(D)Roses and Thorns contributors Jake Weiner and Jeff Berest connected to talk about the 76ers recent moves and a whole lot about all the free agency news. Including Danny Green, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap, Greg Monroe, Khris Middleton, Brandon Knight, Wes Matthews, Tyson Chandler, LaMarcus Aldridge and much more. And of course, Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy Jr. may have come up.
- Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah all started a game together for the first time and the results were very enjoyable. Each starter had a positive double digit plus minus, while all the bench players were negative.
- Rose looked great after sitting out the last two games. He was active early and often in his 32 minutes, scoring 24 points on 9/20 shooting and dishing out seven pretty assists. SB Nation has all sorts of highlights in Vines for you. The play that really stood out to me was a double clutch pass that shouldn’t be physically possible. Jo grabbed it and finished inside.
- Speaking of Joakim Noah, he had by far his most complete game of the season. He finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes of his own. He only shot 5/13 and is clearly still working his way back, but the results were encouraging.
- Pau Gasol locked up his fifth double double in eight games…by halftime! He finished with 17 points, 15 boards, four assists and four blocks. While his defensive rebounding had quietly been an issue, Pau did a much better job boxing out tonight. He’s been the Bulls’ most consistent player by far.
- The Bulls finally won the rebounding battle, outboarding the Pistons 49-46. It was pretty much even throughout the game, but with a starting lineup including Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond (not Drummund), the margin was more than satisfactory.
- Jimmy Butler played 43 minutes, including the entire second half. Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott got ten minutes combined. Tony Snell did not sniff the floor. Something to keep an eye on.
- A late foul by ex-Bull DJ Augustin gave Derrick Rose the Big Mac clinching free throws that the fans were craving. The Bulls have played three home games but were yet to deliver the Macs.
- No one on Detroit had a particularly good game, although it is extremely entertaining watching Stan Van Gundy shake his head after terrible Josh Smith shots and pull Brandon Jennings for Augustin.
- Greg Monroe pissed himself while getting a DUI this summer. It has nothing to do with the game, but I think it’s important we remember this. Have any of your friends ever gotten so drunk that they peed themselves? They were probably too drunk to walk, let alone drive, right? Screw Greg Monroe. He put innocent people’s lives in grave danger. Remind people about this when you can.
- The Bulls get two days off before taking on the conference leading Toronto Raptors on Thursday. The off days should do wonders for the banged up Bulls after a stretch of five games in seven nights.
I know it’s been an eternity since I last showed my face around these parts. To tell you the truth, it’s been so long I forgot my WordPress login info. But that doesn’t matter now. I’m back and ready to entertain you and hopefully educate you. And without further ado, it’s time to talk about why I think the Detroit Pistons will finally make some significant strides this upcoming season.
To put it quite simply, the Pistons were atrocious last season. Almost as bad as Joe Nathan, Joba Chamberlain and Joakim Soria were coming out of the Tigers’ bullpen down the stretch. The Pistons finished the 2013-14 season with a 29-53 clip, eighth worst in the league. They shot a putrid 44.7% from the field, and even worse from downtown (29th in the league at 32.1%).
Coming into last season, the Pistons had high hopes with the likes of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings arriving on the scene. Needless to say, the duo struggled mightily as Jennings proceeded to be the most selfish point guard east of the Mississippi and Smith got back together with his horrible ex-girlfriend (outside jumpers). It was a disaster that got Mo Cheeks fired mid-season and had Pistons fans in the metro Detroit area sulking in their poor investment properties they call “homes.”
But, Pistons fans, I’m here to tell you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Similar to the beginning of last season, there are numerous reasons to be optimistic about the squad entering the new year. This year, however, these sources of optimistic are actually legitimate.
After taking a two year hiatus from the game, a familiar face is back and he’s here to bring back the days of caring about DETROIT BASKETBALL. His name is Stan Van Gundy. With a world of success on his resume, SVG will strive to make the most out of his talented front court and bring back a winner to Detroit.
With Greg Monroe down on the block and Andre Drummond protecting the rim, Van Gundy has a foundation in place that many teams around the league should envy. In a league where extra possessions are so utterly important, the Pistons finished averaging the third most rebounds in the NBA. For a team 24 games under .500, this notion foreshadows the makings of rapid improvement.
To put it simply, Detroit needs to shoot the ball better. Sounds simple enough, right? The 2013-14 Pistons literally would have been better off if Jennings (37.3 FG%) or Smith (26.4% from distance) closed their eyes before taking jumpers. Luckily for Detroit, there is a solution to this problem: Fine those two for taking jump shots!! While this idea might rile up the Player Union and causes the next strike, I think its implementation would go a long way towards success in Motown.
Detroit needs to stick to its bread and butter of taking shots near the rim. With Monroe as solid as any young big in the league and Drummond progressing towards being an absolute monster, the Pistons would be foolish not to take 70% of their shots from within 8 feet. Add in some effective perimeter shooting from Kyle Singler and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and you’ve got the makings of a nice, balanced offense.
While this lineup sounds good in theory, it sounded great last year too. This is where I think the Stan the Man with the Plan makes his Stand. I don’t think he’ll put up with Smith and Jennings’ BS the way Cheeks did. In my opinion, he wouldn’t have ever accepted another position where a player’s demands or selfish behavior could headlock an entire organization (ie. Dwight in Orlando). That’s what Pistons fans should be banking on. No more nonsense.
And for this reason and others (watching my boy Andre take his play to the next level), the Detroit Pistons will turn heads in the upcoming 2014-15 season and be my team to watch on League Pass.
After reading through Jake’s thorough breakdown of the Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins extensions, I couldn’t help but check out other players who may be up for similar deals before the season begins. George and Cousins have both logged three years of NBA service time after both being drafted in the first round of the 2010 NBA draft.
NBA players drafted in the first round sign four year contracts that are guaranteed for two seasons, with seasons three and four being team options. After year four, teams can either allow players to become free agents, they can offer to extend them, or they can offer one year qualifying offers that allow players to have a large increase in salary before entering fully unrestricted free agency the following year. But for exceptional young talents in the league, teams can offer big extensions in the summer leading into that final year of the rookie contract.
That big offer is exactly what George, Cousins, and the first overall pick from that draft, John Wall, have secured. For the Wizards, Kings and Pacers, the organizations can give themselves a nice pat on the back for identifying talent, developing it and making sure their investment will now pay long term dividends.
George was the 10th pick in that 2010 draft. George, who has developed into a player that likely not even the Pacers front office even imagined, was passed up nine times before he fell to Indiana. While the Wiz and Kings can justify their decision, I think we should take a quick look at the guys NBA front offices thought would contribute more to their teams than Paul George.
Evan Turner was the second pick in that draft out of Ohio State. He’s currently the second best player on his team. Unfortunately, his team is the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that is actively trying to lose. Turner will likely catch on as a bench piece somewhere next season, but with the second pick in the draft you always hope the return is better than “bench piece.”
The third pick was Derrick Favors, The jury is still out on Favors, as he was trapped behind Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap last season. This season is Favors’s big opportunity to prove that he was worth the high praise he received coming out of Georgia Tech after his freshman year.
Wesley Johnson was the fourth pick. The fact that Johnson was 23 his rookie season was a red flag right off the bat, but nobody could have predicted that his NBA career would be this big of a flop. After two disappointing seasons in Minnesota, Johnson averaged a measly 8.0 PPG for an atrocious Suns team last season. This year he finds himself on another mess of a team in Lakerland. Johnson’s contract is only good for this season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the last NBA pay day he ever gets.
Cousins went fifth, followed by Ekpe Udoh who falls under the “Derrick Favors hung jury” category, although he may remain there for another year as he is buried behind Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova, Zaza Pachulia, John Henson and the Curse of the Amnestied Drew Gooden Contract. Greg Monroe was the 7th pick, and he likely would have been signed to an extension had the Pistons not drastically shaken things up this offseason. Now Detroit wants to see how the three big men on the roster mesh before locking up Monroe long term.
