Detroit Pistons Mid-Season Grades

BOSTON MA - JANUARY 19: Tracy McGrady #1 of the Detroit Pistons was the "Y" in the Pistons' bench "YMCA" dance.

We're half-way through the season, and it's officially time to look back and levy judgment on the cast of characters in Detroit.  There's been some high notes and some low notes, some surprises and some disappointments, but there is a greater sense of change in this season that fans should find some excitement in.  How did each player fare in the annual Detroit Bad Boys midseason grades?  Hit the jump to find out.

Richard Hamilton

Brian Packey:  Hamilton has become a $13 million bench warming distraction. It's not Rip's fault he was given such an absurd contract, but he has to be held accountable for his worst season as a pro since his rookie season.  Grade: D-plus

Kevin Sawyer:  Between the whining, the lousy shooting, and the "statement games", it's time for him to go.  Whether or not he feels respected by the team, he is being paid like a star and should, at minimum, conduct himself like one. Grade: F

Mike Payne: Rip is having his worst season since, well, last season, a continuation of poor shooting, poor defense and a gloomy demeanor on the court or the bench.  Rip can't be blamed for the RPBAR'd shooting guard situation in Detroit, but if he could have found his 2008-09 play without Chauncey, both he and the Pistons would not be in this situation.  Grade: D

The "That Ain't Happenin'" Average Grade: D-minus

Tayshaun Prince

Brian Packey:  He's going to get docked a grade for being disruptive, but he's the same, steady Prince we've seen for years. In fact, he's having one of his best overall seasons since 2005 while shooting the best he's ever shot inside the arc (50%).  Grade: B-minus

Kevin Sawyer:  On the offensive end, he is having his best season yet.  Defensively, however, he is a shadow of his former self.  His defensive rating is the worst on the team, a strange development for a player who thrives by intelligently using his length to challenge defenders.  Grade: B-minus

Mike Payne: For me, Tayshaun has been the most frustrating Piston to watch this season.  On an individual level, he's having the best season of his career-- but at a cost to team performance.  The "Tay as offensive officiator" experiment has failed, and he alone is responsible for that failure.  Grade:  C-plus

Bufoonery Average grade: B-minus

Ben Wallace 

Brian Packey:  Age is starting to show with the grays in his 'fro and on the court. When he was signed last year, he was only supposed to serve as a mentor, but he turned out to be classic Big Ben. He's hardly been that this year, but he still gives decent minutes (when healthy) and we might be seeing his tutelage paying off in Greg Monroe and even Chris Wilcox.  Grade: B-minus

Kevin Sawyer:  Tough to grade him too harshly, since he has been injured.  Still, his performance has dropped precipitously from last year, and I'm left to wonder whether the fountain of youth has expired. Grade: C-plus

Mike Payne: The Benaissance has ended, my friends.  Fortunately for Pistons fans, that doesn't mean Ben doesn't still have a lot to offer.  He'll be a solid defensive playmaker behind Monroe and an excellent advisor for a developing Moose.  Grade: B-minus

Benaissance Average Grade: B-minus

Rodney Stuckey 

Brian Packey:  His mid-range shot has shown little improvement and his assists are only up slightly, but he has improved dramatically in an area that was nauseatingly bad last year: around the rim. He's finishing much better (60% vs. 49% last year) and he's getting to the line more frequently (and hitting more of his free throws). Kuester has moved Stuck off the ball in the past five games, which has been a breath of fresh air. I'd say he's earning himself a contract in Detroit. Grade: B

Kevin Sawyer:  His improvement has been notable, and he has emerged as an effective player.  In addition to improving his field goal percentage, he is getting to the line far more frequently, resulting in a 54% true shooting percentage. Grade: B-plus

Mike Payne: My personal knock on Stuckey before the season was that he wasn't good at what he's supposed to be good at (getting to the rim and finishing).  That's entirely changed this season, having jumped into some pretty star-studded territory as a 60% finisher at the rim.  While that's a noteworthy improvement, the point guard thing still hasn't shown up.  Assists are nice and all, but penetrate-and-pass is not the right way to play a five man game with increasing offensive options beyond yourself.  A for scoring improvements, C for running an offense.  Grade: B

Hey! Average Grade: B

Tracy McGrady

Brian Packey:  T-Mac has re-invented himself as a playmaker while also becoming a much more efficient scorer. Regardless of what happens the rest of this season, the Pistons have turned a real nice dollar here.  Grade: B-plus

Kevin Sawyer:  Not sure why everyone is so surprised that he has been contributing.  When he is at the top of his game, he is nearly spectacular, but when he is off, he is really off.  The result has been a huge return on Detroit's minimal investment. Grade: B

Mike Payne:  If you watch McGrady play, look behind his right shoulder-- about two miles behind his right shoulder.  Do you see that?  Those were the reasonable expectations fans should have had for McGrady.  Grade: A

Tired Legs Average GradeB-plus

Ben Gordon 

Brian Packey:  He started the season absolutely sizzling (17 ppg, 55% shooting on just 10 shots per game), but has fallen off considerably. I still contend he's not being used properly because he's the type of player who needs at least 10 shots every single game, no exceptions, and I think that has affected him in more ways than one. The Pistons want him to thrive with less usage, but that cannot and probably will not happen.  Grade: C

Kevin Sawyer:  Has shown flashes of brilliance, but all too frequently disappears.  The Pistons signed him to be a guy who could create his own shot and stretch defenses.  But defenses are more or less content to let him shoot 37% from beyond the arc, so his scoring has been off.  That's bad, when scoring is pretty much all you do.  Grade: D-plus

Mike Payne: Hey, he was really awesome against Boston... in that playoff series for Chicago.  I'm with Packey, that Gordon needs certain conditions to be in place for him to find consistency.  But instead of making lemonade with all those lemons, he's apparently trying to make vinegar.  Grade: C-minus

Myoplex (tm) Average Grade: C-minus

Charlie Villanueva

Brian Packey:  A real teacher's pet who says all the right things and possesses a positive attitude (attitude determines altitude). Oddly enough, none of that is helping his rebound rate, which has to be one of the most confusing aspects of this 6-foot-11 power forward's game.  Grade: C-plus

Kevin Sawyer:  If we accept that his final season in Milwaukee was a bit of a fluke, we can be reasonably happy with what we have here.  Villanueva has been consistently effective on the offensive end, and has demonstrated marginal improvement defensively. Grade: B-minus

Mike Payne: While this season has been an improvement over last season on both ends of the court, I find myself still waiting for things to click with Villanueva.  I feel like he's going to put up a rock star stretch at some point soon, but I always feel like that.  And it never happens.  Still, the guy has shown an effort in pretty much everything he's done this season, and he shall be rewarded for that with a shiny new B-minus.  Grade: B-minus

The KG "Cancerous To Your Team And League" Average Grade: B-minus

Jason Maxiell 

Brian Packey:  Baby boomers. Ugh.  Grade: D

Kevin Sawyer:  He needs minutes to be effective, and he hasn't gotten them.  I still argue that he would be effective as a rotation guy, but I seem to be losing that battle. Grade: C

Mike Payne: If Jason could maintain that jumper and improve his work on the defensive glass, he might be a great fit to start next to Monroe.  Of all Detroit's frontcourt players, he's been the most misused this season, which is unfortunate since he performed well down the stretch under Kuester last season.  While the situation sucks, Maxiell has done himself no credit with uninspired play.  Grade: C

Maxiell Day Care (tm) Average Grade: C-minus

Austin Daye 

Brian Packey:  I guess saying that I love his shooting stroke would be synonymous to loving a student's penmanship despite the majority of the answers being wrong.  He's aggressive on the glass and he has had flashes of what we saw in the preseason, but he's been an overall disappointment thus far this season.  Grade: C-minus

Kevin Sawyer:  I expected him to make the leap this year.  He should be contributing at a much higher level, given his long distance accuracy and spectacular speed and length.  He is still young, and his game is complicated, so there is still time, but he hasn't shown me much thus far. Grade: C

Mike Payne: To start the season, I was excited that Daye was to be our only SF on the roster in 2011-12.  Now, I'm just nervous.  He hasn't shown that he's ready to take the next step, and his play has fallen off since a rather exciting preseason.  I don't entirely blame Austin, though.  Imagine if he had started this season on the wing instead of power forward?  He was set up to fail in that scenario.  Grade: C

Somerset Mall Average Grade: C

Will Bynum 

Brian Packey:  I had a feeling there'd be a drop off in production after he signed his affordable and well-deserved contract, I just wish the feeling didn't prove true. All the work he put in during the offseason on his shooting is showing - his three-point and free throw percentages have seen sizable improvements (just not-so-much his mid-range game).  Grade: D-plus

Kevin Sawyer:  He seems to be slowly waking from his slumber, but he has had a pretty miserable season to date.  His main problem is that he tries to do too much against defenses that are prepared for him.  His lack of long range prowess is painful for a player his size.  Grade: D

Mike Payne: No longer is my argument valid that you're a better point guard than Rodney Stuckey.  I cannot continue to base that on what happened a year and a half ago.  You were the lone bright spot of the 2008-09 season, but now you're just an afterthought.  Grade: D

