PIstons

Breaking News: Detroit Pistons Cut Ties with Stan Van Gundy

The Detroit Pistons and Stan Van Gundy have parted ways. This comes after a disappointing season where Detroit fell short of the playoffs (yet again). Over the four years he spent in the front office, the Pistons have routinely made questionable signings and draft choices. Many fans are wondering, will the Pistons ever be able to return to contention?

After making the playoffs in only his second season, the arrow was pointing up in the Motor City. However, injuries and poor development of a legitimate backcourt ultimately led to Van Gundy’s fate. A 44-win season and first round exit in the playoffs of his second season was the highlight of his stint in Detroit.

Draft/Free Agency

Pistons

AP Photo: Carlos Osorio

The roster under SVG has improved. The Pistons have two superstars, Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin leading the way. Yet, the team is strapped for salary cap space and needs a lot of luck in the upcoming Lottery to retain their top-4 protected pick from the Clippers (Blake Griffin trade). Big contracts were given to Reggie Jackson (5 years, $80 million), Jon Leuer (4 years, $42 million), and Boban Marjanovic (3 years, $21 million) and have not yielded the return expected.

His three first round picks are all still giant question marks who may or may not be part of the Pistons future. Stanley Johnson (2015 pick #8) has not produced to the level a Top 10 pick should. Henry Ellenson (2016 pick #18) has had little opportunity to show his talent during the regular season. Ellenson has shown flashes of brilliance as he dominated the Summer League last year. Luke Kennard (2017 pick #12) could still develop into a great shooter. However, Donovan Mitchell, the should-be Rookie of the Year, makes that pick look ridiculous.

Who’s Next?

Pistons

Photo: NBA.com

Where will the Pistons turn to for help next? Perhaps a former player in Jerry Stackhouse, whose name has been floating around the coaching carousel. Mark Jackson is another option to be the next coach. Many Pistons fans would absolutely love to see Mr. Big Shot himself, Chauncey Billups, return to help bring them back to the top of the league. The Pistons may even dig around in the college ranks to see if someone like Tom Izzo or Rick Pitino has any interest in coaching in the NBA.

Whoever it is will come into town with a great duo in the front-court and possibly a potential all star point guard in Reggie Jackson, if he can stay healthy. And that’s a big IF. The Pistons need to get back to their roots and realize what their identity is. Historically, championships have been won as a team with great chemistry. All three of the team’s NBA Championships have come without a single player on the All-NBA team.

This mentality has to be built again from the front office down to the end of the bench. Let’s hope Tom Gores can find the man to bring this personality back to Detroit Basketball.

 

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Greg Monroe Boston Celtics

What the Greg Monroe pickup means for Boston

The Boston Celtics and veteran center Greg Monroe agreed to a one-year contract on Feb. 2. This deal, while expected since the Suns waived him on Feb. 1, is potentially an Eastern Conference-shaking move.

On the surface, this trade fills a hole on the offensive end of the court and does not hamstring the Celtics whatsoever defensively. Dig a little bit deeper, however, and one has to question getting bigger is what will push Boston over the edge to win the East, or give them what they need to beat Golden State.

Here is a breakdown of how Monroe will be able to contribute to the East’s best team going forward.

Rebounds

Greg Monroe Boston Celtics

Greg Monroe attempts to swat away Wesley Johnson’s shot as a member of the Pistons. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

Monroe has been a pretty prolific rebounder since he entered the league during the 2010-11 season.

 

During his seven-year NBA career, Monroe has averaged 8.7 rebounds per game. His rebounds for the current season are down to 7.4, but considering he has only played 25 games, mostly with one of the worst teams in the league this season, that isn’t too surprising.

The Celtics are already in the top 10 in rebounds per game this season. If Monroe continues to contribute 7-8 per game, which all career consistency numbers indicate he will, it could easily propel Boston to top three in the league.

Minutes

The real question concerning Monroe’s role with the Celtics will be the number of minutes per game he ends up getting.

Boston is already a long team. With Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes, playing time might be stretched a little thinner than the true center is used to.

In his career, Monroe has averaged a little less than 30 minutes per game. Considering both the young and established big-man talent on the Celtics’ roster, a bench role would make sense for him, being that the team has been successful up to this point.

During his 25 games this season, Monroe has averaged 21.8 minutes per game. That number should stay about where it is, if not dip a little, depending on his production on an already stacked team.

Offensive production

Greg Monroe Boston Celtics

Greg Monroe was waived by the Suns on Feb. 1, 2018. (Photo by Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press)

Surprisingly, Boston is 23rd in terms of points per game midway through the season. This obviously has not hurt them too much, considering they have the best record in the Eastern Conference. This has to do with the team’s commitment to defense.

 

But defense alone will not be enough to win in the playoffs. That’s where Monroe steps in.

