Rodney Stuckey continues to impress at point guard

Has Rodney Stuckey finally made the jump? I haven’ always been sold on Stuckey as the cornerstone of the franchise. Maybe he never will be a franchise player, but Stuckey has quietly been playing his best ball of the season ever since the “incident” at the shootaround in Philadelphia.

Stuckey finished the game with 19 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and just two turnovers. In his last four games, since moving to point guard, he’s averaging 20.75 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

It’s obviously a small sample size, but only three other players in the league are averaging 20+ points and 8+ assists per game this season. None of those players – all point guards – are averaging more than five rebounds per game.

Stuckey’s made more assists in a four-game stretch just three times previously – once in February 2010 and three times in December 2008.

He’s grabbed more rebounds in a four-game stretch just five times previously – once in February 2010 and three times in November 2009.

Stuckey had never posted those rebounding and assist numbers in the same four-game stretch before now.

In his last six games, he’s averaging 20.5 points per game. In his last seven games, Stuckey’s averaging, 20.1 points per game. He hasn’t bested either mark since December 2009.

Stuckey may never become Chauncey Billups, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that he’s just 24 years old and has had to play in systems (read: slow, veteran pace) that don’t fit his play style.

With Tracy McGrady seemingly no longer in the rotation, Stuckey will get every opportunity to prove he’s the team’s present and future at point guard. So far, he’s doing just that.

Charlie Villanueva shows his potential, explodes off the bench

At this point in his career, Charlie Villanueva might be what he is – a bench player who can come in cold and score in bunches. There’s nothing wrong with that. Many NBA players earn very nice paychecks doing the same thing.

But you can’t help but think that Joe Dumars and the rest of Pistons management had bigger plans for Villanueva when they signed him in the summer of 2009.

Villanueva came off the bench to score all 16 of his points in a span of 7:36 in the second quarter, and he grabbed four rebounds, as well. But he didn’t score again tonight. He also grabbed only one more rebound in the second half.

Additionally, eight of Villanueva’s 11 field-goal attempts were 3-pointers. Although Villanueva seemed to have the “hot hand,” it would have been nice to see him in the low post, where he’s very hard to stop.

Pistons’ small forwards dominate

With Tayshaun Prince’s return to the lineup, Austin Daye once again came off the bench. And both brought it, albeit in different ways.

Prince had one of his better games of the season, leading Detroit with 20 points on 10-19 shooting in 37 minutes with solid, consistent play throughout. It’s games like this that make re-signing Prince seem like a viable and sensible option.

But then there’s Daye.

Daye, in just 18 minutes, poured in 12 points (5-6 shooting), five boards, two assists and three blocks in 18 minutes. And he continued his season-long trend of knocking down clutch shots as he scored five of his points in a span of 36 seconds near the end of the fourth quarter.

Although he’s more known for his smooth stroke, Daye’s energy and hustle were also on display. He drew offensive fouls, blocked three shots (including a chase-down block from behind) and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

Daye still struggles on defense, but he might be the Piston with the most potential and upside.

If Prince is ultimately not on the roster next season, then perhaps these sporadic glimpse of Daye’s potential will become a nightly occurrence.

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Tags: Austin Daye Charlie Villanueva Rodney Stuckey Tayshaun Prince Tracy McGrady

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