USA TODAY Sports
Greetings, Pounders. I've returned from a somewhat lengthy posting hiatus to bring you a treat. Not just any treat, mind you, but a question and answer session with one of the better (best) minds in the blogosphere: Mike Payne from Detroit Bad Boys. He also asked me some questions about the Spurs, and you can find those over there. We've got a long tradition of intermingling with DBB, and that tradition continues below. Feel free to comment here and join thee conversation over there: I can assure you that if you consider PtR as your home, you'll quickly establish DBB as a vacation house.
Now, for the q&a:
Andre Drummond is pretty awesome. How would you rate him compared to other rookies this season (say, I don't know...Anthony Davis) and other big man rookies from previous years? Who does he play like, where does he still need to improve, and what does the future look like having both him and Greg Monroe?
Drummond has been an absolute dream, a rare statistical-standout that has been head-and-shoulders above his draft class so far. Pick your advanced metric poison (Win Shares per 48, PER, Wins Produced per 48), he's the top dog. In fact, he's the current league leader in WP48 amongst players who have had any significant playing time, a hair ahead of Chris Paul. Even in his limited burn, registering only 20 minutes per game, he's been a gem, averaging 7 points, 8 rebounds, a steal and two blocks. To put that in context, he's roughly even with Anthony Davis in rebounds and blocks per game but in 9 less minutes per contest.
He's already the rookie of the year in our hearts, of course, but the NBA isn't in the habit of giving that award to the guy who deserves it most.
One thing Spurs fans will probably wonder-- why the hell isn't this guy in the starting lineup? It's been a topic of debate over at DetroitBadBoys since game one. As for the official story, here are the cliff's notes: the organization immediately said they'd bring him along very slowly, he's been on record saying he's struggled with conditioning and adjusting to NBA rigors, his teammates (well, ex-teammate Tayshaun Prince) say he struggles quite a bit in practice, and finally, his back has been acting up after first flaring up in training camp. If it weren't for the recent back issue, which took him out of the last two games early, his playing time trajectory might have pointed to a first career start immediately after the All Star break. If the Pistons wind up trading a frontcourt player before the deadline (Jason Maxiell is a prime target), Drummond could wind up in the starting lineup anyway. There will be much rejoicing.
Last thing, you asked about a future having Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond up front. The whole project hinges on Greg Monroe being able to transition to power forward, and personally, I'm bullish. He has a history of being a quick-study, of quickly getting his head around new tasks and excelling in no time. He's already proven that he can handle defending perimeter-minded bigs, so an adjustment to stretch defense won't be a problem. While he's having a down year in terms of efficiency from range, he has established a decent jump shot earlier in his career that he can build on going forward. In terms of spacing the floor next to Drummond, he can pair an improved jump shot with an ability to facilitate from the high post. He's always been an incredibly skilled player, and the evidence that he can flourish at power forward is much greater than any subjective concerns that he cannot. In short, most fans have already penciled these two in as Detroit's frontcourt of the future, and we hope that future will last a very long time.
The Pistons are currently seven games behind the Boston Celtics for the eighth seed in the Eastern conference. Is it likely Detroit makes a run at the playoffs this season? What are your reasons for either being hopeful/optimistic or not as hopeful/pessimistic?
I wasn't even remotely optimistic until the recent trade, but my opinion has completely changed. If the team fields the right starting lineup after the All Star Game (Calderon, Stuckey, Singler, Monroe and Drummond), I would imagine that Detroit would be likely to slide past Indiana and Boston to climb into the 8th seed. They might even steal a game from Miami in the first round.
You recently traded away Tayshaun Prince and excellent tall guy Austin Daye to bring in Jose Calderon. I know it's a small sample, but how has that trade effected the Pistons thus far, and how do you expect it to effect them going forward? Specifically, what does it mean for Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, and Will Bynum?
I'm thrilled about this trade for a few reasons. First, it filled the team's gaping need for a guy who can actually run a five man offense at the point. That wound has been wide open since the Billups/Iverson trade back in 2008. Calderon has his flaws, and he's not a young player at 31-years-old, but he does precisely what Detroit needs and I'm confident he can do it for quite a while. He's a hair behind Chris Paul in assist-to-turnover ratio this year, and he's shooting a blinding 43% from the perimeter. He has two of the league's most productive (but unrealized) pick-and-roll big men in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, and after these players get comfortable, their game will be very, very difficult to defend.
Then there's the good old addition-by-subtraction. Having kept the weakest link of the 2004 championship team for about 6 years too long, Joe Dumars finally parted ways with Tayshaun Prince. It is absurd that Prince led the Pistons in shot attempts last season, a guy who has no business being more than a 4th option on offense. The 11 shots per game Prince attempted this season (which would be good for 3rd most on the Spurs) will now fall to younger, more deserving players like Greg Monroe, Kyle Singler and others.
Last, this trade signaled an important admission from Detroit's front office-- that Brandon Knight may not, in fact, be a point guard.
Is Detroit done dealing for now, or are we likely to see more deals before the deadline?
I talked about this recently, and if Detroit wants to make some more moves, they have plenty of opportunities to explore. Is another move likely? I'm not sure-- Dumars talked about avoiding any moves that add salary commitments, and technically his recent trade was in line with that statement. Moving any of the team's expiring players for a longer commitment may not be in the cards. I don't know if I understand that, however, because if Joe holds the expiring salaries he'll probably blow his free agent purse on his Nth bad signing in a row.
Finally, who wins a fight between Detroit Bad Boy Charlie Villaneuva and San Antonio's resident tough guy, Matt Bonner?
Better question: who makes a better sandwich? My money is on Matt Bonner, although "Chunky Charlie" didn't get chunky on accident. In a real fight, however, I could see Matt and Charlie having a weird DBB/PTR Seinfeld moment and honoring their doppleganger qualities. Instead of fighting each other, they direct their anger where it belongs. Kevin Garnett, obviously.
Much, much rejoicing.
My pleasure as always, brother MFSFS! Now, some questions for you:
In order to see his questions and my answers, you're going to have to go over to Detroit Bad Boys, where you will be welcomed with open arms, red pandas, and, if you're unlucky, rhino poop.