Monday, July 28, 2014

Andre Drummond, Team USA and the FIBA World Cup

Over the weekend, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin both withdrew from Team USA mere days before training camp began.  While the rest of this nation's basketball fans likely see this as bad news, Pistons fans should be looking up.  With Love and Griffin out of the running, two roster spots just opened up, and Andre Drummond's chances to make the roster went from "longshot" to borderline "sure thing".  With only DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis in camp as established big men, Drummond is almost certain to get one of the remaining post spots on the roster.  More on what the roster might look like later, but this is one of the more exciting off-season developments the Pistons have had in a while.  The FIBA World Cup is the perfect stage for Andre Drummond to put anybody in the world who doesn't already know on notice that he's one of the best young big men on the planet.  It looks like he'll be getting the chance to do just that.

Click "Read More" for a breakdown on Drummond's chances to make Team USA...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Listen to Your Chart: D.J. Augustin

D.J. Augustin's career hasn't followed the optimal path of a 9th overall pick.  After being selected by Charlotte in the 2008 draft, Augustin has only managed two above average seasons (as measured by PER, an inexact science) in the league, between stints with three different teams.  Following four inconsistent seasons on his rookie contract with Charlotte, Augustin signed a one year deal with the Pacers during the 2012 off-season.  He was handed the keys to the backup PG job with Indiana, appearing in 76 games, but with little success.  Left with few options entering the 2013 off-season, Augustin signed a one-year, $1.27M deal with the Raptors.  He failed to click in Toronto, appearing in 10 games and shooting 29% before he was cut loose in December.  Out of necessity, the Bulls gave Augustin a shot to fill a job in their desolate backcourt.  He wouldn't disappoint, providing Chicago with the kind of play that people expected when he was taken 9th overall in '08.  At age 26, Augustin posted the highest PER of his career (16.8) over the final 61 games of the season.  His stellar play led to a two year, $6M deal with the Pistons this offseason, and will likely man the backup PG spot behind the volatile Brandon Jennings this season.  If Augustin can provide the Pistons with the same dynamic scoring he gave Chicago last year, he could prove to be one of the biggest value signings of the off-season.  Whether or not he can do that will likely depend on if he can replicate his shooting success from last season, which was predicated on success at the rim and from the perimeter.

Click "Read More" for the rest of the shot chart analysis...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Listen to Your Chart: Jodie Meeks

As Stan Van Gundy's first free agent signing, Jodie Meeks represents the changing of the guards in the Pistons front office.  Not just because he was SVG's first free agent addition, but also because his game fits a different mold than what was targeted during Joe Dumars' tenure.  Meeks has a new-age game, with an offensive style that reflects the changes brought on by the advent of shot charts, True Shooting Percentage and basketball analytics.  Last season with the Lakers, Meeks put up a career-high in TS% at 60.1%, thanks to a strong year beyond the arc and in the paint.  Let's take a look at how he did it, and why Jodie Meeks represents a shift in ideology for Pistons basketball, which should bode well for the future.
 
Click "Read More" for THE FUTURE....

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pistons and Kings Discussing Smith Deal Again

Rumors popped up again overnight that the Pistons and Kings have revived their trade talks centered around Josh Smith.  The Kings have a glut of PFs, but none that they feel comfortable starting or playing next to DeMarcus Cousins for long stretches.  Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News has reported that head coach Michael Malone's desire for a defensive presence at the spot is fueling trade talks.  In the same breath, Goodwill also mentions that the Kings' front office is less receptive to dealing for Smith.  The same pieces as reported earlier this off-season are being discussed, with the added detail of the potential for adding a 3rd team to the trade talks.  If you missed out on this rumor the first time around, the Pistons are said to potentially receive some combination of Jason Thompson, Jason Terry or Derrick Williams in return.  While none of those players would necessarily revive the organization, many Pistons fans see value in unloading the remaining years and dollars left on Smith's contract.  Goodwill has also reported that, while Van Gundy is open to moving Smith, he won't be doing so without receiving value in return.  This time of year is a breeding ground for rumors that don't materialize, so a deal is far from imminent.  However, it gives us something to think about while we wait for Greg Monroe to make a move.  Stay tuned for more updates as they come available.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What's Going On With Greg Monroe?

