If there’s one thing new Detroit Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks has found out about his NBA team after a 13-15 start it’s to expect the unexpected. That’s the way it’s been so far; Cheeks has seen some games in which he’s pleasantly surprised by his team’s performance and other cases where he’s unpleasantly surprised.
The problem for Cheeks is he never knows which team is going to show up. His team rallied from huge deficits earlier this week to beat the Boston Celtics. Friday night, the Pistons were humbled at home by the Charlotte Bobcats 116-106. It’s Cheek’s job to take the talent he’s got and have it perform on a consistent basis.
Easier said than done, but that’s what separates the contenders from the pretenders.
His team heads into the holidays with hopes of having improved significantly from last season’s 29-53 team. There’s no guarantee that this team will get over the .500 mark for the season, although the talent is definitely there to accomplish plenty of things.
Cheeks needs to make sure he gets consistent productivity from everyone. That includes Josh Smith who has had some outstanding games but will need to get his shooting in check. He was 8-of-20 against the Bobcats, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea if he hit a few more shots. The same goes for Brandon Jennings who has still been coming up strong lately.
Cheeks needs to reevaluate his use of rookie starter Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He has been getting plenty of minutes, but he’s not doing much with them with 7.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game. He’s basically been playing like a rookie most of the time and occasionally has had flashes of brilliance.
Cheeks and the Pistons have made progress, but there’s still plenty of work to do — which should not be surprising for this franchise.