Going into this season there were a few primary goals that Detroit Pistons fans wanted to see:
1. Hire a good coach.
2. Improvement from young players --especially Greg Monroe.
3. Hope that Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva improved their play enough that they could possibly be traded.
Well, two out of three ain't bad. The team has struggled, but I don't think most would put that at the feet of Frank, who looks anything but an overmatched coach.
Moose has shown the improvement we were all hoping for and then some. Jonas Jerebko has shown no lingering effects from missing all of last season and looks to be a solid big man off the bench. The one big blemish has been Austin Daye, who has struggled with his shot all season and is currently out of the rotation. Also out of the rotation is Villanueva, not due to poor results but because of an injury that has limited him to six minutes played all season.
Considering this season is essentially a quest for lottery balls, those same three priorities should remain all season. Even though with every passing game Ben Gordon looks more and more like a colossal bust ripe for amnesty, I have no problem with him continuing to receive the fifth-most minutes on the team.
And the team should also be committed to playing Charlie V. when available in an attempt to show some sort of value, and trying to develop Austin Daye. It is in the team's long-term and short-term best interest for these two players to be successful. But now that the team is 36 games into the regular season, it is easier said than done.
The rotation is essentially set, and barring a trade of Jason Maxiell or Tayshaun Prince, there seems to be little daylight for Villanueva and Daye.
If Daye were to regain his confidence for any sort of long stretch, he would be relatively easy to fold back into the rotation. He could easily absorb any time being given to Damien Wilkins and even cut into some of the time given to Tayshaun Prince who is leading the team in minutes despite largely ineffective play this season.
The bigger question mark is Villanueva. He says he is practicing and ready to return soon. But whose minutes does he take?
Monroe is the best player on the floor and deserves the 32+ minutes per game he is receiving. Maxiell starts but only plays 20 minutes a night, and when he is on the floor it is for defense and rebounding -- two things that Charlie V. definitely does not provide. If anything Jerebko should be playing more not less.
Perhaps if the team were willing to play Jerebko at the 3, it would open up a spot for Villanueva. JJ is getting 24 minutes per game and is still developing. And Ben Wallace plays sparingly but is still the best big man defender on the team (sadly). It's also his final season in the NBA and deserves better than a long string of DNP-CDs to end the year.
Considering neither Daye nor Villanueva have a shot at being traded before the deadline makes it a moot point. The trade deadline is in two weeks and the duo has played a combined 403 minutes over a 37-game span. They are both going to be on the team next year, and perhaps it's a problem best dealt with next year.
But if there is a chance for either of them to contribute this year, how does it happen?