REAL INFORMATION

There has been a flood of activity among free agents after LeBron James announced his intentions last Friday.  Carmelo Anthony has gone back to New York, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade returned to Miami, Lance Stephenson signed with Charlotte and a gaggle of smaller-name free agents have agreed to pacts with teams.  Most of the big chips have found a home, or returned to their old one; so what's taking Greg Monroe so long?  It's hard to blame Pistons fans for becoming impatient with the player who has been the face of the franchise through the darkness that has been the last four years.  Monroe and the Pistons have seemingly made zero progress towards a new deal even though there's been little news of Monroe having talks with other organizations.  There was an uneasy confidence among Pistons fans entering the off-season that Stan Van Gundy would re-build a burned bridge between Monroe and the Pistons organization.  It never seemed like a sure thing, but it was hard to see him playing elsewhere.  Now, a month after the NBA Finals ended and two weeks since the NBA opened shop on the off-season, it's getting harder to see anything regarding Monroe's future.  There have been practically zero developments with Monroe in the time-frame that has seen the Pistons add six new names to the roster.

Click "Read More" for the rest of the article...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pistons Waive Siva, Harrellson

According to Shams Charnia of RealGM and Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, the Pistons waived both Peyton Siva and Josh Harrellson last night.  By my rough count that gets the roster down to 16 after Sunday's signings.  Both players showed a lot of effort and heart last season, and assuming that Harrellson is healthy, I would expect both players to land on their feet somewhere in the NBA for next season.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pistons Sign DJ Augustin, Caron Butler

According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Stein, respectively, the Pistons have reached agreements with PG D.J. Augustin and SF Caron Butler tonight.  Vincent Goodwill has confirmed the deals and offered more details.  Augustin will be on a two-year deal worth $6M (reported by Woj) and Butler will be on a one-year deal with a team option for a second year.  According to Marc Stein, Butler's deal will be worth $9M if he's on the roster for both years.
Click "Read More" for a breakdown of who Augustin and Butler are...

2014 Orlando Summer League Review

The 2014 Orlando Summer League came to an end with the Championship Day that took place on Friday, although it got massively overshadowed by free agency happenings.  The Pistons wrapped up their time in the Amway Center practice facility with a 96-87 loss to the host Orlando Magic.  The loss gave the Pistons a 3-2 record for the week, and a 6th place finish among the 10 teams in attendance.  Things were more positive than their sub-par finish though, as they learned quite a bit about the young players on the roster, and learned some things about potential camp invites for the fall.

FINAL STANDINGS

1st Place: Philadelphia 76ers; 2nd: Memphis Grizzlies; 3rd: Indiana Pacers; 
4th: Boston Celtics; 5th: Orlando Magic; 6th: Detroit Pistons; 
7th: Oklahoma City Thunder; 8th: Miami Heat; 9th: Houston Rockets; 10th: Brooklyn Nets

AWARDS AND HONORS

All-OSL First Team: G: Casper Ware (PHI); G: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (DET); 
G: Donald Sloan (IND); F: Kelly Olynyk (BOS); F/C: Mason Plumlee (BKN)

All-OSL Second Team: G: Nick Johnson (HOU); G: Jeremy Lamb (OKC); 
G: Victor Oladipo (ORL) F: James Ennis (MIA); F/C: Nerlens Noel (PHI)

MVP: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (DET): KCP came out swinging, scoring 26 points or more in each of the Pistons first four games.  He was electric to watch, scoring in a variety of ways and showing improved ball-handling, strength and shooting form.  The brutal schedule of a game and a practice nearly every day, combined with his high usage in games appeared to wear on him by the end of the week. However, he still managed to lead the league in scoring and finished 6th in rebounding.  A week of 24.0 PPG (a  full 5.0 PPG higher than the 2nd place finisher) and 7.4 RPG is certainly enough for MVP honors.  Casper Ware was KCP's best competition, finishing the week with 19.0 PPG and 5.2 APG.