Where'd The MF Go Average Grade: D

Chris Wilcox

Brian Packey:  If you told me before the season started that Wilcox would have five starts and a SportsCenter Top 10 play by midseason, I would've linked you to a particular Black Eyed Peas song. If you would've gone on to say that he'd be top two on the team in Hollinger's PER, rebounding rate, and offensive and defensive rating, I would've punched you in the mouth and draped you around my shoulders like a cheap piece of fur. BUT, unlike Bynum, Wilcox has taken full advantage of his rare opportunities and has turned himself into a nice little role player in the front court.  Grade: B-minus

Kevin Sawyer:  On a per minute basis, he has been our best player.  He is undeniably playing for a contract, but his rebounding has been a big part of Detroit's semi-resurgence. Grade: A

Mike Payne: Where did this guy come from?  While his time in Detroit is limited, watching his style of play should be important for the Pistons' management.  This guy provides a solid pairing with Monroe, and if Detroit can find an upgrade via the draft or a trade, this frontcourt could be solid for years to come.  Thanks to Wilcox for blowing away the expectations and giving us some anecdotal insight at the same time.  Grade: A

MostCertainlyCanCox Average Grade: A-minus

Greg Monroe

Brian Packey:  Understandably, it took some time for this rookie to find his confidence, and I think it's safe to say he found it when plugged into the starting lineup. In his eight starts, he's shooting 64% (opposite 44% as a reserve) and averaging nearly a double-double. The Pistons have set the standards pretty low for rookies in the past, so I think it plays out to Monroe's benefit in how we evaluate him, but I couldn't be happier with how he's produced thus far.  Grade: An A!

Kevin Sawyer:  This is about where I expected him to be at this juncture.  Hopefully, his recent bout of solid play foretells future improvements, but it would not be unreasonable to expect some rookie bumps and bruises as defenses start to adjust to his presence. Grade: B

Mike Payne: This slow starter has yet to peak.  He's handled himself with grace against a range of opponents at the league's toughest position to guard.  Play like this should take Detroit's focus away from the center search, because this man has most certainly earned himself our patience to see if he can hold it down on the long term.  Grade: A-minus

Monrobocop Warrior Average Grade: A-minus

DaJuan Summers

Brian Packey:  He's only seen action in nine games, but as far as we know he's healthy. But, hey! He's made five of eight three-point tries. Grade: D

Kevin Sawyer:  He has shown glimpses that he can provide some spot shooting and energy off the bench, but there isn't really enough here to assess, and isn't enough in his profile to suggest he should get an extended opportunity. Grade: Inc.

Mike Payne:  Nope, still hasn't shown it. The real question: will he wind up in Europe next season, or will he Dupree his way into another contract?  Grade: D-minus

Brazilian Eyebrow Wax Average GradeD'incomplete

Terrico White & Jonas Jerebko

Brian Packey:  Both have shown tremendous poise during their injuries?  Grade: Inc.

Mike Payne: Even in a walking boot, White would still win the slam dunk competition.  Even with that little walking car thingy, Jonas would still win America's Next Top Model.  Grade:  Superhuman

All Athletic Injured Team Average GradeIncomplete

John Kuester

Brian Packey:  I've admittedly been very hard on Kuester. I'm an emotional fan and those first five losses, of which the Pistons probably should've won four, undoubtedly took its toll on me. There were just too many painstakingly obvious things during that stretch that I thought rested on Q's shoulders. He's not completely incompetent, though. He's done a good job finally figuring out a rotation that clearly clicks and has given Monroe more leash than any other recent Pistons coach has with a young big man. But do I think he's a good coach? Nope. I think being a good coach starts with how well the team responds to you, and his players continuously make suggestive comments to the media & their personal social medias that there isn't much respect for Kuester's coaching philosophy. Maybe a couple players' spoiled attitudes are rubbing off on the others, but I highly doubt it when it's nearly everyone -- even Mr. PA Charlie V. has sent out not-so-subtle messages about Kuester's insanity.  Grade: C

Kevin Sawyer:  It shouldn't have taken him this long to settle on a lineup, and it isn't clear that he has yet done so.  The real killer, though, is the underachieving defense.  There is too much athleticism here to be this bad at half of the game.  Grade: D-plus

Mike Payne: If your team is riddled with 3rd quarter collapses, last-minute losses and irrational trial-and-error lineup changes, it doesn't shine brightly upon the coach.  These are the things he's responsible for and these have been consistent failures.  Things are certainly improving, but much of these improvements are the result of external factors and not his own pro-active decisions.  What we've seen this season is a testament to the fact that John Kuester may be better suited to the assistant role.  He deserves the rest of this season to complete his contract, but this summer should be time to pull the plug as the franchise reboots across the board.  Grade: D-plus

JKAIFAI Average Grade (the extra "A" is for "Awesome"): D-plus

Have your own grades?  Share 'em in the comments, yawl.

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