How dare the Pistons ruin Military Night like this? The team honors veterans before the game, and then subjects them to watching THAT?
The Pistons starters scored 29 points and shot a combined 11-for-25 in a 109-88 loss to the Clippers Friday. They just narrowly edged the previous season-low for the starting five of 31 points against Miami Dec. 1.
I mean, I don’t think I really need to break down what went wrong. So instead, I’ll let Twitter handle tonight’s recap:
"From Ben Gulker: “The CLIPPERS are shooting 60% against us. Wow. Wow. Wow.”From Steve Kays: “Stuckey and Rip w/ less combined PTs than Ryan Gomes. #Pistons”From Dave Hogg: “The Clippers have given up at least 100 points in every road game this season. Pistons haven’t broken 70 yet.”From Vince Ellis: “This might top Raptors loss. #Pistons.”From Mateen Cleaves: “Blake Griffin just did a 360 and 1 it was crazy. Wait until you see highlights the young boy is sick”From Austin Daye: “Mom tacos best food on the planet”"
That about sums things up. And Austin Daye‘s dinner sounds delicious.
Is there no end to this?
I’ve been about as positive as it gets when it comes to the Pistons, and maintaining this site kind of requires that I keep watching. But damn. How do you follow up your absolute best performance of the season with the absolute worst, against what many considered the worst team in the league? At home? (Seriously … go back and click that link and read Feldman’s headline. “Reproducible.” Haha. He was so naive back then, two days ago.)
But here are a few things, based on this game, that I would like to see over the next few games. I don’t think these things would help the team win. I do think these things are worth trying because they’d be mildly interesting, which is about all the Pistons can hope for right now. Here goes:
• Drastically reduced roles for Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. Nothing personal, guys. Great memories. They still play pretty good some nights, too. But it’s time. There’s no future here, and seeing Prince and Hamilton go out on a nightly basis is just a sad reminder of how far the team has fallen since they were key components of a contender. I don’t dislike either player. They’ve both made innumerable contributions to Detroit basketball, and both still deserve to play and, hopefully, get moved to contending teams to jumpstart careers that have stagnated. I feel bad for Prince, in particular, who is in an unworkable situation at just 29-years-old and in a contract year. As the Pistons primary offensive option most nights, he’s set up to fail. That’s not what his value is as a NBA player, and ultimately, he’s going to fall short in that role.
• Drastically bigger roles for Ben Gordon and Daye. As convinced as I now am that Prince and Hamilton must be moved for their sake and the team’s sake, I’m equally unconvinced that Gordon or Daye are long-term pieces. Frankly, neither player has done enough in limited minutes to justify primary roles on the team. But either guy could be a future piece. Now is the time to find out. I would like to see Gordon start and Daye get good minutes backing up the two and three spots every night. It’s audition time. If Gordon is as good as he’s being paid to be, prove it. If Daye has the upside certain commenters at PistonPowered who shall remain nameless think he has, prove it.
• Tracy McGrady as the focal point of the offense. I’ve already laid out the case in-depth. But this is the Cliffs Notes version: McGrady has occasionally looked like the old McGrady. He’s occasionally looked like a very competent veteran role player. Occasionally, he just looks really old. The point is, I don’t know what he is. The Pistons need to find out what they have, whether or not he can be the primary option on a team and do it efficiently still, whether they want to try and pick up something for him in a trade or whether he’s worth signing to another deal if others are traded. Ready or not, it’s time.
• Will Bynum should get a chance to be the team’s primary point guard. I don’t know what you do with Rodney Stuckey, frankly. Play him backup minutes at all three perimeter spots. Trade him. DNP-CD. Whatever. It’s not that he’s having a bad season. In fact, he’s having his best season. It’s just that his best season is still not good enough to lead a good team and still not good enough to invest a major long-term extension in this offseason. Bynum is signed to a reasonable deal for a backup point guard, he’s appeared healthier over the last couple weeks and he’s stated on numerous occasions that he wants to be a starting point guard. Maybe he’s not. But let him try. There’s no harm in it right now.
These aren’t things that are likely to happen. But John Kuester has tried several subtle lineup changes that have largely yielded the same results. The next step might have to be something more drastic.