Tag: Chauncey Billups

Kevin McHale, Thomas Robinson

Thomas Robinson is ‘pissed off’


Thomas Robinson, when the season begins, will be playing for his third team in two years. He was drafted by the Kings, traded mid-season to the Rockets and traded again in the offseason to the Trail Blazers.

The last top-five pick to play for so many teams in his first two years was drafted in 1997, and Robinson isn’t happy he’s experienced so much more upheaval than other recent top picks.

Robinson, via Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest:

“I’m just pissed off,” he told CSNNW.com.

“I feel disrespected,” Robinson went on to say. “A lot of people don’t know the ins and outs of this business. That’s how it works, man. There’s no point in even talking about it. That’s the way things work. I’m just ready to play.”

“I think last year was the first time thinking I was the one being hunted, as far as people coming for me or feeling worried. That was too much pressure,” Robinson said. “I rather be the one chasing somebody down.”

That last top-five pick to play for three teams in his first two years was Chauncey Billups, who went on to a pretty remarkable career that included an NBA Finals MVP. After being traded from the Celtics to the Raptors to the Nuggets, Billups kept working on improving his game. He wasn’t stubborn about remaining a scoring guard and refined his passing skills. Most importantly, he was driven to get better.

It sounds like Robinson is emulating that drive. The question is whether he changes his game. Robinson doesn’t have the size to bang inside like he did at Kansas, but he can still be an effective rebounder and hustle player. The key step is choosing to fill that role, and that very well could determine whether Robinson sticks in Portland.

ProBasketballTalk 2013-14 Preview: Detroit Pistons

Andre Drummond

Last season: The Pistons went 29-53, their fifth straight losing season and fourth straight season outside the playoffs. Andre Drummond emerged as a possible franchise player, producing at elite levels to match his impressive physical profile. Greg Monroe also operated at a near-All Star level for the second straight season, though somewhat ignores his defensive shortcomings. But the surrounding talent was lacking, and Lawrence Frank’s coaching was too grating.

Signature highlight from last season: The first sequence was incredible. That Drummond could do it again with Dwyane Wade’s attention drawn is astounding.

Key player changes: Talent!

The Pistons signed Josh Smith, Chauncey Billups and Luigi Datome, sign-and-traded for Brandon Jennings and drafted Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Tony Mitchell. It’s not entirely clear how those players fit together, but in isolation, they’re certainly better than what Detroit has had in recent seasons.

Brandon Knight, Jose Calderon and Jason Maxiell were lost in the process, minor casualties in the path of raising the Pistons’ ceiling.

The Pistons also exchanged Lawrence Frank for Maurice Cheeks.

Keys to the Pistons’ season:

1) How soon can Maurice Cheeks identify a viable rotation? The Pistons have three players who, individually, definitely deserve major roles: Andre Drummond, Josh Smith and Greg Monroe. Unfortunately, none of those three have have proven an ability to successfully shoot outside the paint, which could make floor spacing difficult when they share the court. Brandon Jennings stands a tier below, and he’ll also definitely play a big role. The next tier is packed with of varying skillsets, and it’s essentially comprised of the rest of the active roster. That’s a lot for the first-year coach to juggle. The Pistons’ early record, while Cheeks is experimenting with the rotation, could make the difference in whether they make the playoffs.

2) Is Andre Drummond the real deal? In limited minutes last season – obligatory boo, hiss for Lawrence Frank – Drummond played at an elite level. Whether he can maintain that production while playing longer stretches, likely including a higher percentage of his minutes coming against starters, will not only be crucial to the Pistons’ season, but also their long-term outlook.

3) Make the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Pistons, this isn’t a question. Joe Dumars’ job seems to hinge on whether this happens, plus Detroit owes the Bobcats at top-8 protected pick in the loaded 2014 draft. The Pistons are too good to finish with one of the league’s worst eight records. So barring lottery luck, missing the postseason would be an utter disaster for Detroit.

Why you should watch the Pistons: They’re really athletic, and athletic teams often do exciting things. Brandon Jennings has boasted Detroit will turn into Lob City with him tossing oops to Josh Smith and Andre Drummond. If the Pistons are committed to running – they haven’t been in a long time – this could be a fun team. Floor spacing, at least the shooting-outside-the-paint aspect, doesn’t matter as much in transition.

Prediction: 43-39. The Pistons should make they playoffs. Beyond the Heat, Pacers, Nets, Bulls and Knicks, the East is pretty open. Joe Dumars has sacrificed a little bit of long-term upside in order to maximize postseason odds for 2013-14, and in a season where tanking is even more incentivized than usual, he’s probably done enough. If everything comes together perfectly, the Pistons could win a playoff series, but more likely than not, this is a one-and-done team. Still, in Detroit, that’s major progress.

Taking stab at Pistons starters… Caldwell-Pope in mix?

2013 NBA Draft

Maurice Cheeks has one of the tougher coaching jobs in the NBA this season.

While the NBA zigged toward efficiency and advanced stats, Joe Dumars zagged and built a roster with players other teams were hesitant on — Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings mainly. The Pistons got better but the question is how much better? Playoff better? Their defense will be good, but on offense they will face defenses that pack the paint and dare them to shoot jumpers.

So who does Cheeks start on these new-look Pistons? Vince Ellis at the Detroit Free Press took a stab at it.

C: Andre Drummond: Probably works better with Jennings.
PF: Greg Monroe: Team hopes he fits with Drummond.
SF: Josh Smith: Crowded paint still a concern.
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: Skill set better with the starters.
PG: Brandon Jennings: Make no mistake — he will be the starter.
C: Monroe: Could be his best position.
PF: Smith: Could lessen spacing issues here.
SF: Luigi Datome: Shooting desperately needed.
SG: Rodney Stuckey: Probably more effective off bench.
PG: Chauncey Billups: Will probably get 20 minutes per game.

Caldwell-Pope becomes a key linchpin as a rookie in this scenario — the problem is that Drummond and Monroe can’t really score much outside eight feet, and frankly neither does Josh Smith but he’ll happily shoot from there despite hitting 30.5 percent from the midrange and 30.3 percent from three last season. The Pistons need floor spacing and Jennings isn’t going to bring it with his 38.4 percent from the midrange or his step-back three.

Caldwell-Pope and Datome have to provide shooting to make this work. They become key to the team’s success. So the rookie starts and on a team of bigger stars he will be important.

Andre Drummond being leader, getting Pistons rookies into town early

Andre Drummond
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Andre Drummond, team leader.

It’s just his second season and Detroit has a locker room with veterans such as Chauncey Billups and Josh Smith, but it has been Drummond reaching out to the Pistons rookies and telling Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tony Mitchell, and Peyton Siva to come to Detroit early for pre-camp workouts, reports the Pistons official site.

“I got Peyton (Siva) to come to town, Tony’s (Mitchell) coming in the next day or two and Kentavious (Caldwell-Pope), too,” Drummond said. “I’m making sure all the rookies come in. Last year, I was here real early. I’m like, ‘You guys need to get here early. Just because you made it to the league, don’t think you can come back when all the veterans come back.’ ”

Those rookies are going to have to fight for minutes off the bench. The Pistons have assembled an interesting roster — I’m not sold on Smith and Brandon Jennings meshing well — but they have some depth now. The rookies are going to have to earn that run.

And that run starts with conditioning.

After Siva experienced his first brisk workout, he acknowledged to Drummond that he felt winded and was happy to have the six weeks until training camp opens to acclimate.

“And I told him, ‘It’s only going to get worse. As soon as training camp comes, it’s running times 10.’ So I’m glad to have him out here with me and the other rookies will be here soon, too.”

Drummond had an impressive rookie season — if he could have stayed healthy he would have been in the Rookie of the Year conversation (I doubt he wins but in the conversation). Drummond averaged 7.9 points a game on 60.8 percent shooting plus was strong on the boards averaging 7.6 a game. And that was with coach Lawrence Frank seeming to hold the reins on him and not really turning him loose.

But can Drummond sustain a level of play that saw him with a PER of 21.6? Obviously he can’t shoot 37.1 percent of free throws and be productive (he’s working on that) but Tom Ziller at SB Nation tried to temper expectations by saying it is more than that.

I’m skeptical of two pieces that made Drummond’s rookie season so spectacular, though: his elite rebounding and his lack of turnovers. Last season, Drummond snared 15.4 percent of his own team’s missed shots, one of the best marks in the league…. Kenneth Faried is a good example of a player who was extraordinary on the offensive glass as a rookie (16.5 percent) only to dip down to very good in his second season (13 percent). That could happen to Drummond on both ends. (He was an outrageous defensive rebounder, too.)

The most unbelievable thing about Drummond as a rookie was his low turnover rate. He didn’t touch the ball as a threat to score a whole lot, but still. For a young, raw big man to have a turnover rate of 12 percent is totally unexpected and a huge boon. For comparison’s sake, Dwight Howard’s turnover rate has never been lower than 15 percent.

But as Drummond gets better he’s going to draw more attention — from defenders not letting him do what he wants in the post and from teams working to keep him off the boards. It’s not that he will not still be could and could be on his way to being the best center in the league, it’s just a question of how efficent he can continue to be as he draws more attention.

Still, he’s showing signs as a locker room leader already on top of his play. That could make his a special player.

Pistons reveal ‘Motor City’ alternate uniforms


The Pistons have worn red, white and blue uniforms for years and years. It’s become a classic look for one of the NBA’s flagship franchises.

Aside from a brief – and misguided – foray into teal during the 90s, the Pistons have remained true to that color scheme, a point of pride for Detroit fans. Above all, the Teal Era served as a wakeup call so fans stopped taking the red, white and blue for granted. Now, they appreciate those iconic colors even more.

So, the Pistons are venturing slightly outside their comfort zone with this new “Motor City” alternate uniform, which is a significantly darker shade than the Pistons’ typical blue.


Via the Pistons

You can better see the difference in blue with the photo the Pistons released teasing the new uniform:

Another teal mistake? No way.

I really like the new uniforms.

Previously, the Pistons’ alternate jerseys were red, and just for the sake of tradition, I hoped the new ones would remain red. But this is better.

The Pistons play in the suburb of Auburn Hills, but they still represent Detroit, the “Motor City,” and this is a great way to instill that. The jersey is simple and clean, and the font and number styles ensure it fits with the Pistons’ standard two uniforms.

If I have any complaint, it’s the hollow box, with a filled box at the waistline, created by the vertical piping on the side. I think I would have preferred piping that matched their standard road uniform, but the alternates look good from the front as they are, so I could cave.

Also, want an early indicator of the Pistons’ starting lineup?

Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings will almost certainly start. Maybe Chauncey Billups has an inside track on that fifth spot.

Or maybe the Pistons know the 2004 NBA Finals MVP will sell jerseys, which is really the whole point of this exercise. At least the Pistons are going about it in a very aesthetically pleasing way.