Friday, May 23, 2008

3 quick thoughts on the Pistsons

1. When the Pistons beat the Celtics, a team I despise as much, if not more so, as the University of Ohio State (God, I love Terrelle Pryor for that) and the Colorado Avalanche, all is right in the world. When the Pistons beat the Celtics in the playoffs, in whatever they call the new Boston Gah-den, all is even better in the world.

You have to admit, last night's Pistons win was once of their more entertaining playoff games in ages, especially for an Eastern conference matchup. Even as Pistons fans, we've suffered through some extremely painful to watch playoff games. You know, the sort that turned the rest of NBA fandom against the Pistons and Spurs, those first team to 70 wins defensive slugfests.

For the Pistons to win in the playoffs scoring more than 100 points, and Boston scoring more than 95, yet it still be considered a good defensive performance...well, when was the last time that happened?

I think we're in for some very entertaining hoops this holiday weekend...

2. I blasted the Pistons back in June '07 for taking Rodney Stuckey in the draft. My headline says it all.

Rodney Stuckey? His name may just as well be Rodney White...

Uh, Al....what in the HELL were you thinking?

I think I was blinded by a couple of things. I bought into the "small school player can't compete right away" stereotype. I also had been quite unhappy with Joe Dumars' recent history in draft picks. (I don't need to list them, well all know which guys were MASSIVE busts) Call it a my knee-jerk reaction to the pre-draft comparisons of Stuckey to Dwayne Wade.

Then, the next day, being your typical sports blogger, I beat a dead horse into the ground by bitching out the Pistons for drafting a pair of 1st round guards. (Don't forget, Arron Affalo was picked late in the 1st)

Good thing Joe D doesn't listen to me, as Stuckey has been as impressive as all get out for the Pistons. (Affalo has been a solid contributor this season as well, though not in the playoffs due to the shortened bench)

Stuckey has saved Flip Saunders' bacon since Chauncey Billups strained his hammy against Orlando. Last night was his best playoff performance yet, highlighted by his 4th quarter double clutching layup over the Celtics' Glen Davis. Basically, last night was Stuckey's coming out party to the rest of the nation.

I'm now feeling much better about the Pistons future. With emergence of Stuckey (along with Affalo, Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson), Dumars has options. No matter how this playoff run lasts, you still have to wonder just how long Joe D will keep this group together. The starting core aren't getting any younger. Rasheed Wallace will be in the last year of his contract, and there's nothing more valuable in the NBA than a big, expiring contract. For that matter, Rip Hamilton's contract is reasonable enough to trade. So championship or not, you have to wonder what this team will look like in 2009.

I know, I know. I'm getting way ahead of myself, but with Stuckey's recent backcourt play,the future is something to ponder.

3. As much as I want to believe the Pistons will leave Detroit next week with a 3-1 stranglehold on this series, I've also been a Pistons fan far too long to deny the the fact they could quite easily, and maybe quite likely, mail in a game. A game that sends us fans off the deep end, as in their disturbing loss to Philly in the 1st round. I went WAAAY off the deep end after that debacle.

But you couldn't blame me, as we've seen too many of those mail-ins over the years. Which is why I fully expect a dud this weekend. It's how the Pistons roll...


  1. Other than the Rodney White fiasco, I would posit that Joe D's drafts haven't been as bad as some would make out. I know that the Mateen Cleaves thing didn't work out, but when Joe drafted him he thought that Grant Hill was coming back and he didn't need to draft a forward and Cleaves was a local guy coming off a national championship. All of his prior injuries finally took their toll and he never quite made it--I just hope he invested his bonus money in something other than Escalades.

    And Darko, the guy was 17 and everybody wanted him, except the Cavs. And, it made perfect sense at the time--he had a small forward in Prince who ready for a breakthrough even though Carlisle didn't think so, hence no need for Carmelo. He had two guards who were part of 50 win teams, hence DWade wasn't that attractive a commodity. He had Ben Wallace and Mehmet Okur playing pretty much full time, hence no real need for Chris Bosh. With this in mind, Darko makes sense as a project. It would have made more sense to return the pick to the Griz for Pau Gasol, which the Griz were ready to do, but failing that taking Darko made as much sense as any other pick at the time. It certainly didn't help his development that Darko broke his wrist or hand during garbage time of the fifth game of the Finals rout of the Lakers or that the Great Teacher, Larry Brown, apparently couldn't teach Darko or didn't care to try.

    I think Joe D's strength has always been his ability to evaluate pro players and to pry the right ones loose at the right time for damned near nothing and to let the wrong ones go when necessary. That is why I expect to see some changes this summer, parade or not in June. Joe D will not commit long term to someone with only a year left on his tires--see Ben Wallace--nor will he overpay a "superstar" other GM's will--see the Nuggets and Allen Iverson.

  2. Big Al,

    Long time, no comment. I was similarly nonplussed by Dumars drafting two guards. I'm not sure where Afflalo fits in with the team next year unless someone gets hurt. Between Billups, Rip and Stuckey there won't be a lot of extra PT to be had.

    I can't believe Rasheed's contract is expiring already. It seems like just yesterday that Dumars resigned him and cut Memo lose. As you point out, expiring contracts are valuable in the NBA, but I don't imagine Joe D will trade him. Makes more sense to use him for a potential title run next year and evaluate after the season whether to resign him or use the cap room from the expiring contract to go after a free agent. According the EPSN NBA Trade Machine Carlos Boozer, Elton Brand and Shawn Marion could potentially be available on the free agent market after next season. The Pistons will also have to resign Stuckey.

    I feel like we saw as close to the best that the Celtics have to offer with the lineup they used on Thursday, except for Rondo. He either needs to start shooting or get off the floor. I wouldn't be surprised to see Sam Cassell back in for Boston tonight. Either way, I just hope Pierce cools off a little. If he doesn't knock down so many tough shots with the shot clock running down on Thursday the Pistons would have run away with that game.