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Pistons open practice notes

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The Pistons held their annual open practice at Oakland University last night, and while I wasn't able to attend, I thought I'd draw your attention to DBB reader Diablo, who posted his thoughts in the comments of another post:

Anyways, I thought the practice was interesting, wasn’t too concerned about our veterans, I was mainly trying to focus in on the play of the younger players.

Amir Johnson played decent, at times it seems liked he got lost in the middle of the paint. Ive heard rumors about him being faster than Rip and i wouldn't say those rumors are far off, it seemed liked he would be flying down court on Every fast break opportunity. I definitely see him getting alot of his points off of transition breaks and offensive tip-ins.

Rodney Stuckey is an extremely fast player and looks like he will be able to play the 1 very well. Didn’t see him take too many jumpers but he definitely knows how to draw contact when driving to lane. Evidence to all the free throws he shot. Also, it seemed like Lidnsey HAS adopted the role of being a player/teacher to him, i seen a number of occasions where he pulled Stuckey over giving him a piece of him veteran knowledge.

Aaron Afflalo has a beautiful shot, he knocked down some nice 3s and also seen him being moved around on defense to guard the Point and Shooting Guard.

Cheikh Samb was impressive, i could definitely see him playing in the NBA if he can pick UP his WEIGHT!

Jarvis Hayes and Nazr Mohammad surprisingly played pretty good.

Flip Murray on the other hand … not so much.

Flip Saunders actually was coaching, thought that was impressive also…lol

I’m not an expert analysis but those are somethings that stuck out to me while watching the practice. Might of actually done alot more analyzing on the players if i knew i was going to be the only one going to the Open Practice.

UPDATE: DBB reader Zach R. left last night's scrimmage with a slightly different opinion on some of the players, which he emailed to me this morning:

First of all, Flip Murray did not look that bad. I am not a big Murray guy, but he play impressively on the offensive end. On the defensive end, he had trouble sticking with the much quicker Stuckey, and once again proved that he can be a defensive liability out there. Diablo was right about Stuckey, he showed a definite knack for driving the lane and forcing contact. He's a little bigger than I expected, and much more fluid with the ball than I had anticipated. He's definitely not a pass first guard (not that we want/need him to be), but there were several occasions when any easy dish could have resulted in 2, and instead he tried to create his own shot. No complaints here, we've been missing that tenacity and killer instinct for the last couple of seasons, but if he wants to be truly special he needs to develop that aspect of his game.

Jarvis Hayes- First off, let me say that I was kind of a big Delfino guy, and was really disappointed that he's gone. When I thought about our second line this year, I imagined he would fit perfectly with the run-more mentality we hopefully will adopt. However, after watching Jarvis last night I have a little more faith in him. To be sure, he is nowhere near as athletic and does not play the same harassing D, but his spot up game is right on. Several times he spotted up for 3's or long twos, and had a nice drive and finish in the 2nd. I know it was only a practice, but we brought the guy in to hit 3's and and open J's and that's exactly what he was doing. As much as I love carlos, he never developed that consistent jumper that would make him a triple threat guy.

Cheik Samb- Diablo was way off. This guy did not look like he knew what was going on half the time. I know he's only been playing a short time, and I agree he has great potential, but he looked like a flamingo on stilts. His footwork on the offensive end needs a lot of work. He received several feeds in the post and didn't know what to do with them. Awkward turns and ball strips were the theme of the evening. His defense does look formidable though. He seems to have a knack for timing blocks. In this way he is a good help side defender, but his man up game needs to be refined. Besides being super skinny, he didn't seem to totally get angles. He could be in the NBA one day, but its not this year (or next in my opinion).

I agree with his assessment of Amir. I love the kid and have been an avid fan since we drafted him. I guess i was expecting a little more from him (unfairly), but he looked great running. He is extremely fast and agile and loves the chance to throw down. But Diablo was right, he gets lost in the paint. He doesn't allow himself to take up space. Afflalo looked decent. He played consistent, he hit his shots, and he plays fearless defense. The reports of him being not a great athlete were accurate, but he does look stagnant when compared with fellow rookie Stuckey.

Also the atmosphere seemed as more fun than it did last year. It seemed like the younger guys were really excited to get everything started and were impressed to see a standing room only Oakland arena. Sheed was having a blast, hamming it up with everyone from the crowd to the rookies. I am not worried about the starters, but Billups jumper is off and he hasn't had it right since last regular season. He even shot poorly during the FIBA tournament this summer. I am not panicking, but he needs to get the ship straightened.

If you were at the game, I'd like to hear your impressions in the comments.

For another account, here's A. Sherrod Blakely from MLive.com:

Once the ball went up, everyone's eyes were glued to the youngsters. Of the rookies, Rodney Stuckey was clearly the best. I wouldn't put him in the same league as D-Wade and Baron Davis, but the comparisons he has drawn to them are legit. He scored 14 points in the scrimmage while making just one basket from the field. The rest of his points came from the free throw line.

He had a lot of other interesting observations, including some predictions about Jarvis Hayes, so you'll probably want to read his whole piece.

Krista Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press was also there, and she mentions the softer side of Rasheed Wallace in her blog:

The rookies – Stuckey, Afflalo, Samb and Mejia – all came in wearing white headbands with the word "Rook" scrawled on them. Take one guess which veteran was responsible for that.

"Come on, who else?" Billups said. "’Sheed, man."

That man, Rasheed Wallace, made the night for two kids. He plucked two boys out of the crowd and kept them by his side as they went through warm-ups and drills. Then, during the scrimmage, they sat by him on the bench.

He does something like that every year -- and it’s not like anyone is making him. I get the picture he just really genuinely likes kids, and it’s always nice to see.

On a side note, I can't believe I beat Natalie to the punch posting this ...