I just finished reading an article in the Detroit Free Press by Vince Ellis that discusses whether Kyle Singler might be ready to challenge Tayshaun Prince as the team's starting small forward. It notes the progress Singler made by playing overseas last year, and how good he played in this year's Summer League. The highlight video feeds of his play in Spain and in Orlando show a talented, energetic player who creates opportunities to score for himself, as well as for his teammates by aggressively driving to the basket, or having quick hands to pick and shoot the ball, or hustling down court to pick an open spot for a three, and he seemed to fake well to shake a defender before taking high percentage mid-range jumpers. He also seems to have the ability to spot open players and pass effectively. From all that I could see from these videos, he does do a lot of things really well on offense. Unfortunately, I don't know how well he plays defense, there wasn't a lot of video to review on that side, so you have to go with the belief that since he comes from a good basketball program, Duke, and played four years, this part of his game is solid as well.
John Loyer, the coach of the Pistons Summer League team, remarked that it was hard to take Singler off the floor. He echoed my earlier sentiment that he seems to do a lot of things really well. All of this is great to hear, but I'm a bit skeptical that he is ready to challenge for a starting role. Loyer certainly didn't have as many good options as the Pistons will have on their regular season roster. Other than Austin Daye the primary option he had at small forward was rookie Khris Middleton who only has two college seasons of experience under his belt. When Singler gets to training camp he'll have to compete with not only Tayshaun Prince, but Corey Maggette, Jonas Jarebko, as well as perhaps Daye, Middleton, and to some extent the possibility of Charlie Villanueva getting some looks at small forward.
Of course the other aspect we have to wait and watch is, how does the chemistry between certain players develop? Does Lawrence Frank like the way Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond play with Kyle Singler? Does adding Singler to the starting rotation of Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey simply make sense to build a young lineup that can grow together?
Somewhere I can't help but wonder if the real key to making the team better is figuring out how the combinations of the players work best. There are a lot of new pieces to try to match. I also wonder if I've been duped into the "old" way of thinking about positions on the court, and perhaps there is a new way to consider how the team is designed and who plays.
With this new way of playing, I've come up with some pairings and what I'll call trios. The pairings really are the optimal matches of what are commonly referred to as the big men. The trios are the wings and point players in combination. Is there a new way of referring to these pairs and trios?
Here are how I might pair the Piston's big men:
Pair #1 - Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, with Ben Wallace augmenting this tandem to provide instruction and some veteran savvy when needed. (This is the bread and butter unit that should garner the majority of the minutes at the 4 and 5 positions)
Pair #2 - Vyascheslov Kravtsov and Jonas Jarebko with Jason Maxiell augmenting this tandem to provide added defensive punch and energy when needed. (This unit should enter games when unit 1 needs some rest, and it should interject added rebounding, shot blocking, and simply greater hustle for a burst of time of perhaps 3 to 6 minutes)
Pair #3 - Corey Maggette and Charlie Villanueva with Austin Daye augmenting this tandem primarily to replace CV as the outside big man scoring option. (This unit I would envision would be used to create a different inside / outside dynamic for the opponents big men to guard. Maggette has a knack of driving to the basket and drawing fouls, while CV can effectively pull the slower big man out away from the basket, or, if this doesn't happen, he can quickly nail a three (that's why I see Daye as an option in this pair as well). This doesn't mean this unit takes the lead on offense, but it should provide a different combination of options)
If you're counting, the three pairs consist of 9 players, leaving me 6 more players to account for. With these 6 I would like to propose creating two trios of what are the backcourt, or wings, or point guard and swing men. Perhaps rather than two units the players would simply rotate to some extent, but I kind of like the composition that the players I've grouped provide in terms of skills and expertise. Let's see what you think:
Trio A - Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, and Kyle Singler - this is probably my starting squad, but it must demonstrate good chemistry together - scoring balance, dynamic distribution, and sound defense. I think we'd find that this group can handle the ball well and create lots of scoring opportunities for themselves and the big man pair or tandem also on the court. However, this would be a young group, and I've seen all three falter at times with regard to endurance, so the other three players, that for now I've grouped as Trio B, will have an important role to play until their consistency can be better established.
Trio B - Will Bynum, Tayshaun Prince, and Kim English - this unit intrigues me. Bynum has demonstrated the ability to bring a great deal of energy to a game, and he has vision and some scoring punch. Prince is the wiley and wise proven veteran that is also a very versatile defender and adept ball handler. He has some unique inside scoring moves too. English shows promise as an excellent outside or long range bomber. He apparently has a high basketball IQ that should be blend well with this group.
How do you like this approach to grouping and pairing players? I think this is the new way of forming a team. This is how the right fit is determined. Whether Kyle Singer is a new starter probably will be determined to how well he fits with how the team's management sees him as a piece of what I call a "trio."
This is a different approach than the traditional view of positions 1 thru 5; or, what we've always known as point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center. Finding the reciprocals, or simply the right combinations has become a process of fitting pieces into this more complex matrix.
I don't know what Lawrence Frank or Joe Dumars believe are just the right pairings or combinations, but this is how I see them. What do other Pistons fans think?
Are there any catchey names to give the pairs and trios? Bulls and Tigers? Crash and Dash units? Spikers and Fliers? I would think that the pairs should be named with size and strength in mind, while the trios would bring to mind slashing, dashing, and, or wings that can find a multitude of ways to get to the basket. Maybe we should have a naming contest?!