IMPLICATIONS FOR THE PISTONS GOING FORWARD

Aside from what the Pistons learned about KCP during the Orlando Summer League, there were a few other things of note that happened this week which could alter what Detroit does going forward.  With LeBron signing in Cleveland and Paul George only getting better in Indiana as well as the continuing presence of Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins in the division, perimeter defense is going to be a major determinant in Detroit's success.  

One option to upgrade the Pistons' perimeter defense can be found on this year's OSL roster: DeAndre Liggins.  Liggins is a player that is familiar with Stan Van Gundy from his time in Orlando, and he played very well for the Pistons at his old stomping grounds last week.  In today's league "Three-and-D" is a buzz-term that is used to describe an awful lot of perimeter players.  However, how many of these guys are truly adequate shooters AND lockdown defenders?  I would be willing to argue that there aren't many; but Liggins has the skillset to be one.  Liggins is a career 35.4% three-point shooter in the D-League, a number which took a bit of a hit this year as he was asked to take an awful lot of long jumpers for Sioux Falls (3PAr over 50%).  In the previous season with Tulsa, Liggins made 46% of his threes (29-63).  He's certainly capable of knocking down open shots.

Liggins' defense speaks for itself, as he uses his 6'6, 215 pound frame to bully opposing offensive players, making them uncomfortable with his aggressive style of play.  Combine that with a nearly 7' wingspan and we're looking at the prototype for a wing defender in today's NBA.  On top of all that, his D-League career has shown that he's not exactly prone to foul trouble for a guy who plays as aggressive as he does.  While this all sounds great, Liggins does come with a few red flags.  He's had his troubles off the court and is only about a year removed from an extremely ugly domestic abuse incident.  Carrying somebody with his past on the roster comes with a share of risks.  While what he did certainly isn't something I (or anybody, really) condone, guys with a past similar to his have been allowed another chance.  Liggins is currently playing for the LA Clippers in the Las Vegas Summer League, so any negotiations with him will likely come after that action wraps up on the 21st. 

Peyton Siva's future is uncertain going forward as well; his contract won't become guaranteed unless he's on the roster past July 20th, according to Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.  Siva played well before suffering a hamstring injury, which can only cloud the outlook for him in the coming week.  With the glut of PGs on the Pistons roster, and the talk of SVG wanting bigger bodies at the position, Siva's status is not that of a lock.  However, he's established himself as a very hard worker, and has shown that he can hang with NBA players.  Whether or not that's enough to keep him around for the coming season is hard to say.  If I had to guess, I would say that Siva won't be back.  Just a gut feeling.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

LeBron to Cleveland: How It Affects the Pistons

Through a letter to Sports Illustrated on Friday, LeBron James announced that he'll be returning home to the Cleveland Cavaliers. You know this by now, because you don't live under a rock. And if you do live under a rock, ESPN probably made sure to slip you a note telling you about it.  LeBron's return back home is as much about basketball as it is about the emotion and storyline of such a move. Yes, he has swallowed his pride over The Letter, and the burning of the jerseys and the raw anger brought on by The Decision.  Yes, he's coming home to the fans who have cursed his name for the last four years straight. But when you boil it all down, what's this all about?  Basketball; winning championships.  Dwyane Wade isn't aging well, and at 30 years old, Chris Bosh just isn't good enough to be the second banana on a title team.  These things became embarrassingly evident on national TV this past June.  LeBron's still good enough to win, if he has the team around him to provide the necessary support.  Miami couldn't give him that team; Cleveland potentially can. Hence the return to Cleveland. The return to play with Kyrie Irving, and the chance to play with Kevin Love and/or Andrew Wiggins (most likely "or", but we'll see). This is about basketball, and it greatly affects the Pistons.

