If you haven't already, be sure to check out A. Sherrod Blakely's piece for Booth Newspapers about the first 100 days of the season since the start of training camp for the Pistons. He obviously spent a lot of time with Joe Dumars, as the whole thing is littered with some really interesting quotes, such as Dumars' opinion about why developing a bench is so important:
"When you interject new people into your mix, there are so many benefits that come from that," Dumars said. "When I look out there what I see is, 'wow, those guys are getting great experience on the floor for us.' My starters are resting. My coach has more options. The other team has to prepare for more than just my core. The fans have something to be excited about with the new guys. The media has something to write about other than my core guys. So just the fact that the new guys being out there, helping us win, has a domino effect."
Hard not to disagree. Part of the reason the Pistons ran off a 15-2 record in December (and 11 wins in a row) was because all the players, from the starters to the bench, played so hard from the opening tip to the final buzzer. That's by design:
"Those last five minutes (of a blowout) probably won't mean anything to anybody other than me and John Hammond (Detroit's vice president of basketball operations) sitting there," Dumars said. "Because we're watching as intently in those last five minutes of a blowout, as we were in the first five minutes. Because I want to make sure all five guys out there ... they play like their lives depended on it. That's what you strive for, that's what you push for."
I think Dumars would be surprised at how intently fans watch those blowout games. Sure, the Palace may start to thin out as people try to beat the traffic, but I know hard-core fans are just as (if not more) excited about seeing Amir Johnson and Walter Herrmann -- guys who rarely play when the game is still in question -- as they are the starters. But that's not news to any of you reading this ...
Later in the article, Blakely reminded me of something I'd completely forgotten:
The Pistons are likely to continue stockpiling young talent, either with their own first-round pick in June's NBA draft, or the second round pick they'll get from Minnesota this year as part of the Ronald Dupree trade a couple years ago. That pick from the Timberwolves will probably be one of the top picks in the second round.
That's amazing, especially when you consider the chain of events that followed that deal. A refresher: back in 2005, when lost out to Alex Acker for the final roster spot, Dumars was able to trade Dupe to the T'Wolves for a future second-round pick instead of simply cutting him. Dupree played one year for the T'Wolves and then returned to Detroit as a free agent the following summer (and, in case you have a short-term memory, was then released earlier this year after the 2-for-Nazr trade) ... and somehow all that inconsequential roster juggling involving the 15th guy on the roster nets him what should be the 31st pick of this year's draft? Unbelievable.
Correction: Henry's update on TrueHoop prompted me to do some digging: the Pistons aren't getting that second-rounder until 2009. The Timberwolves had the choice of giving Detroit that pick in 2008 or 2009, but considering Minny has since traded their 2008 pick to the Spurs for Beno Udrih in October, it guarantees that the Pistons won't get it until 2009. (Which means they'll have three second-rounders in 2009: their own, Minny's and one of the picks from the Raptors from the Delfino trade.) But still, that's not bad asset management considering it revolved around a guy who was never going to play.
Correction to my correction, from DBB reader Cassie in the comments:
The Wolves traded their TOP 56 protected 08 pick to the Spurs for Udrih and cash. Since the wolves wont finish with a top4 record in the league, the Spurs will not be getting the pick. Keith Langlois has recently written in a mailbag that he's been hearing that Detroit will definately be getting the pick this year in addition DX has #31 going to Detroit.
Whew, I think we're done here.
At Day 100, Pistons among elite [MLive]