Sports Illustrated took a novel approach to NBA previews this year, inviting NBA scouts to analyze other teams in the NBA. An unnamed scout's take on the Pistons saved the most brutal comment for the last paragraph of his assessment:
Billups, in reality, is going to be the coach for this team because Mo Cheeks and his staff aren't strong. Cheeks [who previously coached the Trail Blazers and 76ers] has never been an X's-and-O's guy or a disciplinarian. When he's had good veteran players, he's had success. But when he's had a young group that looked for leadership, that hasn't been there because he's a quiet guy. By about the 10th game this year, the players from last year's team will realize they had a good coach then [Lawrence Frank] with a creative mind.
This, to put it kindly, does not put the Pistons' latest hire in the best of lights. And it isn't exactly the first time there has been criticism of Cheeks or his approach. But just how much stock should we put into the comments of this particular unnamed scout?
Judging by his assessment of the team and its players, not much. Not that he's necessarily wrong in his take on the team, only that his take is the most conventional, surface-level analysis you could make of the team. Basically, if you follow the NBA regularly, you would be able to craft a similarly useful take on the Pistons or any one of the other teams in the NBA.
Take paragraph No. 2:
The first issue is point guard, where they brought in Brandon Jennings, who expects to be the starter, and Chauncey Billups, who has said he wants to be a starter and that he didn't like being a 2 with the Clippers. It's going to be interesting to see whether the two will agree to play in the backcourt together.
This should look familiar to regular readers at DBB. Or at least those that scanned the headlines, because we covered this story in the offseason. But we also covered Chauncey explaining why he didn't like being a 2-guard in L.A. and that he would have a much different role in Detroit.
And there has been no signs either Jennings or Billups wouldn't like to play next to each other. The next piece of evidence is his take on Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond as individual players.
Greg Monroe looks like he'll be a 16-and-9 guy for 10 years. Athletically, that's probably his ceiling.
That's not a piece of his take on Monroe. That's the whole thing. He really dug into his notes on that one. And on Drummond:
Drummond is an intriguing player with great size, feet and athleticism. He is a dunker. He's not a jump shooter or a free-throw shooter. He's a good offensive rebounder. But his skills didn't appear to improve throughout his rookie year.
First, Drummond was historically great the first half of his rookie year, so I'm not sure his inability to improve on "historically great" should be some sort of indictment on his game. Second, anyone who has spent 15 seconds watching Drummond play could provide the same assessment of his skills.
Hey, unnamed NBA scout, I can watch the TNT Thursday night double header and call it a week, too.
So, yes, this guy lays some wood on Mo Cheeks. And he might be right. Or he might be the NBA equivalent of the scouts from the movie version of Moneyball: