Rodney Stuckey had his best game of the year Monday night in Detroit's 108-101 victory over Portland. Not coincidentally, reserve point guard Will Bynum played just five minutes.
Have my prayers been answered? Was this just a one-game statistical blip? That was the same question I was wondering after Charlie Villanueva replaced Jonas Jerebko in the New York Knick's drubbing of the Pistons.
Against Portland, the very next game, Villanueva was back out on the floor and he actually performed pretty well -- 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting in 15 minutes of burn. And it wasn't just empty calories -- he didn't give everything back on the defensive end and he contributed in others areas, notching a couple steals, and some nice assists and rebounds.
It looks like we are finally starting to see the evolution of the player rotation in a more sensible direction.
While the first change up in the rotation, swapping Kyle Singler for Rodney Stuckey in the starting lineup, looks like it was forced on Frank, everything else seems to have been orchestrated because the evidence is clear. Singler's move to the starting lineup has paid off big time as the team is 4-3 since the move and playing better on both ends of the floor.
The other big shoe to drop was Villanueva taking Jerebko's rotation spot. Some might say there is no circumstance where it makes sense to play CV but considering Jerebko's struggles and the Pistons' desperate need for 3-point shooting, I think there is a limited place for him in the lineup.
Finally, it seems like my Bench. Will. Bynum initiative has finally borne some fruit. Bynum played only five minutes against Portland, with Stuckey assuming point guard duties in the second half. And it seems that switch is long term as well:
"Yeah, we'll look at it," Frank said, when asked directly if Stuckey is his backup point guard. "Will has obviously been playing those spots but just trying to find minutes for Rodney on the floor, whether it's at point or two, whatever we need to do, and we just kind of read the game and see who's playing well. And if you're playing well, you get more minutes. If you're struggling, then you don't."
Detroit was running out perhaps three of the worst guards in the entire NBA in Knight, Stuckey and Bynum. But Knight has been on a mini offensive tear, Stuckey has year's of quality play with the ball in his hands and with Bynum benched the ball will be in Rodney's hands even more.
And both moves might be some ground work for expanding the role of Andre Drummond.
"We'll continue to look, barring (mismatched) matchups, at playing Andre and Greg together," Frank said. "You've got to look early. And then, when we have to get Greg out, we'll sub Charlie in for Greg and keep Andre in. This is all, again, based on performance, foul trouble, all the other variables that come into play."
This comment was, of course, before Drummond played only 14 minutes (while still grabbing six rebounds and blocking two shots!) against Portland. But providing Drummond an offensive security blanket in Charlie and Villanueva someone who could help cover up his defensive struggles could work.
No, it is still not Drummond in the starting lineup but each move is an incremental step in the right direction.
What is left to do? I'm not sure how much more the team needs to see from Corey Maggette before it is decided that it is time to give those minutes elsewhere (Jerebko perhaps?). But it is good news all around.