Oh boy. Things are looking pretty dicey around these parts.
The questions below were asked after the loss to the Pacers on January 3rd, but after wins against Charlotte and Portland I was hoping we were turning a corner and this exercise wouldn’t be relevant. Unfortunately I was wrong, and after three ugly losses in a row this multiple choice exam seems more relevant than ever.
1. Where are you at currently with the state of the Pistons?
A. Just a rough patch
B. Starting to get worried
C. Reaching panic mode
Justin Lambregtse: In between A and B
Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): I’m somewhere between worried and panic – call it B ½. Regression is not what I had in mind heading into the season.
Steve Hinson: B, I'm definitely concerned. I think we'd have to be a bit crazy not to be. A, absolutely the players. The team is playing like one of the worst teams in the league in the first halves, one of the best in the second. That says to me that the scheme is fine, it's just the players not coming out ready to play.
Ken Wallace (revken): I'm at B - starting to get worried. I figured our offense would go through some rough patches with Reggie returning, but the fall-off on defense has been surprisingly bad. That lack of effort and teamwork at this point in the season is very concerning.
Benjamin Gulker: Let’s go with a B minus (wait, this isn’t a report card?!). Going into the season, I thought the Pistons were 1-2 incremental upgrades from being in the hunt for home-court in the first round. While I still think this roster is a little better than they’re playing now, I think the reality is that the team is 1-2 incremental upgrades from the Playoffs. It’s not full-blown panic mode, and it’s not just a rough patch. It is time to honestly assess the talent level of this core.
Jordan Bellant: B. Starting to get worried. We're at a point in the season that we should have a better idea regarding the identity of the team. We still look like a collection of assets, instead of a functional team. It has the potential to click like last season, but it's not happening right now.
Ben Quagliata: Definitely B. It’s worrying to be this far into the season and be several games below .500 and looking as bad as we have in recent weeks. It just seems like the team seems to wait till halftime before deciding to try.
Jacob Kuyvenhoven: B. Not sure what would make me hit full-on panic but the concerns are definitely there.
Gabriel Frye-Behar: B. The Pistons are better than their record and the defense is improved, so theoretically the pieces are in place to quickly turn things around if the offense can start clicking. But the struggles have lasted long enough that some doubts are creeping in.
Ryan Pravato: B -- I'm already worried, but thinking after a little three-game win streak the team might get some fire and might start to "get it". First, though, how about a three-game win streak? Looking like a decent start as I write this (following the online box score, not able to watch in real time) with a double-digit lead on the Hornets. Looking forward to watching the replay later today.
2. Where do you think the brunt of the blame for the lackluster play resides?
A. The players
B. The coaching staff
C. The front office
Justin Lambregtse: The players
Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): B. As much as hate to say it, the “brunt” of the blame falls on the coaching staff. If shots aren’t falling, the offense is completely stale. Any numbers that indicate Detroit is playing good defense is fool’s gold.
Steve Hinson: A, absolutely the players. The team is playing like one of the worst teams in the league in the first halves, one of the best in the second. That says to me that the scheme is fine, it's just the players not coming out ready to play.
Ken Wallace (revken): A - the players. They have shown the ability to play very solid D at times, so I'm not sure how the responsibility for the poor play we have seen so frequently of late can rest anywhere else but at their feet.
Benjamin Gulker: Mostly on the players and injuries. There’s no question in my mind that Reggie’s return was disruptive. That’s not really Reggie’s fault. Anytime a player with a large a role as his returns and struggles, it’s going to impact everyone. But, several guys are underachieving. Andre’s defense has been atrocious. Tobias isn’t rebounding. Marcus isn’t shooting well. Ish hasn’t done well with the second unit. Stanley is doing almost nothing. Baynes hasn’t looked like himself in weeks. I certainly have some quibbles with SVG’s coaching, but I don’t think this quibbles come close to closing the gap between the current record and the team’s potential.
Jordan Bellant: B. The coaching staff. I really respect and admire the job SVG has done. Unfortunately, we could use an "offensive coordinator." I still believe we can be effective on defense. Although, the rotation has really hindered the effort on defense since Reggie returned.
Ben Quagliata: Somewhere between A and B. Effort levels is totally on the players and that hasn’t been there consistently, especially from the supposed franchise cornerstones in Reggie and Andre, but on the coaching staff’s head is the pedestrian offense we’ve been running. We can’t generate good looks consistently.
