Meek Luke Kennard.

The Pistons drafted Luke Kennard with the 12th overall pick in the draft last night. Despite some rumblings that the Pistons were involved in various talks for deals, they did not end up making any, although that can still change obviously. Also if you want to hear what me and Halbridious thought of him on our Draft prep podcast you can listen to that here. (It should be timestamped right into where we talk about Kennard. If it isn't it is right at 28 minutes in)

 

So who is Luke Kennard?

Luke Kennard is a 6'6 shooting guard out of Duke, who played high school ball in Franklin Ohio, where he famously scored more points than LeBron James in his high school career. In his freshmen season he played 26.7 minutes per game and put up a line of 11.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists all of which was on solid efficiency. In his sophomore year he made a big leap, playing 35.5 minutes per game, scoring 19.5 points, grabbing 5.1 rebounds, and dishing 2.5 assists per game. He did this while shooting 43.8% from 3 on 5.4 attempts per game, and a TS% of 63%(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) WHICH IS ABSURD FOR A GUARD. He was a 2nd team all american this past year.

 

WHAT ABOUT MITCHELL??

Lets just address this right at the start. A lot of people are pretty upset that the Pistons did not take Donovan Mitchell, the guard out of Kentucky. And while I admittedly am not a huge college basketball guy so I am not a great source for whether or not that is warranted or not, a lot of smart guys really like Mitchell. The main thing I will say is that the biggest complaint people have with Kennard is that they liked Mitchell better, and no one should dislike him much beyond that, because if you look at Kennard's game, there is a ton to like. So even if you wanted Mitchell instead, and even if Mitchell ends up being a better player, that doesn't mean that Kennard isn't going to be good too. On top of that is the obvious caveat of that neither of them have played a single NBA minute yet, remember how upset many people where (including me) when the Pistons passed on Trey Burke for KCP? Lets just give it some time. The main thing I hope is that people do not constantly bring down Kennard because he isn't Mitchell, lets judge Luke Kennard based on what he does, and look at all the stuff he has to offer, because holy smokes this kid has a lot to offer.

 

The Good:

Luke Kennard can freaking score the basketball. You have certainly heard the term “shooter” associated with him a bunch, and with good reason. Kennard was generally regarded as the best shooter in the draft and supposedly blew away people at his workouts with how well he shot the 3, and even just the raw stats in college of 43.8% on 5.4 attempts per game is pretty staggering without any context beyond that. But this guy can do a lot more than just shoot, he can legitimately handle the ball and has a fluidity to his game that you don't often see with college players. It is kind of hard to explain, but it is especially clear to someone like me who watches an unhealthy amount of NBA basketball, but most college players, even really good ones, have a certain herky-jerky aspect of their games that suggests the fact that they are still babies who are not really comfortable in their super long bodies. But Kennard is not that, this is kind of silly, but all of his moves looked like NBA moves. Obviously shooting is a central part of his game and is his most attractive quality to the Pistons, but he is not a shooter who happens to be 6'6 so he is a shooting guard in the same vein that Anthony Tolliver is a shooter who happens to be 6'9 so he is a 4. Kennard is a shooting guard who happens to be a really good shooter.

 

With the shooting though, just his 3 points shooting. Kid can stroke it. He checks all the right boxes for a lethal 3 point shooter, he has a really quick, and fairly high release. He is able to hit shots from every position, whether as a simple spot up guy, off the dribble, coming rocketing off a screen to stop on a dime and pull up Ray Allen style, off balance, and even just straight up rising over top of smaller dudes. But once again, it should be stated that he isn't just a 3 point shooter, he can shoot inside from a lot of angles as well.

 

Kennard is also not unathletic, which continues to theoretically break his “Typical white guy” mold. I'm not saying that he is going to be posterizing people all over the place, but the comparisons to Reddick or Kyle Korver that have been thrown around a bunch are the most wrong in this area. Neither of those guys were good athletes even by college standards. Kennard can get up, has real speed and real quickness. We will see how he looks on an NBA court, but he has some real tools in the athletic department. He is able to use those tools together with an nice array of nifty finishes to be an effective scorer at the hoop and in the paint as well. He really is a very complete offensive player and scorer.

