For my first ever game preview, before the only Pistons game I'll attend this season, I thought I would take a look at this mediocre season and spruce it up with some much-needed positivity. And what better time to explore the benefits of mediocrity than when playing a game against a team coached by Vinny del Negro.
If you were paying close attention, then you already noticed my unflappable positivity: I called this season mediocre. Not sub-par, not disappointing, not a puss-filled rash of talentless rhino anus. Mediocre. Hey, guys: that's average! Let's break it down:
Depending on who you ask, Lawrence Frank is our Coach Of The Future. He's already succeeded in:
- Getting the Pistons to play better defense than last year
- Getting the Pistons to realize Moose is our best player
- Getting the Pistons to not mutiny
- Getting JOD a sandwich (speculative)
- Finding Rodney Stuckey's ON switch
At least for the foreseeable future, Frank is our man on the sideline. In Clips land, however, del Negro is a dead man walking. Yes, he's "guided" the Clippers to a 4 seed in a crowded Western Conference. But sometimes a team grows faster than its coach.
Around the league, ol' Vinny is a laughing stock for his offensive ineptitude and seeming inability to motivate players. Despite having two Top 12 players and a number of shooters who can spread the floor (Mo Williams, Caron Butler) the Clippers are only 12th in the league in points per game. And they've laid more than one turd in tight games.
So, look on the bright side: Would you rather have your Coach of The Future now, or know that you're basically squandering the talent on your roster until your coach can be replaced by someone who has at least heard of basketball before?
While conventional wisdom pegs Blake Griffin as a super-star and Monroe as a mere up-and-comer, the difference is not as stark as the common fan would think. I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but some food for thought:
Griffin's 2011-2012 Win Shares per 48: .176
Monroe's 2011-2012 Win Shares per 48: .154
Griffin's 2011-2012 PER: 23.3
Monroe's 2011-2012 PER: 22.6
Not to mention, Monroe is 15 months younger than Griffin and has never had knee surgery.
Call me crazy, but I would take the duration of Monroe's career over the duration of Griffin's. Blake's above-the-rim style (and the fact that he's already had knee issues) means his peak will likely be much earlier, his career much shorter, and his next catastrophic injury always right around the corner.
Moose is just a straight-up basketball player, and he's only going to get better. I know it always garner's a chortle whenever Moose is compared to Tim Duncan, but I think at least offensively, this is the kind of ceiling young Gregory has. Blake has begun trying to add to his repertoire this season, with mixed results.
So, look on the bright side: Would you rather have raw athleticism with explosive knees, or raw basketball acumen, with a long, girthy career?
Let's be real: the Clippers are in an enviable position. They've gone from perennial bottom-feeder to Western Conference challenger in two short seasons. They're winning games, they're selling out The Staples Center, and they're going to be in the playoffs. Those were the days, huh?
However…the Clippers are also in a position where things like ACL injuries to an aging vet have the potential to ruin your season. They're also in a position where they're throwing pieces around at the trade deadline to get players likeNick Young, who I wouldn't want near the Pistons roster under any circumstance for any amount of money. They're in a position where their talent exceeds their coach's grasp, and where every little thing they do matters from here on out. Realistic or not, anything less than a Western Conference Finals appearance is going to be a disappointment for this squad.
Meanwhile, the Pistons could blow 12 ACLs this year and (provided they don't belong to Moose or Jonas) we would probably sit here pontificating the benefits of getting a higher draft pick, this season's games be damned.
I know this isn't what sports are all about, but literally nothing that happens this Pistons season matters (at least now that the trade deadline has come and gone).
So, look on the bright side: Would you rather have every action magnified, expectations through the roof, or would you rather be able to field a roster of drunks and derelicts because your team is just that hopeless?
On second thought…maybe don't answer that.
(Note: DBB faithful will recall my trip to last year's Pistons at Clips game. My girlfriend and I sat in row two behind the Pistons bench with a Red Panda and a Bat Signal [we told security the panda was our lovechild] and managed to get both of them on television, much to the chagrin of a nearby camera man. This year, via a hook-up at The Clippers organization, my girlfriend and I will be attending the game FOR FREE…however, I have no idea where our seats are located and therefore didn't make signs. However, once I get there I'll post where I'm sitting just in case any of you creepers want to find me, screen cap me, and save it in your encrypted folder of "Pistons Masturbatory Fodder". And, oh yeah…GO GREEN!)