Blogs > Pistons' Point

An inside look at the Detroit Pistons and the NBA.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


When the Pistons acquired Rasheed Wallace in February
2004, he was viewed as the guy who could put them over
the top. Four months later, the Pistons were
celebrating their third NBA championship.
Here we are four years later and Wallace remains the
Pistons' X factor. When he's at his best, the Pistons
have no peer in the league.
Wallace was surprisingly focused during the first two
months and the Pistons rolled through a tough,
road-heavy schedule to gain a commanding lead in the
Central Division.
Wallace's intensity has been spotty this month and the
Pistons have been a .500 team. But when he's on, like
he was Tuesday in Indianapolis, the Pistons
immediately look fearsome again.
After slumbering through the first quarter, he planted
himself down on the low block and destroyed the
Pacers' depleted frontcourt. In an eyeblink, he had
five inside baskets while screaming "And one!" and
talking trash to his overmatched defenders. Wallace
kept it going in the second half and the Pistons had
their third straight win.
You want to know if the Pistons will break their
two-year drought and get back to the Finals? Tell me
how often Rasheed feels like posting up this spring
and I'll give you the answer.
By the way, the Pistons had to fly into Detroit Metro
and take a bus to Waterford (where Roundball Two
normally flies in and out of) because of weather
conditions early Wednesday, so they cancelled
practice. They'll prepare for Kobe and the Lakers
Thursday with just a shootaround.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


The Contra Costa Times in California is reporting that
the Golden State Warriors are in serious negotiations
with Chris Webber.
Talk about coming full circle. Webber was traded on
draft night from Orlando to Golden State in 1993 but
feuded with Don Nelson and was traded after his rookie
season to Washington. Guess who's coaching the
Warriors now?
C-Webb and Nellie met this week to iron out their
differences. Now, it's just a matter of working out
the financial details and opening up a roster spot for
Really, I can't fathom why the run-and-gun Warriors
think Webber will fit in there. He would have been
great in that system before he wreck his knee but
Webber has trouble getting up and down the court in a
slow-paced game now. Didn't they see him lumbering
around in the playoffs last season?
I think Webber should have taken the Lakers up on
their one-year offer. The playing time is there until
Andrew Bynum recovers from his injuries.
Meanwhile, Amir Johnson has been very active as a
shotblocker and rebounder since Flip Saunders put him
in the rotation prior to the Philly game. As I've said
all along, the Pistons don't need Webber.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Flip Saunders says he met with Joe Dumars on Tuesday
and they mutually decided to give Amir Johnson a
chance to play regularly.
There are plenty of logical reasons for that - the
three main big men on the team have been dragging
physically and/or mentally in recent games - plus the
Charlotte duo hasn't exactly produced eye-catching
Got to wonder, though, how much of this has to do with
Chris Webber. It's no secret that Webber wants to come
back but he also wants to have a meaningful role.
Webber was upset at Saunders during the playoffs last
year for not getting him the ball more often and
sitting him out in numerous fourth quarters.
Flip doesn't want C-Webb back and Joe D. is lukewarm
at best to the notion of a return engagement.
So Flip and Joe make a proactive move - let Amir play
and justify that three-year contract he got; then, if
he plays well, Webber gets the message that there's no
spot for him. If Amir plays like he did in Philly,
Webber can stop holding out hope of wearing the
Pistons uni again.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