 

Lastly, he also has some signs of nice peripherals beyond just scoring. While not a high assist guy, he showed and ability and willingness to make good passes with some regularity, occasionally dipping beyond just the obvious ones and getting into some really nice ones. Essentially he looks like he won't have to make the progression from “does he know he can pass to open guys?” to “generally makes the right pass and even occasionally nice ones” that KCP has made, as Kennard pretty much sits at that second point right now. On top of that, he showed pretty decent rebounding ability for a guard, which also backs up the idea that he is not a bum athletically by any stretch.

 

The last thing that is great about Kennard, and is something that a lot of people have missed I think, is that he is 20 years old, and he only turned 20 like last week. You just don't very often see guys who are that young and that polished, and that sort of thing does absolutely matter when you think about the ceiling of a player. So many people overly focus on athletic ability when talking about a players ceiling, but skill plays a major part as well. So for instance, most people would've said Stanley Johnson had much higher potential when he was drafted than Kennard does, and many would likely still agree with this sentiment now. But Stanley Johnson is still learning how to do some basic NBA things on offense, Kennard should have that stuff down already, and can work on more complex things. Think of Andre Drummond, he has improved every area of his game from when he came into the league, but his starting point was so low that he is still lacking in a lot of areas, if he had started at a higher point and made the same improvements he would be a much better player today.

 

All in all, Kennard is not JJ Reddick, or Kyle Korver, or any other stereotypical white guy who just shoots 3s. There is a chance that his best version of an NBA player looks similar in the end, but out of college, he is able to do a lot more, in a lot more variety, at a younger age, than most guys who end up being just shooters.

 

The Bad:

He's a white guy from Duke. This cannot be ignored. I hate Duke, you hate Duke, everyone hates Duke. On top of that, white guys from Duke have a long history of being somewhere between mediocre to just pretty good in the NBA despite awesome college careers, and there is no amount of off the dribble 3s, drives to the basket, and athletic dunks that can scrub that from my mind when thinking of Kennard.

 

As far as things that have nothing to do with stereo types, there is legitimate worry about his defensive abilities, and SVG was wonderfully blunt about it in his presser, saying that Kennard's entire mentality had to be different on that end. But he added that of the top 20 guys on their draft board, 2 of them played defense in college, and they seem to think that Kennard has as good a shot of becoming a decent defender as any of them. But the fact still stands, he will have his work cut out for him on that end. He has enough athleticism that he could become something, but he isn't big or long for a shooting guard. Essentially the main worry defensively is that in college he didn't exactly come off as a real grinder who is at least in the right spot and always playing hard defensively, and even though he isn't a bad athlete, he certainly isn't a good enough one to survive without working his tail off on that end. FWIW though, SVG has been part of a lot of players making improvements on the defensive end in his coaching career so there is reason for optimism there. Essentially Kennard, at best, is going to be a serviceable defender.

 

In the end though, the defense isn't my main worry with him. SVG will get him to not be a total bum on that end in all likelihood. I'm worried about his bust potential with his scoring. This probably sounds odd after I just spent the entire good section talking about what a great and versatile scorer he is, but here is the thing. For him to really be good, the Pistons will probably need him to be able to do some of that ball handling and shot creating, and it is always a bit worrying when you get a guy who isn't a great athlete, but is a great scorer in college. Because there are guys for whom the difference in speed, length, and size, is enough that they no longer can create enough space to score or pass well in the NBA. And the reason this worries me is because there isn't really anything to be done about it, it is a problem Darrun Hilliard has, when he plays in the G-League he literally is James Harden esque, but in the NBA he has been mostly terrible, and there is probably nothing that Hilliard can try and do to change his game to change that other than hope it is still just small sample size and bad luck. Essentially with these types, sometimes you end up being James Harden, and sometimes you end up being Trey Burke. And if you end up being Trey Burke, there is really nothing you can do to change it, the thing that makes you special as a basketball player is something you literally cannot do effectively on the NBA stage. Obviously the benefit is that Kennard is a good enough shooter that even if he can't create looks for himself consistently he can still have a chance to go the Korver/Reddick route and still be a useful player, but that is a hard route to take and most guys fail.

