Blogs > Pistons' Point

An inside look at the Detroit Pistons and the NBA.

Friday, February 29, 2008


As I stated in yesterday's blog, I don't think the
Pistons' acquisition of a fifth big man will have any
real impact on the playoffs.
So, there's no reason to get excited over the
impending re-acquisition of Theo Ratliff.
After working out a buyout with Minnesota and clearing
waivers, Ratliff will re-join the Pistons. But he
won't play much. Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson have
been too effective for Ratliff to cut into their
playing time.
The only scenarios where Ratliff will help is if
there's a frontcourt injury or if the Pistons face a
high-scoring big man in the playoffs (Dwight Howard,
Andrew Bynum, Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire). In the
latter case, Flip Saunders might throw Ratliff in
there for a few minutes instead of Johnson because of
his defensive presence and strength.
Boston's impending acquisition of Sam Cassell in an
entirely different matter. Cassell could cause the
Pistons real trouble in a playoff game because of his
scoring ability. Even at his advanced age, Cassell is
still capable of dropping 20 points on anyone.
Of course, Cassell is also prone to taking silly shots
and doesn't defend well, not too mention that Rajan
Rondo might feel threatened by his presence. But, as
Joe Dumars says, it's never a bad thing to have too
many good players on your team.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I'm often amazed how many fans and members of the
media obsess over inconsequential players.
Juan Dixon was greeted with a hero's welcome at The
Palace last week. Huh? The guy is never going to play
meaningful minutes unless someone gets hurt. He
essentially replaced Flip "Inactive List" Murray, who
didn't play for over two months until he was released.
Now, there's speculation on who will be the PIstons'
"fifth big man" to replace the wondrous Primoz Brezec,
who was traded for Dixon. It'll probably be Dale
Davis, who kept a seat warm on the bench for the last
two years and hasn't played for anyone this season.
Joe Dumars is just waiting to see if any other
serviceable big man gets waived in the next day or two
before signing Davis.
So how much would the "fifth big man" contribute?
Virtually nothing, unless somebody gets hurt. Oh, it's
possible someone like Davis could come in handy if
they're playing Orlando in the postseason and both
Sheed and McDyess are in foul trouble but otherwise,
what's the point?
The P.J. Brown signing by the Celtics is a different
animal, since Brown might actually get rotation
minutes. He started against the Pistons in the
playoffs for the Bulls last season.
But as for guys like Gordan Giricek and Jamaal
Magloire getting bought out and heading to playoff
contenders, or free agents like Davis, it's simply
much ado about absolutely nothing.
By the way, I've got share this. I received an e-mail
Wednesday entitled "OSU Basketball Great Greg Oden
Endorses Barack Obama."
In the immortal words of Fred McLeod, "You've Gotta Be
Kiddin' Me!"
Since when did the endorsement of a 20-year-old
basketball player carry any weight in the presidential
election? I'm all for young people exercising their
right and duty to vote and getting involved in the
political process but to issue a press release
breathlessly announcing Oden's endorsement of a
candidate is laughable.
I have enough trouble with other politicians,
talk-show hosts, celebrities, unions and yes, even
newspapers, making an endorsement, let alone an
athlete who isn't old enough to drink. How about
making up your own mind based on the issues and
ability of a candidate to do the job, rather than
listening to some celebrity tell you how to vote? And
shouldn't you have to stay in school for more than a
year before your greatness is celebrated?
By the way, I heartily endorse Dunkin' Donuts coffee
over Starbucks.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Assuming the Pistons finish second to Boston in the
Eastern Conference, who would they prefer to play?
Though Orlando has beaten them two of the last three
meetings, you better believe the Pistons would rather
deal with Dwight Howard than LeBron James in the
second round. The Pistons beat Orlando eight times
last season, including a playoff sweep.
The Magic's frontcourt is better - Hedo Turkoglu is
having a career year and Rashard Lewis is a solid
player - but they don't have enough defense or
rebounding. They struck out in their efforts to
acquire another big man before the trade deadline.
Orlando's backcourt can be exploited. The Pistons
relish the thought of Mo Evans and Jameer Nelson
matching up against their All-Star backcourt. The
concern there would be Keith Bogans, who never misses
a shot against them.
If Cleveland remains in the fourth spot behind
Orlando, it would match up with Boston in the second
round. That's a great scenario - let LeBron and his
new cast of characters slug it out with Boston's Big
Three in a seven-game series. The survivor will be
worn down by the time the Pistons face them in the
conference finals.

Friday, February 15, 2008


A lot of the credit for the Pistons' gaudy record has
gone to their young, energetic bench. Flip Saunders
has a stable of young colts to call upon, led by Jason
Maxiell and Rodney Stuckey. But while youth is being
served, there's still a wily, old veteran lurking in
the shadows.
The plan all along was for Lindsey Hunter to take it
easy during the regular season, then spring him loose
in the postseason. Hunter played more than anticipated
in the first two months while Stuckey was recovering
from a fractured hand.
Since the New Year, Hunter has been out of sight and
out of mind. He's appeared in only one game and
recently, he hasn't even attended games because of an
Make no mistake - Hunter is still a big part of the
Pistons' playoff plan. Hunter is still a
difference-maker - he made game-changing plays in wins
over Boston and San Antonio. His defensive energy will
be invaluable against weary point guards who have
played nearly 100 games this season - just look what
happened to Chauncey Billups when the Cavs
double-teamed him during the conference finals last
Hunter will start playing again next month to get him
tuned up for the playoffs. The question is, who will
he be paired up with? Logic dictates that Arron
Afflalo will lose some playing time and that Hunter
and Stuckey will be the new Pit Bulls, though Affalo
and Hunter would make a fearsome defensive pairing,

