Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE
Lawrence Frank initially balked at sliding Rodney Stuckey into a sixth-man role and keeping Kyle Singler in the starting rotation. Why? He answered with a question: "What about Will Bynum?" Let's answer that question for Frank, shall we.
It was only natural that fans of a then 1-8 team would want to stick with what worked and keep Singler in his starting role. Coach Lawrence Frank, however, dismissed the idea, including shooting back with a pointed response of, "What about Will Bynum?"
The expectation then was that as soon as Stuckey was healthy things would go back to the way they were -- Stuckey the starting point guard and Singler coming off the bench.
It was only after Stuckey personally requested to become the Pistons' sixth man, a move that could help both his team and his individual game, that Frank relented. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't answer Frank's question.
And the answer is as unfortunate as it is expected -- Will Bynum has been terrible this year and is actively hurting the Pistons' chances of winning games.
Before we get too deep in the weeds, though, I will acknowledge that the sample size is still small for this year and he might still become a productive player. But realistically, a terrible season so far this year combined with his terrible season last year and there is little hope for Bynum to turn it around.
After all, even at his most productive there have always been large holes in Bynum's game. He is what he is -- an undersized point guard that has scoring instincts but also has difficulty running an offense or getting others involved. He can drive to the basic and either try and score or pass it out to open teammates on the perimeter.
He also has a knack, however, to become an offensive black hole when either a couple early shots fall or the Pistons are in an offensive rut. He's a chucker without a good jump shot and a driver that doesn't finish well enough at the rim.
There was some hope this preseason that he could be a good pick-and-roll partner with Andre Drummond, but the lob city we saw in games that don't count were exposed as a mirage once the games mattered and NBA-caliber players were defending it.
But this lack of success hasn't stopped Bynum from playing the only way he knows how. Thirty-one point guards have played 15+ minutes per game this season and have a usage rate of 20 or more. Bynum's number? An astronomical 27.52, good for seventh in the NBA. The only players ahead of him? Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Monta Ellis, Shannon Brown, Ramon Sessions and Eric Bledsoe.
What does this mean? It means that when Bynum is on the floor he dominates the ball like few others and dictates most everything that happens on the offensive end. The results? Pitiful.
Of the six players with higher usage rates Bynum's 44.7 true-shooting percentage is dead last. His assist rate is respectable but nobody turns the ball over more frequently than Bynum. He is also the worst rebounder, His Win Score is negative and nobody has a lower PER or Adjusted PER.
But what if we include all 31 players with a usage rate above 20, which would be well below Bynum's usage?
|True Shooting %||29th|
|Total Rebound Rate||28th|
|Adjusted Win Score||31st|
So Bynum has the ball in his hands more often than most any point guard in the NBA and produces results among the worst in the NBA. But what about his teammates?
Yes, he is the only "point guard" on the roster not named Brandon Knight but to buy into that argument is to be willfully ignorant. After all, his freshly minted benchmate Rodney Stuckey was the point guard of the future in Detroit not too long ago and is capable of bringing the ball up the floor and initiating Frank's offense.
Furthermore, Stuckey has been one of the biggest offensive contributors to this team for a number of years now and if he has proven one thing it is that he needs the ball in his hands to be effective. And he's not the only one. Corey Maggette is a ball-dominant forward who, if he is going to contribute anything to the team it will be on the offensive end, and it will entail him driving to the basket and getting to the free-throw line.
Suddenly the Pistons have three primary bench players who all need the ball in their hands and there is only one ball to go around. They all look to score first and create later and all have questionable jump shots. Obviously, this won't work in the long run.
Worse still, Bynum's lack of point guard skills and score-first mentality is the absolute worst pairing for the Pistons' young guys off the bench -- Jonas Jerebko and Andre Drummond. Neither can create for themselves and neither are stand-still perimeter shooters.
The Pistons are committed to bringing Andre Drummond along slowly in a reserve role. So for him to develop his game he will need teammates that enhance his effectiveness on the offensive end. A role that Bynum is particularly ill suited.
And it's no surprise that sharing the floor with three ball-dominant players has rendered Jonas Jerebko, who specializes in hustle plays, basket cuts and pick-and-rolls, a shadow of his formerly productive self. He has been relegated to camping out at the 3-point line in an attempt to provide spacing but has never had a 3-point stroke and is contributing little elsewhere.
It's obvious, isn't it? Bench Will Bynum.
The ship has sailed on getting a facilitator and pass-first point guard on this team. But the next best option is Stuckey not Bynum.
Stuckey asked to come off the bench because the team has committed to running the offense through Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe. And if Stuckey is going to be on the bench you need to let the offense work through him. He's not a perfect player but we have several years of evidence that he is a marginally effective passer, takes care of the basketball and is at his best offensively with the ball in his hands.
And while Drummond probably won't ever have plays run for him this season, the more space you can give him in the paint the more effective he can be. You need someone who can actually help space the floor. Jerebko has a decent 15-to-18-footer but he's never converted regularly from 3. That means the team must have another shooter on the floor and Maggette (a career 32 percent 3-point shooter) and Bynum (career 24 percent) aren't going to get it done.
The most effective 6-10 on the Pistons should be Stuckey and English at the guard positions, Corey Maggette at small forward, Jonas Jerebko at power forward and Andre Drummond at center.
It provides the Pistons their most effective defender and overall performer (Drummond), puts the ball in Stuckey's capable hands, spaces the floor via English, who can also provide quality perimeter defense, allows Jerebko to wreak havoc without having to plant himself on the perimeter, and gives Maggette, who has a more recent history of effective play than Bynum, a chance to show he can contribute.
"What about Will Bynum?"
If the question truly is, "What about Will Bynum?" then the answer is easy.
Bench. Will. Bynum.
He has been arguably the worst point guard in the NBA this season and was also terrible last season. He is hurting the team, doesn't mesh well with the more effective bench players and would open up a spot on the floor to someone that can be relied on to provide defense and 3-point shooting.
If the team is interested in winning this is the correct answer.
If the team is interested in developing its young players this is the correct answer.
If the team wants to focus on those that will be here beyond this season this is the correct answer.
If the team wants to be the meritocracy it so often says it is this is the correct answer.
Or maybe I should just answer Frank's question with a question of my own: What about Will Bynum?