Detroit Pistons: 5 Players Who Need To Push Harder
The Detroit Pistons went into Monday night’s fourth quarter with an 11 point lead against the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder had been in action four of the last five nights, and the Pistons were in front of their home crowd after a long stretch of road games. The stage was set for the Pistons to secure their first victory of the season, one that felt like a long time in coming.
They would have to wait a bit longer.
The Pistons lost the game against the Thunder by two points, giving up a monster game to Russell Westbrook, who went off for 33 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. It made for a nice birthday gift for the Thunder guard.
Not one of the Pistons broke 20 points, although four players broke into double figures, which is how it has been for the Pistons so far this season. Occasionally a player jumps above the 20 point mark, but it has been rare.
No one within the Pistons organization would have predicted an 0-8 start to the season. It looked as though the pieces were starting to fall into place and Detroit would be able to contend for the seventh or eighth seed in the playoffs. With Tayshaun Prince, Rodney Stuckey, Jason Maxiell, and new comer, Cory Maggette representing the veteran leadership, the talented group of younger players should be showing signs of improvement. Instead, the Pistons look as though they are taking one step forward, and two steps back.
The following is a list of five players that need to increase their productivity on the court. Some of them are doing good already, but they need to be doing better. If the Pistons are going to return to relevance in the Eastern Conference, then the guys on the floor need to commit to being better than they think they can be. They need to give all they can, and then give some more.
Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. Follow Jeff on twitter @jeverettesports, like his page on FaceBook, or add his Google + to your circles for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.
Andre Drummond dropped into the Pistons lap in the NBA Draft, and from what the rookie has shown thus far, he may have what it takes to become a dominant big man. As of now, Drummond is averaging just 15.6 minutes a game, less than half of the minutes Monroe is logging. His stats are low, but for the amount of time he is on the floor, it is about what should be expected. Drummond needs to go beyond the expected. If he wants to establish himself as a key component of the Pistons future, he needs to play smarter and with more determination when he has his opportunities. If he does, Drummond could become a difference maker for Detroit.
One of the most talked about Piston this off-season was Swedish sensation, Jonas Jerebko. So far, though, JJ has been underwhelming considering the 20.1 minutes of floor time he has averaged over the first 8 games. Averaging just 8.4 points, and not having one other stat higher than 3.0 (REB) is a let down Jerebko is going to need to address. He can be a difference maker for the Pistons, but it is going to take some down and dirty effort from the 6’10” forward.
The thought heading into the season was that Brandon Knight was going to really come into his own, and prove to be a special talent at his position. While Knights numbers are not horrible, 11 points and 6.5 assists a game is not quite living up to his potential. Knight needs to create more opportunities for his teammates while finding his own offense and keeping opposing defenses honest. He also needs to start living up to the Piston standard of defensive play. Not even registering a half a steal average over the first eight games (0.4) is unheard of. If Knight wants to be considered a top tier point guard, then he will need to be more active on defense, and more aggressive when the ball is in his hands.
Greg Monroe is averaging 15.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per, which is respectable, but not the spectacular he is capable of. Moose could easily be called the most talented player on the squad, and he was the first to record a triple double this season; not just for the Piston, but throughout the entire league. Being the first is not what matters though. Monroe needs to get the most. The Pistons need him to get the most. Monroe needs to dominate when he is on the floor. With his size and skill, he has the ability to put the team on his back, and raise everyone's level of play around him. When Monroe is on the court, he needs to be the clear leader. He needs to be the superstar he can become.
Rodney Stuckey had his best offensive showing of the season against the Thunder, with the veteran guard scoring 19 points on 7 of 13 shooting. It was good to see Stuckey finally get it going, but this was hardly the output expected of him going into this season. So far he is only averaging 9.3 points per game, and while the season is still young, this is not the start the team and its fans wanted to see him get off to. The Pistons need Stuckey to make the next step in his development. They need him to make quicker decisions, read the floor more accurately, and attack the basket with confidence. They need him to step up as a leader, and turn this season around, and they need him to do it now, before things get any worse.