Josh Smith

Maurice Cheeks says Josh Smith will remain Detroit Pistons starting small forward


When the Detroit Pistons tipped off against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, Josh Smith was on the bench. This, naturally, raised all kinds of questions.

Why wasn’t Smith starting against his former team? Had Maurice Cheeks given up on the Pistons’ big frontcourt of Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond after just 11 games? Was this a reaction to the team’s poor start?

The questions didn’t exactly stop once the game got going, as Kyle Singler, Smith’s replacement in the starting unit, dropped 22 points and seemed to mesh much better with the starters.

Meanwhile, Smith continued his struggles this year with an 0-for-7 scoreless night in just 20 minutes.

Was this enough to start a small forward controversy? It doesn’t appear so.

As it turns out, Smith came off the bench for disciplinary reasons, not “basketball reasons”, as David Stern would say.

While this may calm some nerves in Detroit, the Pistons are still 4-8. The defense is a disaster, and the offense remains starved for space. There are major issues here, and lineup changes of some sort will likely need to happen at some point if things don’t turn up soon.

That change probably won’t be moving Smith, who signed a 4-year, $54 million dollar deal this offseason, to the bench in favor of Singler. But moving him back to power forward? That might not be a bad idea. Smith is attempting 5.2 three-pointers a game, and he’s posting the lowest true shooting percentage and PER of his entire career. He’s just not a perimeter threat.

We’ll see what Cheeks does to try and turn this thing around, or we’ll see if Joe Dumars gets active on the trade market. But for right now, at least, it appears Smith will remain the starting small forward.

Khris Middleton dunks, Jimmy Butler can’t stop him (VIDEO)

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Khris Middleton has more expectations and more pressure on him after a breakout season in Milwaukee, followed by him getting him PAID this summer.

Well, he looked pretty good on this play against the Bulls, making the steal then throwing down despite Jimmy Butler‘s efforts to stop him.

Middleton finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting for the Bucks. However, Butler had the last laugh as he went off for 23 points on 12 shots and led the Bulls to the (meaningless) preseason win.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.