Internal Improvement: Lawrence Frank

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 Lawrence Frank.

Defensive concepts

Lawrence Frank was one of my top-two choices to become the Pistons’ coach, 1B to Dwane Casey’s 1A. I liked both for their intelligence, ability to communicate and defensive focus.

Unfortunately, Casey proved himself leaps and bounds ahead of Frank when it came to implementing a quality defense in year one. The Pistons finished 22nd in defensive rating, and Casey’s Raptors ranked 14th.

However, maybe Frank just wasn’t good at coaching during a lockout-shortened season, which could be the case, considering he never bothered to install a zone defense. I hope that was the problem, because that would be an isolated issue and one that’s behind him now.

It was encouraging that the Pistons’ defense improved throughout the season, but until Detroit has a full, good defensive year under Frank, I’ll be a bit worried I overrated his defensive prowess. — D.F.

Play the kids

When Joe Dumars hired Frank as coach, Dumars frequently said he wanted a coach who, despite Dumars’ reputation for burning through coaches every couple years, would be here for the long haul. Since Dumars has also recently discussed he wouldn’t put a goal of making the playoffs on such a young team, that would also suggest Frank has some security. As such, I’d like to see him less reliant on veteran players this season, particularly Tayshaun Prince and Jason Maxiell. I wouldn’t want those players removed from the rotation entirely or anything drastic like that, but Andre Drummond and the team’s collection of young wings should all get opportunities at extended minutes.

Of course, all of the job security talk could be rhetoric. USA Today listed Frank as a coach on the hot seat. So if that’s truly the case, if Frank feels pressure to win now, I think we can expect to see more of the same when it comes to playing veterans at the expense of developing young players. — P.H.

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