Monday, February 11, 2008


The Boston Celtics are upset that they'll only have
one representative in the All-Star Game but they
understand why Rasheed Wallace was chosen.
With Kevin Garnett out with an injury, the Celtics
will only be represented by Paul Pierce. They were
hoping Commissioner David Stern would pick Ray Allen
as Garnett's replacement.
Stern went with Wallace because the Eastern Conference
needed another frontcourt player. Dwight Howard and
Chris Bosh are the only other legitimate big men on
the roster.
Boston coach Doc Rivers, who will also coach the
Eastern Conference All-Stars, agrees with Stern's
"With losing Kevin at the forward spot, it makes sense
to replace him with a forward," he told the Boston
Globe "(Wallace) is well-deserving and one of the guys
I voted for in the first place."
But Rivers also thinks Allen got jobbed by the coaches
when they chose the reserves.
"I'm still disappointed in the original selection, or
lack of (selection), for Ray," Rivers said. "He has
sacrificed more than anyone to make things work here,
and that should be rewarded."
He's right. With the season the Celtics are having,
Allen should be starting ahead of Dwyane Wade and
Jason Kidd. He certainly should have gotten the nod
over Atlanta's Joe Johnson when the coaches selected
the reserves, regardless of the stats. It's easy to
put up big numbers on mediocre teams - just ask Ray,
who did that in Milwaukee and Seattle for years.
As for Sheed being disappointed about not having the
weekend off, well, too bad. There's plenty of free
time in the summer for that. You never saw Larry Bird,
Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan complaining about
being an All-Star every year. He should be glad at
this stage of his career that he's still considered an
elite player.

Friday, February 8, 2008


Portland star Brandon Roy did not make the trip to
Detroit Thursday because of a family emergency in
Seattle. It's unlikely that Roy will rejoin the team
in time to play the Pistons, which is a big break for
the home team.
The Pistons have been quite lucky in terms of catching
depleted opponents lately. They've faced Orlando with
Jameer Nelson, Indiana without Jamaal Tinsley or
Jermaine O'Neal, the Lakers without Andrew Bynum and
before the Pau Gasol trade, Dallas without Jerry
Stackhouse and Jason Terry and Miami without Udonis
Haslem and, of course, Shaquille O'Neal.
Meanwhile, the Pistons have had only one major injury
- Rodney Stuckey's hand fracture that sidelined him
the first two months. One of the underrated aspects of
the Pistons' success has been their remarkable health
over the last six or seven years.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


It's not a shock that the Miami Heat wanted to trade
Shaquille O'Neal. I'm stunned that the Phoenix Suns
were the team that wanted him.
Pending a physical today, Shaq will be the Suns
center. It's not only a bold move by Suns first-year
general manager Steve Kerr, it's downright bizarre.
Ever since Mike D'Antoni became head coach and Steve
Nash was signed as a free agent, Phoenix has been
known as a fast-breaking, uptempo, run-and-gun team.
Now, they're basically scrapping that system more than
halfway through the year to incorporate Shaq. Amare
Stoudemire moves to power forward and now the Suns
become a pound-it-inside club with two high-scoring
post players.
Kerr basically decided the Suns would never win the
championship with the system they were playing. They
couldn't rebound and couldn't guard the post with
Stoudemire. But Shaq? Shawn Marion is a better
rebounding and defender than he is at this stage. Shaq
and Steve Nash will be targeted for pick-and-rolls at
every opportunity.
I just don't think this is going to work. I don't
think you can change your entire system in midstream
and have everyone feel comfortable with their roles.
As for the Heat, it was basically a salary dump. If
Shawn Marion follows through with his vow to opt out
after this season, the Heat will only be on the hook
for Marcus Banks' contract. It's basically a $27
million tradeoff.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


At this point of the season, who's the favorite to win
the NBA championship? According to,
no one in particular.
The latest future book line on the 2008 NBA Finals
champion reads like this - Boston Celtics 3-1; Dallas
Mavericks 3-1; Phoenix Suns 3-1; San Antonio 3-1.
That's right, four teams share the favorite's role.
That's why we should continue to see contenders make
deals to improve themselves over the next two-plus
weeks before the trade deadline passes. Without a
clearcut favorite, nearly everyone might do something
- even a minor bench move - to tweak their roster.
The Pistons, by the way, are next in line in the odds
at 9-2.
They probably won't make any significant moves, though
they could use anothe big body on the bench. I
wouldn't be completely surprised if they bring in
another shooter. They really only have one bench
player with that M.O. - Jarvis Hayes - and he's been
very inconsistent.

Friday, February 1, 2008


Richard Hamilton has a sore hip, which he suffered
when he collided with Lamar Odom Thursday. Hamilton
sat out most of the third quarter, then came back and
played the entire fourth, but he was still in a lot of
pain afterward. Hamilton has been shooting lights out
over the last few weeks but you have to wonder what
affect that will have on him.
Rodney Stuckey finally played like the Pistons have
been projecting in the win over the Lakers. Not only
did he score 10 points but he looked totally confident
taking those shots and driving to the basket. He's
figuring out when the opening to drive is available
and when to pull back and run the offense.
It was quite telling that Flip Saunders said he nearly
kept Stuckey in the game the entire fourth quarter.
Don't be surprised if Stuckey plays during crunch time
in some playoff games.
Amir Johnson has also looked good since Saunders threw
him into the rotation. His quickness and length make
him a force around the boards.
On the flip side, Jason Maxiell has been running on
fumes since the beginning of the New Year. More than
anyone, he needs the All-Star break to get recharged
and refreshed for the stretch run.