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Just messing around, getting triple doubles
Category Archives: Detroit Pistons
November 5, 2015Posted by on
On November 3rd, Andre Drummond, all of 22-years-old, notched the second 25-25 game of his career with 25 points on 12-17 shooting and 29 rebounds – a career high. In the process he joined Al Jefferson and Dwight Howard as the only three active players in the league with more than one 25-25 game. Guys like Shaq, Tim Duncan, Patrick Ewing only achieved the feat once in their storied careers, but at 22 Drummond’s already done it twice.
As I looked over this list in all its randomness dating back to 1985-86 (which is worth noting because Wilt Chamberlain, that giant NBA version of Babe Ruth, had three seasons where he averaged 25-25 and went for 30 and 23 as a career average), a few things stuck out in their oddball numerical beauty:
- Hakeem Olajuwon sits on the modern 25-25 throne with five such games
- One of Olajuwon’s games was a 32-point, 25-rebound, 10-block performance which I’ve previously written about and is one of the more dominant/lopsided individual stat lines I’ve come across.
- The highest game score on the list is a 48.6 from Olajuwon on a night back in 1987 when he stuck it to the Sonics of Seattle for 49 points, 25 boards and six blocks. What the shit kind of night is that?
- Kenneth Faried joined the club last year in a game in which he played just 30 minutes – the least minutes of anyone in the club.
- RIP Lorenzen Wright
- And finally, the similarities between Dwight’s and Drummond’s appearances on this list.
By the time he was 21, Howard had his two 25-25s and I can only assume that most folks suspected these wouldn’t be the last two such games of his career. And given that he’s just turning 30 in a few weeks, it’s possible he tacks on a few more, but since his peak is well in the rearview, it’s unlikely.
25-25s aside, the young Dwight-young Drummond connection comes with intrigue not because of the similarities: they’re both powerfully built centers that use size, skill, and athleticism to dominate and they’ve both been coached by Stan Van Gundy; but the nearer they become statistically the better the future looks for Drummond.
At the end of Howard’s fourth season he was a two-time all-star with appearances on the NBA All-Defensive second team, All-NBA third team and All-NBA first team. He was highly decorated and more than prepared to take the torch as the league’s best big man. Drummond was named to the All-NBA Rookie second team back in the day and that’s it. Despite his size and athleticism and despite numbers that favorably compare to Dwight, he’s been unable to crack the code of the NBA’s off-season awards.
My friend and esteemed basketball writer and thinker Ian Levy just wrote a nice in-depth piece on the dissimilarities between these two that goes well beyond simplifications of them being large athletes that rebound and dunk. And where Dwight’s defense has long been Hall-of-Fame level (he’s the only player since the inception of the Defensive Player of the Year award in 1982-83 to win it three straight seasons), Andre’s merely a good defender. Though we’re looking at significantly different players, there are intersections and overlaps between their first three seasons. Below, in the most unscientific way possible, I’ve attempted to identify these intersections via my own made up statistic that includes traditional big man stats PPG, RPG, BPG combined with PER minus turnovers to arrive at an arbitrary stat for each of Andre and Dwight’s first three years in the league.
The above unscientific approach is interesting because it takes a variety of stats and makes a fat stat patty out of them which, when viewed in their entirety is strikingly similar in terms of progression and production. Additionally, through three seasons, both players were 21 and were just getting to know Van Gundy: he didn’t start coaching Howard until his fourth season and Drummond in his third. None of the above is presented to imply that Drummond = Dwight. Drummond is a much better offensive rebounder and plays more to his own strengths offensively which results in less turnovers. Young Dwight was the superior defender, (somehow) had a broader array of offensive moves, and was able to stay on the court for longer stretches without getting in foul trouble.
And yet, even with those copious variations, the statistical similarities are hard to overlook. If we shift forward with a similar eye and the little four-game sample we have of this season, it doesn’t take ultra-optimism to imagine a 2015-16 season out of Drummond. Dwight made significant leaps in his fourth year with improvements in scoring (ppg and FTA/game), rebounding (total boards and rebounding rate), and offensive and defensive impact (career bests in offensive and defensive win shares and offensive and defensive rating). Four games into 2015-16 is too few to plant any flags in Drummond making a similar leap, but with the paint cleared of former running mate Greg Monroe and a hand-crafted SVG roster that creates greater space for Drummond, the magic eight ball indicates sunny days for the big man. Or, if November 3rd’s ridiculous 25-29 game provides some kind of symbolic indicator of the future, then step to the side, lest you be dunk slammed on by the giant Andre Drummond.