 

Where does he fit with the Pistons?

He figures to slot right into the rotation as the backup SG. Assuming the Pistons do retain KCP this means Bullock is very likely to be gone, and depending on how things go I wouldn't even be shocked to see Hilliard be let go. (Though I'd still bet on Hilliard being on the team) His minutes are likely to depend heavily on how much SVG ends up trusting his defense, which means there is a good chance that SVG will drive everyone crazy the entire year (again) by constantly talking about how they need to shoot the ball better from 3 (again) while at the same time leaving the teams best shooter on the bench. (again) HOWEVA, based on what the team has said, they seem to think Kennard can make some contributions right away, and even if it isn't a major role, I would expect him to get some real run. He will likely join the bench mob to make it Ish/Kennard/Stanley/Leuer/Boban and unless Stanley or Leuer make big improvements shooting the ball, it may be close to a requirement to have Kennard with those lineups so that they can score at all, because even with Kennard that is some ugly spacing. Regardless of how much he ends up playing, the Pistons should be hoping for him to be a guy who can come off the bench and provide some offensive spark when on the floor, both in terms of his shooting and the spacing he should provide, and also with him creating looks for himself.

 

Upshot for the rest of the roster:

Once again, Bullock is very likely gone, but the big question mark remains KCP at this point. The Pistons really like Kennard, and the fact that they did draft a shooting guard (so even if they had taken Mitchell instead this would likely still be true) they will probably be able to be a bit more brave in playing hardball with KCP in contract talks, but I don't think they see him as a guy who is good enough that they will get too brave. Letting KCP walk and pushing Kennard into very major minutes (whether as a starter or off the bench if they started Stanley at the 2) is most likely a “break in case of emergency” in the grand scheme of things, but had they not taken a shooting guard they wouldn't even have anything to break in an emergency. This also likely knocks Hilliard down another peg and likely ensures him to never end up getting any real minutes. Lastly, Stanley will have some real pressure on him heading into this season, if SVG sticks with his beloved 9 man rotation and Kennard outplays Stanley in camp, he could be in very real danger. Hopefully though SVG is able to pull his head out of his own ass long enough to just do a 10 man rotation and play Kennard at the 2 and Stanley at the 3 as God intended.

 

Most realistic (if a bit optimistic perhaps) NBA comparison:

Evan Fournier. I was feeling particularly brave and nearly said CJ McCollum, but decided to tone it down a bit and go for a poor mans CJ McCollum, which is Evan Fournier. Not an elite scorer, but a guy who can get you buckets in a variety of ways and is a really good outside shooter, not a great defender but serviceable. The one caveat here is that Fournier is a bit bigger than Kennard but not by too wide a margin. But watching Kennard I really came away thinking that this guy is going to be more than a shooter, he is a scorer who is a good shooter. And FWIW, if he ends up being as good as Fournier that would be awesome value for the 12th pick.

 

Absolute Upside:

The Pistons keep KCP at a decent rate which allows Kennard to ease into the NBA playing about 20 minutes per game from the bench. He immediately is a knockdown shooter and shows early flashes of being able to get buckets for himself, but mostly is a mess (but a hardworking one) on defense. After a year or two he really starts to come into his own as a scorer and smooths out his defensive problems and the Pistons trade away whoever is the starting SG at that point at which point Kennard gets the starting spot and given major reigns in the offense and become a 26 point scorer and Ellenson ascends at the same time and they become the Caucasian splash brothers leading the Pistons to 5 straight titles, meanwhile Donovan Mitchell washes out of the league for good measure.

 

The Downside:

SVG doesn't trust his defense and he rots on the bench, and when he does get into games he can't create his own looks and doesn't even shoot the 3 all that well. Essentially he does what Hilliard had done so far. Meanwhile Donovan Mitchell is leading the Utah Jazz to their 8th straight NBA championship.