For the sake of this post, I'll be assuming that Carmelo Anthony will go to the Chicago Bulls.  Why?  Well, to answer this, think about one thing, "Would I want to play for the Knicks in 2014-15, with Andrea Bargnani and Amar'e Stoudemire as my supporting cast?".  If you're having a hard time answering this with a resounding NOOOO MAKE IT STOP AHHHHH, reassess everything you know about basketball.  If Carmelo likes more of the money that he already has, he'll be back with the Knicks.  If he wants to win, and salvage whatever is left of his "legacy", then he'll play for the Bulls.  I don't know what he'll choose, but for the sake of my argument about how this offseason seriously impacts the Pistons, I'm going to assume Carmelo Anthony makes the smart basketball decision and signs with the Chicago Bulls.  At the very least, the Bulls replace Carlos Boozer's minutes with Pau Gasol.


THE PLAYOFF PICTURE

After today, there are a few conclusions you can make about the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference (again, going off of the assumption listed above).  There are three locks to make the Eastern Conference playoffs in the 2014-15 season: Cleveland, Chicago, Indiana; and yes, in that order.  Atlanta, Toronto, Brooklyn and Washington compose the next tier, and it's really hard to see any of those teams missing the playoffs next season, barring injuries for any of their major players.  That leaves one playoff spot to be tussled over between Miami, Detroit and Charlotte.  The newly-named Hornets made the playoffs last season, and the Heat appear to be returning Wade/Bosh and will possibly be adding Ariza or Deng.  To sum all of this up, the Pistons are going to need some help to be a playoff team in the 2014-15 season.  Let's just say off of a rough estimate that this is what the playoffs will look like.

1 v. 8: Cleveland v. Brooklyn; 4 v. 5: Atlanta v. Toronto; 
3 v. 6: Indiana v. Washington; 2 v. 7: Chicago v. Miami

1: Cleveland; 2: Chicago; 3: Indiana; 4: Atlanta; 5: Toronto; 6: Washington; 7: Miami; 8: Brookyln

First off, can you imagine the hype if Cleveland were to somehow play Miami in the first round of the playoffs?  Second, where do you see room for the Pistons in this scenario?  The only chance that Detroit has, is if one of the Toronto, Washington, Miami, Brookyln group suffers serious injuries, or Detroit experiences pure luck over the course of 82 games.  The Pistons roster as it is constructed now just doesn't have as much talent as these other teams.  Cleveland, Chicago and Indiana with LeBron, Kyrie, Melo, Rose and George speak for themselves.  The Hawks are a well-built, well-rounded team with Horford, Teague, Millsap, Korver and an awful lot of depth.  The Raptors are coming off of a 48-win season, with all of the major pieces returning, and they're likely to see improvments from Valanciunas, Ross and DeRozan.  Washington saw a flash of what John Wall can be, and can expect a level of improvement from the 23-year old Wall and 20-year old SG Bradley Beal.  The Wizards probably aren't going anywhere anytime soon.  Miami will have Bosh and Wade, which should be enough to see the playoffs, assuming Riley can put a supporting cast around them.  Not to mention what any extra additions (Deng and Ariza have been sought) will do for their teams.  The Pistons are in trouble unless their young talent grows up in a hurry, just as far as the general conference playoff picture goes.


As far as the Central Division goes, it surely seems like the Pistons have zero chance of even coming in second.  LeBron's Cavaliers won't be finishing in third in the division, let alone second.  The Bulls, with or without Melo pose a problem too.  So what's the upshot for a Pistons team that will have to possibly play 12 games against LeBron, Carmelo and Paul George?  It's hard to say.  If they can escape those 12 games against Cleveland, Chicago and Indiana with a .500 record, anything is possible.  But I can definitely see the Pistons, as they're constructed now, going 3-9 or 2-10 in that stretch.  At that point, 1/7 of your season is gone to a .167 winning percentage.  This doesn't even consider a Bucks team building for the future around Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker.  The Central Division is stockpiling wing talent.

