This was the highlight of Rodney’s four season NBA “career”.
(Image via Mlive)
Ryan thought Rodney was going to be stellar…until he saw him play. Follow him on Twitter @rpravato.
(Image via Mlive)
6’4 Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight fell to Detroit at #8 in last night’s NBA draft. Detroit fans are ecstatic as no one thought Knight would still be on the board. General sentiment is that Knight has star potential and will be just the type of point guard needed in talent starved Detroit.
Now hopefully third year forward Austin Daye becomes a player.
From Yahoo answers:
The Pistons Daye and Knight, Kidi Cudi is p1ssed
Well, there you have it.
This news comes as no shock as the writing has been on the wall for months now. Kuester in two seasons as head coach compiled a 57-107 record and his players generally treated him poorly. Some of this was no doubt the result of Kuester’s poor communication skills, but also the losing culture that has creeped into Detroit in the recent years had a lot to do with it. Don’t forget now, Kuester was an assistant in Detroit when they won a championship under Larry Brown in 2004.
Now Mike Brown is interested in Kuester’s services.
Follow Ryan on Twitter @rpravato. He wants Detroit to hire somebody competent this time.
In an interview with Chris Tomasson for HoopsHype, Tracy McGrady responded to comments from his former coach and General Manager of the Houston Rockets, Jeff Van Gundy and Daryl Morey, made on a panel at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on March 4. They opined that McGrady’s poor practice habits and work ethic held him back maxing out his other-worldly talent into the production of a hall-of-fame career. Never mind that McGrady has already submitted a hall-of-fame resumé. McGrady admitted about himself:
“I just wasn’t a great practice player,’’ McGrady, a Detroit guard, said in an interview with HoopsHype. “I just wasn’t. I wasn’t.’’
However, in disagreement with their assertion, he added:
“I really don’t see how, maybe I’m wrong on this. I don’t just see how going hard in practice is going to take my talent to another level. I just don’t see that… As far as the team jelling and practicing like that, yeah that’s how you make your team better. I’m saying me personally, I just didn’t see how me practicing hard was going to take my talent to another level. I always felt like working on my individual skills was taking my talent to another level… Now when I say I wasn’t a great practice player, it’s not like I sat out of practice. I was participating. I always participated.’’
At first these comments smack of Iversonian parallels regarding his practice habits, even though he tried to qualify it by saying that he always participated. There seems to be a disconnect, however, on McGrady’s definition of “practice,” and perhaps even what was insinuated about him by his former coach and GM.
McGrady clearly saw the importance of working on his game – really, it is silly to think that he could’ve played at such a high level had he not spent the time to develop his natural gifts. He twice in the interview talked about how preparing for the season or working on his game as an individual were credits to the way he nurtured his talent. His admission of sometimes crusing through organized practices, though, does shed some light on the way he viewed hard work within the team concept. He acknowledges that being a better practice player would help as far as team cohesion and ‘making your team better.’ But he didn’t think that it affected his ability to perform on the court.
Many coaches will tell you that the impact is far-reaching when their best player sets an example by pushing himself in team practices. Their effort produces a trickle-down effect and even weighs on the consciences of his teammates: ‘If he’s our best player and he’s going all out, I should be too,’ his teammates may reason. At the very least, it must ramp of the competitive nature of such team sessions. McGrady apparently failed to see the connection between his effort in team practices and team success. His comments about Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett reveal that he considers team success little more than a by-product of playing with better teammates, rather than acknowledging the hard work, both in games and in practice, those teammates must put in together to yield results.
“I look at what Ray and Kevin did later in their careers and got on a contending team,’’ McGrady said. “And it really wasn’t all about them individually but the whole team thing. And you see what they’ve done. Why can’t I do that? I think, if I’m in that situation, absolutely (McGrady will make the Hall of Fame). I’ve accomplished enough individually. But as far as the team aspect I think I have to get to another level.’’
Unfortunately, that level has yet to come thus far in McGrady’s career. Perhaps even more unfortunate is the fact that McGrady never thought his own contributions to team practices could have made his teams better from within.
McGrady’s career has been underrated by people who expected more from him, including Van Gundy and Morey; and his 2002-03 season may be the most underrated of all time. But when we think of how his teams performed, the fact that he never made it out of the first round of the playoffs, that he never seemed to lift his team in the moments that mattered most, perhaps there was something to that whole practicing-hard-with-your-team thing after all. McGrady may be satisfied with his individual resumé when he finally hangs up his sneakers. But you have to wonder how a better approach to team practices could have affected his teams and ultimately his legacy.