The eighth pick was Al-Farouq Aminu, who doesn’t really know how to play basketball. Gordon Hayward went nine, and he might have a long and successful NBA career. George rounded out the top 10. If the GMs in 2010 could have a do-over, it’s likely that Wall still would have been the top selection, but George would undoubtedly go second overall.
My whole point for writing this is to remind everyone that nobody really knows anything. A big story line heading into this season is “Riggin’ for Wiggins.” This next NBA draft class is believed to be by many the best one since potentially 2003 (the draft that spawned LeBron, Carmelo, DWade, Bosh and others). Along with Andrew Wiggins, scouts are buzzing over OK State’s Marcus Smart, Kentucky’s Julius Randle and Australian Dante Exum (Editor’s note: Can’t forget Chicago’s own Jabari Parker!). Already the 76ers, Suns, Jazz and Celtics seem like they have constructed rosters to ensure that they snag one of these top picks.
While a GM directing a rebuilding project can point to the wild success of Oklahoma City, I could just as easily point to Charlotte as being a team that consistently picks in the top ten but seems to come away without a top 10 talent every year. Every year scouts are wrong. There are so many factors that go into the success of an NBA player that go beyond how high a guy can jump or how many points he can score against a bunch of high school kids. A lot of it is intangible mental makeup of a guy. Sometimes it all has to do with the situation that the player finds himself in. Sometimes it comes down to just dumb luck.
And while this may seem like an indictment on teams who are clearly going to throw away this season that has not yet begun, let me tell you that it is not. While teams like the Pacers and Grizzlies have built contenders without ever having to really bottom out, teams like the Bucks and Raptors continue to swing and miss on late lottery picks, causing those franchises to be trapped in a never ending cycle of mediocrity. Again, luck seems to have more to do with success than just about anything.
Don’t forget, the Bulls had less than a 2% chance at winning the Derrick Rose lottery. Had they picked where they were initially slotted, they could have taken someone who would be out of the league already. They might have resigned Ben Gordon for big money. I could have become a huge hockey fan.
The first in an irregular series of intercepted correspondences.
Hello friends. My name is Evan and I am a fan of the Detroit Pistons. I know what you’re thinking and the answer is yes, I am also a fan of playing in traffic and bathing with toasters.
Unless you are a basketball fan (which you likely are, based on the fact that you’re here) or a Pistons fan (which I am, and let me tell you that being a Pistons fan is quite different from being a “basketball” fan, since the Pistons have not played “basketball” since roughly 2007), you may not be aware that Pistons General Manager Joe Dumars has spearheaded a rather eventful summer for the organization. After a disappointing season that saw the team get off to a scorching 0-8 start before cruising to a 29-53 finish to earn the 8th pick in a 7 player draft, Dumars fired coach Lawrence Frank and brought in Mo Cheeks to turn things around. This made sense: Cheeks is a grizzled veteran of the game and Frank had presided over two losing seasons and still cannot grow facial hair.
From there, things got a little hairier. The Pistons proceeded to pass on Michigan man Trey Burke in the draft, noting the presence of point guard Brandon Knight (hold this thought) and opting to draft hy-phenom (get it?) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope instead. Detroit then stayed quiet during free agency until suddenly deciding to hand a four year deal to Josh Smith, who was either severely overpaid or severely underpaid but it doesn’t matter because there’s plenty of money to go around in the city of Detroit these days. Finally, Dumars and Co. remembered that Knight died five months ago and dealt him for Brandon Jennings. So if you’re keeping score at home, the Pistons built their team around a shoot first point guard who can shoot sometimes (Jennings), a shoot first power forward who cannot shoot (Smith), a developing big man who terrifies Pistons fans and opponents alike (Andre Drummond), and the team’s quiet as kept best player (Greg Monroe). Oh, and Rasheed Wallace got lost looking for the Funny Farm and joined the team’s coaching staff as well. Welcome to Detroit!
