Monday, December 7, 2009
1. I know this Pistons season has been anything but memorable thus far, and the year is most likely going to be a long one, but I will say this: I am thoroughly enjoying the resurrection of the Chucky Atkins era. I mean, how can you not like Chucky? Sure, the guy has always been a suspect defender and was literally ripped to shreds by an elderly Kenny Anderson in the '02 playoffs, but I will always have a soft spot for the little fella. And even at his advanced age, it is no coincidence the Pistons are playing with much more passion and purpose since Chucky was inserted into the starting lineup. He's hitting some open J's, running a little pick-and-roll with Big Ben, and even driving to the hole once in a blue moon. He made Gilbert Arenas look downright catatonic tonight on a couple moves, including a nifty And-1 scoop shot with the left hand. Plus, now that Placido Polanco and his perfect square of a melon have jumped ship to Philly, Chucky has moved into the top spot for the title of "Oddest Shaped Head in Detroit." Congrats Chuckster...to you and your oversized dome.
2. Gil Zero might still have some 35 point games left in his tank, but those multiple injuries in the last couple years have left him looking a lot like the crippled Loy Vaught circa 1998. Arenas was gawdawful shooting the rock tonight, and got torched on the defensive end by the Chucky and Stuckey Show. He even went so far as to blame his struggles on the temperature inside of the Palace, stating, "The building was cold tonight and I just didn't get into a rhythm." Oh, riggggght, I forgot about that.
3. I know it's kinda cool to set a starting lineup that you know will bring loads of energy and hustle, while saving some scorers for the pine, but isn't Pistons boss John Kuester taking it a bit far? Charlie Villanueva...Ben Gordon...Will Bynum...all explosive scorers and highly respected players that do not hear their names announced in the pre-game introductions. With Austin Daye also coming alive tonight with a sparkling 5 for 5 from the floor, the Pistons reserves managed to outscore the starters by a 54-44 margin. It's been working fine so far, and obviously things will change once Rip and Tayshaun return, but Kuester is definitely playing with fire for the time being. Thankfully, Rodney Stuckey has been shooting the ball very well lately, making the "effort" starting lineup look a little more potent than they really are. Non-scorers like Maxiell, Jerebko, and Ben Wallace all sharing the court at the same time is generally not a recipe for success. But they've been getting off to solid starts as of late with this group, so I can't blame Mr. Kuester too much. Just don't get too comfortable with it, as there is almost assuredly a single-digit first quarter coming from these guys in the very near future.
4. Some scary free-throw numbers to go with your morning coffee. The Pistons missed twelve more freebies tonight (out of 36), which now puts them safely in 28th place in the league (out of 30) in charity stripe accuracy. Yikes. They are shooting just 72% from the line, and of course a part of that is due to the return of chronic bricklayer Ben Wallace. To nobody's surprise, Ben hasn't exactly been stroking it this year, converting just 19 of 35 attempts for a ghastly 54 percent. But you wanna know the sickest part about that? The 54 percent for Ben...it's a career high. And it's not even close.
5. Everybody is down on the Pistons this year, and the common rhetoric is that they "aren't fun to watch" and "they have no chance of doing anything in the postseason." Let's cut them a little slack, though. They have played virtually the entire season without Rip Hamilton, their leading scorer. They've played all but three games without the services of Tayshaun Prince. They've worked in a new coach, a new system, and several new players in a very short span. And ya know what? They aren't in terrible shape. They currently sit at 8-12, which is good enough in the East to be tied for the last playoff spot. And when healthy, they are probably talented enough to move into that 6-7 range of the standings. I know this year is not going to end in a Conference Final like we've grown accustomed to over the years, but I really think there will be more smiles than people anticipate. Jonas Jerebko looks like he might be a legitimate second-round international steal in the Memo Okur mold. Rodney Stuckey continues to show flashes of brilliance, and is proving himself to be one of the hardest players in the league to defend off the dribble. Even Kwame Brown and Jason Maxiell have managed to devise a cute little plan where one of them decides to display a pulse every other night. Like I said, this group won't be doing any banner-raising anytime soon, but that doesn't mean we can't fill out tens of thousands of write-in ballots for Chucky Atkins and get our boy to this season's All-Star Game in Dallas.
This year might be a little different, but we're gonna have some fun along the way...
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