Detroit Pistons head coach Maurice Cheeks is widely credited with having a vastly positive impact on the development of Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook. In fact, it seemed to be one of the biggest selling points from analysts when Detroit was rumored to be hiring him this summer. Whether or not the rumors about him and Westbrook are true, he certainly seems to be having a strong impact on Rodney Stuckey’s game.
Stuckey has been a much maligned player after the Pistons traded away Chauncey Billups. Detroit had high hopes that Stuckey would develop into the team’s point guard of the future. He has the size and physicality to excel at the position in the NBA, but he never quite showed the decision making and savvy play-making ability necessary to reach the next level.
Instead, he slowly developed a reputation for throwing caution to the wind and barreling through the lane where he would turn the ball over or try to throw a shot up over much larger defenders with good position on him. Needless to say, Stuckey hasn’t panned out the way the Pistons had in mind, and their fans have never let him or the organization live it down.
This season, however, Stuckey has been playing like he is one of the team’s better players. He has been coming off the bench to score 15.8 points per game at a fairly efficient rate. While his assist numbers are down because he is not being relied on to distribute the ball, he is shooting a career-high field goal percentage and seems to be a spark off the bench most games. He is also shooting a career high percentage behind the three point line and knocking down roughly 85 percent of his free throws.
There are a number of Detroit fans who were hoping to see Kentavious Caldwell-Pope take over his role, but Stuckey is outplaying Caldwell-Pope considerably so far this season. Whether or not this makes Pistons’ fans happy, it should. It’s not Stuckey’s fault that the team thrust him into a position he wasn’t built for, and now that he is in a more suitable role fans should be happy he is finally producing efficiently.
Like him or not, he is playing the role of sixth man incredibly well for Detroit right now. That means he’ll either stick around and finally be a valuable part of the rotation or entice another team to send some assets Detroit’s way in order to get him into their colors. Regardless of where Stuckey will be in six months, Pistons fans should be excited at how well he is playing because it means nothing but good things.