In the 2017-18 campaign, Monroe has 10.4 points per game. Again, that is down from his 13.9 career points per game, but being on a more complete team will help that number rise quickly. His minutes and role on the Celtics are still in question, but expect that number to get better as he plays more.

His 2.2 offensive rebounds per game this season will also create more opportunities for points. If all goes according to plan, the Celtics should finish at least in the top 20 in terms of points per game after the pickup. When a team plays defense like Boston does, that will go a long way.

Defensive production

For a 6-foot-11 center, Monroe’s defense is not quite as solid as one might expect. His career 1.1 steals and 0.6 blocks per game leaves a bit to be desired on that end of the court.

However, he has never played on a team like the Celtics, or under a coach as talented as Brad Stevens. If he buys into Stevens’ system and gets solid playing time, those numbers should climb.

The Celtics are fifth in defensive rebounds per game. Adding a rebounder like Monroe is only going to help rob opposing teams of possessions when he is on the court. That alone should be enough to justify the pickup, despite his defensive struggles.

Summary

Greg Monroe Boston Celtics

Greg Monroe goes up for a block during his time with the Milwaukee Bucks.
(Photo by Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports)

Being that Monroe’s contract is a one-year, $5 million deal, this is very much an experiment for Boston. A low-risk, high-reward experiment, but an experiment nonetheless.

 

If Boston can figure out how to use him off of the bench, this move only puts them in a better position to further its grasp on the East. A bench role could take some getting used to for the big man, but if he buys into the system, he can be a huge piece moving forward for an already talented team.

After the Suns waived Monroe, it was really a no-brainer for the Celtics to pick him up. And being able to play for a contender should only further his motivation, provided he finds his niche in the system. If he finds his stride and accepts his role, it could also go a long way in being able to re-sign him for relatively cheap after the season ends.

With his first game in green coming Sunday, NBA fans should know pretty soon after what kind of impact he can make on the Eastern Conference.

 

Featured image by Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports

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Detroit Pistons

Detroit Pistons 2017: Playoff run is possible

Farewell to the Palace

This season, the Pistons will be playing at the Little Caesars Arena in midtown Detroit. It’s a sad day in Detroit; fans have cherished the Palace of Auburn Hills for years. The franchise won two out of their three championships in the Palace.

At the end of 2016-17 season, owner Tom Gores decided that it was best for coach Stan Van Gundy to focus solely on coaching. Van Gundy’s demotion from president of basketball operations was not a surprise to some.

Focus on coaching

The former Orlando Magic head coach took the Pistons to the playoffs during the 2015-16 season. After making the playoffs for the first time in six years, Pistons fans want more. With a depleted Eastern Conference, the franchise should be able to slide into the eighth or seventh seed.

Management has done a good job of trying to build around the former All-Star Andre Drummond. However, the team’s morale might be shot due to Van Gundy informing the whole league that his entire roster was on the market.

In order for the Pistons to make the playoffs, they need to have a serious sit down with Reggie Jackson. The former Oklahoma City Thunder guard can ball, but loses sight of the rest of the team at times.

Summer Moves

Last year, the rotation featured just about everyone on the roster because of the lack of defense. During the summer, Detroit’s management added a few pieces to the roster. The organization acquired Avery Bradley and a 2019 second-round draft pick in exchange for forward Marcus Morris.

This summer, management made the call to draft Duke guard Luke Kennard, who impressed during the NBA Summer League, averaging 17 points, and two assists. In addition to Kennard, the team signed Langston Galloway who has proven to be a reliable pass-first guard.

The Motor City franchise signed center Eric Moreland and Anthony Tolliver. The franchise also parted ways with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and center Aron Baynes.

The current roster consists of 16 players, and one could be cut or sent to the G-League due to the two-way player rule.

If the Pistons want to return to the playoffs, they need to improve on defense and find ways to get easy buckets. Van Gundy is normally great with surrounding his big men with shooters and the addition of Bradley will help space the floor. Bradley can guard a team’s best player and still score around 15 points per game.

Now that Van Gundy is just the coach, he can work on building relationships with his players instead of trying to shop them off via conference call.

Playoffs are Possible

The Pistons will sneak into the playoffs because of their young core, lack of competition in the east and their head coach can finally focus on coaching. Last year forward Tobias Harris led the team in scoring with 16 points per game.

Throughout last season Harris spent a lot of time adapting to new roles and playing time. Van Gundy tried to find a balance by having him play off the bench. With the departure of Caldwell-Pope, who only averaged 13.8points per game, Harris should move up as the number two scoring option if not one.

Before being stripped of his role as president of basketball operations Van Gundy constructed a nice core in Jackson, Harris, and Drummond.