 

The Verdict:

There is definitely a good chance that passing on Mitchell comes back to haunt the Pistons down the line, but when I put that and the stigma of him being a white guy from Duke aside, I am incredibly excited to see what this guy can do. His combination of youth and skill give him some real star potential, and his shooting and polish means that he is likely to be fairly useful right away. This is a good pick, and Pistons fans should be thrilled to have this guy.

 

Also, he is the sort of guy that will probably tear up the Summer league which is nice for all 10 of us who pay the 15 bucks for the Summer league pass lol.

 

 

What do you think? What is your NBA comparison? Do you like Kennard enough to let KCP walk? Or do you think so little of him that the Pistons should probably actually hold onto Bullock as well?

Finals, Game 1 recap and what changes for game 2. (Featuring waaay too many pictures)

A lot has been made already, but with game 2 coming down the pipe tonight, lets look back on game 1 and see where it may lead us in game 2. This is mostly going to focus on the Cavs because the Warriors don't have a lot they need to fix.

 

The Biggest Cavs problem:

They turned the ball over way too much, and a lot of them were not even ones that were just nice plays by the Warriors, some of them were just dumb passes and dumb losing of the ball. Like this from Kyrie.

 

Kyrie just straight up loses the ball on a spin move. A Kyrie isolation against Green is generally a matchup that the Cavs like, and Kyrie just blew it. There are plenty of other plays like this where guys just lost the ball, or passed the ball right to Warriors defenders. The Warriors will create plenty of turnovers on their own with their incredible length and athleticism, you don't need to help them at all. 

The Cavs also had a bad tendency to take early shots when there wasn't really a need to. 

On both of those shots, they essentially walked up the court, saw they were pretty open so they just shot a pull up two. Obviously those are not terrible shots, but if you are going to take shots that early in the clock, you would just assume they be better. FWIW, the whole concept of the Cavs playing offense too fast and turning it over was covered very well in this article.

 

What about the defense then?

Yeah, it was not pretty for the Cavs. Even if you make the argument that the Cavs biggest defensive issue is that their offense kept gifting transition opportunities to the Warriors, the Cavs still need to do better than this.

In this transition play, the Cavs are in fine defensive position when the ball is first coming up the court, guys are more or less where they should be and guarding who they should be. The LeBron just sort of decides to stand there and not guard anyone and the Warriors get a 2 on 1 with Dray and Zaza down low. Zaza missed this layup, but this is a really basic mistake that the Cavs have to avoid. Once again, the Warriors do enough damage in open court when you do everything right, they will force you into bad matchups and whip the ball around a scrambled defense, but you can't make it this easy for them.

And this brings us to the larger problem with the Cavs defense in game 1: General laziness, and a lot of it was LeBron.

Everything is going fine at the start of the possession, and then LeBron jus straight up forgets about Durant who gets an easy alley oop dunk. 

On this play, JaVale gets an offense rebound (which is another big problem, the Cavs can't allow so many second chances) and ends up tapping it outside to Curry, and all the Cavs defenders just stand. Obviously even if they had made an instant reaction and sprinted to the line Curry probably still gets the shot off, but once again, Steph does enough damage when there is defense, you can't make it this easy.

Here the Warriors run a really simple off ball screen for Curry, and Kyrie dies on the screen and even though it is kind of hard to tell in the picture, he has given up on the play when Steph is pulling up. While Love is holding back, for some reason. Obviously it isn't realistic to expect Kyrie to suddenly be dodging screens all over the place, he just isn't that good a defender even when he is trying, but he has to make better effort than this. 

Here is basically the same thing except for Klay Thompson. Just a basic off ball screen that Thompson can either try and cut to the hoop or pop back to the line with. Korver gets hung up on the screen, Love stays back for some reason, and in the last shot you can see both of them standing up straight, having given up on the play. Thompson is slumping, and would miss this shot (I think), but you can't do this. Korver either has to suck it up and jump out, or Love has to. 

 

What stuff did the Warriors mess up?

Honestly, close to nothing. IF the Cavs play better then they will likely expose a few more holes, but they made it so easy on the Warriors that there isn't much to complain about other than some missed layups, which the Cavs were also afflicted with.

