Saturday, May 31, 2014

2014 Season Review: Rodney Stuckey

Rodney Stuckey has been unfortunate enough to be around for the duration of the downswing of the Detroit Pistons.  After being taken 15th overall in 2007, Stuckey tasted the playoffs in 2008 and 2009, making an Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 2008 and getting swept by the Cavaliers the next year.  This would be the high point of Stuckey's career in a Pistons uniform as the franchise was sold in the following years and hasn't sniffed the playoffs since.  The Pistons went 238-336 (.316) in Stuckey's run with the team, a winning percentage that would be much worse if he had come on a year later.  Stuckey was a lightning rod for criticism in his tenure in Detroit.  Some times it was well-deserved (issues with numerous coaches come to mind), and others it wasn't (his play is often ridiculed, but for the most part was at least average).  His career in Detroit appears to finally be over, as he is an Unrestricted Free Agent this offseason and hardly fits in Stan Van Gundy's offensive philosophy.

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2014 Season Review: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

The turmoil that was the Pistons season likely took a pick on their younger players, and no other player saw the type of role fluctuation that KCP saw last year.  As the starting SG early in the season, Caldwell-Pope got an opportunity to showcase his talents.  As the season progressed and pressure began to mount on Cheeks and Dumars, he played less minutes in favor of more experienced players, like Kyle Singler and Rodney Stuckey.  Once the season was a lost cause, KCP got heavy minutes once again, capping his year with a tremendous 30 point performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder.  However, KCP also had a fair amount of games where he was a complete non-factor.  There were 7 games in the 2013-14 season where KCP managed to score zero points in over ten minutes of game action.  He tallied 18 games total with zero points regardless of minutes.  Still, KCP showed some promise at both ends and will look to build on a decent, though unspectacular, rookie season going into his second year.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

2014 Season Review: Will Bynum

I'll just admit before I start this that Will Bynum is one of my least favorite Pistons of the past decade.  I don't find his style of play to be all that beneficial or entertaining, and I think his insistence on trying to isolate on seemingly every possession tends to kill any momentum the team may have going.  His lone brightside is his ability to throw lobs to Andre Drummond.  To me, he ranks right behind Josh Smith as the team's most frustrating player. I'm going to try and be fair here, no promises. /end rant

PER PPG TS% eFG% 3P% TRB% AST% TOV%
14.4 8.7 50.2% 45.1% 32.3% 5.1% 32.5% 17.6%

2013-14 was just another year for Bynum; nothing special, but not a failure either.  In the first year of a two year deal, Bynum had an average year by his standards.  He produced a PER just below his career level, and the same goes for his TS%, eFG% and TO rate.  He made slight improvements in his Assist Rate and Rebounding Rate, although neither were significantly impressive, even for a backup PG.  His minutes per game were right in line with what he has played in past seasons, and his Usage Rate declined from a ridiculous 27% in 2012-13.  While Bynum's numbers are just about where you would expect them to be for a backup PG, his ability to fit within what the Pistons should want from their guards remains a huge question going forward.  His inability to hit threes could cause Stan Van Gundy to shop him this offseason, although there have been no legitimate reports of this being the case yet.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2014 Draft Scouting: Damien Inglis

The sting of the Pistons losing their pick due to the Cavs, of all teams, jumping in the draft lottery still hasn't worn off, but nonetheless it's time to start scouting 2nd round prospects who may pique Stan Van Gundy's interest, assuming Detroit stands pat at 38.  One prospect with the upside to dull the pain of losing this year's first round pick is SF Damien Inglis.  Inglis is projected to go 39th in Jonathan Givony's mock draft for DraftExpress.com, but he's far from a lock to be around when the Pistons pick.  His blend of elite size, athleticism and professional experience in France's highest level of pro ball may price him out of the Pistons' reach.  If he is still there when the Pistons make their first pick, Inglis deserves strong consideration to be their pick.

