Link dumps are a lazy busy blogger's best friend, and even though some of these are several days old and discussed ad nauseum in the comments, let me present them for posterity's sake on the front page:
- What do Sonny Weems, Stanko Barac, David Noel, Von Wafer and Albert Miralles have in common? They were the 39th overall draft pick from 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005 and 2004, respectively. With that in mind, forgive me if I've tempered my expectations for Jonas Jerebko, no matter how solid he looked last month in Las Vegas.
Nevertheless, he is the first player from Sweden drafted by the NBA, and you can never take that away from him. Anders Rönmark penned an interesting profile of Jerebko for SLAMonline -- check it out.
- Speaking of Pistons rookies, the insanely-athletic Deron Washington spoke with Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog a couple of weeks ago:
Washington spent the past season with Hapoel Holon in Israel, and while he said he had a few memorable dunks, he added that it was virtually impossible to dunk on anyone there.
"Nobody really wanted to jump with me, so it was pretty hard," he explained. "I guess I had the reputation, when he's near the rim, foul him or just get out the way."
And so for that, Israel thanks you, Greg Paulus.
- With the first 10 years of the 21st century almost in the books, Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie has been creating "Best of the decade" lists that have included several Pistons memories: Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups among the top 10 bargains; Wallace among the top 10 defenders; Darko Milicic for top 10 lottery busts; the 2005-06 Pistons for top 10 best teams not to win a title ...
- ... Speaking of that last list, how can the 2005 Suns be included but not the 2005 Pistons? The Pistons came within minutes of winning the title, while the Suns fell seven games short. Just saying. (Despite my nit-picking -- I'm obviously biased, what would you expect? -- I certainly tip my hat to Dwyer for an entertaining series.)
- Flip Saunders learned from his mistakes in Detroit -- namely, not taking the time to get to know his players. He's spent his summer traveling the country to become familiar with the Wizards long before the team will officially gather for training camp. From Marc Spears (via Bullets Forever):
Saunders didn’t forge a similar relationship with the Pistons. Despite helping guide Detroit to three consecutive Eastern Conference finals, Saunders never won much locker-room support. He quickly lost favor with Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace because the pair thought Saunders was emphasizing offense at the expense of defense – the foundation of the Pistons’ success when they won the 2004 championship under previous coach Larry Brown.
Saunders also wasn’t as strong a disciplinarian as Brown. When he tried to get tougher in his third season, it was too late. Early in the 2007-08 season, Rip Hamilton lashed out at Saunders from the bench without any rebuke from the coach. TNT analyst Chris Webber, who played for Detroit during the 2006-07 season, said during the 2008 playoffs that the Pistons didn’t listen to Saunders. Saunders was then fired after Detroit lost to Boston in the East finals.
[...] "When you talk to players and get them in their home city they have a tendency to be open," Saunders said. "They let their guard down. I let them know that we are in this together. I’m trying to find out about these guys. I’m also letting them know how I am and that there are things I will adapt to and not adapt to."
Better late than never, I suppose. Given all the former Wizards the Pistons have poached over the years, giving back an older and wiser head coach is probably only fair. Plus, this also puts John Kuester's decision to attend Rip Hamilton's wedding earlier this summer in perspective.
- Charlie V. and Ronald McDonald. Just because.
- HOOPSWORLD has been counting down a list of the most influential people in basketball. The top 15 includes some names you'd expect -- David Stern, LeBron James and Mark Cuban, natch -- but also a bevy of names with which only the most hard-core fans are familiar. Educate yourself and check it out.
Joe Dumars on acquiring shooters:
"[Ben Gordon] brings something that you and I talked about before, something we definitely needed – a guy that can make big shots, a guy that can stretch the defense and make 3s. With Jonas, with DaJuan Summers, especially with Austin Daye, with Charlie V, with Ben Gordon – there’s five guys we’ve added that can stretch the floor and we missed that last year. We missed having guys who could just knock shots down. We did not have enough of that. Ben leads the way on that. I think he is the primary guy that brings that to us of all the five guys we’re talking about. He’s the guy that can stretch the floor, can make 3s. He’s a shot-maker and you can’t have too many of those in this league now."
Yeah, adding shooters is nice, but adding a coach who (theoretically) knows how to use them is even better; only Michael Curry thinks 48 minutes of grind-it-out half-court offense is a good idea when starting three guards and Tayshaun Prince at the four. Ugh, just thinking about Curryball is giving me heartburn.
- Joe Dumars on why the Hamilton-Gordon logjam will work while Hamilton-Iverson flamed out:
"First of all, Ben Gordon made a decision to come here knowing that Rip Hamilton is the starting two guard. Allen Iverson never made that decision – it was a trade and it happened and we went through the process of what we had to go through. So when the guy makes the decision himself, first and foremost that’s the biggest difference right there. He’s choosing, he’s saying I want to go and be in this situation. That jumps out at you first. Secondly, here’s a guy who made his name in this league coming off the bench and being a dynamic scorer. Here’s a guy who was the Sixth Man of the Year as a rookie. So there’s a fundamental difference between Ben Gordon and Iverson being here. Ben Gordon chooses to come here knowing what the situation is. Ben Gordon made his name in this league coming off the bench. So it’s fundamentally different any way you look at it."
It's fundamentally different many ways you look at it, not any -- just like last year, the question "who finishes?" is still unanswered. I have a hard time believing this team will display any late-game continuity (or at the very least, avoid any bruised egos) if "sticking with the hot hand" is the answer. Both Gordon and Rip Hamilton have enough fourth-quarter heroics under their belt to feel they deserve to be the de facto option, and Rodney Stuckey likely feels like he should be on the court, as well, if he's truly to become this team's leader.
- With that in mind, I'm not terribly surprised to see the experts ranking the Pistons as the league's most likely team to endure turmoil this year. I don't think things will be quite as bad as last year, but only because the season won't start with months of post-Chauncey moping.