Tag Archives: Greg Monroe

The Detroit Pistons: on the Cusp

Hope again (The Associated Press)

Hope again (The Associated Press)

Summer League brings with it a new sense of hope. It alleviates the summer doldrums that occur after the Finals have ended, the NBA Draft, and the start of training camps. This renewed feeling of enthusiasm is especially true for teams that have been mediocre or worse for a number of years. Perhaps the sense of renewal will never completely pan out in the long-term. However, for a time, it allows for a glimmer of what might be, new heights, and a new beginning.

The Detroit Pistons have not had a winning record since the 2007-08 season. Detroit’s fall from grace mirrored the fall of the city’s overall economic collapse, though basketball had nothing to do with the underlying issues that the city succumbed to. Nonetheless, as often is the case, sports teams are symbols of a city or region. They serve as an escape from the realities of everyday life. For Detroit, though, the Pistons are not an escape. The team and city have been through so much since the Pistons won the NBA Championship in 2004 that it is a distant memory. With Summer League in full swing now, the Pistons, and their fans, may actually have something to look forward to.

With the eighth pick in this summer’s Draft, the Pistons selected Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a guard out of Georgia. Caldwell-Pope’s best asset is his ability to pull up and make pump shots. With the frontcourt duo of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe clogging the middle and drawing double-teams, Caldwell-Pope’s opportunities, should he be on the court with one or the other, to get open looks should be frequent.

In the second round, Detroit selected North Texas’ Tony Mitchell. If ever there was a pure athlete, Mitchell is it. (I wrote about him in detail here.) What he brings to the table is an NBA body combined with phenomenal leaping ability. He is also adept at finishing at, but more than likely above, the rim as well as blocking shots.

The Piston’s also selected point guard Peyton Siva, from Louisville, in the second round. Silva is more of a defender than offensive threat, however he manages the pick-and-roll well. This skill will come in handy with the aforementioned frontcourt players as well as Mitchell. Of course, as with all rookies, his skills will only be in service if he sees playing time. Nonetheless, the Pistons hauled a promising young group of players in this year’s Draft.

Perhaps, though, the biggest addition to the Detroit roster is the free agent signing of Josh Smith. Smith has proven time and again that he has the capability of playing at an extremely high level and was one of the most coveted free agents this summer. The Pistons now have a star to build around and many pieces are already in place. However, Smith is not the most refined player. He is prone to taking jumpshots all to often, as shown here. Where Smith is most efficient and effective is within nine feet of the basket. Therefore, his role in Detroit is a tricky one to figure out.

With Monroe likely remaining as the starting power forward, Smith will move into the small forward spot. Drummond and Monroe do much of the heavy lifting inside. With his propensity to take so many ill-advised and low percentage jumpers, Smith could once again drift from the paint with it occupied. If this happens, it could turn out poorly for the Pistons. It will take a degree of ingenuity on the part of new Head Coach Maurice Cheeks to open up lanes and allow Smith to get his shots on the inside.

A solid model to study would be that of last year’s Denver Nuggets. That team took the vast majority of their shots, 55.74 percent, within eight feet of the basket. With so many big men, Mitchell included, who can score well inside, it would behoove Detroit to attempt something similar.

There are still a lot of uncertainties with the Pistons. It is a new new for all respects. Yet, there is reason to believe that this could be the start of Detroit’s turnaround. They had a solid draft and brought in a big-name All Star. Not only that, but a member of Detroit’s last championship team, the beloved Rasheed Wallace, has joined Cheeks’ coaching staff as an assistant. That in and of itself should be reason to take interest in this year’s team.

Summer League has a funny way of leading to the “what-ifs” of the season to come. Detroit’s team has shown promise, especially the play of Drummond. While nothing may pan out, we can all  hope for the best. Right now, that is all Detroit has but at least  the pieces are there to make things interesting until opening day. And that is the joy of Summer League.

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Another Exhibition Game featuring NBA Players scheduled in D.C.

Once more for charity

The nation’s capital and the surrounding area has hosted several prominent basketball games this summer. Exhibitions such as the Goodman League versus the Drew League and the Goodman League versus the Melo League saw NBA stars descending on the area to suit up. With the NBA lockout still in full effect, these games, along with the FIBA tournaments in Europe and the Americas, have been a small respite for basketball fans longing to see their favorite players on the court once more. Now, according to Michael Lee of the Washington Post, it looks like there is another game in the works, this time for charity, that will feature only NBA players.

The game, billed as the “Clash of the Superstars,” was organized by Hanif Hill, a trainer who has worked with several NBA players including Kevin Durant, Greg Monroe, Michael Beasley, Tyreke Evans, and Monta Ellis. Durant, who has appeared at seemingly every basketball event this summer, and Monroe have committed to playing in the game. Other players who are slated to play are Jeff Green, DeMarcus Cousins, James Harden, Eric Maynor, Kemba Walker, Jarrett Jack, Corey Brewer, Samardo Samuels, and John Wall, who may not play but will attend.

Event proceeds will benefit the Boys & Girls Club 10, the Calomiris YMCA, National Capital YMCA, and Capital Elite Academy. The game will take place Saturday, September 17.

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Blake Griffin named NBA Rookie of the Year

Slam dunk

Blake Griffin receiving this award was just as inevitable as Derrick Rose being named the MVP. All that was really left was the prerequisite ceremony. Griffin is the first unanimous Rookie of the Year since David Robinson during the 1989-90 season garnering all 118 first place votes for 590 points.

This is not surprising since Griffin, the Los Angeles Clippers’ power forward, averaged 22.5 points, 12.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists (the only player in the league to average these numbers), shot 50.6 percent from the floor, and averaged 8.5 free throw attempts per game. He also had 63 double-doubles on the season. The numbers are remarkable but pale in comparison to his high-flying acrobatics and thunderous dunks. He was the slam dunk champion, after all.

Rounding out those who also received votes were John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Landry Fields, Gary Neal, and Greg Monroe.

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Filed under 2010-11 Awards

Player Protest: Imported from Detroit

Where is everybody?

Do not let Eminem fool you. Detroit still sucks. Their basketball team is no better. According to Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News, five players decided to protest the team’s practice today and did not attend.

Tracy McGrady, Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton and Chris Wilcox did not show up for practice along with Ben Wallace, who has been dealing with a family related issue for several weeks. Austin Daye and Rodney Stuckey also missed the shoot around and showed up as it was ending. They apparently missed the bus.

According to the report, McGrady missed the shoot around with a headache, Prince has a stomach flu, and Wilcox overslept with Hamilton missing the bus all together. He should have caught a ride with Daye and Stuckey. Better late than never, right, Rip?

These player protests have come to a head one day after the NBA trade deadline has come and gone. Detroit made no moves to relocate their various disgruntled players. Obviously, the players did not take kindly to the Pistons standing pat.

So now it seems the atmosphere of Egypt (or is Libya more en vogue now?) has taken hold of the lowly Pistons. This holdout was as much a protest against the team’s lack of movement yesterday as it was a universal condemnation of their head coach, John Kuester.

Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell, Will Bynum, Ben Gordon, Greg Monroe, and DaJuan Summers were the only players present at the shoot around. Jonas Jerebko also attended but was undergoing rehabilitation therapy after surgery on his right Achilles.

Kuester stated, “We have some things … some excuses, not excuses, absences because of headaches and stuff like that. We’ll go with this group right now.” The group he is referring to is the players who showed up for practice.

If he follows up on his threat to only play those who showed up that would mean that the Pistons will only field six players Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Congratulations, Sixers, on your impending 29th victory!

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Filed under 2010-11 Regular Season, Players