In the month of November, the Detroit Pistons allowed just 103 points per 100 possessions to their opponents.
In their last 15 games, they have allowed 113.4 per 100. Only the Nuggets have been worse.
The Pistons have gone 4-11 in that stretch, falling out of the playoffs (they are three games back of the eight seed as of this writing). Stan Van Gundy is a defense-first coach, and he is frustrated, as reported by Aaron McCann of Mlive.com reports.
“We can’t stop anybody. We just can’t,” Van Gundy said. “The first 21 games, we were the second-best defensive team in the league. And now we’re one of the worst. I’m frustrated — not with our players, I’m frustrated with myself. That I can’t figure this out. I mean, we literally can’t stop anyone. Ever.”
Point guard is Reggie Jackson (who has played better of late after missing the start of the season) echoed those comments.
“It has to be fixed — or it’s going to be a long (expletive) season,” Jackson said. “It’s been a season from hell so far. So it’s going to be a long-(expletive) season if we don’t find a way to fix it.”
So what’s the problem?
“A little bit of everything,” Jackson said. “Sometimes we have mental breakdowns. Not sticking to our principles. I think sometimes we’re not just playing simple basketball and understanding who we’re guarding or where we want to be. And I think just, too many times we’re letting our offense and a lack of making shots at times really dictate how much effort we put out on defense. We can’t do that.”
Teams have been killing the Pistons from three of late — shooting 47 percent in the last nine games —something that is a bit of a statistical fluke and will regress over time. But the problems go far beyond that.
We came into this season thinking the Pistons had a formula with Andre Drummond in the middle and four guys out, but this season that equation hasn’t added up. For example, when Drummond and Tobias Harris are on the court together, the Pistons get outscored by 7.6 points per 100 possessions. Van Gundy the coach should be frustrated, but the real work in getting this team working again may fall to Van Gundy the GM.
DeMarcus Cousins had a bitter exit from the Kings, but that won’t be the last they see of him.
Cousins’ Pelicans will host Sacramento tomorrow night.
Not that Cousins rushed to talk about the matchup.
Justin Verrier of ESPN:
Cousins is pretty funny when joking with the media, and his smile is contagious. Just listen to all the laughs Cousins generates as he goes through his shtick.
Bonus points to Cousins for eventually breaking down and providing real answers. Some of his relationships in Sacramento were clearly meaningful to him, and he wanted to acknowledge those — even if he’d prefer just to get past this awkward game and all the talk it invites.
Lauri Markkanen is 7-foot and made 42% of his 3-pointers this season.
That combination alone will have NBA teams drooling, and the Arizona freshman will capitalize.
Evan Daniels of Scout:
Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen is declaring for the NBA Draft and is expected to sign with an agent, multiple sources told Scout.
Markkanen seems pretty certain to get picked in the lottery, likely in the top 10.
Calling him a good shooter for his height undersells him. It’s not just he shoots so efficiently from deep, it’s that he can generate 3-pointers in so many ways — pick-and-pops, spot-ups, off off-ball screens and even running pick-and-rolls himself. Having the height to shoot over defenders is his most noticeable asset, but don’t undersell his mobility.
Markkanen also finishes well at the rim and offensively rebounds at extremely impressive clip for someone who spends so much time on the perimeter. Those interior skills instill belief he will eventually become a suitable defender.
There are a couple red flags. He’s old for a freshman, turning 20 before the draft. He leaves plenty to be desired defensively, especially due to his lack of strength.
But his size and shooting are tantalizing. That’s plenty for now.
Watch for Collin Sexton in the 2018 NBA draft.
In the meantime, the Alabama commit had all eyes — include Dwyane Wade‘s — on him with this pass in the McDonald’s All-American Game last night.
Carmelo Anthony scored just nine points on 12 shots in the Knicks loss to the Heat last night — well below his season averages of 22 points on 19 shots per game.
Anthony, via Ian Begley of ESPN:
“I see the writing on the wall. I see what it is,” Anthony said late Wednesday night. “I see what they’re trying to do, and it’s just me accepting that. That’s what puts me at peace. Just knowing and understanding how things work. I’m at peace with that.”
Is Anthony talking about just the Knicks’ final dozen games of this season, when they’re clearly interesting in testing less-proven players? Or is he referring to his entire tenure in New York?
Anthony has said he’d consider waiving his no-trade clause if the Knicks want to rebuild, and they’ll reportedly try again to trade him this offseason. Perhaps, this is Anthony indicating he’s warming up to the idea of allowing a trade.
Anthony’s and Kristaps Porzingis‘ timelines are barely compatible, if at all. It’d make sense for the Knicks to go in a different direction.
Could Anthony be at peace with that?