Well I'm a Warriors fan, so I should feel great about my team?

Honestly yeah. The only thing that is really worrying for the Warriors is Klay's slump. I don't know for sure, but I would guess he hasn't had many slumps this long and hard. Obviously he could bust out at any moment, but the Finals are small sample size theatre, it is entirely possible he just shoots poorly the whole series. The plus side is that unless he starts to look totally broken (like passing up wide open 3s broken) there is no way the Cavs are going to start to really help off of him in any way. Essentially, even if he shoots poorly the whole series, the Cavs will continue to treat him as a good shooter.

 

Is there anything specifically that Warriors fans should be pleased with? And Cavs fans afraid of?

Yeah. This.

 

You can make arguments for why or why not, and I generally think Steph's "struggles" in the Finals the last couple years are kind of overstated. But there is no denying that he just had not really been himself in the Finals against the Cavs. For whatever reason, they knew how to get him a bit uncomfortable. That appears to be very far from the case after game 1, and dare I say that I think this was the best game Curry has played in the Finals. He hit a couple of these way out pull up 3s in game one, and if he is on and doing his thing, then the Cavs are in serious trouble. Getting Curry off his game is one of the less talked about and most important part of the Cavs having success agains the Warriors. Because shots like this break your defense, there is no other way to put it.

 

What about the Cavs? Is there anything that Cavs fans should take as a positive?

Well the one thing is that the Cavs played like crap, and are not likely to play that poorly again. So regardless of any changes, it is likely to get better for them. But once again, small sample size theater, if they play like crap one more game the whole may be too deep to climb out of.

 

What about a real positive thing that happened in game 1?

The biggest thing is probably Kevin Love honestly. He looked mostly viable on the defensive end, and caused some problems for the Warriors on the other end, and I think that Lue did a good job of trying to use him in situations where he can succeed. Take this defensive sequence.

 

This is just a really nice defensive play from Love (and the Cavs unit as a whole) Thompson gets a switch onto Irving and posts, Love comes to help, and when Klay passes out Love knows his guy is David West and stays in the paint since West is not likely to jack a 3. When the ball swings around to Green in the post and Thompson cuts to the hoop is the impressive part. Love had to be dead on with his rotation to the hoop, and he was, and ends up blocking Klay at the rim. There were quite a few plays like this from Love, where he made the right plays and stayed in his lane, along with the fact that he actually played hard on most defensive possessions. Obviously he has limitations and makes some mistakes, he is too hesitant to go out to shooters sometimes (seen earlier in this post) and also he can't just switch onto people, when he ended up one on one with Durant it went about as well as you would expect. When you consider that last year people basically decided that Love couldn't hardly be on the floor against the Warriors because he was so bad defensively, it is major progress for him. And he did some good stuff on offense as well, mostly being aggressive in forcing the issue when he found smaller guys on him.

Coming down the floor, Love finds Livingston guarding him (after guarding Livingston on the other end, a nice matchup the Cavs found for a few possessions) and forces the issue straight into the paint and Livingston has to foul him immediately to avoid an easy bucket. Things change fast in the Finals, but after game 1, Kevin Love's defense is far from being the Cavs biggest worry.

The other thing that should give Cavs fans some peace is that, despite all of the lazy possessions, and miscommunications. When the Cavs locked in they defended the Warriors quite well in the half court, so they do have the goods to do it and are not hopeless, the question is whether or not they can do it enough.

 

Biggest Question the Cavs have to answer for game 2?

Well the actual biggest one is whether they want to try hard or not. But beyond that, is they probably have to decide what they want LeBron to do. He clearly got a bit gassed in this game, and for all the memes about how he is only just hitting his prime, he is 32. He can't guard Durant, initiate damn near every offensive possession, and do it at a high pace, for 40+ minutes per game. They need to change something (or multiple things) whether that is slowing down the pace, (which would be a good idea regardless) having him guard someone else, or having others initiate more offensive possessions, or possibly even playing him less minutes. The Cavs need to have him do a bit less most of the game so that he can go all out at the things he is doing, and then when crunch time comes around you can let him be super man for a couple of minutes. Obviously this is easier said than done of course, this Cavs team still has not really proved they can consistently create good offense without LeBron unless Kyrie is hot, and they really have no other good options to guard Durant. 

