If there's a silver lining to last year's disaster of a season, it has to be Will Bynum's emergence. In a conversation last April, he told me that playing alongside Allen Iverson -- and subsequently outplaying him -- was a huge confidence boost.
"When Chauncey got traded it was kind of crazy for me. I mean, not really crazy, but for it to be Allen, one of the players that I looked up to my whole life – and to be on the same team with him was just crazy.
"And once I got to practicing against him, it was like, "You know? I'm good!" [Laughing] I've been watching this guy, looked up to this guy my whole career, and to be on the same team with him and playing against him – it's not a word that I can tell you that can explain how I felt.
"And just to keep doing it, I was more and more confident, I was gaining more and more confidence as we practiced, as we played, just from being around him. It's kind of crazy, but that's how it was, that's exactly how it went. After that, I just never turned back. I tried to learn as much as I could from him, and I never turned back. I felt like playing against anybody else would be – it's still going to be difficult -- but I felt like it was easier because I got over the thing of playing against Allen. It just helped me out."
Needless to say, that confidence wasn't lost over the summer. From Vince Ellis of the Free Press:
After a summer of working out with noted fitness guru Tim Grover in Chicago -- alongside NBA stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Gilbert Arenas -- Bynum is eager to build upon last year's success.
"The competition was amazing," Bynum said Wednesday. "Just being there with guys like that. ... When we're playing pickup, I'm one of the best guys out there on the court every day. It just helped my confidence out extremely. It helped instill in me that I am as good as the top guards out there."
I love it. He turned a lot of head's late last season, and now that he's entering the year as part of the rotation (and playing for a new contract, no less), he could really blow up. I know this, you know this (and he clearly expects this) -- it's just a matter of time before the national media catches on. A Bynum/Gordon backcourt, while tiny, certainly complements each other from a slashing/sniper perspective. There are a lot of questions to be answered in regards to how playing time is divided up, but I'll put Detroit's four-guard rotation against any other team's in the league.
Speaking of guards, MLive's Greg Johnson has an update from Rodney Stuckey:
Stuckey averaged 13.4 points and 4.9 assists in his second year, but acknowledged he was overwhelmed and confused. He was pushed to be aggressive by former coach Michael Curry, and that sometimes conflicted with helping set up Allen Iverson and Richard Hamilton for their shots.
"This year, step one is defense, because from that this offense will take care of itself," Stuckey said. "Our offense is going to be get out and go. It will have me on the wing sometimes and somebody else bringing the ball up. We're all going to defend, run and get good shots."
Stuckey spent the summer working on his shooting. He said he was in a gym Monday through Saturday each week working on 3-point shooting, mid-range jump shots and shots coming off screens.
"I'm going to be more confident with it," he said. "I'm better."