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.

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