Tuesday, 11 November 2008

A Perception of the Present from a Piston Perspective

It's been over a week now since Allen Iverson was traded from the Denver nuggets, swapped with Chauncey Billups of the Detroit pistons. It is still very early days, and alot of people are over-analysing AI's first two games. In the last seven days, I've heard pistons fans say "2009 NBA champions!", "LeBron is coming to the Detroit!" and "we won't make the playoffs this year", this all after two games. People are jumping to conclusions far too soon with no sustainable proof or evidence to back up their case.

When Iverson arrived in Toronto on Wednesday, he was exhausted. He was then expected to start at the most important position on the floor leading a team built around chemistry who just lost their captain and court leader. The team then had to get back to Detroit to play against the current nba champions and best defense in the league within two days. Did you honestly expect that to end well?

The nba schedule has gifted Detroit with an impeccably timed west coast road trip, including Golden state, Phoenix and the L.A. lakers. Rodney Stuckey didn't make the flight with the rest of the team, putting Iverson as the consistent point guard for the trip. Any long term effects of the AI move shouldn't be judged until at least a month into the trade.
However, one big problem I do have with the currrent squad is their prevention of penetration. Friday night Harris got to the rim with ease, possibly because of Iverson's fatigue, or perhaps just his regular defensive principles. I love Iverson's attitude, but I dislike his mindset. To find success in this game, the heart has to go in at the defensive end first, placing offense as a second priority. Iverson certaintly has the speed, and should be athletically capable of staying in front of his man, it's just a case of his effort. We hear so much about his heart but until he learns to lock down his man, I will continue to doubt just how much AI wants it. Despite this, I have previously mentioned, it is still too early to pass concrete judgement on Iverson in Detroit, so I won't continue the argument on Iverson's defense until we can witness more evidence.

I have a serious bone to pick with Rasheed Wallace. I actually wish he didn't have the range which he does, then maybe we could see him physically work down low for his points, and play as a genuine big man. When the three is falling for him, it's fantastic, when it isn't, he becomes a cancer. The potential of Wallace's career is (was) phenominal, he has already achieved enough to be called a success, however it is possible for him to of accomplished so much more if it weren't for his paint allergy and charismatic yet dangerously unstable attitude.

The fact of the matter is, an nba championship cannot be won without a legitamate post player. Aside from Jordan's bulls, no nba team has won a championship over the past decade without a dominant big man. The spurs of '99 had the admiral, the lakers aquired Shaq and won three straight championships, one more when he left for Miami. Duncan led the spurs to the '03, '05 and '07 championships and Garnett was the foundation of the celtics' title last year. The 2004 pistons seem to be the only team to break the chain, and they still obeyed the guidlines more or less, going all the way thanks to all round intimidating defense, particulary that down low from Wallace and Wallace. Back then a guard would fear a drive into the paint, aware that an invasion of big Ben's territory would end in a painful and humiliating rejection.

In my opinion, Joe Dumars is the best GM in the NBA. I can't recall one mistake since the 2003 draft, and even without the Darko pick the pistons may never of traded for a then-hungry Sheed. Since the pistons took possession of Iverson's $21 million expiring salary, the names of alot of free agents have been thrown about, Boozer, Bosh and Stoudemire to name a few. I have doubts about how realistic the aquisition of these players are, however I do believe the pursuit of one of these may well be the long term motive in making the Iverson move.

The pistons now have a number of options. The current team is so versatile, with so many ways to break down a defense, perhaps a reason for Dumars to make the unlikely move of resigning AI at the end of this year, Iverson has already said he would take a pay cut for a shot at the championship. However, this could affect the growth of talented yet still developing Rodney Stuckey, indicating Iverson will most likely not return to the D. If Joe allows both Iverson and Wallace's contracts to expire, he then has a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a temptingly tasty free agent market. The core of the pistons is slowly but surely aging, and we may find out tommorow another move has been made, finding a whole new face in the D (Kaman's on the market, very unlikely but worth noting).

Joe Dumars knows what he's doing, any pistons fan with genuine knowledge of their team knows this. He's made risks in the past, and has most certaintly sampled the benefits of them. The future of Detroit is very unpredictable, with a lot of big decisions to be made, but as long as Dumars is in the driving seat, pistons fans have nothing to worry about.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Trade official, Iverson to the D

Wow. Just wow. I think I should mention that I am a pistons fan. I'm not dissapointed with this trade, just in disbelief. In my life I can name 2 times my jaw has actually dropped because I've been so shocked and one is when I heard this news.

Firstly, this is a very good trade for the nuggets. They get a hometown point guard who knows how to run a successful offense, as well as play acceptable defense, an uncommon thing in Denver. Cheik Samb is also involved, a young center with potential to contribute in the future. Before the trade it looked like the Nuggets were lottery bound. Now I'm not so sure.

This move is very interesting on Detroit's part. Billups was an integral piece of the team that he led to 6 straight conference finals, a record teams like New York and Charlotte would kill to have. McDyess is only involved for the numbers, so will most likely be waived and retained by the pistons in 30 days. Mr. Big Shot's contribution will be missed, he's one of the best point guards in the L that any team would love to have. Despite Cheik Samb's potential he was currently irrelevent to the pistons team.

So what do the pistons get out of this? Well on paper they have four 2-guards, 3 of them legitimate scorers. Stuckey can run the point efficiently (a lot of that can be down to the mentoring of Billups), but at heart is a Dwyane Wade-like shooting-guard. Hamilton has annually leads the pistons in ppg, the best off-ball scorer in the league runs off screens like no other. Arron Afflalo is a great defender but will probably get pushed out of the rotation completely because of this move. I haven't actually watched Iverson enough to know how snug he'll fit in the pistons jigsaw, but he may well be the missing piece. From what I know he needs the ball in his hands to score, obviously undersized for a 2 but never a true point.

It will be interesting to say the least to see what Michael Curry does with the rotation. Will Stuckey step up into starting at the point with AI at the 2 and Hamilton finishing off a 3 guard lineup? Prince will get abused on the Boards at the 4, unless the young Amir Johnson or Jason Maxiell steps into the starting lineup instead (unlikely but possible move to solve the rebound problem, Prince for Camby?). Another possiblity is keeping Johnson and Sheed as the starting frontcourt with Tay at the 3, then have a 3 guard rotation in the backcourt (the original plan for this season was Billups, Hamilton and Stuckey logging in at least 30 mpg). He may even just keep the regular positioning and straight up play Iverson in Billups' slot, out of position at the point.

Money plays a big part in this. Joe Dumars is, in my opinion, the best GM in the league. Iverson's $21 million contract comes off the books next off-season, whereas the Nuggets are now locked up until 2011 with Billups. Financially Dumars may of pulled off something special here. People may think Iverson's out the door next year, but if he's that desperate to get a championship, he'd re-sign with the pistons for a lower salary next season, who will be the only contender with cap-room (correct me if I'm wrong).

A lot questions arise from this trade. Will the pistons rotation go to a 3 guard lineup, or will they let AI run the point? Does this trade give Denver a legitimate shot at the playoffs? And are the pistons more or less of a contender with Iverson on their team? A lot of questions, but us pistons fans can just pray that Allen Iverson is our answer.

Trade: Billups and McDyess for Iverson

The Detroit Pistons have reportedly traded Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess for Allen Iverson.

Wow. I'll have more on this later.