Detroit Pistons training camp is just over a month away so with that in mind here are three issues that I think will determine the Pistons’ success during the 2009-10 season.Can coach John Kuester balance the minutes between Rodney Stuckey, Richard Hamilton and Ben Gordon?
A large reason for the downfall of Michael Curry was the fact he couldn’t balance Stuckey, Hamilton and Allen Iverson’s minutes and keep them all happy. Last season, Hamilton averaged 34 minutes a game, Stuckey nearly 32 and Gordon averaged over 36. Kuester will have to figure out a way to get them all 30-plus minutes, which could mean going small and trying to outscore other teams. Gordon will likely accept a role off the bench, but he could be the Pistons’ best offensive player and will be on the floor in crunch time.Stuckey’s development as a point guard
Stuckey had large shoes to fill after the departure of Chauncey Billups last season. There is no doubt that Stuckey has talent, but like Billups when he was younger, Stuckey has struggled balancing looking for his own points and getting his teammates involved. Stuckey upped his assist average to 4.9 (26th in the NBA) from 2.8 as a rookie. If Stuckey can find that balance and get his assist average up around 6 or 6.5 per game, then the Pistons’ offense can be down right dangerous. If Stuckey struggles, then things could get ugly.Can Wilcox solidify himself as the fifth starter?
Chris Wilcox has gone from one bad team to another since entering the NBA in 2002 as the No. 8 overall pick. Wilcox has played for the Clippers, Thunder and the Knicks or a who’s who of bad franchises. Wilcox has won an average of 30 games per year during his seven-year NBA career and has never won more than 37 games, that will likely change with the Pistons. Wilcox enjoyed three solid years in a row for the Sonics/Thunder, averaging 13.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game before struggling last season and averaging just 5.4 points and 3.3 rebounds for the Knicks is 13.3 minutes per game. If Wilcox can return to form it would be a huge boost for the Pistons. Wilcox doesn’t necessarily have to score 13 points a game, but Detroit will need him to rebound and this is where Ben Wallace could become a factor. If Wallace can take Wilcox under his wing and develop him into a fierce rebounder and defender, then the Pistons’ front line won’t be a weak as some people are predicting.Note
NBA.com writer John Schuhmann released a preseason NBA Power Rankings
. Schuhmann has the Pistons ranked No. 17 overall and behind Central Division foes Cleveland (No. 2) and Chicago (No. 14). The Pistons are eighth among Eastern Conference teams, behind Cleveland (No. 2), Orlando (No. 3), Boston (No. 5), Washington (No. 9), Atlanta (No. 12), Toronto (No. 13) and Chicago (No. 14). This is probably the lower end of the Pistons potential, I think they will finish anywhere from 4th-9th in the East, with my early prediction being 6th. I think Schuhmann may be overestimating Washington a little bit, ranking the Wizards No. 9 overall, but the rest of the rankings are pretty good.