THE PISTONS ROSTER

So, how do you beat three teams with such elite perimeter talent?  I think the answer is to load up with perimeter defenders.  KCP had his flashes last year, but the Pistons other wing rotation players are mostly scorers (Meeks, Singler, Martin).  My first proposal is to do whatever it takes to lock DeAndre Liggins up coming out of summer league.  The Pistons are going to need perimeter defense, and he would be a cost-effective option.  Liggins has shown both throughout his career and in this year's Orlando Summer League, that he is ready to body up opposing wings.  Anything that he provides on offense would be a plus when considered with his value (and 6 fouls) on defense.  I'll go further into Liggins later on in a separate post reviewing the Orlando Summer League, but I think he would be a smart addition to the roster.  Regardless of how they do it, it's necessary that the Pistons upgrade their perimeter defense.

The other answer to the "competing with Cleveland, Chicago and Indiana" question is to upgrade at the PG position defensively.  Stan Van Gundy's offensive genius, coupled with the talent of Drummond, Monroe and a wing rotation that can shoot the ball should be enough to give the Pistons a boost on offense, regardless of how Brandon Jennings plays.  The more important thing would be to get somebody who isn't a straw-thin sieve to guard Derrick Rose (6'3, 190) and Kyrie Irving (6'2, 180).  At 6'1, 169 pounds, Brandon Jennings just isn't built right to compete with the upper-echelon PGs that are in this division.  His backups aren't much better off either, both coming in  generously listed at 6'0.  SVG's desire for a bigger lead guard has been communicated, and if the Pistons are going to do anything this season, they need to find one sooner than later.


It kills me to say this, but somebody like Mario Chalmers probably wouldn't be a bad pickup.  Big enough to defend well, plays tough, aggressive defense and shoots the three well.  Just don't let him run the offense, which shouldn't be a problem when you consider his low, low usage in Miami.  Demand has been slow for Chalmers this offseason, and if that holds, he might be a good "buy low" option on a two year deal.  Would you rather have Brian Roberts for $6M over two years or Mario Chalmers for $8M?  Neither guy is going to rejuvenate the fan base, but I think Chalmers gives the team a better chance at playing respectable defense against Rose and Irving.

THE POSITIVE SIDE

The Pistons are certainly outgunned at SF and PG in this division, up against five years worth of MVPs, two scoring titles and two of the three best players in the league under the age of 25 (Irving and George).  The good news is, even if the Cavs trade for Love and Chicago signs Gasol, you can make a case that no team in the Central has a big man rotation as good as Detroit's (Chicago with Noah, Gasol, Gibson is great too).  If Josh Smith is back in a bench role and strictly playing PF, the Pistons have three All-Star caliber talents under the age of 30 in the frontcourt.  Getting Smith to produce might prove to be a challenge, but he's only 28 and two seasons removed from being one of the best defensive rebounders in the NBA.  There's salvage value there, whether you like/choose to admit it or not is up to you.  That value lies in reversing the trend that has seen Smith's 3PAr rise and his FTr fall.  We'll see what he gives night-in and night-out, because it appears increasingly likely that Detroit will be holding on to Smith until at least this season's trade deadline.  The other members of Detroit's frontcourt are the true reasons to be positive about the direction that the Pistons are going in, regardless of the LeBron-to-Cleveland development.  Detroit's the only team in the division built around a 20-year old force of nature at C and a 24-year old reliable low post option at PF.  Detroit's success will be defined by how well they work around these two.  The next few years got a bit bleaker with yesterday's developments, but that shouldn't throw Detroit off track.