The Spurs do it all the right way***. Today’s NBA is a me-me-me league with the majority of its stars often seen pouting and whining like little babies after being told they can’t have Lucky Charms by a parent in the grocery store. The Spurs are perfectly content with eating Cherrios every morning; not the Honey Nut kind either.
The San Antonio Spurs remind me of the days when Detroit was a well oiled machine that was efficient and exciting (to basketball purists anyway) on the court, got along well off of it, and largely kept out of the media’s focus. Detroit’s seven year run was special because of what happened on the court—the only drama occurred during the games. It was about the team, not about select individuals. Defense was a must, and it was stellar. Their was a unity and purity about the team that just lured fans in, making it a proud and memorable era in Detroit Pistons basketball. Detroit quite simply went to work. Every night. Detroit succeeded in a star driven, big market league.
San Antonio is much the same, and yes, that’s an understatement. The Spurs are Batman, the Pistons are Robin; let’s get that straight. The small market Spurs are the epitome of humble team basketball at the pro level, something that is fairly rare nowadays. They do their jobs and go home and behave themselves. They don’t run their mouths and they certainly don’t go looking for cameras craving attention. Although Tim Duncan was a superstar in his day, he sure didn’t attract the negative attention that most do. His focus is on winning ball games; essentially, winning championships is what he relishes. Some of that should be credited to Tim himself; he didn’t let his head explode when he became the star and saw millions in his bank account. David Robinson, the class act and hearty leader and mentor that he is, can also be thanked for Duncan’s display of class and professionalism. Don’t forget coach Gregg Popovich, who, let’s not forget, is regarded as the Spurs identity; which embodies trust, humbleness and loyalty. Pop shys away from attention, letting his coaching and his team’s play do all the talking. Behind the scenes Popovich does what he has to do to keep things light, something like this, and he has done it well for fourteen and a half seasons. I guess time is the most impressive aspect in all of this. Their sustained success is unusual in professional sports.
–They’ve been 50 game winners 13 out of the last 14 seasons (went 37-13 in 98/99 strike shortened season, won Title) .
–They’ve won 3 NBA Titles in the 21st century.
–They still don’t get the attention they deserve. It was always LA this, Dallas that, oh Phoenix is sexy and fun yada yada yada. Now, it’s all about LA, Dallas, and….the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Spurs are generally left out of the picture.
***Ok, maybe Tony Parker doesn’t.
THE SPURS IN A NUTSHELL
The Spurs have youth, big game experience, shooting, and veteran leadership to legitimately compete for a Title. They also have ginger Matt Bonner, who will steal your soul right out of your cold body. Of course, only after he slings through a jumper right in your face first.
–Tony Parker is healthy again this season and wreaking havoc on defenses, and, surprisingly, is shooting 4% better from downton than his career %.
–Timmy Duncan might not be scoring as much as he’s used to, but he still rebounds and still blocks shots at an impressive clip. Come on, 9 reb/gm in nearly 29 min/gm is excellent for a soon to be 35 year old.
–Ginobili is unconventionally unconventional, and I have always liked him. He’s smooth in a non-smooth type of way.
–Richard Jefferson is not as effective as he once was, but he’s found his groove in the Spurs system more this season—shooting more than 12% better from downtown than last season.
The Spurs bench gets a ton of run; consequently nobody averages more than 33 minutes per game on the entire squad. George Hill is an efficient scorer at 11 ppg in 28 min/gm. He nails the three at a 39% clip and is a solid defensive player. Gary Neal is a smooth shooting world journeyman who has found a home with San Antonio in this his first NBA season and can proudly say he was the oldest rookie to ever appear in a Rookie-Sophomore game. Of course, there’s the aforementioned Matt Bonner, who has developed into more than just a deep threat. He actually rebounds a little now.
The most interesting roles on this Spur’s team go to DeJuan Blair and Antonio McDyess. Pop has started Blair for the entire season, until recently, as he’s decided to insert McDyess into the other front court spot. McDyess’s ability to knock down jumpers frees up room for Duncan to operate early in games, and the Spurs are banking on Dyess to put his fresh legs to use for the stretch run. Punxsutawney Phil, anyone?
