Well, that's the hope, at least.
Dan Feldman from PistonPowered on John Kuester's defensive pedigree:
"Day one, we’re going to have preach what it’s going to take to be a great defensive team," Kuester said [Monday]. "That’s going to be our main goal right from the get-go."
Prior to last year, he had never worked with just the offense. His mentors are Larry Brown and Mike Brown. Of course, Kuester’s bread and butter is defense.
He’s very similar to Rick Carlisle, who was the Pacers’ offensive coordinator before the Pistons hired him. Carlisle had also been a defense-first guy, and once he became a head coach, that focus returned.
For what it's worth, the new guys are on point, as well:
Gordon has shown no hesitation in saying the focus has to be on the defensive end.
And Villanueva comes to Detroit from Milwaukee, where tough-minded Scott Skiles also emphasizes defense.
"If you don’t play defense, you’re not playing," Villanueva said. "It’s as simple as that."
I always figured Villanueva's rep as a soft defender was at least partially undeserved -- with the right coach calling the shots, everybody plays defense, right?
The Pistons will certainly face their share of matchup problems (as will every team), but the schedule-makers may have done them a favor: after facing the Cavs once in November, they play the Cavs three times in March.
Why does that matter? Because that will give the team five months (including training camp) to develop their crew of rookie small forwards -- I'm crossing my fingers that Dajuan Summers can emerge as a "power three" capable of making the LBJs and Paul Pierces of the world work a little harder than they have in recent years. I'm not betting on Deron Washington to crack the rotation his first year, but his full-throttle effort on defense might slow opposing threes, as well, even if he does give up several pounds and a few inches.
Here's some extra alley-oops to pass the time -- I'll lob 'em, you click 'em:
From MLive's A. Sherrod Blakely: Kwame Brown, Ben Wallace and Chris Wilcox talk about the competition for the starting center job. On a side note, can you imagine if Wallace's intensity rubs off on Kwame? I know Kwame is solid, but that's mostly because of his size. If he can inherit Wallace's motor, I'll live with the worst hands in the league.
From Dave Pemberton of the Oakland Press: Rodney Stuckey on sharing the point with MF Will Bynum and Ben Gordon.
PistonPowered has the details about this year's open practice: Saturday, Oct. 10 from 12:30 - 2 PM at the Palace. Free admission, free hot dogs, free Coke.
From MLB FanHouse's Ed Price: an ode to Justin Verlander.
Karl calls Afflalo the most organized, regimented young player he's ever coached. Afflalo is taking the praise in stride. He said his unknown status among coaches, players and fans isn't a surprise.
"That's not unlikely in the NBA," Afflalo said. "You have veteran teams with veteran guys, and that so happened to be the situation I fell into draft day (in Detroit). It's just part of the process. But you can't make excuses, you have to continue to work on your game and when you get your opportunity, be at your best."
George Karl's reaction (or Afflalo's humble response) shouldn't be a surprise -- Flip Saunders often told reporters that Afflalo worked harder than any other player he's coached. Guys like that stick around in this league as long as they want -- I'll be rooting for Afflalo wherever his career takes him.