Did I mention that you should follow this blog on Twitter, @Kevin6CD, for easy access to new posts and content and my jokes about every hilarious signing the Orlando Magic have made this off-season.  Good for you, Ben Gordon and Channing Frye.  Good for you.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

2014 Orlando Summer League: Day Five Review

Celtics 92 (6 Pts) Pistons 90 (2 Pts)
The Celtics handed the Pistons their first loss of the Orlando Summer League, surviving a furious 4th quarter comeback.  Boston improved to 2-1 for the week behind 16 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists from Kelly Olynyk.  The C's also got 14 points apiece from Marcus Smart and Phil Pressey, and Smart chipped in 5 rebounds and 6 assists.  Mike Moser (12), Colton Iverson (11) and Chris Babb (10) also poured in double figures for Boston.

Detroit fell to 3-1 in OSL action, after the aforementioned comeback fell just short.  That comeback was led by none other than Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who scored 12 points in the game's final quarter.  KCP struggled through three quarters, only putting up 14 points on 4-14 shooting.  He shot 4-8 in the final frame, including a three with 6 seconds left to bring the Pistons within 2.  After a split trip to the FT line for Boston and a sideline violation on the inbound after a stop, KCP got one last look to tie things up with 0.4 seconds left.  He got the shot off, but couldn't get it to fall, ending the Pistons' valiant comeback attempt.

This game was very similar to the Pistons' win over Miami the other day, with KCP turning his game up in the 4th quarter.  His legs looked shaky early on, as his jumpers from mid-range and three all came up short or off target.  The format of the OSL can be taxing on a player's legs, with a practice and a game nearly every day.  Nonetheless, KCP finished with another 26 point performance, leaving him at 27.3 PPG for the week.  The Pistons also got an excellent performance from stretch four Justin Harper, finishing with 19 points on 7-7 shooting, including a 4-4 showing behind the arc.  Another strong game from Harper could make it tough for Stan Van Gundy to not extend an offer to training camp in the fall.  If the Pistons roster weren't so full I would think Harper had earned a roster spot.

Ian Miller scored 16 and Brian Cook added 14 to keep the Pistons in the game until KCP woke up.  Ultimately, the Pistons were done in by their 23 turnovers, an amount nearly impossible to overcome at any level in 40 minutes.  The Pistons shot 12-27 from three and have been consistently good shooting the ball this week.  Improved shooting talent and systematic spacing have been largely responsible for the uptick, which should be encouraging going forward.  The Pistons will play next on Friday, although the time and opponent are still TBA.  The winner of tomorrow's Boston-Indiana game is guaranteed to at least tie the Pistons in points, so it's looking like the best case scenario will be the 3rd place game.


Pacers 94 (6 Pts) Thunder 71 (2 Pts)
Indiana improved to 2-1 on the week with this convincing win over Oklahoma City.  The Pacers were led by veteran PG Donald Sloan with 19 points and 6 assists.  Sloan was 7-10 from the field and 4-5 from behind the arc.  Indiana also got a big game from PF Kevin Jones, who registered a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.  Frank Gaines (17), James Nunnally (12) and Arinze Onuaku (10) all scored in double-digits for the Pacers in the victory.

The Thunder fell to 1-3 for their time in Orlando, finishing the week with 12 total points.  This will likely put them in one of the bottom three spots in the standings.  Oklahoma City was led in scoring by rookie F/C Mitch McGary, tallying 15 points on 5-7 shooting.  The Thunder also got 12 points from Jeremy Lamb, 10 from Steven Adams and 9 points and 10 rebounds from Andre Roberson.  Lamb was 4-17 from the field, having struggled in three of OKC's four games.  The Pacers will play their final OSL game against Miami tomorrow night.

Sixers 92 (7 Pts) Nets 86 (1 Pt)
Philadelphia improved to 3-1 for the week, finishing with a 22 point total.  The Sixers got 24 points on 9-17 shooting from PG Casper Ware, who also managed 8 assists.  Philly also got 14 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks from rookie C Nerlens Noel.  Jerami Grant, Hollis Thompson and Travis Bader also scored 12 points each.  