November 3, 2014Posted by on
Brandon Jennings‘s incomparable Cali-born swagger is part of the reason he’s in the NBA. When we’re finally able to measure player confidence, we’ll find that Jennings’s confidence in Jennings borders on the absurd and so far that’s been enough. Despite miserable shooting that’s followed him from Italy to Milwaukee to Detroit, he keeps finding work as a starter, but how long will it last under the no-nonsense regime of Stan Van Gundy? Just three games into the 2014-15 season and incumbent journeyman point guard/tight beard-line wearing D.J. Augustin is creeping into Jennings’s minutes like a spider nibbling away at his ink-covered skin in the night. And Brandon is not happy! Or is he?
Like point guards passing through an identity crisis-having team, these are the days of Stan Van Gundy’s life. And while I’m certain SVG has the pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses of each point guard narrowed to the granular details, what offers a guide to competition better than boxing’s tried and true Tale of the Tape format? Nothing, so let’s get to the tape and see who’s really the best fit for Detroit’s lead guard spot. To quote the great Liquid Swords, “you don’t understand my words, but you must choose one. So come boy, choose life or death:”
March 11, 2013Posted by on
The chorus from left to right:
- Eric Bledsoe wearing a black suit, his view almost blocked by a teammate. His expression is one of in-the-moment processing mashed up with the first hints that something smells awful.
- Ryan Hollins: Hands on head, shock and surprise. Perhaps one of the more excitable players in the league already; this moment will likely be the highlight of his season—even if the Clips win a title.
- Trey Thompkins: Fairly certain this is Thompkins and Thompkins has seen the light. He looks like a man seeing the gates of Heaven open before his eyes and he can’t believe he’s worthy of being there.
- Jamal Crawford: Arms extended above his head in a classic NBA Dunk Contest pose that simultaneously communicates his rating of a 10 and the ending of the contest (or in this case, the game).
- Blake Griffin: A dunker extraordinaire in his own right, Griffin jumped off the bench and can be seen looking to his right where he promptly ran although his destination was undetermined. He eventually had to be restrained by coach Vinny Del Negro.
- Maalik Wayns: Just signed to a 10-day contract a couple days ago, Wayns’ reaction was natural, unbridled.
- Willie Green: It was almost like Green was being swept away in the reverberations of the dunk and collision. The face stretched with the mouth agape in a stretched out “OOOOOOHHHHHHHHHH” is clearly one of the more natural reactions to aerial collisions that occur with this force.
- Joe Resendez: Had to do a big of digging to identify Mr. Resendez who acts as the assistant athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach. He kind of looks like Ben Stiller, but that doesn’t matter much. We expect our coaches and staff members to stay mostly buttoned up, but Resendez looks caught up in the moment. His teeth are clenched, his face masked in aggression. He’s enjoying Brandon Knight’s pain.
- Marc Iavaroni: The half of his face that we can see looks a little like a young Brent Musburger. Of all the faces we’ve seen so far, Iavaroni’s is the first that shows an actual concern for Knight.
The witnesses from left to right:
- Caron Butler: It’s hard to gauge his reaction at this point. On the video clip, we can see him making faces, but in this fresh, post-dunk moment, he seems to be contemplatively pitying Knight.
- Charlie Villanueva: Perhaps the most telling reaction of all the players. Villanueva’s is one that expresses to us not just the ill fate of his teammate, but that Knight’s embarrassment is symbolic of Detroit’s night: Far away from home in your opponent’s house without a friend in sight. Not only are you and your mates thrashed by 32 points, but your opponent is humiliating you and enjoying a celebration at your expense. This is a terrible moment for Detroit’s morale.
- Lamar Odom: In the video, you can catch Odom yelling enthusiastically, but at this point he seems more interested in the bench’s reaction. He was drifting away from the play after setting a screen on Villanueva and was the player on the court furthest from the epicenter of the carnage.
- Greg Monroe: Possibly my favorite reaction. He’s frozen; caught between his natural urge to react similar to the Clippers bench. You can see his lips prepping for the “OOOOOOOHHHHHHHH,” but his self-control is strong enough to maintain his composure. So he stands and stares, paralyzed between his urges and his self-control.
- Chris Paul: The archetypal table setter, Paul tossed the lob that led to the thunderous smash and celebrated appropriately.
- Bennett Salvatore: Salvatore is serious, committed to professionalism and has spent decades witnessing up close the athletic feats of NBA players. That being said, there’s a sense of surprise and hints of entertainment hiding in those creases and behind the eyes.
