With so many reaction pieces flying around about the Rudy Gay trade to the Raptors, it’s easy to think everything has been covered. But here are some thoughts, one for each team involved, that were left undiscussed.
1. The Pistons didn’t just dump salary, they got better
Detroit is just 17-29 and traded their last player synonymous with winning (Tayshaun Prince) in the deal so I get why it’s easy to write this team off. But despite that poor record, the sorry state of the Eastern Conference has the Pistons ‘only’ 5 ½ games behind the Rondo-less Celtics with just under half the season remaining.
With Calderon in the fold, I don’t think it’s all that insane to suggest this Pistons team — especially if aided by another move that breaks up the sieve-like frontcourt of Jason Maxiell and Greg Monroe — could make a run at a playoff spot. Though their new Spaniard’s defensive issues will be more apparent without active bigs like Amir Johnson and Ed Davis behind him, Calderon’s presence fixes a lot of issues dogging the team, most notably the uninspiring play of Rodney Stuckey.
All season long, the struggling guard has been like a square peg trying to be jammed in a round hole. To start the year, Stuckey was paired with with second-year guard Brandon Knight (another player who thrives off dribble penetration) and Prince (who posted up more than spotted up). Being forced to play off the ball with two non-shooting bigs in the frontcourt essentially sealed Stuckey’s fate before he played a minute.
Things got slightly better when he was moved to the bench with the exciting second unit I profiled on Grantland. There Stuckey was still playing second-fiddle to Will Bynum, but at the very least he had space to
Following a season in which DeMar DeRozan’s scoring production more than doubled and his PER improved significantly, Toronto Raptors fans had every reason to be excited for the shooting guard’s third year. But so far, DeRozan has struggled to build on last season’s gains. DeRozan’s scoring is down and his PER is at an all-time low, but the most alarming trend has been DeRozan’s sudden affinity for his jump shot, never the strongest part of his game.
As James Herbert points out on Raptors Republic, DeRozan’s perimeter shooting has taken a leap forward, as he’s connecting on a career-best 32% from beyond the arc on nearly four times as many attempts per game as he launched last season. The uptick in deep shooting is heartening, but when we take a holistic look at his jumpshooting, it’s clear that DeRozan is still more slasher than shooter.
According to Synergy Sports, DeRozan attempted jumpers on 59% of his possessions last season, shooting a marginal 39% overall. This year he’s settling for jump shots 63% of the time while shooting just 26%, ranking in the bottom 10% of the entire league. In fact, of the 50 players who have taken at least 100 jumpers to this point in the season, DeRozan is dead lead in scoring efficiency at just over .6 points per possession.
It’s a double edge sword of sorts for DeRozan, a gifted athlete who is at his best attacking the rim, but one who needs to expand his arsenal in order to continue succeeding as a player. Beckley Mason touched upon this topic in regards to Blake Griffin, who is suddenly shooting more long twos to better compliment his dunk-or-bust running mate DeAndre Jordan. In order to become a more complete, multi-dimensional player, DeRozan unquestionably needs to develop