Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.
1. Is Andre Drummond or Kevin Love more valuable to his team right now?
Dan Feldman, PistonPowered: Love. It’s close, but he gets the edge for two reasons. First and simply, he’s better. Like Drummond, Love is incredibly efficient, but Love has a broader skillset that makes him more effective. Secondly, the Pistons — with Greg Monroe and Josh Smith — have better alternative big men. Love makes the Timberwolves’ offense way better, an effect Drummond hasn’t had on either side of the ball this season.
Tim Thielke, PistonPowered: Drummond, simply because the Pistons have control over him for a lot longer. Kevin Love and Wolves’ management have been rumored to be at odds ever since they drew up his current contract. There’s a good chance he’ll be wearing another uniform soon.
Bill Bohl, A Wolf Among Wolves: Love. He is the center of the Timberwolves’ universe — everything Minnesota does, especially on the offensive end, flows through him. He’s 5th in the NBA in touches per game, the only non-point guard in the top 15 of that category. His outlet passing has gotten a lot of attention early on, but it’s his half court facilitation – from the elbow, from the wings, kicking it out of the post to open shooters – that makes the offense tick. Because opponents have to respect his outside range, the paint is a more open place for Nikola Pekovic to post up and Rubio, Barea and Martin to drive.
2. Would you rather have Drummond or Love for the rest of their careers?
Dan Feldman: Drummond. Love is barely better right now, and he’s five years older. I expect Love to maintain this elite level for several more years, but Drummond is already on Love’s tier and still has plenty of untapped potential. Drummond very well could pass Love in 2014, and even if he never does, Drummond’s youth — and prolonged excellence, even if falls just short’s of Love’s during their primes — gives him the edge.
Tim Thielke: Love. Drummond has more upside, but given his incompetence at the stripe, he is also more exploitable. Ninety-five percent of the time, give me ceiling over floor. But when you’re talking about superstars, you gotta take the sure thing.
Bill Bohl: Without trying to sound too much like a homer (since I live in Minneapolis and write about the Timberwolves), I’d take Love over Drummond for the rest of their respective careers. When you combine Love’s scoring (23.7 per game) and his assists (4.1 per game, nearly double his career average), the sixth-year man is responsible for 31% of the Wolves’ offense. Few power forwards in the league history have possessed his unique skill set – he rebounds (13.7 per game in his career), he posts up, and he can hit perimeter shots (36% on nearly 4 threes per game over the past four seasons).
3. With Minnesota struggling and Detroit finding a little bit of a groove lately to come to similar records, which of the two stars has a better supporting cast?
Dan Feldman: Love. Drummond has more talent around around him, but Love is joined by better-fitting talent. By the end of the season, the answer could change if the Pistons continue developing their chemistry. The tiebreaker for now? Coaching. I’d take Rick Adelman over Maurice Cheeks.
Tim Thielke: The Pistons have more talent on the team, but the Wolves have much better fit. Given that the wording asks about the better supporting cast rather than the better teammates, I’ll have to go with Love. Also, the Wolves’ record is harder to come by than a similar record against predominantly Leastern Conference opponents.
Bill Bohl: How do I put this? I think Detroit’s overall talent is superior to Minnesota’s, but the construction of the Timberwolves as a team makes a lot more sense than the Pistons. In a vacuum, the talents of Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith and Greg Monroe outpace Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekvoic; but in a five-on-five setting, I much prefer how the pieces fit in Minnesota. Rubio facilitates, Martin can play the two-man game on the wings, and Pekovic is the perfect high-low partner for Love. Not to mention Corey Brewer’s ability to leak out and cut off the ball, which has led to some easy baskets for the Wolves.