In addition to the young core, the roster features great role players like Avery Bradley, Reggie Bullock, Langston Galloway, Henry Ellenson, Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard, Jon Leuer, Ish Smith and Anthony Tolliver.

Other players like Dwight Buycks, Boban Marjanovic, Luis Montero, Eric Moreland, Landry Nnoko, Derek Willis and Beno Udrih will probably have to compete for playing time and a spot on the final roster. (16 spots)

Last season the team averaged 101 points per game, which is great considering past years where the team struggled to score. If you are Detroit you don’t have to worry about any team in the east challenging you on defense unless it’s the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Boston Celtics. (granted anything can happen)

Drummond has to have a big year both offensively and defensively. Unlike most teams, the Pistons can adapt to any style of play whether it’s small ball, pick and roll or a big line-up. Drummond has to be able to hit free throws in order to stay in the game.

Last season Detroit allowed teams to climb back into games because of their inability to make free throws. Well, actually it was mostly the seven-foot center who couldn’t stop the bleeding. Intentional fouling can ruin the rhythm for both teams, but it seemed to affect the Pistons in the end.

The starting line-up this year could consist of Jackson, Bradley, Harris, Leuer, and Drummond. As a whole, the projected starting lineup averaged 70.3 points per game from their individual scoring last season.

Bold prediction: Detroit will make the playoffs if Jackson averages more than 5 assists per game. At the end of the season, the Pistons will face the 2nd seed in the playoffs.

 

Featured image taken by KAB SPORT

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Georgetown Basketball

Patrick Ewing Reigns in the New Era of Georgetown Basketball

It’s a new era for Georgetown basketball; an era that has been a long time coming. Patrick Ewing, a Georgetown great, took over as head coach earlier this month and is looking to bring the program back to the glory and success that we are all used to.

Georgetown Basketball

Patrick Ewing in his press conference earlier this April (Photo/ Nick Wass)

John Thompson III was relieved of his head coaching duties earlier this March. The son of Georgetown great head coach John Thompson Jr. had been at the realm since 2004. Georgetown, with the hire of Ewing, keeps the head coaching job in the Georgetown family.

“If it was any other university, I wouldn’t be doing this,” Ewing said at his introductory news conference earlier this month. “But it’s my alma mater. It’s Georgetown. I’m a Hoya. I just thought it was a great opportunity to come back and try to rebuild the program.”

Ewing’s resume speaks for itself. He had three All-American seasons with the Hoyas, including three national championship appearances in 1982, 1984 and 1985. He captured the title in 1984. He basically put a small catholic school on the map as a college basketball powerhouse.

Ewing was then the first overall pick in the 1985 draft. He was drafted by the Knicks where he spent 15 of his 17 years in the NBA. He put the Knicks back into serious contention for a championship.

He was an 11-time All-Star and calibrated a Hall-of-Fame career. He spent the next 15 years after his retirement in 2002 as an assistant coach for the Wizards under Doug Collins, the Houston rockets under Jeff Van Gundy, the Orlando Magic under Stan Van Gundy and most recently Charlotte Hornets under Steve Clifford.

Despite the impeccable resume, Ewing still has a tall task in front of him.

The Hoyas have missed the NCAA tournament three times in the last four years. They made it to the Final Four in John Thompson III’s third season, but have only made it past the round of 32 once since then.

For a program that has the 31st most wins in college basketball history out of the 347 Division I teams, the Hoyas haven’t seen that type of wining mentality in the past few years. They are looking to regain the top ranks of college basketball with Ewing in charge.

After spending the past 15 years in the NBA as an assistant, the main concern with Ewing was recruiting. As an assistant coach in the NBA or any coach in the NBA, you don’t recruit. You don’t have to ask players to come play for you because they get paid to play for you.

Recruiting is one of the biggest parts to college basketball and is essential in rebuilding a program or keeping it successful. In the past 30 years that Ewing has been in college, it might be safe to say recruiting has gotten a little different.

Georgetown Basketball

Patrick Ewing and coach John Thompson Jr. after their National Championship win in 1984 (AP Photo)

Ewing doesn’t see that as a dilemma.

“What I’m going to do is put around myself a great staff who has the ability to go out and recruit and teach me all the things I need to know until I get up to speed in terms of recruiting,” Ewing said. “But I don’t see anything different. It’s all about going out and selling your program. I think that I’m a great salesman.”

Ewing knows he has work to do with kids in high school who have probably never seen him play. “Maybe they know me from Space Jam,” he joked.

All the support is in place for Ewing to succeed. Ewing gets the next best thing after waiting years for an NBA head coaching job. There is no doubt from his supporters that he and the program will succeed.

“He is certainly used to the pressure and he is totally ready as a coach,” Stan Van Gundy said. “The adjustment will be recruiting. That’s the challenge that will determine his success. He will do a great job coaching.”

 

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