is put pressure on his man. Daye is actually a better rebounder and shot blocker but he will never be a good one-on-one defender. Are we really going to play a journeyman over one of our young players who needs minutes to develop confidence and consistency?

Langlois: Frank gave Daye 3½ games before turning to Wilkins in the second half of the Indiana game, which the Pistons went on to win. Even Daye admits he was ineffective, inexplicably so, in the early going. He didn’t shoot well, started forcing things to make something happen and dug himself a deeper hole. Nobody believes it will last or that Daye will be permanently out of the rotation. But Frank talks about maintaining integrity with his team. He preaches the imperative of stout, responsible defense. Wilkins made a handful of subtle plays in both the Indiana and Orlando wins and, against Chicago, he was clearly one of the most effective Pistons in scoring 10 points and playing 30 minutes. When he was thrown in cold against Indiana after not playing in the first half, that earned the trust of not only Frank but his teammates. To turn around and hand the job immediately back to Daye would undermine the credibility Frank has steadily built with his team over the last month.

James (Detroit): Great story on the win over Orlando. It brought us the reality and showed how the players are responding to coach Frank’s methods. Just knowing the Xs and Os is not enough. Clearly you can see this guy can command an audience and hold the attention of his players. I believe we can win 40-45 games if this team continues to buy into what Frank is selling.

Langlois: Thanks, James. I don’t know about 40-45 wins – my guess is you were putting that in the context of an 82-game season, not the 66-game schedule to be played this year – but I’m confident that the Pistons are going to be a better team in February than they are today, and a better team still in March. Lawrence Frank knows there might have been some shortcuts he could have taken, given the extraordinary circumstances of the condensed preseason, that might have put the Pistons in a little better position to win a game or two early in the schedule, but wasn’t willing to do it at the expense of skipping the steps he felt essential to establishing the foundation necessary to ensure long-term success.

Hevvy (Harper Woods, Mich.): I don’t get why you say the Pistons probably would not trade Brandon Knight for Cousins. You said talented 7-footers are hard to find and 6-foot-3 point guards not so difficult. I’d do that trade. Plus, we still have Stuckey at point guard.

Langlois: If that decision came to my desk, Hevvy, it would be a tough, tough call. Cousins’ talent is obvious. On talent alone, I think he could be a top-five (perhaps top-three) big man in the league – and if you have one of those on your side, and make enough right moves around him, you can be a contender for the next decade. But let’s not ignore the fact that behavioral issues have been raised with Cousins dating to high school. Knight, meanwhile, is at the complete other end of the continuum. The Pistons have seen enough of his makeup to believe with 100 percent conviction that he will fulfill every ounce of his potential, and they’ve now glimpsed enough of his talent to believe that potential is considerable. And, for the record, I don’t know if the Pistons would or wouldn’t consider a deal that sent Knight out for Cousins. But I know they were delighted to get Knight on draft night and I’m pretty sure they’re higher on him now than they were then. So I’d be at least mildly surprised if they would do that type of deal at this time.

Bruce (Vancouver, British Columbia): If the Pistons leave this core together and hope for a solid draft pick, the only draft option of 2012 that would complement what we have in Monroe, Prince, Stuckey and Knight would be a power forward/center with passing ability and superb athleticism. If we are able to get a pick from one to three, the draft pick should be Andre Drummond.

Langlois: Drummond could very well wind up going that high, Bruce, and those picks require some measure of luck on lottery night – and a record that puts you in position to have your four-digit combination called. I don’t know whether the Pistons will be a playoff or a lottery team this season. I think they’re going to be a better team by season’s end than they were at any point last season, but the East has upgraded, hands down, and it’s going to be tough for anyone to sneak into the playoffs without a winning record this time around. Of course, an athletic center with passing ability would complement that lineup nicely. (It’s hard to imagine any lineup that an athletic center with passing ability wouldn’t complement; those are a rare breed.) But so would a guy who was a legitimate low-post scoring threat. That type of player would benefit Greg Monroe, giving him rebounding lanes to utilize his superb offensive rebounding skills. Lots of time to figure it out between now and late June and by then the draft candidates will have a resume to stand on.

Steve (Lincoln, Neb.): Is there a chance Sacramento would want to trade DeMarcus Cousins for Charlie Villanueva? Both guys seem to need a fresh start somewhere else.

Langlois: Answered a few among a few dozen questions I got on Cousins in Monday’s Mailbag, Steve, so we won’t rehash all of it again. Bottom line: I don’t think Sacramento is nearly ready to cut ties with Cousins yet.

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