 

Biggest Question the Warriors have to answer for game 2?

Can they stay ready for a good punch? This Warriors team has hardly been pushed at all then entire playoffs. Like they have barely even played any close games. IF the Cavs make the adjustments they need too and come out ready to play, they can hang with them, and the Warriors will likely find themselves in the first real dog fight of these playoffs. If they do, can they dig deep and get the tough buckets and tough defensive stops? 

 

Other random observations:

- It's so crazy that Kevin Durant is on this team. That guy is so freaking good. As far as I'm concerned, there are like 3 or 4 guys in the NBA who can go toe to toe with LeBron on a good day. But Durant is the only guy who could legitimately outplay LeBron over a 7 game series and it wouldn't be a fluke in the slightest. The fact that LeBron was so clearly the best player was the best thing the Cavs had the past two years, but now the Warriors have the one guy in the world who can truly close that gap.

- Draymond Green is absurdly good defensively. People talk about it all the time, but I'm saying it again. Some plays he made were just crazy good that I didn't see until a second and closer viewing.

- The Warriors are all bastards, in a good way. Even though Bogut is gone, his fingerprints are still all over this team. They grab every jersey, do every tug, give every extra little push on a screen. All of the things that are illegal but everyone knows won't get called. And it is especially funny since people still have this perception of them being a soft team. They are one of the canniest and bastard filled great teams ever.

- Deron Williams played like absolute crap in every way. He has low key been really good for the Cavs since his arrival as it allowed them to have another guy who can actually play both ways. Him playing better would go a long ways for the Cavs.

 

 

What do you think? What adjustments should the teams make for tonight? 

2016/2017 Season Recap/Notes: BOBAN

This is the 12th Season recap.

 

Follow along with any stats.

 

The Good:

All of the advanced stats remained absurd for the big Serbian. Sporting a PER of 29.6, TS% of 60.6, total rebounding % of 24.2%, 23.5 points and 16 rebounds per 36 minutes. Obviously that all comes with the big asterisk of “small sample” but its two straight years of small sample size dominance from Boban, and there were a few impressive performances that were not in garbage time.

 

He is a huge problem to deal with in the post, his combination of size, touch, and vision makes him crazy hard to guard. Throw in that he hits his free throws and there just isn't a good option. He sets good screens and rolls hard to the rim, even if his rolls are not terribly speedy, and he is so damn big that he is a lob threat despite the lack of hops.

 

Defensively he appears to still be largely what the Pistons figured he would be, which is a guy who can make your defense better and be a weapon in the right areas, but has large enough limitations that he isn't going to be any sort of monster who single handedly carries the defense. His presence inside deters guys at the rim and cleans the glass although he fouls a bit too much, and he does play hard.

 

Lastly, everything you see and hear says that he is an absolute joy to have around. I certainly enjoy him being on the Pistons roster.

 

The Bad:

The biggest thing is just the small sample size. The Pistons are largely in the same place they were after signing him last summer as far as knowing what he could produce in actual meaningful game time. He looks largely impressive when he plays, but he actually played quite a bit less this year than he did in the previous one with the Spurs.

 

The only negative that he showed on the floor was with his defense, he just doesn't have the foot speed to really do anything outside of the paint. He occasionally can leverage his spectacular length to keep with guys, but mostly is a lost cause containing ball handlers. It isn't the worst thing in the world and you can have a good defensive unit with that sort of big man on the floor (especially when the protect the paint like Boban does) but it is a potentially fatal liability in some matchups. This is an extreme example obviously, but he is the sort that would be basically unplayable whenever Steph Curry is on the floor.

 

 

Biggest Answer:

There really wasn't one? He still looked awesome in limited minutes but we already knew that.

 

Biggest Question:

Will SVG follow through and let him play next year? SVG's borderline irrational love of Aron Baynes left Boban on the bench the entire season, I am not as upset about that as a lot of people since Baynes is a good player, but if Boban doesn't get playing time right away due to lack of “trust” then I might explode.