The thing that stands out the most about Inglis at this point in his career is his pyhsical stature.  At the 2014 Nike Hoop Summit, Inglis measured in at 6'8, 240 lbs with a 7'3 wingspan and massive hands.  At only 19 years old, Inglis' body is well beyond the development of most players his age, which could make him a candidate for early playing time wherever he lands.  Despite being so big and young, Inglis maintains superb athleticism and an adequate skill level that allows him to play on the perimeter.  In his most recent season for Roanne in France's ProA League, Inglis averaged 4.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.0 APG and shot 38.7% from behind the arc.  Those numbers don't necessarily jump off of the screen, but should be seen as impressive for an 18 year old playing at the highest level his country has to offer.  Let's take a deeper look at what makes Inglis intriguing, and some of the reasons he might still be there when the Pistons pick.

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Blog Reset

Things have been a bit hectic lately, and with the developments of the Draft Lottery on Tuesday night, I haven't really been able to/felt like writing a whole lot.  Now that things have settled and I'm done moving large amounts of objects across the state, things will pick back up.  The one thing I did do in the downtime is add a forum to the blog.  Signing up through Nabble is easy and free; the forum will likely remain uncensored and wide open as long as things stay under control.  I'll do my best to add content in there as well, but I would love to build a community of Pistons and basketball fans here, so I would enjoy it if all of you joined in too.  As always, the easiest way to get consistent, updated content from 6CD is by following on Twitter, @Kevin6CD

With the Pistons not having a first round pick, 1st round draft scouting will become non-existent unless specific, legitimate rumors spout up about the team moving back into the first round.  There probably won't be another mock draft until the week or two leading up to the draft because, well, the Pistons don't pick until the 38th spot and 2nd round picks are tough to project.  Did I jinx the Pistons by scouting the 1st round before the pick was locked up?  Absolutely!


For now, 2nd round draft scouting will continue.  Expect to see posts on prospects such as Damien Inglis, DeAndre Daniels, C.J. Wilcox, Spencer Dinwiddie and others that the Pistons appear to have interest in.  These will be in addition to prior 2nd round scouting reports that can be found below:

Mitch McGary
Johnny O'Bryant
Jabari Brown

Also, running well behind schedule is the 2014 Season Review series.  Moving unexpectedly pushed this well past where I wanted it to wrap up, but nonetheless, every player will be covered.  This is mostly selfish because I spent time writing about Luigi Datome and dammit I want to write about Andre Drummond!  Expect the next few to come in the following week.  Previous season reviews can be found here:

Lineup Analysis
Tony Mitchell
Charlie Villanueva
Peyton Siva
Luigi Datome
Chauncey Billups
Josh Harrellson
Jonas Jerebko

Another thing to expect going forward is a breakdown on specific players the Pistons may have an interest in over the course of the off-season.  Most trade targets have already been covered briefly in a pair of posts, but now that we have an idea of what direction the organization is going in, it will be easier to narrow down the targets and really analyze them.  Look for posts on players such as Ray McCallum, Kyle Lowry, O.J. Mayo, Terrence Ross, Jeff Green, Ryan Anderson, Harrison Barnes and possible others.  The list of possible backcourt and frontcourt trade targets can be found at the links below:

Backcourt Trade Targets
Frontcourt Trade Targets

Look for all of these things and more going forward as the blog once again picks the pace back up.  The future of the Pistons looks brighter than it has in the last five years with the hiring of Stan Van Gundy.  This should lead into one of the most exciting seasons of Pistons basketball since the Going to Work crew was broken up when Billups was traded.  I would be honored if you chose to follow the upswing of Detroit basketball with me here at Six Championship Drive, as the team strives to change the address to Seven Championship Drive.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Draft Lottery Tonight: Pistons Sending Nosferatu for Good Luck

Get lost in his eyes, go ahead
As you may well know, the NBA Draft Lottery takes place tonight at 8pm EST on ESPN.  The Pistons will be sending sharpshooting G/F/Vampire Nosferatu as their representative for good luck.  Odds are that the Pistons will be staying put at #8, but here are the probabilities for all possible scenarios:

1st2nd3rd8thLose Pick
2.8%3.3%3.9%72.4%
17.6%

The Pistons lose their pick to the Charlotte Hornets if it isn't in the top-8, so tonight is kind of a big deal.  The Pistons desperately need assets going into the Stan Van Gundy regime, and I think it's fair to say that giving the pick to Charlotte next year is preferable.  The team should improve on this year's finish with a more developed Drummond, a brand new coach and more shooting.  Curse the lottery balls if Detroit loses the pick tonight, because I think that would hurt the franchise in both the short run and the long run more than losing the pick next year.  Thanks for bringing us here Joe!  Here's to hoping that Nosferatu takes a bite out of the lottery tonight!  

/signs off of the internet forever

Monday, May 19, 2014

Why and How the Pistons Need To Get Involved in the Kevin Love Sweepstakes

Kevin Love's recent message to the Timberwolves that he won't sign an extension after this season when his contract expires could be excellent news for the Detroit Pistons.  The Wolves are almost certain to move Love before the start of the season, in order to recoup some value from the All-Star PF. While it's highly unlikely that the Pistons could enter next year with Love on the roster (as close to a 0% chance as could be), Detroit may still be able to benefit from Love being dealt.  The Pistons are currently saddled with two poor contracts that they may be looking to unload, in Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings.  Facilitating a deal that sees Love go to a team that doesn't have an ideal amount of cap space could help the Pistons get out from underneath a year or two of one of their albatross deals signed last summer by Joe Dumars.  The Pistons will have cap room to play with this offseason, and taking on two bad contracts in return for another team taking their one terrible deal could be an option.  Let's take a look at what teams might be landing spots for Love and how the Pistons could get involved in a deal.

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

2014 Draft Scouting - 1st Round - Doug McDermott

While it was already a given that the Pistons would be in search of more perimeter shooting this offseason, that need has certainly been ramped up with the hiring of Stan Van Gundy as the Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations.  The need for players who can space the floor will have to be filled both through free agency and the draft.  As far as shooters in the draft go, it's hard to argue against Doug McDermott being the cream of the crop.  A rare NCAA senior projected to go in the lottery, McDermott connected on 274 of his 598 three-point attempts in his four years at Creighton, good for 45.8%.  While he might be considered a bit of a reach at #8, the Pistons will think long and hard about taking McDermott to instantly upgrade their perimeter shooting.

McDermott's shooting will almost certainly translate to the NBA, but it will be interesting to see if he can also bring his efficient scoring inside the arc with him.  McDermott shot 56.7% on two-point field goals in his senior season, and was just under 59% for his college career inside the arc.  McDermott lacks elite quickness and ball-handling for the SF position, although he was a very skilled post-up player in college.  If he can tighten up his ball-handling and pick his spots, McDermott may very well maintain some of the efficiency he experienced at Creighton.  Measuring in at only 6'6 without shoes and with merely an average wingspan at the NBA Combine has essentially wiped away any chance that McDermott will be used as a small-ball PF in the NBA, so perfecting his perimeter skills is a must.  Let's take a look at some of the specifics on McDermott, and how he might potentially fit with the Pistons...

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2014 Season Review: Jonas Jerebko

Jonas Jerebko may stand to benefit the most from the change in scheme heading into the 2014-15 season, assuming he picks up his $4.5M player option.  Jerebko's skill-set plays into what Stan Van Gundy values in a forward, and he may see more of the consistent minutes that allowed him to flourish after John Loyer took over for the last 32 games of the Pistons season.  Jerebko never seemed to mesh with Mo Cheeks' system early in the year, recording 17 of his 18 DNPs during Cheeks' tenure.  Jerebko averaged 16.1 minutes per game while Loyer was at the helm, as opposed to the 7.4 minutes per game he received under Cheeks.  Jerebko's potential for quality perimeter shooting and his 7'2 wingspan provide the kind of versatility that the Pistons should be more willing to take advantage of going forward.  Here's a look at what Jerebko was able to produce for Detroit in the 2013-14 season:

PER PPG TS% eFG% 3P% TRB% AST% TOV%
13.4 4.2 57.7% 54.6% 41.9% 12.9% 7.8% 15.5%

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Monday, May 12, 2014

2014 Draft Scouting - 1st Round - Nik Stauskas

Anybody who watched the Pistons' failed three big man experiment this season knows that they need more shooting.  It would stand to reason that, whether the Pistons unload one of their starting big men or not, this team needs shooting at all three perimeter positions this offseason.  The lack of efficient scoring options on the perimeter for the Pistons in 2013-14 caused major headaches.  Enter Nik Stauskas, the Big Ten leader in just about everything offense.  Stauskas led college basketball's best conference in points, 3P%, FTA, eFG% and ORtg while finishing second in TS% and minutes played.  Stauskas arguably meant more to the Wolverines than any other major-conference player meant to his team this season.  He chose to take advantage of that huge season and enter the draft, forgoing his final two years of eligibility.


That choice will likely pay off in the form of a lottery pick, as Stauskas ranks safely among the top three SGs in this year's class, and is arguably the best two-guard in the class (assuming Wiggins is a SF and Exum is a PG).  He's either the best or second-best shooter in the draft as well, depending on your take on Doug McDermott.  Sounds like a great fit for the Pistons, right?  6'6 playmakers who shoot 44.2% from three don't grow on trees; and if they did, it's safe to say that the Pistons would nourish that tree like the Sahara.  Let's take a look at what Stauskas could bring to the Pistons and if he's a fit with the 8th overall pick...

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

2014 Season Review: Josh Harrellson

Josh Harrellson turned out to be one of the only pleasant surprises that happened to the Pistons this season.  Jorts provided the team with solid outside shooting, adequate rebounding for a stretch big and hustle plays, with effort that stood out above his teammates.  Fittingly, Harrellson suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee and wouldn't see any action past February 1st.  For the 317 minutes that he did play, Jorts gave the Pistons a much-needed spark that they weren't able to find on a nightly basis without him.  Harrellson's ability to stretch the floor clearly had some value to the team and it should be the reason he's brought back, even though his contract for next season is not guaranteed.  Here's what Josh Harrellson brought to the team statistically in 2013-14.

PER PPG TS% 3P% 3PAr TRB% AST% TOV%
13.4 2.9 54.7% 38.7% .378 13.1% 6.9% 10.5%

Harrellson doesn't really jump out in any statistical area, other than his 38.7% three-point shooting, which is an impressive number for a 6'10, 275 center.  Harrellson played to his skillset, taking 37.8% of his shots from beyond the arc.  His rebounding numbers are nothing special, but on the offensive end that is likely caused by playing away from the paint.  Still, he's a below average defensive rebounder as well, which would be an area for improvement going into next season.  Harrellson's 54.7 TS% ranked 4th on the Pistons in 2013-14, a mark that might be more telling about the team than it is about him.  Defensively, Harrellson is not of much use other than on the block bodying up big post players.


Harrellson's shot chart speaks to his low 12.8% usage rate, as he played 371 minutes and managed to not attempt a shot from four shot zones.  He was an impressive 7/14 from the top of the key, an impressive number, with a lot of those looks likely coming in pick-and-pop situations.  100% of Harrellson's made three-point attempts were assisted this season, which isn't surprising.  6'10, 275 centers usually don't feature strong pull-up jumpers.  For his limited opportunities, Harrellson struggled on the left side of the floor and in the mid-range, but was average around the basket.  Assuming he's back next season, using him in more pick-and-pop plays would likely be a smart move.

OUTLOOK FOR NEXT YEAR

2014-15 contract status: non-guaranteed for $948,163

Harrellson could very well not be back next season if the Pistons new GM decides they need a more traditional post option off the bench.  If he is brought back, he'll serve the same role as he did this year, as the 2nd big man off the bench, providing spacing for whoever he's on the floor with.  For less than a million next year, the Pistons can have a low-usage sharpshooting stretch big man.  I expect that if they choose to let him hit the open market, he'll find work somewhere.  

