It's coming, folks. Hide the kids. Or, at least, put them in tall trees.
If the current roster holds, John Kuester is going to have to put some unorthodox lineups on the floor. Our only true center has one offensive move, and that is to bat the ball out of bounds. We have a bevy of undersized power forwards (and oversized small forwards).
It's gonna happen.
Of course, smallball is a curse word here at DBB. Just months ago, I wrote a damning critique of the practice, as applied by Michael Curry. It was awful. It probably cost us several spots in the playoff race. It ruined everything.
But I think it could work.
Here's the thing. Small ball can work. At its best, it creates mismatches, befuddles seven foot stiffs, and racks up points. At its worst? See above.
So what was the problem?
Much of the blame has been laid at the feet of Tayshaun Prince. After all, had a difficult time defending the four, and big men clamped down on his dribble penetration. It wasn't Prince's fault. The problem with small ball was that MCIAFI didn't adjust the playing style.
Yeah. Last year, the Pistons played at the slowest pace in the NBA (essentially tied with the Portland Trailblazers... NOT a smallball team). That didn't change when Rip moved to the three.
Big men were allowed to get back on defense, and to pack the lane to prevent dribble penetration. Without a legitimate three point threat, the Pistons couldn't punish teams for their predictable scheme.
So, what's changed?
Well, the coach, for starters. Truth be told, none of this stuff is rocket science. Unlike Curry, Kuester has decades of experience. No experienced coach would try to run a strict, half court offense with a 6'9" power forward and three speedy guards who can get into the lane. That was straight up Bush league. Expect Stuckey to run wild.
If Ben Gordon is anything, he's a three point threat. In terms of conversion and volume behind the stripe, he is comparable to Ray Allen. If you want to clog the lane, and keep an eye on Gordon, that means leaving Rip or Tay open. In the past, those two were the primary threats behind the arc, and needed to hit contested shots from outside.
But there's more.
Smaller lineups will allow Detroit to avert it's glaring defensive deficiencies by exploiting our length and athleticism. It will also allow the rookies to earn substantial minutes. After all, if Austin Daye is a star, that changes everything, right?
So yeah, let's see a bit of small ball. What's the worst that could happen?