This Dumars-assembled group will either be painfully bad (read: I will watch the Red Wings instead) or a lesson in dysfunctional entertainment that could back into a 7-seed and ruin their Riggin’ for Wiggins shot in the process (read: I’ll watch the Red Wings in April). Either way, one thing is clear: Joe Dumars is clearly not in his right mind. After a startling summer of transactions, I alerted the federal authorities to the prospect of the Pistons GM using illicit, mind-altering substances in large quantities. The Feds proceeded to Watch Dumars and successfully unearth years of correspondence between him and his meth dealer. Below are some relevant highlights of their findings. Everything makes sense now.
Joe Dumars: This draft has me all sorts of stressed! Why pick second in a five player draft when it’s so much less stressful to pick sixth? Can’t I just give Memphis its pick back?
Meth Dealer: Let me pump the brakes right there Joe. You guys are on the cusp of a championship run. A successful pick here and you’ll be golden for the next few years. Melo? D-Wade? Championship potential. Don’t trade the pick, or else people will know that you do meth.
JD: Ahh alright, can’t have people on my tail like that. How about that tall kid from Serbia? Marko? What’s his name? God I am so high right now.
MD: What? No no, don’t take the European project. There are stars in this draft! Sure things!
JD: Why take the sure thing when you can live on the edge? Besides, I can’t take some ball hog who will steal touches from Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. The offense is clicking!
MD: If people find me, it will probably be your fault.
JD: I can’t believe Rasheed is out there on the market. He could be our missing piece!
MD: Like there’s a chance in hell I veto the opportunity for two of my highest profile clients to work in the same city. Trade away!
JD: I’m having a rough time right now. I really just don’t think Larry [Brown] is cutting it anymore.
MD: What? You guys just went to two straight Finals! You’ve got the best starting five in basketball!
JD: I dunno man. I always feel like he’s hitting on my wife.
MD: Dammit Dumars if you fire a Hall of Fame coach while you’re high I am never selling you any drugs ever again.
JD: Fine fine I’ll wait a day or two! Say, what do you think about Flip Saunders? A real inspiring fellow, yeah?
JD: Why didn’t you tell me Chris Webber was an unsigned free agent? How long has he been sitting there? The fans will love a Michigan man!
MD: Your team’s title window is closing. Rip Hamilton hasn’t been healthy in a year. Flip Saunders is still your head coach. That Lebron guy in Cleveland keeps getting better. I have never had less confidence in someone whose team has made five straight Eastern Conference Finals.
JD: C-Webb went number one overall like six years ago right? He’s still fresh! Or have I missed a few seasons?
MD: I hate you so much.
JD: Alright alright get this, I hear Allen Iverson is on the market, and all Denver wants from us is our team leader and former Finals MVP. Who says no?
MD: Are you taking some sorts of other medications? Are you over-exerting yourself doing strenuous physical activity?
JD: Ah shit they want Antonio McDyess too, do you think that’s too steep? Really like AD on this team.
MD: How are you still employed?
JD: Guess what? I’ve got huge news!
MD: I sincerely hope not, since you’re supposed to be saving all your money for the summer of 2010.
JD: Nah, why wait for talent?
MD: Oh Jesus.
JD: We got Ben Gordon!
MD: What the shit are you going to do with Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey and Allen Iverson’s promethazine’d corpse?
JD: And Charlie Villenueva!
MD: If you pay him any more than you do me you should probably consider a new profession.
JD: Five years, $35 million, so much less than I pay you!
MD: You should be put down.
MD: Hey Joe, long time no talk. Wondering if everything was okay? I noticed that you’ve picked pretty well in the last three drafts and seem to be building around a young nucleus of Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, and Andre Drummond. These moves all make quite a bit of sense and frankly I’m a bit concerned?
JD: They just want me to win games. I am so empty without you.
MD: It’s gonna be okay Joe. This is for the best. Remember the 2004 championship run? The six consecutive conference finals appearances?
JD: I was high as a kite all six years. I want you back.
MD: Alright come back to me. I’ll take care of you like the old days.
JD: I am so high right now.
MD: Do you have any idea what you’ve done for the last three weeks?
JD: What time is it? I need to take my kids to soccer practice. Did I miss Breaking Bad?
MD: You probably will not be able to afford your drug habit when you get fired.