Internal Improvement: Rodney Stuckey

Tom Gores said it better happen. Jonas Jerebko guaranteed it. Rodney Stuckey agreed.

The Detroit Pistons can certainly make the playoffs this season, but given how similar the team is to last year’s, it won’t be easy. It appears the Pistons are mostly relying on internal improvement in order to exceed expectations and reach the postseason.

For our 2012 preview series, Patrick and I will each examine one area where we see realistic room for improvement from each Piston. Today, we look at Rodney Stuckey.

Consistency

I usually don’t like writing about platitudes like consistency. Usually, critics slap the “inconsistent” title to players who simply aren’t good enough to play well every game, but I don’t think that applies to Stuckey.

Previously, Stuckey showed flashes for stretches of games. Last year, he displayed his potential over a full month. But he hasn’t played near his potential for a full season, not even a 66-game one.

It takes a well-conditioned body and a focused mind to play well each game. Stuckey has probably been deficient in both areas.

He lost several pounds before last season, an excess weight I didn’t think he needed to shed at the time. But more than keep him from playing well within each game, the extra pounds probably hindered him over the long haul of the season.

It also takes intense concentration to excel in the NBA, and Stuckey appeared to drift too often. Stuckey had a great month or so last year before getting hurt, but if the injury hadn’t knocked him out, could he have sustained his mental drive? — D.F.

Health

Dan touched on both the mental and physical aspects that have hindered Stuckey over the years above. I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt to him. Last season, he appeared to be focused, more mature and seemed to bring a better mental approach to the game. I’m going to assume that he struggled early in the season and then again late in the season sandwiched around a really good month of productive basketball because he was simply too injured to sustain that level of play that left us all wanting more.

Stuckey’s style may very well be on that leads to him always being banged up and suffering from lingering injuries. Look no further than teammate Corey Maggette for proof of the toll a physical style can take on the body of even a well-conditioned athlete. My hope for Stuckey is that he just has a healthy season so that, finally, we can properly evaluate what he is as a player and forever stop talking about his never-ending upside. — P.H.

Previously

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