When the Pistons traded for Joel Anthony at the beginning of the season, the move was met with a mix of tempered optimism and general nonchalance. After all, the Canadian bigman was seen as the replacement for Aaron Gray, who prior to being medically discharged, was only seen as an insurance policy in case one of Monroe or Drummond were to get injured. Now halfway into the season, a casual glance towards his per-game averages gives you the impression that Anthony is nothing but a third-string big who feasts on garbage time (0.9 PPG 1.5 RPG 0.6 BPG in 6 minutes); but Piston fans would tell you a whole different story. Per Detroit News' Vincent Goodwill:
"Joel Anthony was a very good move for us. He's helped us on numerous occasions," Van Gundy said "Those are the kind of moves that don't get a lot of attention but are important for your organization."
Piston fans know the effect a trade can have, notably the ones that brought in Ben and Rasheed Wallace to the team, and which helped turn Detroit into a powerhouse that dominated the East for many years. Van Gundy points to his time in Miami, where the Heat acquired a still-dominant Shaq as a precursor to what it is he wants to achieve in Detroit.
"The move that got the attention when I was in Miami was when we traded for Shaquille O'Neal, but to get there it was the moves the year before that gave us quality pieces. We finished the year well and got in the second round of the playoffs."
Moves like the trade that saw the seldom-used Tony Mitchell turned into a sharpshooting Anthony Tolliver received a lot more praise when it was announced, and it isn’t complicated to see why. Tolliver’s three point range has helped Detroit stretch the floor and enact Van Gundy’s signature offense; this, coupled with Anthony’s defensive energy and the Pistons’ young core have propelled this Detroit team back into the playoffs race.
Now that Van Gundy has made his smaller moves, are the Pistons looking to land a bigger fish? It would certainly make sense, but Motown fans are going to have to wait and see if it materializes, until that happens (or not), just sit back, relax and enjoy the game!