 

 

What do you think? What can Boban do in extended minutes?

2016/2017 Season Recap/Notes: Reggie Bullock

This is the 11th season recap. We are into the end of the bench.

 

Follow along with any and all stats.

 

Disclaimer:

Obviously we are into the end of the bench here, so the sample sizes are small. Assume that everything here more or less comes with the asterisk of “small sample size.”

The Good:

Once again, when he did get playing time, Reggie Bullock generally looked very good. Shooting 38.4% from deep on a high volume (5.6 per 36 minutes) and a TS% of 53.8%. And despite the small sample size, his two years with the Pistons have been the first time that he has even remotely lived up to his billing as a long range sniper, shooting 30.1%, and 32.6% in his first two seasons.

 

Other than his shooting, he is a guy who just clearly has a super high basketball IQ, he makes whip smart passes and cuts, and is almost always decisive with his decision making. When he caught the ball, he rarely would just stand with it waiting, he would either shoot, pass, or drive almost immediately, and when he didn't have the ball in his hands he was rarely stagnant. I really believe that having guys who do this makes a big difference in the offense, and it is a great trait that Bullock shares with Ish Smith (obviously Ish isn't shooting 3s very often though lol) in that they just are never stationary.

 

Defensively Bullock is certainly not a stopper, but he plays hard and generally seems to do the right sort of stuff. Although he certainly has a knack for stupid fouls.

 

The Bad:

The main thing is probably that, for the second straight year, Bullock couldn't really stay on the floor. It is often hard to tell because even when healthy he wasn't often in the rotation, but there was a stretch this year, just as last, where he was listed as out. For a guy who has played so few minutes, it is a bit concerning that injuries are already looking like a problem. When you compare it to KCP, who has probably missed about equivalent time with injuries the past couple of years, you don't worry as much about KCP because KCP plays a ton of minutes.

 

The other bad thing, other than the small sample size worries, is basically that he has a tendency to just screw stuff up sometimes. It is almost like Brandon Knight, I don't know if he is just unlucky or bad, but his tendency to blow open layups, foul 3 point shooters and get posterized is a bit worrying.

 

Biggest Answer:

He probably can actually shoot, still a small sample size, but he has looked very good in a Pistons uniform, and many of the shots are tough ones where he comes rocketing off a screen and stops on a dime to catch and shoot in one motion. He has stamina, speed, and a quick release. The stretch he had towards the end of last year was probably not just a fluke.

 

Biggest Question:

Could he do it over an entire year as a real rotation piece? And more specifically for the Pistons, how much is he worth? Obviously the fate of KCP likely has a lot of sway over how badly the Pistons want to keep Bullock. If KCP gets maxed and the Pistons (rightfully) say “nah man we good” then suddenly Bullock becomes more enticing to keep around. If they give KCP the big bucks though, and don't make any other major changes (specifically, ones that would open up minutes for Stanley at forward) then it wouldn't make a lot of sense to keep him around. I have no idea how much Bullock should get paid, and it will be interesting to see how his free agency ends up going, if he stays healthy and plays like he has in his few minutes, he could be an absolute steal.

 

 

What do you think? Should the Pistons keep him? IF (emphasis on “IF”) KCP walks would you be comfortable with Bullock taking major minutes or would you rather find someone else?

2016/2017 Season Recap/Notes: Beno Udrih

This is the 10th season recap, all the regular rotation guys have been done.

 

Follow along with any stats.

 

The Good:

Beno essentially fell into the laps of the Pistons, after preseason they had stuck with McCallum as the 3rd guard, but then they announced Reggie was out for a while, and the Heat cut Beno for some reason, and the Pistons immediately scooped him up. Given all of that, he played as well as it could be reasonably expected. He continued to shoot midrange jumpers that he is almost comically good at, and even occasionally pulled out some nice moves to the hoop on his way to a TS% of 53.5%, and he passed the ball pretty well. He doesn't really have the goods to draw the defense and create lots of open looks (especially at this point in his career) but he does well enough to keep the offense moving and humming. He was a very pleasant surprise, enough so that if things break a certain way I wouldn't even mind him returning as the 3rd guard again next year.

