Today, against Washington, Wallace tied Avery Johnson for the most NBA games played by someone who went undrafted in the NBA and ABA (1,054). Only Moses Malone, who was drafted in the ABA, has played more games without being drafted by an NBA team (1,329).
Unlike that 1996 night in Orlando, where Wallace helped the Bullets to a four-point win, he couldn’t do much tonight. At 37, his best days are nearly as far behind him as they were in front of him in 1996. Wallace grabbed seven rebounds in 12 minutes, a skill that still at least resembles its place in his heyday. But Wallace’s defense has left him.
On a night he needed his teammates as much as ever, they came out flat. In a 98-77 loss, the Pistons play was the antithesis of Wallace’s prime.
The defeat will improve their lottery odds, a decent consolation. The draft, especially at the top, is still the best place to find talent.
But as Wallace reminds us, there are other ways.
Sluggish Greg Monroe loses battle of fundamentals vs. athleticism
Greg Monroe scored 27 points, the second best total of his career. He made 9-of-9 free throws, a personal-high for attempts during a perfect game from the line.
He obviously played well.
But he didn’t play as well as his numbers indicate.
He turned the ball over six times and allowed JaVale McGee (22 points on 10-of-13 shooting with 11 rebounds) to dominate. McGee is way more athletic than Monroe, so this was a tough matchup. But when Monroe plays lifelessly, as he did for much of the first half, he has no chance against someone like McGee.
Monroe didn’t grab his first rebound until 10 seconds remained in the first half, and he finished with six in 33 minutes.
The Wizards are one of the NBA’s most athletic teams, and that’s why the gave Monroe so much trouble. He played his usual fundamental game, and that allowed him to assist a few baskets on simple passes. But as the Pistons’ primary big man, he was overmatched against an above-the-rim opponent.
The Pistons need a player more capable of matching up with someone like McGee. I doubt Monroe grows into that role. The best bet is in the draft.
The Pistons’ guards – Brandon Knight (1-of-9), Rodney Stuckey (2-of-9), Ben Gordon (2-of-9), Walker Russell (1-of-7) and Will Bynum (0-of-2) – combined to shoot 6-of-36. Aside from Stuckey (7-of-8), Detroit’s guards shot just 2-of-2 from the line, both other attempts by Gordon. It’s really hard to win with a backcourt shoots so poorly.
It’s even harder to win when allowing the other team’s guards to constantly get to their spots. Nick Young (22 points on on 8-of-13 shooting) and John Wall (15 assists) looked way more athletic than their Detroit counterparts.
Austin Daye struggling again
If you’re noticing a theme, it’s the Pistons’ lack of athleticism. Austin Daye (2-of-9) was never supposed to be a top-end athlete. But if the Pistons can’t count on him to make shots, he’s a liability on the court.
Daye followed his breakout game against the Heat with a couple good game. But since then, he’s regressed to his early season production.
In his last eight games, Daye has shot 10-of-49, including 1-of-12 on 3-pointers. He’s averaging 18 minutes per game in the span, so that’s not really an excuse. The Pistons have given Daye plenty of minutes to prove himself. Until he plays better, they shouldn’t give him any more playing time per game.
I’m not as down on Daye as Patrick is. I still have plenty of hope Daye can turn into a useful, and maybe even a good, NBA player. He’s shown the potential. But, man, he’s got to start making some shots.