Monday, October 29, 2012

A Decent Start

Game #1 - DETROIT 120, Indiana 97
We'll meet again

Well as we prepared for the opening game of the season a giant monkey wrench was tossed into our long term plans. Apparently the Thunder decided to get cheap and traded James Harden away to the Rockets who had no problem offering him the big extension he was after so we can scratch that name off the list.

No worries though, we have a season to get to and we kicked it off by hosting division rival Indiana. The Pacers are a tough ball club with a kid I would love to have on our team (Paul George) and they jumped all over us early leading 27-18 after one. We fought back though and managed to take a 3 point lead into the break. After 3 we held onto only a two point lead and that's when the floodgates opened. Pacers coach Frank Vogel decided to throw some zone into the mix and we responded in a big way. Jonas Jerebko caught fire off the bench knocking down two triples on his way to 22 points in only 25 minutes. The offensive spark coupled with some nasty shutdown defense from our frontcourt future studs Drummond and Monroe was just too much. The Pacers would score only 15 points in the 4th to our 36 and that's all she wrote.

Greg Monroe
25 points
9 rebounds
4 steals

Monroe was a beast and I think could have an all-star season. I decided the best thing to do with Andre Drummond was just throw him into the fire. He started and only played 25 minutes due to foul trouble but those minutes showed both how raw he is (5 PF, 4/15 shooting) and how good he can be (4 steals, 3 blocks). Brandon Knight did not disappoint with a very efficient 16 points, 8 assists and 2 steals. Danny Granger led the Pacers with 30 points and Tayshaun proved he's definitely lost something defensively - a big reason why he's not in the long term plans here.

Nobody beats the Wiz...but we did
Game #2 - DETROIT 106, Washington 98

Feeling good about our opening game we were looking forward to hosting the Wiz who came in 0-1 and for the second game in a row we held an opponent to under 100 points. Lawrence Frank preaches solid defense and that's the kind of coach I like and it looks like the players are buying in. Our 3 point shot deserted us as we went 1 for 6 from deep and we shot an atrocious 67.5% on a whopping 40 free throw attempts. Monroe and Knight accounted for more than half the attempts but only combined for 14/24. Those two need to be better than that if we're going to beat the better competition.

Greg Monroe
28 points
8 rebounds
1 block

Despite his poor performance at the stripe Monroe once again takes home player of the game honors. He gutted out 41 minutes and like I said, I see a franchise player here. Andre Drummond once again was limited to 24 minutes - we're going to have to work with him defensively. He's an athletic freak and blocked 4 shots while altering another two or three but he must rotate quicker in help and stop going for shot fakes. Imagine what he could do in 30-35 minutes! BK was brutal from the floor going 0/6 but at least he put up 9 assists and Rodney Stuckey is wearing out his welcome quickly with me. 12 points in 33 minutes is one thing but 5 turnovers isn't going to fly. I've never been a Stuckey guy - I never thought he was a PG and now I am not so sure he's even a good shooting guard. 

In one other game note we suffered our first injury of the season. Lawrence Frank inexplicably inserted Austin Daye into the game. Daye played a total of two minutes and came away with a sprained finger. No word of the injury happened during the two minutes of on court time or from being surprised being sent into the game while busy tweeting from the end of the bench. Needless to say he won't be missed.

Don't call us the LOLcats
Game #3 - Detroit 112, CHARLOTTE 114

Our first test on the road this season and thankfully it was against the lowly Bobcats. The Bobcats were off to an unsurprising 0-2 start so we were hoping for an opportunity to start 3-0 on the year. We started this one with a big time defensive effort. We came away with steals on 4 early possessions and jumped out to a big first quarter lead. It looked like we would be on cruise control in this one. However Ben Gordon came in off the bench in apparently an effort to spite his former team and dropped a couple threes. That plus some cold shooting on our part only let us go into the half with a 58-43 lead. Bismack Biyombo looked solid for the 'Cats going for 10 points, 5 boards and 2 blocks in the half while Tayshaun admittedly played a very good first half with 8 points, 7 boards, 3 steals and a block.

A couple things stood out in the first half. On the good side - Jonas Jerebko entered the game and within 15 seconds had an offensive board that led to a Monroe bucket. He knocked down a three at a crucial junction too. Kim English got some run too and impressed by drawing an offensive foul. Of course the reason he got some PT was because Rodney Stuckey stunk up the joint in the first half. I'm searching the rolodex as we speak for trade partners.

The second half started poorly - two quick whistles within thirty seconds sent Monroe to the bench with his 4th foul and me wondering if MJ made a visit with the refs at halftime. Never fear though because our Super Swede is here! JJ came in and started heating up again. He finished with 10 in the quarter. We also got key contributions from Maxiell with 6 off the bench and Kim English came up with 2 big steals and a triple in relief of Stuckey to lead us to an 84-75 lead after three.

