Three more thoughts on the Rudy Gay trade

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

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HoopSpeak Network

Andre Drummond is on the march

When Greg Monroe jokingly suggested that Andre Drummond’s nickname should be “Big Penguin,” he certainly wasn’t taking into account Drummond’s enormous wingspan and habit of flying through the air to snatch his meals high above the rim.

And as Drummond entered the 2012 Draft, that he possessed these physical abilities seemed to be the only givens about his game. Questions were everywhere: Would he be in shape? Did he love basketball enough to improve some of his glaring weaknesses (he is only shooting 40 percent from the free throw line)? Was he Kwame Brown or Dwight Howard?

For now, stop looking for the nuances and artistry traditionally associated with franchise big men. Here’s what counts: Andre Drummond can dunk and rebound at the highest level in the NBA.

Look at this comparison to Team USA starting center Tyson Chandler’s numbers this year, focusing on per/36 numbers and advanced stats. (Click image to enlarge.)

The two big men have identical PERs and Drummond is already a better rebounder and shot blocker, while fouling and turning the ball over at virtually the same rate.  Basically, many advanced stats suggest at 19 years old, Drummond is a consistent free throw shot away from mimicking Chandler’s production.

Of course, Drummond is still a long, long ways from understanding team defensive concepts well enough to improve consistently defensive patch holes left by his weaker teammates the way Chandler does. Sure Drummond blocks and alters shots — sometimes from out of nowhere like a shark exploding out of the ocean with a seal in its jaws — however the Pistons don’t play better defense with him on the court.

But no one should expect 18 year olds to deliver on defense. Even a player like Kevin Garnett, who will likely be remembered as

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The Next Thunder: Rankings

Oklahoma City handed the NBA a blueprint, should GMs choose to copy it: Strip your team down to nothing, reap high lottery picks, play those youngsters.

Simple enough, right? Luck is needed for this to be replicable, but providence isn’t to blame for why we so rarely see an OKC plan executed. The problem is that losing in the short term goes against instinct. Winning is a tonic, it’s addictive, you need it. And like any addiction, the compulsion to win now makes a man lose perspective. Coaches bench rookies in pursuit of short term ends, sacrificing youth development to the altar of a “10th seed” season. Sacrificing youth development is bad enough, but a higher win total usually means a lower draft choice–so now the coach is sabotaging the future on two fronts. Those bastards.

But perhaps OKC’s success will usher in a new era of strategic tanking. The NBA certainly heralded as much with their Hornets house cleaning. Organic, restrained, League Pass friendly growth might just be in these days.

So with a bulging eye towards the future, I rank my Thunder Potential teams for 2012. These are currently bad squads, primed to grow splendidly if they can ward off a coach’s short term compulsion.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (Cumulonimbus) There was much garments-rending over how LeBron left Cleveland in rancid shambles, but few noted the bizarre NBA paradox: Rancid shambles = where you want to be in this league. Rank failure is rewarded, and handsomely so. The upstart Cavs now sport the first and fourth picks from 2011. With Baron Davis amnestied, and Antawn Jamison expiring, Cleveland will have ample financial room going forward.

Despite widespread assertions to the contrary, I believe that Kyrie Irving has superstar potential. Tristan Thompson looks like he could become a valuable

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Zach Attacks: Multiplicity


From December 12th to opening night, I’ll be releasing a random essay on each team in the league. This post is about the Detroit Pistons. You can follow the series with the “2011-12 Team Previews” and “Zach Attacks” tags at the bottom of the page.

I don’t know that Multiplicity is the best Michael Keaton movie, but it’s probably the one I could re-watch the most out of any of them.

The Dream Team and Night Shift are definitely in the running. It’s hard to pass up a movie about a prostitution ring being held in a morgue or a movie about four mental patients who have to save their hospitalized doctor from being murdered because he’s a witness. Also, both of the Batman movies he did were pretty entertaining, especially when you factor in Jack Nicholson’s Jack Nicholson-ness in the first one and Christopher Walken being in the second movie. And of course, Beetlejuice still has plenty of laughs and entertainment nearly 25 years later.

However, Multiplicity is still the movie that gets me every time I watch it.

The premise is pretty basic. A husband and father of two children simply doesn’t have the time in his life to figure out a difficult and tedious work situation whilst juggling being attentive and helpful in his marriage and present to help raise his kids. He’s spread far too thin in his everyday life.

Naturally, he does what any contractor would do in his situation: he stumbles upon a medical clinic that specializes in human cloning. Now maybe you’re wondering where this world is that is capable of figuring out such a mind-blowing medical procedure. Maybe you’re trying to figure out how such an endeavor would be readily available with such a low cost and miniscule prep time. How can a man find the time to get cloned without anybody catching wind of this? The confidentiality agreement alone must take weeks to draw up and review with teams of attorneys.

