Rodney Stuckey: 2013-14 Detroit Pistons Preview

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

With free agency looming, Rodney Stuckey faces a make or break year for his career.

2012-13 Year in Review

After a successful transition moving from point guard of the future to mostly off the ball, Rodney Stuckey looked poised to take a big step forward last season. He had successful campaigns in the two previous seasons built largely on an increased ability to get to the line, but was still held back with inconsistency and injuries. Last year looked to be the season he would finally put it all together.

Well, Stuckey fell flat on his face right out of the gate. He struggled mightily putting the ball in the hoop, opening the season 28-92 shooting, good for 30 percent. Stuckey's difficulties were magnified as the team suffered through an eight-game losing streak to open the season, ultimately resulting in Stuckey suggesting Kyle Singler replace him in the starting lineup.

The move to the bench helped even things out for Stuckey, and he wasn't particularly bad after that abysmal start.

Still, he never managed to build on the progress from his two previous seasons. The biggest culprit: his inability to get to the line. After averaging 6.3 and 7.0 trips to the line per 36 minutes the two previous seasons, he dropped back down to 4.5. This drop demolished his efficiency, dropping his true shooting percentage to 50.5 percent after being at 54.4 percent and 55 percent the two years prior. He also attempted a career-high number of three-pointers despite only shooting them at 30 percent.

Areas to Improve in 2013-14

He's entering his seventh year with the Pistons, and it's always been the same two keys for Rodney Stuckey: stay healthy, play consistently.

But last year was a reminder of how flawed Stuckey is as a player if he's unable to get to the line. And with as much attention as has been paid to the lack of shooting on the roster, there's also a need for players who can draw fouls and hit free throws. Even considering the new roster additions, the team's leader in free throw attempts last year would be Greg Monroe at 4.8 per game, which isn't ideal, considering he shoots below 70 percent from the stripe. If Stuckey's going to be a part of the team moving forward, it needs his help in this area of the offense. If he can't deliver, he'll get to watch from the sidelines as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope gives it a whirl -- or watch his expiring contract be cashed in as a trade chip.

2013-14 Projected Production

Much of Stuckey's time with the Pistons has been under-appreciated. His stint at point guard of the future doesn't quite look as bad when compared to Brandon Knight's failed attempt. But at this point, he looks to be well on his way to following Knight out of town, either by trade or free agency.

As a veteran and a player that Mo Cheeks is looking to as a leader, Stuckey will likely receive every chance to be successful this season. If he's able to get back in the groove of drawing fouls and scoring efficiently, he could find a role in this rebuilding effort. If not, he could easily find himself a lame duck without consistent minutes this year -- which could make next summer's free agency market a difficult environment for him.

Caldwell-Pope offers more potential at shooting guard, and Singler, Billups, and Datome likely offer a better fit for the team's needs. All are fighting for minutes. That being the case, well, you never know with Stuckey. Maybe with so many solid alternatives available, this is the year he finally puts it all together. But my guess is that he's in-and-out of the rotation, eventually regulated to the bench permanently to free up more minutes for KCP.

Prediction:

15 minutes per game, 6 points, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 2 free throw attempts

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