The fourth quarter came and a chance to put the game out of reach quickly unraveled. The Bobcats dominance on the glass (40-27 at this point) finally started to catch up with us. Biyombo was a huge force and our offense went cold with back to back traveling possessions by Maggette and Stuckey. Then Stuckey apparently not happy enough with his 1 for 5 shooting day and costly turnover got T'd up and was sent to the bench. A Kemba Walker  triple would give the Bobcats their first lead of the game on the ensuing possession. We would fall behind by as many as five before Jerebko returned to the floor. A flurry of JJ buckets and a Monroe and-1 tied it up at 100 with just under 5 minutes to go.

With under a minute to go and down two we take timeout. Lawrence Frank decides to go pick and roll with Tayshaun and Monroe and Prince filled up a nice J off the pick to tie the game only to watch Biyombo score his 24th points of the game on the other end. Down two and ten seconds to go Frank inserted Maggette and decided to go for the win on a night we were getting pummeled physically. The Maggette three would not go and we dropped our first game.

Bismack Biyombo
24 points
10 rebounds
4 blocks

What more can be said? Monroe finished with 24/8, Jerebko with 21/5/3 steals off the bench, BK had 19...Drummond did a terrible job defensively although he had two huge blocks on a possession late to keep us in the game but Biyombo cannot score 24 points on you. Prince did nothing in the second half except the one jumper to tie the game and Stuckey is officially in the doghouse and I will be making calls looking for a trade.


An exciting first week overall. Boston, New York and Dallas are all off to 3-0 starts and Dirk and Melo have been sick offensively averaging 34 a game each. We sit atop the Central at 2-1, 1/2 game in front of Chicago and we've got a tough stretch next week as we head into Toronto, Brooklyn and then home against the Celtics. In the meantime I'm off to work the phones and to talk to Lawrence Frank about our shooting guard position.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Journey Begins...

So long Joe D - time to right the ship
Detroit has always been a proud city and part of that pride rests in the Pistons. First there was the "Bad Boys" era and the "Going To Work" era. Eras with unforgettable teams - championship teams. Of course there was also the "Teal" era and the current era which hopefully will one day be referred to as the "Pre GG" era. That's right, as of today I am in charge of the Detroit Pistons.

The first order of business is looking over what we've got. It's October 4, 2012 and the season is just weeks away so our roster is set going into the year and I'd like to break it down into three groups.

Group #1 : The Building Blocks
G Brandon Knight 6-3/177/1 exp
F Greg Monroe 6-11/247/2 exp
C Andre Drummond 6-11/279/R

If we're going to get back to prominence then these are the guys it will rest upon. This is our big three. The problem is they're 20, 23 and 19 respectively. The other problem is that the defending champs have this guy named LeBron, the Thunder have three far superior young players in Durant, Westbrook and Harden and the Lakers just teamed up Nash and D12 with Kobe and Pau. Needless to say I don't see a championship in the near future. We've got a 5 year plan - make the playoffs this year, win one series next year, win two series in year 3, get to the finals in year 4 and win it all in year 5. Lofty? Yup. Doable - we'll see.

Group #2 : The Glue Guys
G Kim English 6-8/192/R
F Jonas Jerebko 6-9/210/2 exp
F Kyle Singler 6-9/228/R

That's a short list and these guys aren't ever going to be stars but they are hustle guys. They'll do the dirty work and be solid role players. The kind of guys you want to be your 7th -9th guys. But that means we need a 4th-6th guy in order to make that work out.

Group #3 : The I Hope You're Renting Guys
G : Will Bynum, Rodney Stuckey
F: Tayshaun Prince, Corey Maggette, Jason Maxiell, Charlie Villanueva, Khris Middleton, Austin Daye
C : Slava Kratsov

These guys are the reason this job was open. Lucky the mistakes that were Maxiell, Daye and Maggette will be short lived and I will enjoy getting their $19 million off the books this offseason. Sadly we're saddled with Stuckey for one more year after this, Tayshaun for two more and I have no doubt Charlie V will be picking up his $8.6m player option this summer. I'm hoping that some contender will have an injury and will be interested in Tayshaun or Stuckey and I'm not going to lie...I'd give Charlie V away if someone wanted him. Sadly there will be no takers.

The good news is we have Monroe cheap next year so with a little luck and creativity we might be able to free up enough cap space to make a big run at someone as there are some marquee names that will be available. How nice would it be to bring a James Harden here? OKC has a lot of money tied up already. Maybe we'll get the chance to lure Harden away.

Coaching Staff
I'm pleased with Lawrence Frank as the head coach. He got something out of this team last year and he'll have every opportunity to be the guy who leads us back to the top.

D-League Assignments
Since we've got a full 15 man roster and the previous management regime thought it would be a great idea to carry 5 small forwards we might as well send a few guys down. No reason Singler and Middleton should sit in suits here when they could play in the NBDL.

Opening Day
We kick off the season Nov 1 at The Palace against the Pacers. They're an up and coming squad who surprised many people last year. Really I'd love to model the rebuilding here like Larry Bird did there. Make some smart picks, build a good young core and then be able to sign an underrated free agent like David West. And what I wouldn't give to have Paul George. Anyhow its time for the journey back to the top to begin.