One Game Says a Lot

As any economics or statistician will tell you, sample size is key to making any kind of claim when looking at a set of data.  When it comes to the Pistons’ season, one game might actually be able to pull some legitimate conclusions about a handful of players.  Obviously, playing the Pacers to start the season was tough as they will be one of the better teams in the East.  Even still some trends for players can potentially be pulled from this game.

Greg Monroe- Monroe started at center where he will get a majority of his minutes.  He spent most of the game in foul trouble and couldn’t get into much of a rhythm offensively.  He is expected to contribute a lot on both the offensive and defensive end, primarily at center where he will be slightly out of position.  He is not a natural shot blocker and doesn’t take over the game on the defensive end.  He really needs to play off of another big man to really maximize his skills and cover up his lack of defensive intensity.

Jonas Jerebko- Jerebko got the start at the 4 and played a team high 38 minutes in his first game in over a year.  He looked great and had the energy that made him a second team all rookie selection two years ago.  He tied Rodney Stuckey with a team high 17 points.  He is a natural 3, though at times he does play like an undersized 4, making most of his plays through hustle.  He gets victimized on the defensive end trying to guard much taller and stronger 4s when he could make a much stronger impact by guarding 2s and 3s.

Ben Gordon- Gordon made a great case for being the Piston’s amnesty clause casualty.  He had 14 points on 4 of 14 shooting and really struggled out on the court.  Additionally, he had 5 turnovers on the offensive end.  He is going to be a focus this season; his production needs to step up dramatically from the past two years where he was either injured or constantly having his minutes yanked around by John Kuester.  He needs to be more efficient and accurate on the offensive end, since he is also a terrible defensive player and has lost some of his quickness and athleticism from his time with the Bulls.

Rodney Stuckey- He played solid, having a team high 17 points on 5 of 11 shooting.  Additionally he continued to be one of the best free throw shooters on the team going a perfect 5 for 5 from the stripe.  Resigning Stuckey was an interesting proposition for Joe Dumars after drafting Brandon Knight and having Will Bynum on the roster.  He has improved every year in the league and is a reasonable slasher point guard, and could actually wind up being a key piece for the Pistons going forward.

The Bench- With the 66 game season having back-to-back-to-backs the bench will need to step up and provide quality minutes every night.  Needless to say they did not.  Ben Wallace, had a traditional Ben Wallace game grabbing 7 rebounds and blocking 3 shots.  Austin Daye had a mediocre game grabbing 7 rebounds in 14 minutes, but not contributing at all on the offensive end.  Will Bynum and Brandon Knight both struggled as well.  Knight had 9 points and 0 assists along with 4 turnovers in 17 minutes, while Bynum had 6 points on 1 of 5 shooting, to go with 3 assists and 2 turnovers.  Both players need to step up and provide more quality minutes off the bench this season.  But the winner for least effective bench player goes to Jason Maxiell.  The former super sub has provided several quality minutes in past seasons had the worst game of anyone in the league.  In his 17 minutes he had 1 block and 1 personal foul.  The rest were 0’s.  No points, no rebounds, no assists and no help to his teammates.  Along with Gordon, Maxiell was a player who had a lot to prove after several years of decline.  He cannot play like this and continue to be on the roster.

Charlie Villanueva- This is technically a cheat, because Villanueva was suspended for this game and could not play, but he is the other player who needs to fear the Amnesty Clause.  He has bounced back and forth from starting and coming in off of the bench in his career, if he projects as the starting 4, he would be slightly out of position and even worse defensively than Jerebko.  With him, the Pistons gain some depth in the front court, though having a bunch of mediocre and undersized big men hardly counts as depth.

The Pistons are in a rough spot, and that game does not provide many signs of improvement.  This team will probably struggle and might eke out wins against the other mediocre teams in the East and West, but I would not expect them to contend for a playoff spot.

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