In 2011, the Detroit Pistons re-signed point guard Rodney Stuckey to a 3 year, $25 million contract. At the time, it was easy to argue that Stuckey was the best player Detroit put out on the floor on a nightly basis. After the addition of explosive talents Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Kim English, and Andre Drummond the disparity in talent is no longer as obvious as it once was. This inevitably means a lesser role for Stuckey moving forward, but does it diminish his value as a member of the team?
Over the last 3 Seasons, Stuckey has shown an improvement in the quality of his minutes on the floor. It is not so much a matter of him becoming a better player, but rather he has shifted his game a bit to play in a different way. His jump shot has never been the nicest, but it improved from 48.5% in the 09-10 season, to a respectable 56% the next year. His field goal percentage slipped a bit last season, but the drop was so slight, there really is no cause for concern.
The issue with Stuckey is how he compares to the elite guards in the NBA. Piston Powered’s Jakob Eick points to Ben Gordon, who was actually Stuckey’s teammate last season, for comparison. Eick says “Gordon, who was often criticized for his lack of productivity, shot 44.2% from the field last season.” This statement implies Gordon was able to out-preform Stuckey, even though he was having a bad year.
One other point Eick makes, is the need for Stuckey to drive to the basket. With his size and ball control, this would seem to be a staple of the 5 year pro’s repertoire, but surprisingly, the numbers show Stuckey is more likely to pull up and shoot in 6 out of 10 situations. The Piston’s need him to be a penetrating 2 guard, and with the fresh talent around him, the opportunities for him to find a lane should become much more frequent. Once he is able to get in the lane, Stuckey has no difficulties in making the opposing team pay from the line.
The new players on the Pistons roster will undoubtedly take touches away from Stuckey, but for the team to be truly competitive, they will need him to make the most of the touches he does get. This will mean better awareness of the floor, and improved decision making skills. There have been times over the last 5 years where Stuckey leaves fans and coaches alike, scratching their heads and wondering what that was all about. He will need to limit those mental lapses, and take full advantage of the talent around him on the floor.
If there is any one player who should benefit the most from the added offensive threats, it has to be Stuckey. The days of isolating the 6’5 guard and allowing him to create are surely gone, and with his teammates having the ability to get him high percentage shots, I expect Stuckey’s numbers to greatly increase this season. Shipping Ben Gordon to the Charlotte Bobcats leaves Stuckey as the main threat from the guard position, although the younger players are quickly establishing themselves as players to watch out for. Rather than this being a negative for Rodney, their presence should give him a boost, allowing him to have a break out season. The slight improvements we have seen from the former Eastern Washington Eagle, should be nothing compared to what he will be capable of doing this year.
Jeff Everette is a featured columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. You can follow him on twitter @jeverettesports, or subscribe to Jeff Everette-RantSports.com on both Facebook and Google+ for all of his latest articles, opinions, and rants.
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