Blair will be playing about the same amount of minutes and shouldn’t see his startling 7+ reb/gm in 22 min/gm shrink, but actually should see it rise some as he’ll be playing a little more against second units than he’s used to. Rooks Tiago Splitter and sharp shooter James Anderson figure to be rarely used 10th and 11thmen during the playoffs. NBA journeymen Steve Novak and Chris Quinn would be useful if a HORSE competition decided the winner of a game. They can fight over that last active roster spot and the Spurs aren’t worse off either way.
GEORGE HILL UP CLOSE
I got to watch George Hill play in person when his IUPUI squad came to town 4 years ago while I still attended Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. The Summit League (DI) doesn’t attract too many NBA caliber players, so it was a treat to see a NBA type player up close in such an intimate little arena such as the O’rena at Oakland. I remember that Hill (a senior at the time) had a killer hard body and was faster than fast, and that was saying something because Oakland had a lightning quick point guard who couldn’t stay with George at all. Hill definitely showed flashes of his NBA skill set, but it was difficult to judge him because of the less than NBA worthy competition he was playing against. So to make a long story short, I followed Hill’s NBA draft process and was very stoked to see him end up on a team like the Spurs—and was not surprised to see them draft a small time college player anyway.
ANTONIO McDYESS IS A GOOD DUDE
Antonio worked his butt off in a Detroit uniform and deserved better in his five seasons there. He almost tasted his first NBA championship in just his very first season Detroit but, gasp, the Spurs defeated Detroit in 7 games. He was the heart and soul of the post-championship Pistons, a well mannered guy with a jump shot sometimes machine like with its precision, and a quick jumper who battled for every board. McDyess revitalized his career in Detroit, managing to play all 82 games in back to back seasons after suffering through career altering knee injuries earlier in his career. Pistons fans adore him. I adore him. There are a lot of Pistons fans who would love to see Antonio win a ring.
McDyess will melt if he can ever win a ring. I want to see that happen, for this is likely the last quality chance the Spurs have to win one.
One of my favorite Antonio McDyess moments occurred on the road in Minnesota when he and Garnett got into a little tussle. Garnett started it, but then wanted no part of the festivities once McDyess reacted. McDyess’s charge at Garnett really surprised me because McDyess rarely, if ever, loses his cool. Apparently Garnett thought so too because if he would have shown just a little more hustle he would have blown Melo’s backpedal out of the water.
SO, WHAT HAPPENS?
Can the Spurs (home court throughout playoffs mind you) beat the Mavs, Thunder or Lakers in a 7 game series?
I have my doubts.
And most of the basketball following world has their doubts too.
So, advantage Spurs.
(Image via nolltrain.blogspot.com)
Follow Ryan on Twitter @rpravato. Avery Johnson will come hunt you down if you don’t.
The Philadelphia 7*: Last Friday, seven Detroit Pistons skipped shoot-around in what is being called a “players’ protest.” The players were Richard “Rip” Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace, Chris Wilcox, Tracy McGrady, Rodney Stuckey, and Austin Daye. Stuckey and Daye showed up as practice was ending. The story is (given from anonymous sources, of course) that they were protesting against head coach, John Kuester. It’s no secret that many of the players dislike him: Earlier this season, he had a mid-game argument with Prince, and had to be restrained; Prince has also given his two cents on the benching of Rip Hamilton, calling it “buffoonery.” Charlie Villanueva retweeted a negative comment towards Coach Kue days before the protest, and also had an issue with him last season, when both he and Daye missed the team plane. Hamilton has missed many games, and the reasoning was believed to be that it was due to the possible trading of the senior guard. Basically, Kuester has lost control of his players, and also their respect, if he had that in the first place.
Only six players played in the loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. During the game, Kuester received two technical fouls, and was ejected. What did the players on the bench do? They laughed.
They giggled like 5th graders because that day hadn’t been filled with enough disrespect towards the coach, the organization, and more importantly, the fans. Only six players were playing in a game that the Pistons could have possibly one, and they were laughing. McGrady, however, claims they weren’t laughing at him. Really? Something else was funny at the exact moment the coach was ejected? What a coincidence!
The players and Kuester say that there were other reasons for the absences. TMac has no recollection of an organized protest, Hamilton still pretends that they were all MIA due to chance, and Kuester says there was no protest, and is all an “internal matter.”