Jacob Kuyvenhoven: B. The answer is a combination of all of them, of course, but that's not the purpose of the question. I'd go with Stan Van Gundy as a whole which is elements of B and C, but more B in his day-to-day job. Inconsistent performances from players comes with the territory of an 82 game season and is something every team deals with. SVG has no grounds to blame the players when he both coaches them and (in large part) chose them.
Gabriel Frye-Behar: A. SVG's minute allocation has been mostly solid, Reggie Jackson just needs to play better. If that happens, and if the Pistons commit to Reggie/KCP/Tobias/Leuer/Dre as their central line-up, I still think they're in good shape.
Ryan Pravato: A & B...& C -- Credit needs to be given for the Harris to the bench move. Leuer is playing well still. Stanley needs time and tweaking. I think the staff us doing alright with him in other facets of the game. But I think the main problems are Reggie and Andre. Are they both talented enough? You could say so. But are they leaders? Are they mature? And we all know that this horse has been beaten to death for a year and a half now.
3. Which of the following options do you feel suits the most right now?
A. The current roster will work with tweaking
B. We need to make a few trades
C. Tear it down
Justin Lambregtse: A, and by tweaking I mean one trade for a shooter.
Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): A is the only realistic option and honestly, it’s not that horrible of an option. There is talent here as we’ve seen it sporadically. Consistency remains the biggest hurdle.
Steve Hinson: A, tweaks for now, but we'll see for the summer. I think one of the big questions between now and the end of the season is Andre Drummond's status as franchise player. Without major improvements from him defensively, they're going to need to do some thinking. The team simply cannot be successful with him performing defensively the way he has in the first half of the season.
Ken Wallace (revken): B - some trades may be necessary. If we have guys who are not buying-in to what Stan is trying to do, then I think we need to move on from them. I don't think we need to start from scratch, but I don't see a cohesive team right now.
Benjamin Gulker: The team needs better talent at several positions: backup PG, backup SG, and SF (which may mean a better backup for Marcus or a new starter that moves Marcus to the bench), and maybe back PF depending on Tobias’ position, which isn’t completely clear at the moment. The Pistons aren’t bad enough to get that talent in the lottery, and they’re capped out… which makes trades the only real option, and the team has assets. Reggie and Tobias are on team-friendly deals in the increasing salary cap. Leuer and Marcus are bargains. Stanley and Ellenson are still good prospects. And even Drummond at the max is tradeable. I wouldn’t blow it up, but I also wouldn’t hesitate to trade anyone to make the team better.
Jordan Bellant: Between A and B. I have hope that we can find the right 9 players, the right mix of minutes and just roll the ball out and fight for the playoffs. If this continues for 10 more games, a trade might be necessary.
Ben Quagliata: A. I don’t think any rational fan is in tear it down mode. We have a whole season of data to prove what this team can do. In reality I think it’s probably between A and B, but maybe only a very minor trade for a shooter to come off the bench (hey Jodie). I don’t see us becoming involved in the Millsap/Butler/Cousins sweepstakes.
Jacob Kuyvenhoven: A. It all depends on your organizational goals. If we get 2015-16 Reggie again at some point, wholesale changes aren't necessary to get this team back to being a perennial playoff team, which I think would satisfy most fans, players and staff. If you want to be a Finals contender, though, you can't get there without stars, and we don't have any. But getting one would probably require either tearing it down or trading pretty much everything valuable we have in some kind of weird blockbuster, and I don't blame the team for doing neither.
Gabriel Frye-Behar: A/B. If the Pistons can find a trade that sacrifices some defense (Marcus Morris) for some shooting (a good 3pt shooter) that would be the first thing I'd look for. Though If Reggie Bullock comes back healthy the team might think he can provide that. All that said, packaging basically any non-Drummond players for a major upgrade at PG, SG or SF would be cool with me too.
Ryan Pravato: B -- Trades!! Even minor ones for fringe type rotation players who can shoot would be refreshing. Sometimes those types of guys just need to find their right fit with a team. If Reggie Bullock comes back and stays healthy, he'll help. But more needs to be done. Hilliard and Gbinije are pointless on this roster if they aren't going to see time. I'd like to see them get more of a chance. But, again, making a trade just for the sake of making a trade really never works out.
Those are our thoughts. What are yours?