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Joe D. Softball Practice Part II

Part II. More of the same. KL and JD in bold. Me in unbold.

KEITH LANGLOIS: Besides Gordon, the other name associated with you guys over the course of last season as people were speculating about which players the Pistons would pursue in free agency was Carlos Boozer, who decided not to opt out of his contract. So I’m wondering with Charlie Villanueva, was he a guy you focused on later in the game and what about Charlie convinced you that he was the guy, after Ben, that you were going after?

I know this was a live interview, but Keith is fumbling around his words like a 16 year old asking a girl to prom. Let's rephrase this:

"Many people predicted you would pursue Carlos Boozer in free agency. Was Charlie V. your first choice, and why do you think he's a good fit?"

A little less James Joyce, you know?

JOE DUMARS: If you’re not going to get a traditional four guy, then today’s game requires you to have more versatile four men.

So, if you're not going to get a traditional four, you'd better have a non-traditional four. That's far from illuminating, and doesn't answer Keith's convoluted question.

JD: Charlie is the prototypical guy that can play inside, play outside, average 7½ rebounds, can shoot the 3, can put it on the floor.

Charlie V. is the prototypical non-traditional guy. Incidentally, he averaged 6.7 rebounds, which easily rounds up to seven. Why go for the precise figure when that figure is inaccurate?

KL: He, too, like Ben has been talked about as a guy who’s not a great defender. But he just turned 25. Do you see Charlie still with room to grow?

JD: Yes, I do and the examples I will use are a couple of guys who grew even after their first three or four years in the league. You saw Rashard Lewis get better and you saw Turkoglu get better.

These are pretty good examples. Both players kicked it up a notch when they reached the age of 25 as their outside game blossomed. But, um, isn't there someone else we could name here? Maybe a former lottery pick from a big-name program, who had a reputation for being a bit of a head case, but really pulled it together at 25 on both ends of the court, and became an all-star once he was in a competitive atmosphere? One who arguably defined the role of "stretch four", and actually did average 7 1/2 rebounds last year? No? Nobody else comes to mind? Okay.

JD: We love the fact he snagged 7½ rebounds a game.


KL: One question I have gotten consistently from Mailbag readers this summer has been, "Is Joe Dumars taking the Pistons from their defensive history?" My response has been, look, he wants to win in however you get to winning, and in this day and age you need to be able to score.

Which, if you have a good defense, your opponent cannot reliably do. Also, at which point in NBA history was it unnecessary to score?

JD: I don’t think you can ever lose the mentality that for us to win, you have to stop people.

You can't spell "mentality" without AI.

KL: You just alluded to it, but another part that plays into that question is John’s background. It’s been widely reported that he was given great responsibility for running the offense in Cleveland, so people have made the assumption that he’s an offensive specialist. My response to that is this is a guy who grew up at Dean Smith’s knee and coached under Larry Brown, so he’s got a pretty good defensive grounding, to.

His response is to say that Kuester grew up at Dean Smith's knee? That's a very peculiar turn of phrase.

JD: It’s interesting because when Rick Carlisle came here, he came under the exact same umbrella, as Larry Bird’s offensive guru, if you remember, and Dick Harter was the defensive guru.

Per Basketball reference:

Detroit's Defensive Rating in 00-01: 8th in the NBA
Detroit's Defensive Rating in 01-02: 8th in the NBA

Detroit's Offensive Rating in 00-01: 24th in the NBA
Detroit's Offensive Rating in 01-02: 12th in the NBA

Safe to say, Carlisle was an offensive guru. And, frankly, if Kuester can take the Pistons from 21st in the league in offense to 9th, we'll win 47 games, and he will be a leading candidate for coach of the year. No need for propaganda. The facts alone are reason to be optimistic.

KL: I found it interesting that the three free agents you signed, aside from Ben, were a No. 3 overall pick, a No. 7 overall pick and a No. 8 overall pick.

Keith has discovered a fascinating correlation between draft status and free agent desirability. You're not going to believe this, but the biggest free agent prize of 2010? #1 draft pick. It's true. This will blow Keith's mind.

KL: Chris Wilcox is kind of flying under the radar a little bit. You look at his background, he has never started an NBA season with a team that had a prayer of getting to the playoffs.

Talk about damning with faint praise.

Look, why not ask a real question here? Joe, Chris Wilcox has flown in under the radar, but he averaged 17 and 9 on 52% shooting two seasons ago. Are the Pistons going to give him a shot to earn starters minutes? Can he maybe fill in at center?

A completely fair question, one that is relevant to how the Pistons have treated talented bigs in the past, and one that the Pistons brass should certainly approve.

JD: What you hope for in a situation like that is a new environment, a new culture, new expectations will bring out the best in a player.

Ah, yes, the change of scenery canard. Maybe our 39-win ethos will rub off on him.

KL: At his best, what do you have in him?

I'll leave this unfortunate phrasing to the comments section.

JD: Our bigs in the past – man, the job that Rasheed and Dice did, I don’t know if people even realize how good those guys have been for us over the years.

Um, we're not the ones who let them go via free agency.

JD: Because it’s Ben, people may not understand or realize that we’ve always done this. What I’m saying is, Cliff Robinson, Elden Campbell, Dale Davis, Theo Ratliff, Chris Webber … we’ve always gone out and signed a veteran big as the fifth or sixth big.

Cliff Robinson started and played 35 mpg. Chris Webber started as well.

Ben: Hey, happy to join the fold. What's my role, Joe?

Joe: Well, you remember when Cliff Robinson came in for us? That's what we expect from you.

Ben: Sounds great. (Goes home and begins working on his three point shot)


But wait, there's more. Stay tuned for parts three and four