What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for December: 26. Detroit Pistons

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of December 31st):  11-22,  fourth place Central Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of December 31st):

  • Points Scored: 94.9 (22nd)
  • Points Allowed: 96.6 (12th)
  • Team FG%: .440 (17th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .441 (13th)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.3 (9th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 42.1 (16th)
  • Turnovers per game: 15.0 (15th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 12.8 (29th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of December 31st):  

  • Scoring (ppg): Greg Monroe (15.1)
  • Rebounds per game:  Greg Monroe (8.8)
  • Minutes per game: Tayshaun Prince (32.1)
  • Assists per game: Brandon Knight (4.7)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Andre Drummond (.587)
  • Steals per game: Greg Monroe (1.3)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Andre Drummond (1.5)

Worst Player of the Month:  Greg Monroe

Although he currently leads the Pistons in scoring, rebounding, and steals per game, Greg Monroe has taken a step back for last season.  For starters, although his scoring numbers have remained about even, which is disappointing to say the least, his field goal and his free throw percentage have both dropped sharply along with his rebounds per game as well.  Monroe went from shooting .524 from the field last season to just .468 now, .734 from the free throw line to .697, and rebounding from close to ten per game to barely nine.  His performance in December left little to be desired as he only shot .449 from the field, .671 from the free throw line, and averaged 14.9 points per game.  With such a poor performance, the Pistons may have to rethink the idea of making Monroe a centerpiece for their rebuilding efforts.  

First Player of the Month: Andre Drummond

From watching his rather lackluster performance in his only season playing for UConn and the fact that he measured far less than the 7’ 1 height that UConn listed him as, Andre Drummond looked as if he would be a bust for the Pistons selecting him 9th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.  He has certainly proved his detractors and doubters wrong, however, by posting rather surprising numbers of seven points and seven boards per game, while shooting .587 from the field in a shade under 20 minutes of playing time.  In his last five games to finish the month of December, Drummond has averaged close to 10 points and 11 boards per game while coming off the bench.  Although his ability to make free throws has been pathetic to say the least currently at under .400, He has certainly proven how he should not have judge by a rather subpar college showing, and that he was certainly more than what many gave him credit for.  If he continues to develop as he has thus, Drummond may find himself paired with Greg Monroe in a starting five that will boast one of the most intimidating front courts in recent memory.   

December was a rather cold and cruel month for the Detroit Pistons as they continued to trudge through the month while getting beat down by one opponent after another.  The Pistons continued where they left of in November losing eight of their first ten games to start the month, winning against the Cleveland Cavaliers twice--once at home (12/3/2012) and on the road five days later (12/8/2012).  Although things continued to look bleak for this once NBA powerhouse, Detroit bounced back winning four of their last five games to finish 2012 on a positive note.  What was most impressive about that five game run was who they actually beat as the Pistons surprised the world by shocking the Miami Heat at home rather convincingly (12/28/2012) and followed that by slipping past the up and coming Milwaukee Bucks by just one basket (12/30/2012).

Those two wins came at just the right time as the Pistons needed some kind of jolt to start 2013 and beating one of the reigning NBA Champion must have certainly been a boost for the team's morale.  Even before then, one can see the Pistons play gradually improving on the defensive end as they held their opponents to just 90.1 points per game with a few games going down the wire as the Pistons lost most of those games by ten points or less.  They manged to stay with teams such Eastern Conference titans as the Chicago Bulls (12/7/2012) and the Brooklyn Nets (12/14/2012) until the very end before succumbing to them as they lost by a total of six points in those two games.  It took overtime for the second place of the Southeast Division, Atlanta Hawks (12/26/2012) to pass by the Pistons while two of the best teams in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Clippers (12/17/2012) and the Golden State Warriors (12/5/2012) only managed to slip by Detroit by just an average margin of just nine points.  Even more impressive was the fact that Detroit held two of the top scoring and most efficient offensive teams in the Clippers and Heat to scoring just  93.5 points in those two games.

One can go as far to say that if the ball would have bounced the Piston's way or if they would have had a few defensive stops and a few well placed scoring runs, it would be a whole different scenario.  If Detroit would have clamped down on the Warriors, the Philadephia 76ers (12/10/2012), or even the Denver Nuggets (12/11/2012) in the last few minutes, those would have brought the Pistons to 14 wins.  Atlanta was also rather fortunate to grab the overtime win against Detroit as well, considering the Hawks blew a 22 point lead that sent their game into overtime.  If it were not for two free throws made by Atlanta's Jeff Teague tying the game, Detroit would have chalked up the win instead of having to go through overtime thus losing the game and coating them a potential 15th win.  The same goes for that overtime loss against the Brooklyn Nets--the Pistons could have stolen one from the struggling Nets, who had struggled through much of December going 5-11 after starting the season at 10-4.

Both the team's head coach, Lawrence Frank, and general manager, Joe Dumars, have to be happy of their team's performance and effort through the month considering the fact that their team came into the season with rather low expectations.  They certainly would not have expected their players, who remain rather young and inexperienced, to clamp down on some the league's best offensive teams while remaining within an earshot of winning.  Still, there is still plenty of work to be done for the Pistons to finally climb out of the cellar and return to the road of respectability and back in the playoff picture.  For starters, their offense still needs work, despite the massive improvements from last season, as the Pistons yet to have a true point guard, instead having to play the point with a committee of self centered shoot first combo guards dominating the ball instead of facilitating the offense by getting their teammates involved.  The Pistons already have a treasure trove of young talented players, especially in the front court--all they need is that one person to bring it all together.

And it does not have to be a point guard--it can even be the coach.  Although Lawrence Frank should be given credit for the Piston's improved play on the defensive end, he has proven that offense is not his forte, however as his team struggles with shooting the ball and getting it in the right hands.  Perhaps a coaching change is in order with the Pistons replacing Frank with a coach that will still keep the focus on defense while simplifying the offense enough to aid in the development of Detroit's baptized point guard of the future in Brandon Knight along with one of the emerging talents in the paint in Greg Monroe.  Former Utah Jazz coach, Jerry Sloan comes to mind as his simple flex/pick and roll offense would be perfect fit for the team's two young building blocks of Monroe and Knight resulting in the Pistons having one of the fastest turnarounds in NBA history.  Unfortunately that is unlikely to happen as Dumars has shown an unwavering loyalty to his current coach, Lawrence Frank, leaving the Pistons sputtering on offense with all of its potential remaining untapped.