Well, calm down because it’s just a movie.
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Draft Banter: Detroit Pistons

Team: Detroit Pistons

2011 Draft Assets: 1st (#8), 2nd (#33 & #52)

2012 Draft Assets: 1st, 2nd, 2nd (From Houston)

DraftExpress Mock Selection(s):

#8 – Jonas Valanciunas – Lietuvos Rytas (Profile)

#33 – Josh Selby (SG) – Kansas (Profile)

#52 – Isaiah Thomas (PG) – Washington (Profile)

Chad Ford’s Mock Selection(s):

#8 – Bismack Biyombo (PF) – Baloncesto Fuenlabrada (Profile)

#33 – Jimmy Butler (SG/SF) – Marquette (Profile)

#52 – Shelvin Mack (PG) – Butler (Profile)

Roster Analysis:

UFA’s of Significance: Tayshaun Prince, Chris Wilcox, Tracey McGrady

RFA’s of Significance: Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko

That their three highest paid players are candidates for the proposed Amnesty Clause in the new CBA pretty much says it all about where the Piston’s roster stands. Greg Monroe surpassing all expectations and putting up a monster rookie season has provided a glimmer of hope for Detroit. But 2011 calls for Jason Maxiell, Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon, and Charlie Villanueva to be paid 45.8 million dollars, so there is still plenty of work to be done. Priority number one for the new Piston’s ownership must be finding a way to extricate themselves from the tangled mess of contracts that currently inhabit their books.

Needs: Ball-movers/distributors, frontcourt athleticism

“Safe” scenario: This lottery pick provides Detroit with a great opportunity to pair the 21 year old Monroe with another young talent as the Pistons continue to rebuild. Jonas Valanciunas, Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo, and Tristan Thompson are the four names that have been tied to Detroit’s draft spot. DraftExpress has them selecting Valanciunas, which would be a major steal—it’s rare to find a potential franchise center at #8.

Thompson and Biyombo are the perfect example of the floor-ceiling debate that David Thorpe likes to reference when talking of prospects. The consensus is that Biyombo’s ceiling is

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Assessing the collateral damage of the rumored Carmelo Anthony trade

"It's always been a dream of mine to live in Newark!"

I’m not alone in observing that former players don’t always make the best commentators, and in some cases perpetuate erroneous information and outdated mores. But there are extremely bright spots as well, such as the quirky and somewhat subversive Brent Barry.

On NBA TV Sunday night, as the rumors of a bi-conference, tri-time zone mega-trade hit the web, Barry and Steve Smith were asked what they thought about the proposed deal involving Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Derrick Favors and at least nine other players.  Instead of answering whether the swaps “made sense” for the teams and stars involved, Barry felt compelled to defend the dignity of the minor players that would make the trade possible.

Barry pointed our that should the deal indeed go through, a gallery of players you may have never heard of like Quinton Ross, Anthony Morrow, Ben Uzoh, and Stephen Graham will be transplanted, along with their families, to a new home, school district, mortgage and community. The man we affectionately called “Bones” in Seattle shook his head and reminded the show’s host and audience that being an ancillary part of such a trade can be a major bummer.

It’s not without reason that we by and large consider NBA players to be the privileged few. They have been given enormous size and talents and are compensated in millions of dollars for displaying their abilities before the public. But the demands of their lifestyle are often viewed only from the positive side “they get all that cash, fly around in first class, travel the country, and are paid play hoops when they aren’t balling out off the court!”

This opinion is understandable, but I have to think being traded can

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Would Michael Jordan Really Score More In 2010?

Last week, Michael Jordan told USA Today that he would wild out even harder in the today’s NBA. Said Jordan, “It’s less physical and the rules have changed, obviously. Based on these rules, if I had to play with my style of play, I’m pretty sure I would have fouled out or I would have been at the free throw line pretty often and I could have scored 100 points.”

I’m not going to dwell on the actual quotation too much. His Airness was giving this interview to promote a video game, after all, and with a little more thought he probably would have concluded that both he and his opponents would modify their play to prevent a foulapalooza. I’m even going to (sort of) look past his depressing need to put down today’s stars in a misguided attempt to pump up his own legacy. Instead, I wondered if the changes in the NBA since the late 80′s and early 90′s, his scoring peak, really would benefit his scoring totals.

Could Jordan score 100 points today? No chance. But could Jordan average 40?

He put up 37.09/gm against supposedly more physical and therefore difficult defenses in 1987, so is it possible that he’d score 10pts more per game than last year’s NBA scoring leader, Kevin Durant? Would his scoring onslaughts be unstoppable because of new rule changes, or would the advances in defensive schemes actually make it more difficult for him to score?

To find out, I compared the NBA in 1989, one of Jordan’s very best statistical seasons (32.5pts, 8.0 asst, 14.2 offensive win shares, 33.7 usage%) to 2010′s NBA. In 1989, the most feared and famous defense was that of the eventual NBA Champion Detroit Pistons. That year, the Bad Boys

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