The Leader: Most of the blame falls on the shoulders of Rip Hamilton. Rip hasn’t seen much playing time, and after the trade deadline ended, and he was still a Piston, a different reasoning for benching him was given. Apparently, in January, Rip had an altercation with Kuester, stating that he was a failure. This was the second time Hamilton has had an issue with the coach, and as result was benched for it. Rip claims that he’s being blamed because he is the highest paid player on the team, and they need to blame someone. He hasn’t done anything wrong, at all. Ever. Why are we all picking on him?
Who is to blame?: Everyone. In two seasons, John Kuester has not gained the respect of his players, nor any control. Why else would players decided to boycott against him? Why hadn’t Joe Dumars stepped in until after everything happened? The biggest question: How come the players aren’t taking responsibility? Hamilton supposedly has had a talk with Kuester in hopes to mend the relationship, but he avoided all questions on whether he apologized. The team has yet to apologize to the organization or to the fans. The fans that watch as the team continues to struggle, and cross their fingers and hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Five members of the Philadelphia 7 were veterans, and the only apology came from a sophomore player: Austin Daye. “With that said, it hurt me to seem my teammates out there with only six players knowing I could help. That’s not a mistake I want to make again. I apologize to the Pistons fans and the Piston family for being late and my tardiness.” Daye still states that he was tardy instead of a protest. However, it is an apology, something the other Philadelphia 7 members haven’t given. Joe Dumars has stated that Kuester has his full support, and also, “We’ve had a long and proud history of being a first class organization that handles its business the right way. We expect everyone that represents the Detroit Pistons to do so in a first class manner and that will continue as we move forward.” It’s almost obvious that Kuester will finish out the season as the head coach. The only change since the incident is that Tracy McGrady has not played since. No one is sure why. Kuester avoided commenting on the subject, and TMac stated that someone should ask Kue. After everything that has happened, there is still a lack of communication in Detroit’s locker room. The players and the coach need to speak to one another.
Regardless of the players’ dislike of Kuester, he is the head coach, and deserves their respect. Especially if they expect to receive respect from him. (“Treat others as you would like to be treated”) The confrontations, the comments to the media, the tweets, and the protest are an embarrassment to a franchise known for its hard work. No team this offseason was fighting for Tracy McGrady, and in Detroit he received a second chance. This is the thanks they get. The team is up for sale, and any major changes can raise the price and prolong yet another obstacle. Would anyone want to own a team whose players decide when they come to work? Players that walk in the showers while the coach is speaking, and have frequent quarrels? The least the players can do is grow up and take responsibility. The avoidance of questions, and the “play stupid” approach is only creating more problems. In January, the team was 2.5 games behind Indiana or the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. Now, all playoff hopes are lost. The season can’t end soon enough.
The fans thank the Loyal 6 that played in last Friday’s game. If you are paid to show up to practice, and play basketball, then show up for practice and play the game. Be thankful that you have the chance to do so.
* Philadelphia 7 nickname courtesy of Pistons beat writer, Dave Hogg.
**Wallace’s brother recently passed away.
Kateasa is a part-time contributor to Stacheketball and was actually very nice about this. Follow her on Twitter: @Simply_Kateasa
Anybody out there reading this who aspires to play in the NBA one day, please realize that what Chris Wilcox of the Detroit Pistons is doing in the below photo is NOT considered good defensive technique anywhere, even in rec ball or the Korean leagues!
Jon Brockman is not much of a scorer at all. He’s a situational player who you ask to go out there and get boards and set solid screens. GET BOARDS! SET SCREENS!
Well Jon Brockman, and God love him, scored 8 points (4 field goals) Tuesday night against the phenomenal Detroit Piston’s defense. 8 points being Jon’s second highest point total of the season.
(Vid via Get Banged On)
The night was so bad for the Pistons that even newly signed big man Earl Barron grabbed 5 offensive boards (9 boards total) against them. To be fair, Detroit was without 36 year old Ben Wallace for the game. Grandpa Ben would have certainly helped (I’m only sorta kinda kidding).
Actually, even the offense was pretty horrid for the Stones on Tuesday as Richard Hamilton played in his first game since Feb.5, totalling 4 makes in 17 shot attempts in 26:02 minutes.
I GUESS THAT EXTRA PRACTICE TIME IS REALLY PAYING OFF, RIP.
OH WAIT. NEVERMIND , HUN!
Sorry Pistons Fans…You’re still Stuck with Rip for what looks like the rest of the blasphemous season.
(Images via: Jeffrey Phelps AP)
Follow Ryan on Twitter @rpravato where you get to witness more fantastic jokes. Not.