Hello PistonPowered readers! Some of you might already know me from my blog, Bynumite Blog. Dan Feldman was kind enough to ask me to provide my video and photo breakdowns for PistonPowered, and I agreed. I want to thank Dan and Patrick for giving a young writer and basketball fan a chance to share his knowledge and excitement with Pistons nation. Now, enough with the thank yous and let’s dive into the good stuff!
Greg Monroe’s big night
As already mentioned yesterday, Greg Monroe had a career performance last night with 27 points on 11 of 17 shooting (5-of-7 from the line) along with 12 rebounds and only one turnover. During the past few weeks and months, he’s the only rookie showing a steady improvement in his entire game. Blake Griffin is a beast, but he isn’t improving as much, because he’s already closer to his ceiling. Monroe seems kind of raw and lacks a midrange jumper. In my opinion, he will add it to his repertoire. When I saw him in college, he could hit three-pointers every once in a while, so I expect him to do it in a Pistons uniform as well. Not 3-pointers, but 18-footers!
I first looked at how he got his points last night. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t score on any jumpers. His first three made baskets came after offensive rebounds. A teammate missed a shot, and he cleaned up the glass for an easy put back. He has become so adept at getting position on the offensive board, he will soon be called the “vacuum cleaner.” For the entire game, he had four offensive rebounds which led directly to a putback score for him, and he totaled six offensive rebounds for the entire game.
A ton of his points came a different way. It’s actually pretty amazing to have 27-point performance and all you do is have one play run for you! John Kuester needs more plays for Monroe and even a few post-ups maybe. Monroe appears ready for a bigger offensive load. In order to get Monroe a basket, the Pistons run the side pick-and-roll (P&R) a lot. As often mentioned by Dan, his favorite partner is Tracy McGrady. How much does he favor McGrady? Well, last night McGrady assisted five of his field goals.
They were all similar to the one I’m using to exemplify the play. In this one Ben Gordon gets an on-ball screen by Ben Wallace on the right wing. Gordon drives to his left, and the Pacers do a good job defending.
Ben passes to Stuckey who immediately swings the ball to T-Mac on the left wing. T-Mac then also gets a side-pick and drives to the middle of the court. Monroe releases the pick quickly and cuts towards the basket. Now McGrady patiently waits for the opportunity. A lesser play maker would have forced a pass or a shot. McGrady is experienced enough to wait a couple of moments until the Indiana defense decides to double-team him, because this is how Indiana defends the P&R. They force the ball-handler to give up the ball.
Monroe gets an easy pass, catches it, makes a move to the opposite side of the rim and converts an easy right-handed lay-up.
It’s great to watch GM10 progress. At the beginning of the season, he had such great problems converting layups, and taller and stronger defenders often blocked his attempts. Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough might not be the crème de la crème of post-defenders, but Hibbert is very tall and Hansbrough is kind of scary in my opinion. Monroe has become much better at avoiding getting his shot blocked and finding openings to make easy twos. Of his seven field goals that weren’t putbacks, five were assisted. I don’t know whether the plays that led to his seven free-throw attempts would have earned assists. All in all, it was a stellar performance by a very talented big man.
Last shot to seize everything you ever wanted
Of course, this wasn’t a championship situation, but I always enjoy T-Mac lip synching to this song, so I chose it as a headline for the second play for today.
After Indiana scored a great basket on the Pistons with five seconds to go, John Kuester took a time-out to set up a game-winning play. First Austin Daye set a backscreen for Monroe, who cut to the basket in order to score. The execution on this play was horrible and Daye showed he was not a great screener. Monroe did not get open at all and just faded to the other side of the court. I like the backscreen, but I believe it was not the first option for Kuester anyway – at least I hope so.
After the first screen a real chaos starts developing. I’m not quite sure whether Kuester designed a play to confuse the Pacers or whether the Pistons improvised. Gordon immediately started dashing to the left wing, Stuckey set another screen for Daye and Gordon started dashing back to where he came from. Needless to say, Gordon didn’t get much separation on the play and ended up 10 feet behind the 3-point line, which rendered him useless.
Now, the screen for Daye gave Austin a lot of space indicated by the blue line. My guess is he had about seven feet between him and his defender. I was surprised McGrady did not give him the ball, especially because he was close to violating the 5-second inbound rule. Daye had hit a big shot just moments earlier and had beaten the 76ers with a 3 from the same corner on the same play a month earlier. He didn’t get the chance to do it again.
When McGrady finally inbounded the drawn-up options were already negated by good Pacer defense. T-Mac almost violated the 5-second rule (I hand-stopped it, he took a bit more than five seconds). Anyway, Stuckey got the ball and started a drive to the rim. Nothing wrong there. He had to drive.
Darren Collison did a great job staying in front of Stuckey. Stuckey chose to ignore an open Ben Gordon at the baseline. I realize 2.5 seconds are not a lot to make a pass and release a shot, it’s still better than throwing the ball out of bounds though, which Stuckey did. Would you rather give up the ball for an open 3 or shoot over two defenders? Yeah, I thought so!
The play in video:
In a late-game situation, I don’t expect perfect decisions from the players. This is the exact reason why fans get upset with Stuckey. Dumars expected him to become more of a facilitator when he gave him the opportunity to be the point guard of the team and traded Billups. He wanted him to score when necessary, not whenever he touches ball. He has shown the ability to be just that kind of player numerous times, he does not do it night in and night out, and that hurts the team.
Thanks for reading and see you next time!