Ten Games In: About where I thought we’d be, sort of

One week into the young season, this team looked like it could lose all 82; in the midst of that dismal beginning, I offered some analysis that suggested the Pistons might win 34 games (or be a .415 ball club). After 10 games, the Detroit Pistons are 4-6 (or a .400 ball club). Yes, the sample is small, but our record thus far corresponds with what I anticipated in terms of winning percentage and record. However, the performances of individual players doesn’t, at least not in every case.  Here’s what the Automated Wins Produced Numbers tell us about the players’ performance through 10 games.

2010-11-15 Wins Produced

I thought an interesting approach to reviewing the team after 10 games would be to revisit some of my thoughts about individual players to see what I got right and what I got wrong. Complete box score stats here, courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.

Rodney Stuckey: Will the real Rodney Stuckey please stand up? Or thinking pessimistically, is he already standing? After a blistering start, Stuckey has regressed significantly. While what we’ve seen on the whole is better than what we’ve seen historically (at least a little bit anyway), the past several games have been relatively poor – and that up and down play is something that’s plagued Rodney his entire career. Three games of brilliant play followed by seven of mediocre or worse.

Austin Daye is not a PF. He’s playing most of his minutes out of position (in spite of the automated numbers having him at SF 49% of the time), and he’s struggling mightily. It would be nice to see him get minutes at SF and SG, but that seems unlikely to happen barring a major roster overhaul. I’m still optimistic about his future, and he has dug himself out of the negative range of late. Still, it’s not what I expected.

Ben Gordon is playing some of the best ball of his career and certainly the best we’ve seen from him as a Piston (barring the start of last season pre-injury). My only concern with Gordon is that his spike in productivity has been tied to almost superhuman shooting percentages for a guard whose game is predicated on jump shooting. Can he keep burning up the nets, or will he eventually cool off?

Charlie Villanueva: in spite of shooting the ball and scoring very well, Charlie’s not having the career year I’d hoped for, at least not yet. This is largely due to the fact that he appears to have an aversion for rebounding the basketball, and rebounding – especially from your big men – matters.

Tracy McGrady has made me enjoy eating crow so far. He’s looked much better than I thought he could, and that’s been reflected in the numbers. Per minute, he’s been the second-best player on the team; unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to play big minutes, and it’s not clear if he will. In any case, I had him completely wrong.

Greg Monroe: after a miserable start, Monroe continues to play … well, not that good. However, he has been a much better rebounder than I anticipated, which is an excellent sign. He’s struggled to finish around the rim (and, well, from everywhere else, too), and he doesn’t look like he’ll ever be a shot-blocker. But he’s showed that he can and appears to have a desire to rebound the basketball, and that’s a good place to start.

Rip and Tayshaun: Ugh. I’m not sure what else to say. They look miserable on the court, both in terms of demeanor and performance, and the numbers don’t provide any consolation. As much as I’ve pulled for these players for the better part of a decade, it appears their time in Detroit is coming to an end quickly.

Ben Wallace: The Benaissance continues! That is all.

To conclude this rather lengthy post I’ll revisit the three questions that I think are key for the Pistons this season:

  • Can our productive veterans (Big Ben and Tay) stay healthy and productive? Yes (!!) and no respectively.
  • Can some of our new pieces (McGrady, Gordon, Charlie V) return to form? More than yes, more than yes, and not even close.
  • Can even even one of our young players (Daye, Stuckey, and I’m adding Monroe) take a significant step forward? Not yet.

10 thoughts on “Ten Games In: About where I thought we’d be, sort of

  1. *semi-rainbow alert*
    It looks to me like Daye might be turning a corner. His non-scoring stats are holding steady, and his scoring efficiency is trending way up because of a hot streak from 3. Daye’s 3 point shooting % will go down, but there’s still some unrealized potential as he’s barely gotten to the line at all, if he can improve even a little bit at drawing free throws, his scoring efficiency should stay pretty good. He’s definitely not a PF, but paradoxically (to go back to a debate we had about a week ago), because of the crap-ness of the Pistons other candidates for minutes at PF, I think there is a chance that Daye is Q’s best option at PF on the roster.

    And I admit, that’s probably a stretch, but I really just don’t trust CV at all. He tries, and his intentions are good, and he’s a nice guy, but he just doesn’t seem to have an intuitive grasp of how to help produce wins, outside of making jump shots.

    The danger of Daye at PF is if it somehow hinders his development as a wing player, which is where his upside is much higher. So yeah, trade Tay and Rip!

  2. I know the automated numbers aren’t perfect, but doesn’t Monroe almost always play as our PF, either with Wallace or Maxiell? Maybe he is our ‘center’ when he is with Villanueva, but he certainly seems to be being groomed for PF. As I understand it, this doesn’t make much of a difference in WP48, it is just something I noticed. Finally, while Villanueva is not great, he has been more productive than Daye, and I am suprised that he does not start given his salary. In general, it seems our bench (Gordon, McGrady, and Villanueva) should start, and our starters (Rip, Tay, Daye) should come off the bench.

    • The difference between positions isn’t huge, but we also have his raw production – so we can easily compare him to other PFs or Cs.

      However, he does appear to play C more often than not to my eye, although I have missed the last 2 games (or at least parts).

      But overall, this roster makes cross-positional matchups common, I.e., BG playing St on offense but PG on defense. So for now I will ztickwith the automated numbers to now and perhaps examine position’s more deeply after 20 games.

  3. Ra’s Head:

    CV’s been better than Daye, but CV still hasn’t been very good, whereas with Daye, there’s still hope that he might keep improving. Even after suffering through the coldest shooting slump I’ve ever seen, Daye has already made up most of the ground between he and CV in terms of WP48.

    Comparing Daye and CV side by side, Daye is rebounding slightly better but not getting as many FT’s, and he has been more turnover prone and is blocking less shots.

    Optimistically, Daye’s turnover rate and ability to draw FT’s should improve with experience, and in college he was actually a better shot-blocker than CV, so I’m hopeful he can rediscover that skill as well.

    • I hear you, it is pretty early to give up on Daye of course and he does have potential. We will see. Mostly I wonder if Daye can realize his potential playing so much time as a PF. I’d rather have him start at SF over Tay, but that would probably cause some controversy.

  4. Expect Mr. Daye to be able to gradually grow into the PF position for the Pistons.

    Although his gait and turnover make it highly unlikely that he will ever be a top-class OG/SF in the NBA; his upside at the PF position is, quite frankly, limitless.

    As he bulks up over the next several seasons … if the Pistons are truly commited to seeing him develop at this position for their team … Austin Daye has the capacity to become a better player than Rasheed Wallace ever was for Detroit.

    And, given the level of respect I have for Sheed, that is not an idle compliment which I’m paying to him.

    It is going to be very interesting indeed to see how Joe D. shifts around his chess pieces over the course of the next few seasons … because, in the form of still young players like Rodney Stuckey, Austin Daye, Jonas Jerebko, DaJaun Summers, Greg Monroe and Terrico White, there is actually a good deal more NBA level talent on the Pistons’ current roster than many of their die-hard fans realize.

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