For the first time this season, head coach Lawrence Frank put rookie Andre Drummond in the game at the same time as Greg Monroe. For the first time this season, Pistons fans got a glimpse of the future.
Some fans have been reasonably wondering why it has taken so long for Frank to play the two together, especially given the Pistons' winless start. Beat writer Keith Langlois provided at least one semi-legitimate reason for the delay:
One reason Lawrence Frank has been hesitant to pair Greg Monroe with Andre Drummond is the consistent production he’s received from Jason Maxiell and Jonas Jerebko at power forward.
Despite the strong play of Maxiell and Jerebko thus far this season, it's baffling how a winless team had not yet experimented with its future frontcourt, especially since it seemed to work in the preseason, and it is the frontcourt of the future. Before the Thunder game, Frank had shed some more light on why... he's been so confusing [via freywagg]:
Coach Lawrence Frank said before the game that Detroit had been hesitant to use the two big men together because "you don't take away one of your main cogs and put him in a position of weakness there" but that the Pistons would probably try out the lineup eventually.
We can assume Frank means Monroe is their main cog and putting him at power forward would be putting him in a position of weakness. We can then conclude that makes zero sense. Monroe is a natural power forward and has been playing out of position at center. While he has shown to be successful playing there, there's nothing to suggest he wouldn't also flourish at power forward.
It's entirely possible Frank simply doesn't know what the hell is going on, based also on his comments after Friday night's loss:
"Bottom line, they were ready to play and we weren't. I didn't recognize our team tonight. We didn't come out with the approach that we normally do. We've got to have that fire and come out and compete."
The approach the Pistons normally come out with? The team is an NBA-worst 0-5 and energy has been at a premium. What's normal? Weird. Frank may not have recognized his team tonight because he mixed things up for once, but overall, I thought the Pistons played pretty well considering they were going up against the reigning Western Conference champs. The Pistons outrebounded a team for the first time this season (41-38), had more assists (24-21) and fewer turnovers (15-17).
Further, the future of the Pistons, something Frank should hope he'll be apart of, was promising. As MFMP said, Friday night was a moral victory for the young Pistons if there ever was one. Frank's probably not encouraged by the 0-6 start, but this was one of the more encouraging games of the still-very-young season.