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. With holidays upon us, what should ________ set as his New Year’s Resolution?
Dan Feldman: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can take fewer long 2s. Caldwell-Pope is taking 24.8 percent of his shots from between 16 feet and the 3-point arc, most among the Pistons’ rotation players. But he’s making just 26.0 percent of them, lowest among Pistons who’ve attempted a 3-pointer besides only Kyle Singler and Greg Monroe. Through the Pistons’ first dozen games, Caldwell-Pope was making fewer than a quarter of his 3-point attempts. So, I understood Caldwell-Pope taking a step forward to build his confidence. But it hasn’t worked. He’s shooting 31.7 percent on his 3s, 5.7 percentage points higher than he is on long 2s. Might as well take the step back, get an extra point per make and space the floor better.
Tim Thielke: Josh Smith should go hard to the basket over and over and over, stop shooting jumpers, and take more hook shots. Hat tip to Jakob Eich; since his article, I’ve been noticing how often those go in.
Brady Fredericksen: Monroe needs to figure out his defensive issues. There’s plenty of good that Monroe brings to the table, but his defense has been so bad this season. It’s almost like he’s been sprayed by an anti-defense skunk. Yeah, he’s no Blake Griffin when it comes to athleticism and he’s no Roy Hibbert when it comes to rim protection, but that doesn’t excuse you from bad defense. There are plenty of plodding big men who aren’t high-flyers out there — you can always be a good positional defender. That’s something he needs to improve on if he wants to avoid becoming a punchline after someone pays him handsomely this summer.
2. Can any current Pistons’ help him achieve this resolution quickly?
Dan Feldman: Smith. If Smith can cut down his long 2s, so can Caldwell-Pope. Obviously, Smith sees why 3s are more efficient. If he wants to be a team leader, he can share the knowledge with a player who needs it.
Tim Thielke: Yes, every Piston has to get on Smith about his perimeter shooting. If his teammates were constantly telling him they’ll go far out of their way to feed him the ball for drives and hooks and begging him not to shoot jumpers, you’d have to figure that would have some impact on Smith.
Brady Fredericksen: Smith and Andre Drummond. The easiest way to hide a bad defender is to provide him with adequate help, literally. Drummond is far from a perfect rim protector — and Smith can’t really be one as a wing — but those guys can surely be of assistance to Monroe. This is a team defense issue, though. Golden State still plays well defensively despite the fact that they’ve got their own defensive sieve in David Lee. If your supporting cast defends well, even a poor individual defender can look serviceable.
3. How can Maurice Cheeks make this fictional resolution happen?
Tim Thielke: Stop playing Smith so many minutes alongside both Monroe and Drummond. Play him at PF with just one of those two.