After the Detroit Pistons were thoroughly manhandled by the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night, especially on the boards, Stan Van Gundy suggested to the media following the game that starting lineup changes could be on the horizon.
Here's a mixed (fact and speculative) tweet from FOX Sports Detroit's Dave Hogg after the game:
SVG talked about making changes to the starting lineup, and buried Drummond for a lack of energy in the last four games. Connect the dots.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) January 15, 2015
Despite a poor shooting percentage overall this season, Drummond is the best player on the Pistons. So it would be shocking to me to see him benched to start a game.
In the 10 games before Wednesday's loss (9-1) Drummond had improved his field goal percentage and averaged almost 13 points, two blocks, two steals and over 14 rebounds per game. That kind of production usually doesn't begin a game on the bench.
However, he has struggled in the last four games, especially in the first quarter. Against Atlanta, a 106-103 loss in which the Pistons trailed by nine at the end of the first, Drummond was reportedly sick. He had two rebounds in eight minutes before being replaced and only played nine minutes the rest of the way. Van Gundy confirmed that he was sick after the game.
In a close win against Brooklyn two nights later, Drummond again only had two rebounds in eight minutes in the first quarter and was replaced five seconds after turning the ball over. The Pistons led at the time, but Drummond didn't have a whole lot to do with it.
In the Toronto game, Drummond was subbed out only four minutes into the game with the Pistons down 12-8 after he put up zero rebounds and zero points. The Raptors' big men had 10 points and three rebounds and they led 32-20 at the end of the quarter.
On Wednesday night, Drummond again put up a dud. He finished the game with two points and two rebounds in 22 minutes. The Pelicans only led by four after the first quarter, but Drummond was on the floor during the Pelicans' huge second-quarter run.
So, yeah, Drummond hasn't played well to start the last four games. Maybe he's still recovering from being sick. Maybe something else is up. Whatever it is, SVG is considering a change. Even before Hogg's tweet, at least one DBB commenter, jacko7795, was wondering if benching Drummond for Jonas Jerebko or Anthony Tolliver would be the right move to increase spacing and eliminate slow starts.
If not Drummond, Kyle Singler seems to be the only other option.
Singler was the most quotable on change after the Pelicans game, which to me might suggest that he may have already been notified of his demotion and given the ol' PR-speak to (em)brace the fall.
Singler has shot the lights out from three over the last four games (56 percent), but nobody can argue that he has been particularly good beyond that. Singler was almost invisible for nine first-quarter minutes against New Orleans and did nothing in six first-quarter minutes against Toronto.
Whether it's Drummond or Singler or someone else (KCP?), Van Gundy did say that change may be coming (quote via MLIVE):
"I don't know how much longer we'll go with that (starting) lineup. We're having to dig out of holes every night. Those guys don't bring a lot of energy to start the game. They're usually OK in the third quarter. We've got to find someone who will energize that group."
The two players that David Mayo mentions on MLIVE as potential odd men out are... Drummond and Singler. He adds that Jodie Meeks is the most likely to join the starting lineup. I could also see Jonas Jerebko being the guy to energize the group in place of Drummond. It might seem crazy we're even talking about this given that the Pistons are 9-2 in their last 11 games, but trust in Van Gundy, right?
We'll see how things play out for Friday night in Indiana.
Now your thoughts.