Detroit Pistons coach Lawrence Frank often says merit determines playing time on his teams.
Four Pistons have earned a rotation spot — presumably based on merit, considering Frank is the one setting the lineup — at power forward or center this season: Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, Jason Maxiell and Jonas Jerebko. Of the six possible pairings among those players, five have seen the court.
The one that hasn’t? You already know. It’s Monroe-Drummond.
This is incredibly perplexing and frustrating and, at this point, it must be more than a coincidence. Jerebko and Maxiell don’t complement each other extremely well, but even they earned a few minutes together against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, as the game’s flow bent Frank’s rotation. Surely, unless Frank is intentionally avoiding a Monroe-Drummond combination, it would have happened by now.
Monroe and Drummond both have earned playing time, so Frank wouldn’t have to break his merit rules to play them together. It’s not like I’m necessarily calling for Drummond to start. Frank would only have to tweak his rotation — something as simple as Drummond entering the game for Maxiell before Monroe leaves the court in each half — to make the pairing happen.
So why haven’t Monroe and Drummond played together? Unfortunately, Frank has offered only vague explanations, and we’re left with guesses.
Here’s mine: Frank wants the Pistons focused on the present, not the future.