Brooklyn fell to 1-3 for the OSL and have finished with 8 points in the standings.  The Nets were led in scoring today by Donte Greene and Markel Brown with 17 points each.  Cory Jefferson (14), Marquis Teague (12) and Adonis Thomas (10) joined them in double figures.  Brooklyn is now locked into the 9th place game on Friday morning.

STAR OF THE DAY

Casper Ware (PHI): 24 pts (9-17 fg, 3-7 3p, 3-3 ft), 8 ast, 2 reb, 2 stl

Ware led the Sixers in scoring for the second straight game, this time doing it with improved efficiency.  The 8 assists were also a nice addition.  I didn't catch this game, so the stats are all I have for you.  KCP made this a bit close with a strong 4th quarter, finishing with 26 points once again.


STANDINGS

TeamRecordPoints
Philadelphia 76ers
3-1
22.0
Detroit Pistons 
3-1
19.0
Memphis Grizzlies
2-1
16.0
Orlando Magic
2-1
15.0
Indiana Pacers
2-1
14.0
Boston Celtics
2-1
14.0
Miami Heat
1-2
12.5
OKC Thunder
1-1
10.0
Brooklyn Nets1-3
8.0
Houston Rockets
0-3
3.5

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

2014 Orlando Summer League: Day Four Review

The Pistons returned to action in Orlando today seeking to stay undefeated and in the race for the Orlando Summer League title game.  They entered the day 1.5 points behind the Orlando Magic in the CBA-style scoring system employed by the OSL.  To the game recaps!!!

Click "Read More" for the rest of the day four recap...

Monday, July 7, 2014

2014 Orlando Summer League: Day Three Review

I didn't get a chance to watch any of the action today, and the Pistons didn't play, so this should be brief, and the player of the day will be a stats-based crapshoot.  Let's get to it, with the game recaps from day three of the Orlando Summer League.

Click "Read More" for the rest of the review...

Pistons Sign Aaron Gray

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! is reporting that the Pistons have signed 7-footer Aaron Gray to a multi-year deal.  Gray has bounced around the league since being taken in the 2nd round of the 2007 draft, including stops in Chicago, New Orleans, Toronto and Sacramento.  Gray played well under Pistons GM Jeff Bower for half a season in New Orleans in 2009-10, but has otherwise been an underwhelming performer.  The signing likely means that the Pistons will release Josh Harrellson in the coming weeks before his contract becomes guaranteed on July 20th.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

2014 Orlando Summer League: Day Two Review

The action continued today in Orlando, with three games on the slate for the afternoon and early evening at the Amway Center.  Here's a recap of what went down; as usual, Pistons first:

Click "Read More" for the rest of the recap...


Saturday, July 5, 2014

2014 Orlando Summer League: Day One Review

The Orlando Summer League kicked off today with a full slate of action in the Amway Center practice facility.  Without further ado, here's a recap of the action.

Click "Read More" for the rest of the day one recap...

Friday, July 4, 2014

2014 Summer League Preview

The Pistons tip off their Summer League slate on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m., and if you're a junkie like me, you'll be finding a way to watch.  Detroit has been playing in the Orlando Summer League since the summer of 2011, where the games are played at the practice court inside of the Amway Center.  Detroit will be in attendance, along with the Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers.  The league kicks off at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 5th with a game between the Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets and will wrap up for the second straight year with a "championship day" where teams play for final positioning based on their performance through their other four games.  Click the "Orlando Summer League" link below for rules, schedules and more information on the details of how the league operates.  For more on what to expect from the Pistons in Orlando, and the ins and outs of Detroit's time in Orlando, continue on for the rest of the article.                                