 

The Bad:

I touched on it a bit already, but with Beno's age, he just isn't terribly threatening going to the hoop other than the occasional successful crossover. As such there often was not very much space created for other guys. Beno can still finish over defenders with some ability, but just not enough to draw extra guys.

The main bad thing for Beno however was definitely his defense. Beno was never a great defender at any point in his career, and at the age of 34 he is quite bad. Other than the general veteran savvy that can occasionally lead to a nice steal, he provided basically nothing to the table on defense and was almost a total negative.

 

 

Biggest Answer:

When the Pistons signed him, it wasn't clear if he was any good or not. The Heat had cut him and they were not exactly overflowing with good players, but he proved that he still had some left in the tank, even if it isn't a lot.

 

Biggest Question:

I don't know for sure if the Pistons will give any real thought to Beno sticking around, but at the very least, for Beno, the question is whether or not he has got enough in the tank for another season. Supposedly he wants to coach and would be a welcome addition to many coaching staffs, so he could hang them up and go right into coaching if that's what he wants. HOWEVA, he showed enough this past year that I wouldn't be surprised if he could get another year in. Once again, I have no idea if the Pistons are giving any thought to him returning, they certainly will wait until after the draft and whatnot.

 

What do you think? Does Beno have one more year in him? Should the Pistons be thinking about bringing him back?

2016/2017 Season Recap/Notes: Aron Baynes.

This is the 9th season recap, and the last of the regular rotation guys.

 

Follow along with stats.

 

 

The Good:

I mean, Aron Baynes is still a rock solid backup center. This is not exactly news to anyone but still, he hustles, communicates, and gets to the right spots on defense, which combined with being huge makes him a decent deterrent in the paint (even if he can't really jump) and on offense he sets great screens and can finish plays that are created by others. He didn't really add anything to his game, but that's ok. He improved his efficiency from the field by a small margin on last year, going from a TS% of 56.3% to 57%, but almost all of his other advanced stats came down.

Baynes is likely to be done as a Piston, but it was a nice couple of years and did some good things.

 

The Bad:

He just wasn't able to be as effective a player as he was last year, especially on the offensive end. Part of that is that he one less shot per game (which is more noteworthy for such a low minutes guy) and that is something that I'm not going to blame him too much for, the reality is that he doesn't create his own shot at all. How many open shots a guy like Baynes is getting is a good indicator of how well the offense is running, if Baynes is getting some buckets it means the offense is humming, if he isn't then the offense is probably stagnant, and the Pistons offense this year was definitely stagnant.

Even with that said, this was a step back for Baynes in most advanced stats: PER (17.8 to 13.(!!!)), Ftr, offensive, defensive, and total rebounding %, assist %, block %, turnover %, offensive, defensive, and total win shares, as well as win shares per 48, box score plus minus, and vorp. Once again, I place a lot of that on the fact that the team in general wasn't as good, and a guy like Baynes is going to go up and down a lot more with the team than others might. The point is that if you spent the whole year feeling like Baynes was botching a lot more passes and rebounds, and generally impacting the game in positive ways less often than he was last year, you were not crazy, you were probably right.

 

Biggest Answer:

I honestly don't know for sure. He was pretty much a known commodity this year, I guess it is mostly just that another year of showing himself to be a capable backup increases his sample size. (since it is still fairly small) But we pretty much knew what Baynes was when he arrived on the Pistons, and he has pretty much been exactly that.

 

Biggest Question:

How great is SVG's irrational love of Baynes? There are some guys that coaches get really attached too, Baynes is one of them. Everything the Pistons have done and said indicates that Baynes is going to not be a Piston next year, but simply given the way we all know SVG values Baynes, I wouldn't rule out them retaining him, because I actually doubt that he is going to get paid more than the 10.5 million per year that is the max the Pistons are allowed to give him. I truthfully hope they don't do that and let Boban play. But it wouldn't shock me.

 

What do you think? Were his issues a symptom of the team or a problem with him? Would you want the Pistons to actually try and bring him back?