Tom: Indy Cornrows
In addition to the fine previews linked above, be sure to check out J.E. Skeets and Kelly Dwyer's Pistons preview at Ball Don't Lie. (Actually, if you're a fan of the league in addition to the team, you probably should be reading all of their previews.) There's a lot to digest, with as much humor as serious analysis, but I'd like to discuss one of Dwyer's points in particular:
Still, I’m very worried about how they’ll act under Curry in the long run.
Teams have a tendency to fall apart when they’re working under older brother-ish types as opposed to father figures, and Curry definitely comes off as the seemingly cool big brother who is going to buy them a case of beer on the slide and allow for a bunch of three-pointers in early transition. How well that works in the postseason remains to be seen, but I don’t think it will matter much in the regular season. My win prediction (Detroit won 59 games last season) is based more on an improving East than a faltering or fading Pistons roster.
And the roster, I’m sorry, but it should scare people. Plenty of greybeards, I submit, but most of those greybeards know how to work it, and their production will be sound. Throw in the work of a formidable crew of youngsters, and you have another championship contender in Detroit. Again.
Dwyer probably watches more basketball than anyone not under the employ of the NBA, but his "cool big brother" analogy surprised me. Yes, Michael Curry is new, and yes, he's played with or against several of the current guys on the roster, but everything we've been told to this point has suggested his greatest coaching influences were disciplined coaches like Doug Collins and Rick Carlisle.
Curry is the guy who runs his guys ragged in training camp, who forces them out of their comfort zone to learn new offensive sets, who says he won't hesitate to bench someone when they play outside the flow of the game. He's not a conflict-avoiding pushover. Or at least, that's what I've let myself be convinced into believing. The proof is in the pudding.
Ironically enough, while I disagree with his assessment about Curry, I agree with most of his defense of Flip Saunders. As I pointed out shortly after his firing, Flip did a lot of good things in Detroit, and ultimately, it's the players who are responsible. I didn't agree with all of his decisions (especially his mistrust of the bench) but he managed to take Detroit's offense to new heights while maintaining an elite defense. He's one of the league's better coaches and will be unemployed for only as long as he wants to be.