NEW LOOK, SAME RESULT
With all that's been happening with the Detroit Pistons, it's hard to believe that they're only 10 games into the season. Already, we've had:
1. The big trade that was supposed to go down this summer;
2. A lineup change;
3. A scary halftime dizzy spell;
4. A rotation constantly in flux;
5. Games against both the Celtics and Lakers.
Through it all, the Pistons are winning as usual. Despite seven road games, they're 7-3 and one game behind Cleveland, their next opponent on Wednesday.
Their 3-1 West Coast trip was very impressive, considering how little time they've had to build chemistry with Allen Iverson. Already, you can see how Iverson changes the entire offensive equation. All three of the PIstons point guards - Iverson, Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum - are fearless, attack-the-basket types. Rather than running the offense along the perimeter virtually every possession, they're evolving into a drive-and-kick team.
Richard Hamilton has the toughest adjustment after growing comfortable with coming off screens and having Chauncey Billups deliver him the ball. Hamilton also has to get used to being the No. 2 option on offense after being the team's leading scorer for six straight seasons.
By playing the point forward spot, Tayshaun Prince has remained a constant factor in the offense despite Iverson's presence. That feeds into Michael Curry's philosophy of having multiple threats on the floor at all times.
In case you missed it, Curry changed the lineup three games ago. Amir Johnson is out, Kwame Brown is in. Johnson was supposed to bring the first unit some energy but with Iverson replacing Billups, the concern over slow starts and coming out flat was greatly reduced. The Pistons needed more bulk and interior defense along the frontcourt and Brown provides that. He played well against the Lakers and Suns, though he got into foul trouble guarding Shaq and Amare Stoudemire.
Curry established roles for his bench players coming out of camp but the loss of Antonio McDyess has forced him to change things up on a nightly basis. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the reduced minutes for Jason Maxiell. He was their best reserve last season and now he's only playing 11 or 12 minutes a game, even with the lack of frontcourt depth. Makes you wonder whether locking Maxiell up for four more seasons at the start of the season was a wise move.