Small ball


Small ball: It’s not as bad as you think.

Small ball: It’s worse than you think.

Since Richard Hamilton returned from injury four games ago, he has started with Rodney Stuckey, Allen Iverson, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace. That lineup leaves the Pistons undersized at the two, three and four positions.

Neither small ball nor bigger five-man units have performed well lately. Let’s look into how the small-ball lineup has performed compared to other lineups.

Why small ball is not as bad as you think

Without argument, small ball puts the Pistons’ most talented players on the court. It would probably be tough for Detroit to never put its best five players on the court together and be successful.

The even numbers back up small ball’s talent.

When on the court together in the last four games, Stuckey, Iverson, Hamilton and Prince have been outscored by .07 points per minute. But other lineups have been outscored by -.13 points per minute.

PF is points for.

PA is points against.

PPM is points per minute.

PPMA is points per minute against.

[TABLE=9]

Surprisingly, small ball actually allows fewer points per minute than other lineups.

Why small ball is worse than you think

The lineup sets a terrible tone.

Let’s add a third column to the previous chart, First. First denotes how the starting lineup plays before the first substitution.

[TABLE=10]

The starters faced just two-point deficits against the Bobcats, Pacers and Thunder and were tied against the Hornets before a substitution – not really troubling.

But how poorly the first unit defends is problematic. It allows more points per minute than small ball overall or the other lineups. And its -0.2 difference in points per minute is the worst of the three sets.

If you need one more reason small ball shouldn’t start, here’s the obvious reason you already know. Detroit is 0-4 with the lineup since Hamilton’s return.

What to do

Curry should start a bigger lineup, but small ball could also see minutes later in the game.

He seems to be moving in the right direction. Small ball’s minutes have dwindled in each of the last four games.

[TABLE=8]

In fact, Stuckey, Iverson, Hamilton and Prince haven’t played together in the last two games, except at the beginning of each half.

Judging by Curry’s comments before yesterday’s game, the small lineup will likely be the starting lineup tomorrow at Memphis. But his confidence in it is certainly wavering, and rightfully so.

“I think we’re good enough, whichever way we decide to play,” Curry said. “But we haven’t played defensively and rebounded the ball as well as I like with that (small) group. We’re really looking at today and Monday, to see how our performance is.”