- Teams: Detroit Pistons (3-3) at Minnesota Timberwolves (3-2)
- Date: October 24, 2012
- Time: 8 p.m.
- Radio: WWJ-950 AM
What to look for
The NBA may now be about LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade for most, but historically the league has always been about getting stud players at the point guard and center positions.
Consider the previous tandems of Bob Cousy and Bill Russell, Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain (the Logo played point the year they won the title), Oscar Robertson and Lew Alcindor, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Anfernee Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal and Tony Parker and Tim Duncan; all of these pairings were built with the idea that they would contend for titles and save for the Penny and Shaq group, they all helped produced championships.
How does this relate to the 2012-13 Detroit Pistons?
Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe are obviously nowhere near the previously mentioned players in terms of stature, accolades and accomplishments; but is it truly far fetched to expect them to be the next good if not great point guard and center tandem?
So far this preseason, that question has been one that kept popping in the back of my mind. It’s obviously a premature statement, but consider the leap that Knight has made so far, and well one could potentially see great things happening this season. Granted, we have yet to see him play a regular season game this year and thus we still need to see how he adjusts to playing with a bulls eye on his back; but the former Kentucky Wildcat has been impressive so far in the exhibition season.
Brandon Knight has shown flashes of brilliant ball-handling that may very well make him one of the toughest covers in the league in both the half-court and open court.
In addition, he has taken the ball to the basket with confidence and attacked big men almost with reckless abandon, which should prove to be a positive for the Pistons.
If there is one area where he could definitely use some improvement, it would be in the pick-and-roll game; where he needs to figure out how to toy with defenses with the threat of the jump shot, floater, drive or pass.
Obviously, Detroit’s ascension will be a two-part process.
Indeed, Greg Monroe will have to continue to improve as a big man for the Pistons to become a good team. Currently, he has shown the ability to play in both the high and low post thanks in large part to his multiple skills: he can shoot the ball, play back to the basket and deliver pinpoint passes to streaking teammates. Ideally, he could refine these skills and become an even deadlier offensive player.
But for the Pistons to truly take a big step, the former Hoya will have to become a better team defender.
So far this preseason, his defensive energy has been consistent but his focus on the other hand has not. There are times at which he has been a step slow rotating — which leads to him fouling — and other occasions where he failed to box out or even bother getting into rebounding position; and that is just unacceptable. Although many are seeing Andre Drummond’s potential to be a game-changer on both ends of the floor, it’s still important that the team’s best player and the one with the skills to be the defensive anchor act as such.
With that said, the Georgetown product is now entering his third year in the league and big men can take time to truly blossom defensively as evidenced by Tyson Chandler and Andrew Bynum’s recent seasons, but it’s still important that he figures things out defensively if the Monroe-Knight tandem is going to be anything beyond average, good or great.
Keep your eyes on the synergy between them, it might just be the most important one on the team.