It's hard to believe, but it's been four year since the nation held its breath, filled with hope or dread - depending on perspective - anticipating the fallout of one of the biggest changes we have ever witnessed.
Friends, family, country(wo)men, fourteen hundred and sixty-two days ago, Allen Iverson was traded to the Detroit Pistons for Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess, and regardless of your perspective, I think we can all agree things have not been the same since. Change - real, tangible change - has occurred. For better or for worse, where we are now is a very long way from where we were then.
Some have criticized Dumars for his rampant spending, which they argue amounts to nothing more than bailing out "assets" that are doomed to fail. Others have lauded Dumars for making incremental progress in recent years, noting that while we may not be where we want to be yet, we are certainly on the right track - with new, young, promising talent poised to take the franchise in a positive direction.
Here we are, almost four years to the day later, again holding our breath in anticipation of the inevitable outcome: on Election Day - in politics and sports - there are winners and losers. Always. And at this stage of the game, all we can do is hope that our team wins.
Game Tips at 9:00 P.M. EST.
Detroit Pistons: 0-3 (0-1 home | 0-2 away)
Denver Nuggets: 0-3 (0-0 home | 0-3 away)
Like the Pistons, the Nuggets are off to a rocky start. However, unlike the Pistons, an 0-3 start wasn't expected. Hailed by many as a dark horse for home court advantage in the first round of the Playoffs out West, the Nuggets have yet to deliver. Like the Pistons, several key players are underperforming to the start the year, including Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson, and newly-acquired Andre Iguodala. Tonight's game will be the first time Denver has played in front of its home crowd - which provides a unique home court advantage in the form of thinner air. Expect the Nuggets to come out hungry in front of their fans, seeking to right their wayward ship quickly.
In spite of their slow start, several Nuggets present match-up problems for the Pistons, who have yet to find anything that works defensively. Ty Lawson presents challenges for Brandon Knight, with his speed and quickness off the dribble and ability to knock down shots from any distance. While Gallo hasn't found his range this season, he's a deep ball threat with a sneaky ability to get to the rim and draw fouls. JaVale McGree and Kenneth Faried can out-jump and out-quick almost all of the Pistons big men and can wreak havoc around the rim. And Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala - both savvy veterans at this point in their careers - are more than capable of getting under the opposition's skin on both sides of the ball.
Like the Nuggets, the Pistons are off to a terrible start thanks to several key players who have yet to perform. Rodney Stuckey appears to have caught Dayeitis and literally can't throw the ball in the ocean, leading some among us to question his spot in the rotation. His backcourt counterpart hasn't been a whole lot better - but to his credit, he has been doing more point guard things than last year. By Win Shares and Wins Produced, the backcourt rotation, rounded out by Will Bynum and Kim English, has been actively taking wins off the board... which of course makes perfect sense for a winless team. At least English has been decent, right?
The Bulll Moose Party hasn't campaigned well thus far. Greg Monroe has played some of the worst basketball of his young career, leading some to question whether or not he can handle an increased work load (even though his usage rate has only increased by 0.2% over last year). Andre Drummond has put up nice stats, but they belie how much Dre has looked a nineteen year old boy among men.
Keys to the Game:
Do more basketball things: Such as, making layups, sprinting back on defense, having active feet and hands on defense, and shooting open instead of contested shots as much as possible.
Box out and clean the glass: The previously mentioned JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried haven't seen big minutes this season, but they are the kind of players that the Pistons have made All Stars of in recent years. Thus far, Denver is a top 10 team on the offensive glass (which has been helped by plenty of missed shots) even without its best rebounders getting significant burn. One shot and one shot only, please.
Tweak the rotation in-game as needed: I am of the persuasion that Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey have earned the right to play through their current rough patches. They have been two of the team's best players for the past two seasons, and they will figure a way out of this rut. But beyond those two, play the guys who are earning it. Jonas Jerebko is. Kyle Singler is. Kim English is. Jason Maxiell is. And in spite of some really silly moments, Andre Drummond is.
Play Greg Monroe at PF and Andre Drummond at C at the same time: Self-explanatory.
Question of the Game:
Somebody has to win tonight. Will it be us?