2014 SEASON GRADE: B-

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

2014 Season Review: Chauncey Billups

When the Pistons signed Chauncey Billups to a two-year contract last offseason, they made a gamble that he could stay healthy enough to provide the team with much needed perimeter shooting.  That gamble failed, but I don't think that it was a bad bet.  Having Billups back in the organization after his unfortunate trade to Denver in November of 2008 was cathartic in a way for the Pistons fan base.  Billups was the face of the franchise for what seemed like way more than six seasons.  As the Finals MVP of the Pistons 2004 title team, he'll be a Piston as long as he walks this planet.  As much as I personally enjoyed watching Chauncey in his first stint in Detroit, this time around he was in well over his head.  Billups appeared in 19 games in two different stints, starting 7, before finally conceding the remainder of his season to a knee injury.  Here's what Billups was able to produce in what could be the last 309 minutes of his glorious Pistons carer:

PER PPG TS% eFG% 3P% 3PAr AST% TOV%
5.3 3.8 42.7% 39.2% 30.4% .608 18.7% 22.9%
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Sunday, May 4, 2014

2014 Big Board

1 - Andrew Wiggins - SF - Kansas, Fr. - 6'8, 200
Wiggins probably isn't the NBA's next mega-star as he was billed by some entering his freshman season at Kansas.  That being said, he's an elite athlete with a 7'0 wingspan and huge potential at both ends of the floor.  
Strengths: Athleticism, length, defensive upside     Weaknesses: Strength, shooting, ball-handling

2 - Jabari Parker - SF - Duke, Fr. - 6'8, 240
 Parker's game is predicated on scoring, and he really does it well.  He's also a solid rebounder, and his skills should translate well to the NBA.  He'll likely struggle on defense, and some see him as not having a position.  Strengths: Versatility, strength, shooting     Weaknesses: Defense, shot selection, quickness

3 - Joel Embiid - C - Kansas, Fr. - 7'0, 250
Embiid would likely be number one on my board if it weren't for the back injury.  When healthy, Embiid is an impact player at both ends of the court.  Great at both blocking and altering shots anywhere within a wingspan's radius, and not just at the hoop.  Offensive game is still developing, but he's shown flashes of having a variety of reliable post moves.
Strengths: Shot blocking, rebounding, length     Weaknesses: Raw, thin, back injury

4 - Dante Exum - PG - Australia, 1995 - 6'6, 185
Exum's skillset should translate nicely to the NBA.  He uses a combination of size, length and court vision to be an exceptional passer.  Scoring game, specifically his outside shooting is still developing.  Should profile as a good defender if he can add the necessary strength.
Strengths: Passing, length, basketball IQ     Weaknesses: Thin, outside shooting

5 - Julius Randle - PF - Kentucky, Fr. - 6'9, 250
Julius Randle is by far this draft class' best and strongest post scorer.  Has a nice array of back-to-the-basket moves, but also uses his surprising quickness to his advantage when facing up.  He's also very skilled at getting to the FT line.  However, he's not a good defender and still needs to fine-tune his mid-range jumper.
Strengths: Post game, rebounding, size/strength     Weaknesses: Defense, turnovers, shooting

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Looking Ahead to Next Year: Possible Frontcourt Trade Targets

Assuming the Pistons move one of Josh Smith or Greg Monroe this offseason, they are going to need a new starting SF and will likely need a new first big man off the bench, unless they believe they can trust Jonas Jerebko or Josh Harrellson in that role.  Either way, the Pistons could use added depth across the roster, and the frontcourt is no exception.  Adding shooting on the wing and a versatile big man should be the focus.  The backcourt was covered earlier this week, so without further ado, here are the frontcourt players the Pistons could/should have some level of interest in trading for...

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