- Teams: Charlotte Bobcats (8-24) at Detroit Pistons (13-22)
- Date: January 6, 2013
- Time: 7:30 p.m.
- Television: Fox Sports Detroit
What to look for
The Pistons have a chance to close out a 5-0 homestand tonight against the worst of the five teams they face on that homestand. With Charlotte in town, this seems like as good a time as any to re-address a mini-rant I had earlier in the season, comparing the Bobcats favorably to the Pistons. The premise was basically that the Bobcats knew what they were, had committed to letting youth sink or swim and hired a coach specifically because his specialty was player development:
There is actually practical evidence of bad teams doing the right things to get better. The Charlotte Bobcats are owned by Michael Jordan, who might be the most competitive person (and most fashionable person) in the history of humanity. Via ESPN Chicago, check out these comments from Jordan about the Bobcats:
He knows it won’t be a quick, easy process.
“Are we a playoff team? C’mon, we can’t expect that,” Jordan said Thursday. “But we need to get the ball rolling in the right direction. I’m not real happy about the record book scenario last year. It’s very, very frustrating.”
See how he did that? Most people hate losing, so I understand where Gores was coming from in his ‘playoffs’ comments. But, as Jordan demonstrates, you can hate losing and still be realistic. Charlotte came into the season with low expectations. They added more young players through the draft and a couple of stopgap veterans on the cheap, not with burdensome long-term contracts. When they made one trade for a burdensome long-term contract, they picked up an asset (a future first round pick … the team who helped them do that shall remain nameless). They knew they’d be young, they knew they wanted to play and develop their young players, so they made an outside-the-box hire and brought in a relatively unknown coach (by NBA standards at least) in Mike Dunlap whose specialty is — get this — young player development. The bar was set low for them, and guess what? They’ve rolled with their young players, errors and all, and started the season 6-4. I certainly don’t think that will hold up, but imagine being a fan of that team. If you’d spent an offseason hearing angry but realistic comments from front office personnel and ownership who hate losing every bit as much as fans do then your team had a strong start while playing intriguing young guys in big roles, you’d be extremely happy, right? The Bobcats set themselves up to exceed expectations.
Since that time, of course, the Bobcats have fallen back to where they should be and the Pistons have played well enough of late that they’re getting closer to being at the level record-wise most expected them to be at. Although I’m certainly happy that the Pistons are playing better basketball since that low, low point that I linked to, I’m most happy that Andre Drummond, in particular, is earning a bigger role and more trust and that underperforming veterans like Corey Maggette aren’t still being relied on by Lawrence Frank. A win tonight and a give-game win streak heading into the team’s next game at Milwaukee on Friday will certainly be welcome, but even without the wins, it’s much easier to watch this team as the younger players are relied on incrementally more.