– The turmoil the Detroit Pistons (14-20) have endured this season has taken a toll on both the players and coaches, is it time to part ways with Head Coach Maurice Cheeks?
As Detroit continues to reel in the middle of the weaker part of their schedule, is it time to panic in the Motor City? With losses to the Orlando Magic (10-23), Washington Wizards twice (14-17), and most recently the struggling Grizzlies (15-18) without the 2013 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol, all but one in double-digit fashion.
Detroit, now third in the Central Division behind the Chicago Bulls (14-18) and the NBA’s best record the Indiana Pacers (27-6), continues to slip in the standing as they have now lost seven of eight at home and six of seven overall.
Teams like the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, and Chicago Bulls have started to wake up from their dormant state and that is not a good sign for Cheeks’ crew.
Under Mo Cheeks, Detroit ranks in the doldrums of the NBA in Assists Per Game (23rd) and Points Allowed (102.2) (23rd) as a team, contributing to their poor product on the floor.
To add to the mediocrity that are the Pistons this season, Cheeks historically has not been very successful in his coaching career. He has an all-time coaching record of (298-306) between his stints with the Portland Trailblazers in 2001-2005 (“Jailblazers” Era), and the Philadelphia 76ers in 2005-2008.
The knock on Coach Cheeks early in the season is that he is quite dependent on his starters and lacks making the proper adjustments when the momentum shifts. Only non-starters to appear in 25+ games and average 20+ minutes a game are Kyle Singler and Rodney Stuckey. Part of the reason for that is because of the struggling play of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope resulting in a need for a perimeter presence .
With the exception of KCP (23 MPG), the other four Piston starters average at least 32.5 MPG, Drummond being the lowest as he has struggled with staying out of foul trouble all season.
Many Piston players do not know when they might play, some nights the stretch four in the rotation will be Luigi Datome, then the very next it’s Jonas Jerebko or Charlie Villanueva, there is no consistency in Cheeks’ rotation and that may be a reason for the bench’s poor production outside of Stuckey this season.
Another disappointment for Detroit this season has been the overall game Forward Josh Smith has played this year. Relying on outside jump shots (shooting 25% from three) instead of taking his game into the post where he excels. At the rim in 2013, Josh Smith shot 77.6% from the floor, Smith loves himself some threes, but if Cheeks can somehow discipline Josh into working his game through the post it will help out everybody.
There seems to be a lack of discipline when it comes to Josh’s shot selection throughout games and that may stem down from the coach not being vocal enough on what he wants out of his offense.
Now, if Joe Dumars was to make a coaching change during the season, who would get the nod as interim coach as they search for a successor? In all likelihood, that duty would be handed down to lead Assistant Coach Maz Trakh.
Trakh came with Cheeks from Oklahoma City where they were both assistants on Scott Brooks staff in 2012-2013. His coaching career has span 23 years coaching at the college level, assistant with Long Beach State University, as well as being named head coach at Cabrillo College in California. Trakh has never been a head coach in the NBA but has had some success overseas. Leading Jordan Fastlink in 2005 to the FIBA Asia Club Championship.
With the inexperience on the Piston coaching staff, Dumars may be forced to have a longer leash with Cheeks before making any rash decisions.
Coaches that will be on the market next season vary from former Head Coach for the perennial Western Conference power Memphis Grizzlies Lionel Hollins, along with 2012-2013 coach of the year George Karl. Not saying Detroit will land one of the two, just simply saying there are other options.
Let your voice be heard on how you think Maurice Cheeks has done with the Pistons thus far this year in the comment section below.
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