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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Blame Game

Posted by TADOne

I read an interesting article in today’s Detroit Free Press by the love-him-or-hate-him personality of one Drew Sharp. By most accounts, I believe Drew to be a tool of a writer and compare his writing style to that of a scorned lover or jealous boyfriend or girlfriend. To summarize, Mr. Sharp looks for negativity in his subjects and picks at it like a scab. Despite my critical assessment of his journalism, he does make some good points in his latest article on the Detroit Pistons fall from grace and where exactly blame should go.

I’ve decided to take out excerpts from his article and expound upon them my personal thoughts, while also adding in a few places I think blame should be pointed to. What is in italics is what Sharp said. My comments in bold proceed his thoughts.

1)The Darko Disaster in the 2003 draft cost them that transitional star. This is hardly a breaking news alert. Many dismissed this inevitability as irrelevant as the Pistons advanced to six straight Eastern Conference finals, but they could only outrun that mistake for so long before it eventually bit them in the back pocket. It's wasted breath arguing whom they should've taken instead. The bottom line is that an already good team cannot blow the No. 2 pick overall in what will go down as the deepest draft talent pool this decade in the NBA. But the Pistons did precisely that. Not much to argue with this. Dumars pretty much blew the chance at a once-in-a-lifetime talent by drafting Darko. Joe has basically said so himself. The problem I have is that people forget just how talented Darko was and that pretty much any scout was on his bandwagon. The only other player the Pistons even considered targeting was Carmelo Anthony, but he also played the same position as Tayshaun Prince, so they never really considered him. Chris Bosh was still looked at as a raw prospect and only Pat Riley took the Dwyane Wade hype seriously. Another thing to consider: the Darko trade to Orlando after the team had finally given up on him turned into Rodney Stuckey. Not too shabby.

2)Davidson couldn't keep his ego in check regarding Larry Brown. The Pistons knew Brown was a drama queen requiring exceptionally high maintenance when they hired him, but the normally reclusive Davidson made his distaste for Brown's dramatics public after he broomed him for Flip Saunders following the Pistons' Game 7 defeat in the 2005 NBA Finals. Davidson could've found a way to coexist with Brown, but he believed his players were more important than the person coaching them. That move effectively gave the players free run of the asylum, enabling their insurrections and pretty much excusing them from accountability. From that point on, when things went wrong -- it's primarily the coach's fault. Again, Drew makes a great point. The thing with Larry Brown was blown way out of proportion in my opinion. Yes, Larry interviewed for another position with a rival team while the Pistons were in the thick of a playoff run, but what exactly did the Pistons expect when they hired him? They knew Brown always had a wandering eye and the team wasn’t exactly proper in the way they dismissed Rick Carlisle once they new Brown was available. Owner Bill Davidson and Joe Dumars should have swallowed hard and forged ahead with Brown. If he would have eventually left on his own, then so be it. Once the players knew the control they wielded, it was the beginning of the end.

3)They never recovered defensively and emotionally from the loss of Ben Wallace following the 2006 season. The Pistons made the right move in not matching Chicago's outrageous four-year, $60-million free-agent contract. Wallace's energetic playing style had eroded, and he lost a battle for the soul of the team with Chauncey Billups. But since he left, the Pistons haven't found a comparable center who could move Rasheed Wallace to his more comfortable power forward position. Nazr Mohammed and Kwame Brown were both failed experiments. And perhaps more important, they haven't played good weak-side defense since Big Ben departed, explaining why opposing teams have penetrated the lane with impunity the past three seasons. Yes and no. I believe that Billups was always the leader of that team with his words, while Ben led with his play on the court. Ben was all-out hustle and the players respected that about him. Once he lost a step, Dumars was intent on not breaking the bank for a player that made the team play 4 on 5 on the offensive end. The problem with Rasheed was not of him playing the center position after Ben left, but that Ben kept Sheed in check. Larry Brown leaving was also paramount to Rasheed not buying in completely. The Pistons defensive numbers never got worse and actually improved some when Ben left. The downward spiral for the defense started when Chauncey was traded.

Which bring me to my extra points. While Dumars didn’t underestimate Chauncey’s effect on the game playing-wise, he did underestimate his leadership in the locker room and on the court. The Pistons traded away their main voice in a year they were harkening a new era with a new head coach. As much as I love Rodney Stuckey, he is not a leader yet. Neither is Rasheed, Rip, Tay, or McDyess. Iverson, incidentally, has only done well with a strong head coaching presence at the helm (Thompson, Brown, Karl). The Pistons problems don’t lie with talent, but with leadership. As much as I like Michael Curry the person, his coaching and leadership skills leave much to be desired.


Eboy said...

Yeah, your last sentence is what needs to be addressed.

joeloholic said...

TAD, I have a question. This Piston team as it is right now with LB as head coach: championship contenders?

Good point though, that the core of the problem lies in leadership. Larry Brown to Flip to Curry was a gradual decline. Like how in the East they say that a family's wealth is built up by the first generation, maintained by the second... and squandered by the third. Ben and Billups leaving, as you said, made it worse, and Billups was the last straw.

Are we writing off the Pistons' chances this season yet? Any chance they can get it together miraculously?

TADOne said...

E: Hard to gauge with any sense of knowing since Curry has no coaching track record to speak of. At this point, what can he change?

Joe: I'm an LB fan, so I believe he can work miracles. Curry, not so much. So yeah, i'm writing the Pistons off for this season.

Moose said...

Eboy, you're always picking out the . . . nevermind.

Ryne Nelson said...

Great point about Iverson and his success (if you can call it that) under strong coaches. TAD, I haven't thought about it in that way, but the Pistons lack floor leaders and that's a great reason as to why they seem lost out there this season. Now the question is: Will they have a winning record this year?

TADOne said...

Ryne: At this point, I would hedge my guess at no. However, I haven't really looked at the schedule for the last month of the season.

TADOne said...

Also Ryne, I would call it a success for Iverson under those coaches.

Under Thompson, he was Defensive Player of the Year two years in a row in the Big East. He set the all-time Georgetown scoring record as well.

Under LB, he went to the Finals and won the MVP.

Under Karl, the Nugs went to the playoffs and won 50+ games both years.

Tariq al Hayder said...

I really don't think they were contenders with Billups either. I believe that sports teams run in cycles, and that the Detroit Piston team of Rip, Chauncey, Tay, Sheed and Ben had run it's course. What they need is a new identity.

Tariq al Hayder said...

And is it just me or does Sheed look like he just doesn't f*cking care anymore?

TADOne said...

Yeah Tariq, Sheed is definitely getting that 'zoned out' look about him. He is competing, but he has seemed to have mailed it in mentally. He almost has that body language about him that resembles that one guy on the playground who is obviously skilled but begins to take plays off when his team starts to lose. You know the guy. He jogs back on D or doesn't move on offense when the ball isn't in his hand, basically saying "it ain't my fault we losing...look at what i'm working with!"

Yeah, bad times.

Tariq al Hayder said...

Let the rebuilding begin.

John W. Davis said...

How come you didnt tell me you wrote this article. BOOO!!!!

You can post a link in the comment section if you want TAD!

I havent forgot about you being on Pistonscast either!


John W. Davis

TADOne said...

HA! What's good John! Man, I wouldn't say I necessarily "wrote" anything, just sorta has a head-nod agreement with Mr. Drew Sharp on his article and felt like sharing.

Anyhoo, i'm about to stop on thru Pistonscast again.