Yahoo!'s Kelly Dwyer: Rodney Stuckey is the 29th best (or is it worst?) point guard in the NBA

Here’s some analysis that’s sure to rankle PistonPowered founder/unofficial president of the Rodney Stuckey fan club Dan Feldman, courtesy of Yahoo!’s Kelly Dwyer:

Stuckey is what Stuckey is. He’s yet to find a balance between acting as a scoring point guard or passing point man, and the unfortunate truth behind those two aspects of his game is that he’s not particularly adept at either. Hardly the return Joe Dumars had in mind when he staved off rebuilding, re-signed Richard Hamilton(notes), and brought in Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

That blurb was part of Ball Don’t Lie‘s positional rankings, which has Stuckey 29th on the list of the league’s top 30 point guards. I actually agree partially with Dwyer’s assessment — Stuckey basically is what he is at this point. I just happen to think what he is is not worse than what Mike Conley (27th), Jarrett Jack (24th) or Ramon Sessions (22nd) are.

I’ve been a bit like a teenage girl in my coverage of Stuckey over the last couple years. I hate him. I love him. I hate him. I’m so confused. Now I’m at the point where I’ve matured more in my view of things. He’s not a perfect point guard by any stretch. He gets in the lane at will, but is a poor finisher. He’s only an adequate passer when he plays slower, but playing slower limits his best offensive trait, his quickness. He doesn’t have a reliable jump shot past 15 feet. Those are all things that I think the Pistons were banking on him improving when he was drafted, and he hasn’t really improved any of those things much.

But focusing on what he hasn’t become better at does overlook one area where he has shown improvement: defense. Stuckey is a strong and quick defender, and although as a unit the Pistons were terrible defensively last season, Stuckey did show the potential to become a potential lockdown guy on the perimeter if they can foster a belief in defense among other guys on the roster not named Jerebko or Wallace.

I also think his offensive numbers would’ve been better had the team been healthy. Often, Stuckey shot too much because he found himself on the court with three or four guys at a time who couldn’t really score. If you have one guy on the court who can get his own shot, the defense is going to figure that out and cheat, which often resulted in some terrible shooting efforts. A more talented lineup on the court will mean a more efficient Stuckey.

While he’s not the Chauncey Billups-in-the-making Joe Dumars may have been convinced he was getting, Stuckey is not completely devoid of PG skills. He’s not an unwilling passer. His court vision and decision-making often leave something to be desired, but he’s also not a ‘get-mine’ type of player. If he can make a play for someone else, he will.

The fact is, whether you believe Stuckey is teeming with potential or hopelessly miscast as a starting caliber player, the criticisms like those above are going to be out in force this season until he begins to shoot a better percentage and make smarter plays with the ball. Point guard or not, he’s the only option the Pistons have for the position. He can do enough PG-like things to show that he’s better than the 29th best player at his position, it’s just a matter of proving it for an entire season.

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