The Combatants, from left to right:
- DeAndre Jordan: The destroyer incarnate. A story on NBA.com suggested there’s a 76-pound difference between the 6’11” Jordan (he looks more like 7’0”+) and the 6’3” Knight. In today’s NBA, Jordan’s reaction was completely within the boundaries we’re used to. He had this to say about his dunk: “I didn’t see Brandon until I caught the ball … After that it was just a wrap. Usually, when I get that dunk nobody is right there, but this is the first time somebody tried to block it.”
- Brandon Knight: Handling things well:
And if you’ve made it this far, here’s the dunk in all its glorious violence:
December 12, 2011Posted by on
Around the same time the Great Recession hit Detroit, something happened to what felt the Midas Touch (Darko aside) Detroit Pistons General Manager Joe Dumars possessed. The Recession crippled Detroit as bad as any city in the country. City Mayor and former Pistons guard, Dave Bing resorted to bulldozing buildings and vacant houses, downsizing a city once that once stood for the blue collar industriousness of an entire nation. Across the way in Auburn Hills, a team built on the same ethos as its city, right down to their gritty slogan, “If it ain’t rough, it ain’t right,” paralleled the city’s decline. Sport imitating life?
It was a swift fall from NBA grace (59 wins in 2007-08 to 39 wins in 08-09 to 27 wins in 09-10) for the Eastern Conference’s standard bearer of the mid-2000s, but the team changed for the worse, just like its home city. For Detroit, it appears to be a surface-level change. The auto industry might be smarter, leaner and more efficient, but the labor force still drives the final product. The Pistons? Dumars? Not so sure Charlie Villanueva for over $35 mill and Ben Gordon for $58 million is smart, lean or efficient.
I’ve read and heard Joe’s supporter’s claims that his hands have been tied over the past few years while Pistons’ ownership was in limbo. It’s hard to believe that line when Dumars is on the hook for the above amnesty-worthy contracts or the severely flawed, 54-game Allen Iverson experiment. Did Joe just get lucky with Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, the Wallaces and Larry Brown? Or is he a savvy GM chomping at the bit to build one more winner?
For the here and now, the Pistons are about as exciting as bread sandwiches. They’re a mix of young and old with two ties to the championship squad of 2004 remaining: Prince and Big Ben Wallace. Rip Hamilton and his mask have finally departed, leaving the two-guard spot to the aforementioned Gordon; a 6’3” guard whose style and physique recall the Microwave, Vinnie Johnson. In Detroit, Gordon’s efficiency has taken a slight dip to his pre-Pistons career, but his opportunities have dried up—minutes/game (down 15%), shots/game (down 30%)—and impacted his productivity. At point guard, Rodney Stuckey may or may not return, but what impact does this 50 Cent doppelganger really have? Is there a drastic drop-off from Stuckey to Will the Thrill Bynum or rookie guard, Brandon Knight? The lineup data at 82games.com says yes as Stuckey consistently appeared in the Pistons most productive lineups. The backcourt isn’t depressing unless you’re in search of the next Isaiah/Dumars or Billups/Hamilton. If you’re cool with an average-to-slightly-above-average backcourt, then you’ll love Detroit’s backcourt.
Nine of out of ten basketball fans agree the chief (no Parish) reason they tune into Pistons games is to see Greg Monroe. The remaining one of ten is player’s families and Jonas Jerebko fans (don’t sleep on Jerebko). In his first season in Detroit, Monroe showed a keen and practical basketball mind. Imagine a bespectacled Monroe reading the channels and dimples of a basketball. This is the guy I see. At 6’11”, Monroe’s smooth and comfortable passing out of the high or low posts, provides coverage on the boards and proved capable of scoring—although we didn’t see him presented with too many scoring opportunities as a rookie. New coach Lawrence Frank has referred to him as a “hub” on offense. I like it, but I’m not sure if it’s more of a compliment to Monroe’s versatility or an indication of the rest of the Pistons’ offensive woes.
After the toxic stench that permeated last year’s locker room and nearly led to a mutiny; a new owner and coach probably make the early season feel like one long Sunny Sunday morning. Rip, T-Mac and Kuester have all left the building, leaving Dumars and Frank to work overtime to rebuild this team. Success won’t happen overnight and it’ll take some creativity to escape the Gordon/Villanueva mistakes, but as the architect of the only NBA champion of the past 20 years to not revolve around the gravity of at least one superstar, Joe’s proven capable of being successful by taking a different route.