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. When he was signed this summer, Luigi Datome was hailed as a great shooter… well, that hasn’t been the case yet. What’s his almost-midseason grade?
Dan Feldman: Datome was signed to stretch floor, but he’s made just 6-of-31 3-pointers, giving him a worse percentage from beyond the arc than Chris Andersen. His defense has actually been good enough to get a dead-eye shooter on the floor. He just hasn’t shown he can shoot. Maybe he would shoot better with more-consistent minutes, but he hasn’t shown himself to be deserving of a bigger opportunity. Datome is caught in a catch-22. GRADE: F
Brady Fredericksen: Datome’s been a ‘shooter’ who can’t really shoot thus far in his Pistons’ career. That’s probably not totally his fault — he’s proven throughout his European career that he is a good shooter — but the situation he’s been in has hurt him. There aren’t many Brent Barrys or Kyle Korvers floating around who can just jump on the court and be automatic from deep. Datome isn’t that guy, but shooters need shots and court time to find their rhythm, and Datome’s limitations defensively have made it hard to put him on the floor for long stretches. GRADE: D-
Tim Thielke: Datome was signed for one reason: to be a shooter. I still think he can be a very good shooter in this league (the ball just looks so pretty going up). But so far, the results have been miserable. He is 6-of-31 from downtown. Of players who have attempted at least 30 threes, only Tyreke Evans’ 7-of-37 is worse. His 20-for-42 from two and 2-for-4 from the stripe are not good either. And his D has been as bad as advertised. Grade: F
2. Jonas Jerebko has had an up-and-down career in Detroit, and this season has been another inconsistent one for the once promising forward. How does he grade out, so far?
Dan Feldman: Jerebko’s shot selection has improved immensely, leading to career-best 55 percent shooting on 2s and 45 percent shooting on 3s. But what’s happened to his offensive rebounding, which was once his best skill? And why is he turning the ball over at a disturbingly high rate? I suspect both would regress toward his career averages in a larger sample, but for now, they weigh down his grade. GRADE: D+
Brady Fredericksen: He’s a victim of circumstance right now. Could Jerebko be a player who can help the Pistons every night? Of course. Has he chilled out and gone back to the scrappy player he burst onto the scene as? Surprisingly, yes. But with the minutes at both forward spots being occupied by guys who are better (Josh Smith, Greg Monroe) or a better fit (Kyle Singler, Datome) he’s just kind of stuck where he is. GRADE: C
Tim Thielke: Jerebko has mostly fallen out of the rotation this season so he has to get docked for that. But when he has played, he’s done everything we could ask of him and more. His 52/45/71 splits are terrific. All his per-minute stats are at career highs (so career bests apart from TOs). And he has gone back to making hustle plays. However, Jerebko is on the books for $4.5M and has played 201 minutes. That’s pretty bad. GRADE: B-
3. To say that Charlie Villanueva hasn’t been a fan favorite in Detroit is, um, an understatement. Playing out the final year of his contract, what grade has he earned at the almost-midway point?
Dan Feldman: Guess who leads the Pistons in shots per minute. After ceding the crown to Will Bynum last season, Villanueva is back on top. Villanueva is probably playing the worst basketball of his career. He’s stopped rebounding, at least for a player his size. Chauncey Billups is the only Piston who has taken a higher percentage of his shots from beyond the arc. Considering Villanueva has made only 24 percent of his 3s, that’s really killed his productivity. On the bright side, he hasn’t stood out as particularly inept defensively, but that’s probably only because he hasn’t been on the court long enough to make a mark on that end. GRADE: F
Brady Fredericksen: All I have to say about Charlie V at this point is that he’s playing for his NBA livelihood, he’s playing on a team literally desperate for guys who can simply put the ball in the hoop from 3-point range — and he’s failed miserably so far on both accounts. GRADE: F
Tim Thielke: Villanueva has also mostly fallen out of the rotation. The difference between him and Jerebko is that when he has seen the floor, he’s done everything the opponent could ask of him and more. His 39/23/60 splits are terrible. His per-minute rebounding is at a career low and his turnovers nearly a high. He doesn’t defend or make hustle plays. And he’s on the books for $8.5M and has played 109 minutes. That’s really, really bad. GRADE: F-