If you didn't see my midseason report (plus grades),
they're in Wednesday's editions of The Oakland Press.
One of the things I didn't have space to address was
the Pistons' main weaknesses. From my perspective,
here they are:
1. Overreliance on jump shooting. This has been a
problem for years, including the championship season
of 2004.
They need good ball movement and motion to create
opportunities because they have to work for a
so-called good look. It would be nice to have a Tim
Duncan or Dwight Howard to dump the ball into but even
when Sheed posts up, he's not automatic there. The
best way for the Pistons to get late-game points is
for Chauncey to drive and get fouled.
2. High pick-and-roll. If teams have a wing player
that can penetrate, they give the Pistons fits running
this play. LeBron had his huge game in the playoffs
running this play. D-Wade did it in the past.
Orlando's Turkoglu gouged them that way the other day.
Either Tay has to do a better job of keeping the
ballhandler in front of him or the Pistons have to
zone more in the late going.
3. Bench. Potentially, they're better. But the keys
are Hayes and Stuckey. Hayes is way too streaky for a
guy who supposed strength is perimeter shooting. And
Stuckey has to find a comfort zone. Right now, he's
costing them games because he's so tentative.
4. Frontcourt. It would be really nice to have a Dale
Davis/Elden Campbell clone to call on when
McDyess/Sheed get into foul trouble and they need a
big bruiser. Chris Webber, by the way, doesn't fit the
5. Pressure on Flip. He knows the ride is probably
over if they don't get to the Finals this year. Will
he push all the right buttons and make the adjustments
necessary during the toughest times?
Addendum: Everybody, including the Celtics and Spurs,
have their share of holes. The Pistons can win it all
with what they have if they play up to their ability
in the playoffs, something they haven't done the past
two years.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Anyone watching the Pistons the last couple of weeks
must be wondering - what's all the fuss about Rodney
Stuckey has not looked anything like a
difference-maker the Pistons expect him to be. He's
made some nice drives to the basket but he's also
gotten a few swatted. His outside shooting has been
terrible - he tossed up two airballs against Toronto
Tuesday. He also seems tentative at times running the
attack and then winds up looking for an option with
five seconds or less left on the shot clock.
Defensively, other than an occasional steal, he's been
rather ordinary as well.
It's way too early - and foolhardy - to start thinking
that Stuckey is overrated. Remember, the rookie missed
two months with a busted hand. When he came back, he
was thrown into the fire without any practice time.
And between the holidays and a schedule packed with
road games, the Pistons have barely practiced the last
few weeks.
Even Stuckey admits he's still searching for a rhythm
and that he's been second-guessing himself, rather
than playing aggressively.
Some coaches might back off and play a rookie less in
this situation, making him watch and learn. But the
Pistons have the luxury of letting Stuckey play
through his mistakes. They're going to play him more,
not less. Flip Saunders and Joe Dumars decided to
shorten the backcourt rotation, taking out Arron
Afflalo and giving Stuckey 20-25 minutes a game. That
allows him to play with the starters more often, which
will take some of the pressure off him.
If all goes well, Stuckey will be breaking down
defenses with regularity during the second half of the
season. More importantly, they'll have another "Sixth
Man", along with Jason Maxiell, who can change the
tempo or momentum when they enter a playoff game.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Media members like myself often criticize the league
office or ruling body of the sport they cover, so it's
time to give the powers that be some credit.
For the first time in 25 years, the NBA granted a
protest that will force a replay of a game from the
point where the error occurred.
The Atlanta Hawks scoring crew was to blame, failing
to keep an accurate count of Shaquille O'Neal's fouls
in an overtime game that the Hawks won. O'Neal was
disqualified for his supposed sixth foul with 52
seconds left in overtime when he only had five.
So now, the game has to be resumed the next time the
teams meet in March. It's reminiscent of George Brett
pine tar controversy, when the Royals and Yankees had
to replay the finish when the commissioner overruled
the umpires' decision to call Brett out for having too
much pine tar on his bat after hitting a homer.
The NBA should have done this in a more timely fashion
- the Heat-Hawks game was Dec. 19 - but at least the
league got it right. It's going to have no effect on
Miami's miserable season but it could hurt the Hawks'
drive for a playoff spot if they blow it.
I don't want to see teams protesting a game for every
little thing but this was clearly unfair to the
visitors, losing one of their best players in a tight
game. Hopefully, all sports leagues will be more
open-minded about protests of this nature,
particularly in the postseason.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


It's inevitable the Pistons will cool down, way down,
in January. Their schedule is filled with land mines,
beginning with five consecutive games against winning
teams. How about playing Boston (after a tough game in
Toronto the night before), Dallas and San Antonio in a
This is also the time of year when the schedule seems
relentless. The playoffs are still 3 1/2 months away,
the weather stinks and the energy of a fresh season is
A wealth of extra bodies should help the Pistons get
through it. Their young players and newcomers (Brezec,
Herrmann) are happy to get any playing time thrown
their way. They won't come on the court looking like
Darko or Delfino, who felt a sense of entitlement
about playing and brought energy only by accident.
Another thing that has helped - these guys never get a
serious injury. They are on an incredible run in that
regard. Just look at the team they're playing tonight
- Gilbert Arenas and Etan Thomas are out for extended
periods and Antonio Daniels is coming back tonight
after missing seven straight games. The Pistons have a
full complement of players. Some of it is luck but you
can never say enough good things about Arnie Kander,
the team's strength and conditioning coach. His
training programs and rehab methods are the best in
the league.