It wasn’t super savvy analysis when I noted in the game preview that, with Andrew Bogut out, Milwaukee would be relatively weak in the middle and Greg Monroe should be able to score efficiently inside. Monroe did those things, converting 67 percent of his shots in the Pistons loss. He had another double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Unfortunately, less efficient scorers Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye took more shots than him and, not surprisingly, didn’t hit many of them. They combined to shoot just 13-for-42. It’s even more frustrating when you consider three of Monroe’s 12 attempts were missed tip-ins that came on a single possession.
The other night, I went into detail about how the Pistons just simply played dumb basketball. They did it again, so there’s no point in expounding in great detail once again. Bad teams often don’t play smart, and the Pistons don’t. What has been confounding is that Prince, in particular, and Stuckey to some extent, have been around long enough to recognize when a post guy has a definite advantage and get him the ball a lot. The Pistons have technical issues too — the perimeter guys as a whole do a really terrible job of creating good enough spacing to make entry passes, so as a result, they often throw the ball around a lot, can’t get it to Monroe in a good spot, then settle for a long jumper when the shot clock is running down.
The Pistons don’t have many easily correctable problems, but this seemingly should’ve been one. In the first quarter at one point, Monroe had just three shots while Stuckey/Prince had combined to take 12. There’s no possible way that the Pistons could’ve gone into this game without talking about getting Monroe the ball a lot. It’s disappointing that they didn’t do it much early and it’s disappointing that they didn’t really make the necessary adjustments to get him more shots. It’s on the coaching staff and it’s on the guys on the floor for not recognizing an obvious mismatch the entire game.
Plenty more bad games are ahead for the Pistons this season, but watching the failure of veteran players in particular to recognize mismatches has been probably the most frustrating part of the season for me.
Knight and Daye struggle in reversed ways
Against Philadelphia, Brandon Knight played poorly, but he stayed aggressive. He still looked for his shot (even if he missed 13-of-17) and he came up with a steal and a couple of deflections on defense. Lawrence Frank lived with the struggles and Knight still played 37 minutes.
Against Milwaukee, he played poorly and wasn’t aggressive. He only shot the ball four times (making zero), he turned it over four times and he failed to be an impediment at all to Brandon Jennings, who was in the lane most of the night. Consequently, Knight was benched.
Most of the season, Austin Daye struggled with his shot, became passive on the court and passed up good looks that were in his range. As a result, Frank benched him and removed him from the rotation for several games.
Against Milwaukee, Daye’s shot wasn’t falling, but he kept aggressively looking for it. He played 37 minutes.
Although I think Frank has been to patient with mistake-prone veterans, I think he’s clearly been consistent with how he handles young players, and this is a perfect illustration of it. Much of the season, Knight has been allowed to play through ups and downs because he plays hard, with energy and aggressively. Daye has not because he’s often been passive and lacked energy. Tonight the roles reversed, and Daye was allowed to play through his shooting struggles because of his activity while Knight wasn’t because of his passivity.
Agree or disagree with how Frank is handling their minutes, at least he’s being consistent in his reasoning.
What to make of Jerebko?
I agreed with Frank’s thinking when he decided to bring Jonas Jerebko off the bench to save him from early fouls. The problem is Jerebko’s offense is clearly hurt by not playing as much with Monroe. Jerebko is great at moving without the ball and Monroe is great at finding cutters. Jerebko isn’t a great perimeter shooter, but the attention Monroe draws gets Jerebko cleaner looks from outside. As a reserve, Jerebko’s shooting has fallen from 47 to 43 percent. His 3-point shooting has fallen from 36 to 26 percent.
I don’t think it’s terribly vital to start Jerebko, his future in the league might be as a high energy combo forward off the bench anyway. But the chemistry he and Monroe were developing might be more important than Jerebko picking up the occasional cheap foul.