Click "Read More" for the rest of the Orlando Summer League breakdown...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

2014 Draft Review and Grades: Southeast Division

The first big piece of the NBA offseason has came and gone, with every team in the NBA having their chance at adding pieces to their roster through the draft.  There were some puzzling picks (Bruno Caboclo anybody?) and some savvy moves as there are every year.  This year's draft lived up to its level of hype from an entertainment standpoint and it should be fun to watch the moves play out.  The next step is the addition of any undrafted free agents before the summer leagues start in Orlando (July 5-11) and Las Vegas (July 11-21).  With about a week until then, let's take a division-by-division look at what each team has done with this year's draft class so far, and assign some grades.

Click "Read More" for the rest of the article...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pistons Sign Jodie Meeks, Cartier Martin

It was reported today (initially by Adrian Wojnarowski, because it was NBA news, so why wouldn't it be?) that the Pistons have come to an agreement on contracts with free agents SG Jodie Meeks and G/F Cartier Martin.  Meeks will ink a three-year, $19 million dollar deal and Martin will ink a one year deal with a second year player option when the NBA's moratorium comes to an end on July 10th.  The dollar amounts for Martin's deal haven't been announced at the time of writing.  Both moves are aimed at adding shooting to the roster, as both players shoot better than 37% from behind the arc in their careers, despite high 3PA rates.  The moves, along with the Spencer Dinwiddie pick, signal the beginning to Stan Van Gundy's tenure as Detroit's President of Basketball Operations.

Personally, I really like the moves for a few different reasons.  There has been some criticism regarding the amount of money the Pistons gave Meeks, but I think that he'll prove to be worth every penny that Detroit pays him, assuming he stays healthy.  Meeks had the best season a SG can have playing for the Lakers without getting any amount of national recognition.  He posted career highs of 33.2 MPG, 15.7 PPG, 46.3 FG%, 40.1 3P%, 51.4 2P%, 60.1 TS% and a 112 ORtg.  To sum that line up, Meeks finally got a chance to produce, and showed that at age 26 he's ready to be a steady producer.  Despite playing for underachieving teams, Meeks hadn't seen a Usage Rate above 16.7% since his rookie season.  Finally allowed a primary role in a bad offense, he flourished with amazing efficiency.

SVG will have a few different options as far as how to use his first free agent acquisition.  If Van Gundy chooses to start Meeks at SG, he'll likely be the 3rd or 4th option depending on who the other starters are.   In this role, the Pistons could take advantage of Meeks' strengths as a spot-up shooter.    Meeks shot 43.0% on catch-and-shoot three point attempts over the course of the '13-'14 season and was 11th in the whole league in catch-and-shoot eFG%.  This would seem to be the ideal option with Meeks, who could be the left corner assassin to balance out Singler's work on the right side.  The other option would be to start KCP and use Meeks as the go-to guy on the 2nd unit.  While this wouldn't take advantage of Meeks spot-up shooting abilities quite as much, he's still a valuable option as the primary offensive option, thanks to an ability to finish at the rim, and a modest Free Throw Rate (.289), which he established last season for the first time in his career.

Cartier Martin figures to have less of a role with the Pistons, but should still be valuable in his own way.  Martin is strictly a three point shooter, and a good one.  Martin has attempted just shy of 53% of his career FGA from behind the arc, connecting at a 38.3% clip.  Martin doesn't really do much else, only making 41.3% of his 2PA, turning the ball over more than he assists and boasting merely an average TRB%.  It's hard to say what kind of role Martin will have until the rest of the offseason works itself out, but as of right now I'm not expecting Martin to have a large role unless there are injuries in front of him, although he could carve out the majority of the backup SF minutes if he takes advantage of training camp and early season minutes.

The Pistons still have to resolve the Greg Monroe situation, and possibly add a starting caliber PG or SF with their remaining cap space, seeing as Isaiah Thomas has been mentioned.  There has been no shortage of potential suitors for Monroe, and it should be interesting to see what happens with him in the coming days.  Regardless of what happens with Monroe, SVG has already addressed the Pistons lack of shooting, which was easily the Pistons biggest weakness last season.