We're 51.2-percent through the Pistons 2010-2011 season, so I think now is almost as good of a time as any to dish out some midseason grades for our favorite 15-27 team.
In my season preview, I cautiously predicted the Pistons would be better this year, but probably wouldn't sniff the playoffs at 36 wins. The way the East is shaking out, though, 36 wins might be more than enough to sneak in. Will the Pistons build off of their last four games (3-1) and make a run at the eight-seed? I don't know, I'm giving out midseason grades right now.
I will not be grading on any curve and, like Mr. Peepers, I've devoured all the apples players tried to give to me in hopes to receive better grades. However, this is very subjective, so opine any disagreements in the comments.
He's the equivalent to the wealthy kid who sleeps through all his classes and expects good grades because his parents gave him everything. Hamilton has become a $13 million bench warming distraction. It's not Rip's fault he was given such an absurd contract, but he has to be held accountable for his worst season as a pro since his rookie season. The only thing that's saving him from a D-minus are his five 25+ point performances when he decided to care. (Pistons were 4-1 in those games, by the way.)
He's going to get docked a grade for being disruptive, but he's the same, steady Prince we've seen for years. In fact, he's having one of his best overall seasons since 2005 while shooting the best he's ever shot inside the arc (50%). It shouldn't be too surprising though, because he's playing for a new contract with what will likely be a new team.
Age is starting to show with the grays in his 'fro and on the court. When he was signed last year, he was only supposed to serve as a mentor, but he turned out to be classic Big Ben. He's hardly been that this year, but he still gives decent minutes (when healthy) and we might be seeing his tutelage paying off in Greg Monroe and even Chris Wilcox.
Stuckey came into his contract season leaner and ready to prove he could be the Pistons point guard/leader. His mid-range shot has shown little improvement and his assists are only slightly up, but he has improved dramatically in an area that was nauseatingly bad last year: around the rim. He's finishing much better (60% vs. 49% last year) and he's getting to the line more frequently (and hitting more of his free throws). When a clear look is not there, he's also doing a better job of kicking it out (39% of his assists come from around the rim as opposed to 30% last year). Kuester has moved Stuck off the ball in the past five games, which has been a breath of fresh air. I'd say he's earning himself a contract in Detroit.
T-Mac has re-invented himself as a playmaker while also becoming a much more efficient scorer. I'm a bit wary that, as he continues to become more confident in his newfound health, he'll revert to his old ways of jacking up [bad] shots (there have been hints of it recently). But a healthy, unrelenting T-Mac isn't the worst thing in today's world. Regardless of what happens the rest of this season, the Pistons have turned a real nice dollar here.
He started the season absolutely sizzling (17 ppg, 55% shooting on just 10 shots per game), but has fallen off considerably. I still contend he's not being used properly because he's the type of player who needs at least 10 shots every single game, no exceptions, and I think that has affected him in more ways than one. The Pistons want him to thrive with less usage, but that cannot and probably will not happen. Although his one-dimensional skill is being dwarfed big time, he has to suck it up and produce nonetheless, which he isn't doing nearly enough.
A real teacher's pet who says all the right things and possesses a positive attitude (attitude determines altitude). Oddly enough, none of that is helping his rebound rate, which has to be one of the most confusing aspects of this 6-foot-11 power forward's game. Making that matter more confusing is that he definitely appears to be "bringing it" a lot more this season. Unfortunately, "bringing it" also does not translate to rebounds, but "boxing out" might help.
Baby boomers. Ugh.
I guess saying that I love his shooting stroke would be synonymous to loving a student's penmanship despite the majority of the answers being wrong. He doesn't make enough of his shots and doesn't play enough defense to make up for how much I'm in love with how his shot looks. He's aggressive on the glass and he has had flashes of what we saw in the preseason, but he's been an overall disappointment thus far this season.
I had a feeling there'd be a drop off in production after he signed his affordable and well-deserved contract, I just wish the feeling didn't prove true. Bynum has not benefited at all from the influx of guards on the roster, but also hasn't seized the opportunities he's been given. I will say, all the work he put in during the offseason on his shooting is showing - his three-point and free throw percentages have seen sizable improvements (just not-so-much his mid-range game).
If you told me before the season started that Wilcox would have five starts and a SportsCenter Top 10 play by midseason, I would've linked you to a particular Black Eyed Peas song. If you would've gone on to say that he'd be top two on the team in Hollinger's PER, rebounding rate, and offensive and defensive rating, I would've punched you in the mouth and draped you around my shoulders like a cheap piece of fur. BUT, unlike Bynum, Wilcox has taken full advantage of his rare opportunities and has turned himself into a nice little role player in the front court.
Understandably, it took some time for this rookie to find his confidence, and I think it's safe to say he found it when plugged into the starting lineup. In his eight starts, he's shooting 64% (opposite 44% as a reserve) and averaging nearly a double-double. In his last eight games, six of them starts, he's shooting 62% and averaging 13 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 2.4 steals per game. The Pistons have set the standards pretty low for rookies in the past, so I think it plays out to Monroe's benefit in how we evaluate him, but I couldn't be happier with how he's playd thus far.
Grade: An A!
He's only seen action in nine games, but as far as we know he's healthy. But, hey! He's made five of eight three-point tries.
Terrico White & Jonas Jerebko
Both have shown tremendous poise during their injuries?
I've admittedly been very hard on Kuester. I'm an emotional fan and those first five losses, of which the Pistons probably should've won four, undoubtedly took its toll on me. There were just too many painstakingly obvious things during that stretch that I thought rested on Q's shoulders. He's not completely incompetent, though. He's done a good job finally figuring out a rotation that clearly clicks and has given Monroe more leash than any other recent Pistons coach has with a young big man. But do I think he's a good coach? Nope. I think being a good coach starts with how well the team responds to you, and his players continuously make suggestive comments to the media & their personal social medias that there isn't much respect for Kuester's coaching philosophy. Maybe a couple players' spoiled attitudes are rubbing off on the others, but I highly doubt it when it's nearly everyone -- even Mr. PA Charlie V. has sent out not-so-subtle messages about Kuester's insanity.