Brown and Wilcox benefiting from fresh start
Both entered the season with a checkered past and have benefited from getting a clean slate with new Pistons coach John Kuester.
Brown has averaged over 10 points just once in his career and that was back during the 2003-04 season with the Wizards where he averaged a career-best 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds. His numbers have continued to drop since that season and he averaged a career-low 4.2 points last season, his first year with the Pistons.
Brown is averaging 9.0 and 6.5 rebounds in just over 23 minutes in the Pistons first two preseason games. Kuester has glowed about Brown throughout the preseason and has started the former No. 1 overall pick in both games.
“I was real pleased with Kwame,” Kuester said after the Pistons 113-104 win over the Bucks Wednesday night. “I thought Kwame did a nice job of having a good pace to his game. He was real comfortable with what he was doing in the post. We are asking Kwame to do a lot defensively.”
Wilcox looked to be a budding star after averaging over 13 points and seven rebounds for three straight years with the Seattle Supersonics. Wilcox had struggled during his three-plus season with the Clippers, but looked like he had found a home with the Sonics.
The Sonics then moved to Oklahoma City and changed their name to the Thunder. Thunder fans had to be wondering if Wilcox left his game in Seattle after he averaged 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 37 games, but then Wilcox was dealt to New York. Wilcox struggled to get any minutes with the Knicks, averaging 5.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in just 25 games.
Wilcox is hoping another change of scenery can help him get his career back on track. The former Maryland star is averaging 9.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in the first two preseason games.
“He’s done a really nice job,” Kuester said. “First of all, he’s been just a pleasure to coach. His willingness to learn things that we want to get accomplished on the court is important to me. He is somebody that I’ve been trying to get to play at a different level. Trying to get him to do things at the pace that I want him to do it at is important for the success of our team, because he is somebody that is very gifted athletically. For him to do the things on a consistent basis defensively is going to be important for our team’s success.”
Kuester has praised both Brown and Wilcox all preseason and his positive attitude looks to be working. Kuester has avoided talking about the past of either player and is hoping to see both move their career forward.
“One of the things that I think is important is you treat people how they treat you,” Kuester said. “I’m not treating anybody any differently. ... With Chris Wilcox and a guy like Kwame Brown, hey they’ve been great. For us to have a chance they are going to have to play great. I think that’s where I’m looking at them and I’m very honest with you, I’m very pleased with their progress as a player for us. … Both of those guys have done everything I’ve asked them.”
Kuester went with three-guard lineup for an extended part of the second half Wednesday night. Playing three guards from 8:29 left in the third quarter until the nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Detroit started with Stuckey, Gordon and Richard Hamilton, with Bynum later subbing in for Stuckey, then Stuckey subbing back in for Hamilton.
The three-guard lineup fared well, starting with a one-point lead 62-61 and building an eight-point lead, 89-81.
“As explosive as they all are, they’re very unselfish too, that’s when you have a good combination,” Kuester said of the combination of Bynum, Gordon and Stuckey. “There are going to be variations throughout the entire year. There is going to be situations where we play those guys together, I’m not opposed to it at all. They are basketball players. Other teams might try to use their size to post up those guys, but that’s where we got to do a good job of continually getting better defensively. We’ll have to help out in those situations. Those three guys can explode as can Rip and Tayshaun. It’s a nice problem to have.”
Another rookie ejected
For the second straight preseason game, a Pistons rookie was ejected in the fourth quarter for fighting. Jonas Jerebko was ejected on Monday after getting into it with Miami’s Jamaal Magloire.
On Wednesday, it was Pistons first-round pick Austin Daye, who was ejected after he got into a small shove match with former Piston Carlos Delfino of the Bucks.
“I asked DaJuan (Summers) if he was next,” Kuester said with a laugh. “You never encourage anything like that, but at the same token I’ve said it all along, our young players and veteran players are competitors. This is a great group to coach and they’re not going to back down from anybody.”
My game story from the win over the Bucks in The Oakland Press