TRAINING CAMP IS UPON US
The Tigers season is coming to a merciful end. The Lions' season is basically over.
Pro sports fans in the Detroit metro area can still cling to the Red Wings and Pistons for fair entertainment value. The Wings' exhibition season has already begun; Pistons training camp begins Tuesday, with expectations of another playoff run and an underlying disappointment that the roster was not shaken up.
Like many Pistons training camps, this one doesn't have a whole lot of suspense attached to it. Sure, it will be interesting to see how the players react to new head coach Michael Curry and how his practices differ from the ones Flip Saunders, Larry Brown, Rick Carlisle, etc. ran. But in terms of the players, there are precious few issues to be resolved during camp.
The biggest is who will take the place of Antonio McDyess in the starting lineup, if indeed Curry follows his plan of making McDyess the first big man off the bench. Amir Johnson appears to be the slight favorite to claim the spot. Curry would like to add some youth and athleticism to the lineup. Johnson, entering his fourth season, is ready for a larger role.
Kwame Brown is the other viable candidate. The coaching staff has been raving about Brown since the Pistons surprisingly signed him. They believe he's going to blossom here because of reduced expectations. Brown could be a defensive force in whatever role he plays. How he fits into the puzzle is something Curry will have to figure out over the next few weeks.
The backup small forward spot is a lesser issue but another that deserves watching. Most likely, the Pistons will use more 3-guard sets when Tayshaun Prince rests, allowing Arron Afflalo to receive more playing time. Walter Herrmann, who was re-signed, will also get a chance to prove he deserves more minutes. But there are only so many minutes to go around and adding Herrmann to the mix would give them a 10- or 11-man rotation. It's a lot easier for coaches, especially inexperienced ones, to juggle a nine-man rotation.
As always, it will be interesting to see what kind of shape Rasheed Wallace is in and how he interacts with Curry. His general lack of respect for Saunders undermined the team at times in the past three years. How will he respond to Curry's strategic manuevers and emphasis on conditioning throughout the season? That's something that won't be determined in camp.