Let’s start with this: the Pistons are amazingly bad right now.
After a 120-87 loss to the Bulls last night, Detroit’s 13th straight defeat, it’s tough to find ways this team can get back on track. The Pistons’ defense was so bad, at times, I couldn’t even tell who was supposed to be defending the Chicago shooter.
But maybe, just maybe, there was a silver lining in the game.
It’s not a quick fix. In fact, it might make the losing streak more likely to continue. But it could help the Pistons in the long-term.
Increasing the tempo might make Rodney Stuckey a quality point guard.
You can argue all you want about whether the Pistons should’ve signed Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva or drafted Austin Daye. But in Dumars’ plan, those seem to be peripheral moves.
The real centerpiece of the franchise’s rebuilding is Stuckey’s development.
I think this team was built on Stuckey being Detroit’s best player. Gordon, Villanueva and Daye would be role players if all goes to plan. Dumars definitely sees something in Stuckey.
Of course, that plan can change. But last night’s loss might have been an indication Plan A will still work.
Stuckey the point guard
Stuckey has played his best this season at shooting guard next to Chucky Atkins. Many thought the Pistons would be better off shifting to Plan B: building around Stuckey as a shooting guard – or even Plan C: trading Stuckey.
But he showed a good deal of point guard skill in last night’s loss. Before the game, Stuckey said the Pistons would run more, and they did. Their 95 possessions were well above their season average of 91.4.
Stuckey, who’s struggled at times with decision-making, looked much more comfortable in the faster tempo.
He had five assists in 30 minutes, which doesn’t really stand out. But four of those led to baskets near the rim, according to Hoop Data. That’s the second-most assists leading to a close basket per 36 minutes Stuckey has had this year.
I’d say that statistic is more telling about how good a job Stuckey did at setting up his teammates than just simple assists.
Stuckey also had a turnover rate of 10.4, which was below his season average (11.3).
He wasn’t Jason Kidd or Steve Nash. But he wasn’t … searching for a point guard who doesn’t facilitate his team’s offense well … um … Rodney Stuckey.
The short-term downside
Early in the game, it seemed like every time Stuckey touched the ball, he pushed the tempo. And it seemed every possession that went through Richard Hamilton ended with the shot clock running down.
If the Pistons commit to running right now, there will be some problems. The awkward mix of players who are adept at running and those who aren’t might confuse opposing defenses. But if last night’s game is any indication, it will confuse the Pistons more.
A lot of the team is used to playing at a snail’s pace, especially Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. Prince sat out this game with an injury, but when he returns, the Pistons will probably be even more resistant to running.
But, at this point, the immediate issues probably wouldn’t even be noticed. What are they going to do, lose another 13 games in a row?
At least this might give their long-term plan of building around Stuckey at point guard its best chance of succeeding. If running fails, well, what is there to lose?
Tags: Rodney Stuckey