The Big Answer?: John Kuester

DF then: Will he develop a more creative offense?

In his Pistons season preview, John Hollinger wrote Detroit’s biggest strength was one-on-one scoring:

One thing we know about the Pistons is they’ll be able to find matchups they like and isolate for shots. Detroit’s lineup will be chock full of scoring at positions 1 through 4, with Wallace in the middle to clean up any misses.

Moreover, Stuckey and Prince are two of the better post-up players at their positions, allowing them to exploit size mismatches for close-in shots. Hamilton and Gordon can score in isolation as well, although they prefer to do their work off the ball and score off the catch. Bynum adds similar skills as an energizer off the bench. One other player to watch in this regard is second-year pro Daye, who is 6-11 with a sweet J that he can release over most defenders.

At the 4, Monroe and Villanueva can provide a different threat against opposing big men unaccustomed to playing on the perimeter. Moreover, their outside skills will help provide some space for the others to do their damage.

Kuester probably will have to run the offense this way, even if it’s a tad boring. (And man, these guys were hard on the eyes last season.) With no skilled passers in the backcourt, no outright stars and four players of roughly equal offensive skill on the court at most times, Kuester will do best to focus on attacking the opponent’s weak link.

I actually agree with Hollinger that this type of offense would be more productive than most fans think. But it’s taking the easy way out. An isolation-heavy offense, unless you have an offensive star the Pistons don’t, wont be great. It can be enough to get by, but it certainly won’t rank among the league’s best offenses.

If Kuester can show some imagination and design a gameplan that involves moving the ball more to create easy shots, that will be a significant way he can demonstrate his ability as a head coach.

DF now: Yes

The Pistons’ offense was actually a surprising – and overlooked – bright spot this year (if your expectations are low, which they should be). Detroit ranked 14th in offensive rating.

The Pistons weren’t as isolation-dependent as initially feared, although Tayshaun Prince all year and Richard Hamilton before his late-season turnaround didn’t exactly do much to move the ball. But overall, the team showed more creativity than expected

The Pistons finished third in the NBA by converting putbacks on 7.46 percent of their misses (behind the Grizzlies and Kings), using data tracked by Synergy. Besides putbacks – because, who would blame a team for not assisting a putback? – Detroit assisted  62.05 percent of its field goals, 14th in the league. That’s pretty good for a team without a natural point guard.

Kuester had a lot of problems this year, but he directed a surprisingly effective offense.

PH then: Can he prove he’s not George Irvine?

Pistons fans know the story with Irvine — he was a nice, respectable coach who the players didn’t hate and who got a team that was in transition in 2000-01 to play reasonably hard while not winning many games. The Pistons have to figure out if Kuester — a likable and respected coach — is a stopgap or if he can be around long-term based on how he performs with his full compliment of players.

PH now: No

That whole ‘likable’ thing Kuester had going for him last season? Kind of eroded. His players weren’t easy to coach, no doubt. The roster he was handed was full of flaws, no doubt. But Kuester’s inability to communicate about players’ roles, the perception that his discipline was selective and the fact that his strategic decisions were often perplexing all added up to about the worst possible season a coach on thin ice could hope for.

Kuester worked his whole life for a head coaching opportunity in the NBA, and he got about the most unworkable situation any coach could’ve been put in. That still doesn’t excuse the things he did to contribute to the chaos this season.

Tags: John Kuester Richard Hamilton Tayshaun Prince