Can you remember the last time the Pistons entered training camp with a starting job up for grabs? Without exaggeration, it's been at least five or six years. There will be competition this year, though, since Michael Curry is giving serious consideration to moving Antonio McDyess back to the familiar sixth-man role. From Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:
"We are looking at how we can inject our young guys into the rotation more, giving them a solid role and still get the most out of our veteran guys and be as efficient as possible," Curry said. "One of the things we are looking at is having 'Dyess go back to his role of coming off the bench."
To be clear, Curry is in no way suggesting McDyess doesn't deserve to maintain his starting spot. Quite the opposite.
"Whoever wins that starting spot won't necessarily be the best player," Curry said. "I think it's hands-down that McDyess is our second-best post player behind Rasheed. But who we end up starting will be the player who gives us the best balance."
Curry pointed out that as a starter last season, McDyess averaged eight more minutes per game than he had as the sixth man the previous season, but took nearly six fewer shots per the minutes he played. That was not good use of the team's second-best post scorer.
Jason Maxiell, Amir Johnson and Kwame Brown will be vying for the spot, and in a worst-case scenario in which nobody stands out in camp, McDyess could very well keep the spot for himself. I doubt that's going to happen, though, especially given the news that all three big men have been working out at the Pistons' practice facility since August.
When Brown signed, I predicted that he'd enter the starting lineup, which would allow Rasheed Wallace to move back to power forward. Plus, if part of the problem with McDyess starting was that he got lost in the shuffle offensively, having a big body on the floor primarily concerned with defense might not be a bad thing.
On the other hand, I can't help but think that Maxiell and Johnson deserve this opportunity a little more. They're both notorious for their high energy and could set the tone with their shot-blocking. And while Maxiell has shown progress extending his jumper, they also do most of their work in the paint, which is good for spacing considering how much Wallace drifts to the three-point line.
I'm curious to see how these guys respond, not just in training camp but in the regular season -- my guess is that spot will be up for grabs all season long with Curry riding the hot hand. My preference right now (which may or may not change once the preseason gets underway) is for Maxiell to get the nod, though that's partially because I'd like to see Amir Johnson and Rodney Stuckey in the game at the same time.