Basketball, more than any other sport, is about matchups. There are specific players, when grouped together, that represent the perfect antidote to their opponent's advantage.
If you are going up against a big lineup, you either counter with your own big lineup or go small to run them off the court. If they go small, you go big and power them down. If your opponent is killing you in transition, shift gears to a more athletic group.
This is one of the reasons why basketball coaches are perhaps the most valuable in all of sports. They have a small number of players at their disposal, and therefore they have more of a chance of making a difference with their moves.
That said, a team needs to have a preconceived notion of what lineups work best for each situation they may encounter. So here is our chance to debate which players, when grouped together, would represent the best lineups for the Pistons.
Brandon Knight, Kim English, Austin Daye, Tayshaun Prince and Charlie Villanueva
The Detroit Pistons are fairly fortunate to have a glut of perimeter performers. If the team is down by three points, they can turn to a lineup that is incredibly capable at knocking down the long ball.
Brandon Knight showed tremendous range as a rookie. Knight was second on the team with a 38 percent three-point shooting percentage.
He showed the potential to improve that, especially if he can consistently get to the hoop as a sophomore in order to create space.
Kim English is a rookie, and a second rounder at that. But he showed big-time range in college at Missouri, knocking down threes at a clip of 39 percent for his career, including an astounding 46 percent as a senior. He is your classic spot-up shooter and should thrive in his role replacing Ben Gordon.
Austin Daye. What exactly can we say about this kid? When he is feeling it, he is a deadly three-point shooter. Obviously last year was a train wreck. But two years ago he hit 40 percent of his threes and is capable of a bounce-back year if needed.
Prince has never been a deadly accurate three-point specialist, but he has the length to avoid getting his shot blocked, and has shot no worse than 34 percent from deep in any season.
Charlie Villanueva has truly been a disaster as a Piston. He was supposed to come in and replace the mercurial Rasheed Wallace, but instead has been closer to a Rodney White clone.
He is big yet soft, long yet timid and a good shooter. But he shows terrible decision-making. That said, he is a nearly 35 percent career three-point shooter.
Rodney Stuckey, Corey Maggette, Tayshaun Prince, Slava Kravtsov and Andre Drummond
Stuckey has slowly become one of the better on-ball defenders in the Eastern Conference. He has excellent size, quickness and strength and knows how to frustrate both big and quick perimeter players.
Maggette came over in one of the most popular trades in recent memory as he helped rid Detroit of the colossal bust, Ben Gordon.
Maggette is big, strong and athletic despite his age. Typically he is a small forward, but could be pressed into duty as a shooting guard if Detroit needs to get physical.
Prince at one point was considered one of the best defenders in the league but time has robbed him of the little quickness he had. Though he has strong instincts, he will never be considered a strong man. But his length still frustrates some, and he is a great team defender.
The last two spots are tough to decide. Kravtsov, by all indications is destined to become the next Joel Przybilla. He is athletic, strong and tenacious and should contribute right away.
But would he make a better option here than the incredibly strong Jason Maxiell? My guess is that his shot-blocking ability will become a huge lift to this team.
Andre Drummond is another athletic big man that excels at blocking shots. Does this make him a better option than the incredibly strong-willed Jonas Jerebko? My guess is that his size and athleticism will make him a valuable asset.
Rodney Stuckey, Corey Maggette, Jonas Jerebko, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond
Stuckey is average size for a shooting guard, his natural position, but very big for a point guard. He lacks the ability to truly play the point guard position for long periods of time, but in a short stint he could be effective, especially on the defensive end.
Maggette, as I stated before, is naturally a small forward but could be pressed into duty as a shooting guard. Sure, English could step in here, but Maggette's athleticism and strength gives him the edge.
At the small forward spot, you might be tempted to select Prince due to his length, but Jerebko is the better option. He is stronger than Prince and an inch taller. Offensively, he has better quickness and defensively he is an upgrade down low.
Monroe needs to be on the court as much as possible, and the big lineup is no exception. He can play either center or power forward, but excels as a rebounder and post scorer. In a big lineup, Monroe could certainly be a stud.
At center, this is a toss-up. Kravtsov is probably more mature physically than Drummond, but Andre is longer and more athletic as well as heavier. More than anything, his long arms give him the edge here.
Will Bynum, Brandon Knight, Corey Maggette, Jonas Jerebko and Greg Monroe
So why exactly would one go small? The obvious answer is when the opponent goes big, but that only says so much. Sometimes small and three-point lineups become synonymous, but that really isn't the whole story either.
Bynum is jet-quick and can create his own shot at will. He has tremendous leaping ability and the ability to break down the defense whenever he wants to.
Knight is also a quick guy. He can penetrate and punish the defense when they slack off. He still needs to show that he can set up his teammates, but most believe that that will come.
Maggette is short yet strong and old yet athletic. This team needs more athleticism on the wings, and Maggette helps quite a bit in this regard.
Jerebko is still somewhat of a question mark. We know that he is athletic and aggressive. What we don't know is exactly at which position he is best. Is he an undersized four or a big three? In a small lineup, he excels as the latter and could be a difference-maker as a rebounder in this small unit.
Sure, Monroe is far from small. But even a small lineup needs a little bit of size and someone that can rebound the ball and kick it out to the shorties. Also, they need a guy to set picks. With his passing ability, Monroe is a perfect pick-and-roll threat.
Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, Corey Maggette, Jonas Jerebko and Andre Drummond
The Pistons figured out something last year that former Detroit teams never got around to: transition basketball can be a lot of fun.
Knight was able to get a compromise from coach Lawrence Frank last year. If the team played strong defense, they could run if they got a stop.
This proved to be a strong sentiment when the right players were on the floor. But when Tayshaun Prince and Ben Gordon were on the court, the transition offense fell apart as those two acted like anchors for this speed boat.
Knight loves to run, and shows the ability to get to the hoop and use good judgement. He isn't an overly-strong finisher, but that can be improved.
Stuckey, likewise, is not a strong finisher but uses his athleticism to get past the defense and create problems for his opponents. Personally, I would love to see him try to dunk more.
Maggette is a great finisher and uses his athleticism to overpower defenders. He also plays the passing lanes well, which starts these transitional situations.
Jerebko has been a revelation as a Piston. He is long, athletic and loves contact, which bodes well in the transition game. More than anything, he won't put the brakes on the break.
Drummond never really got a chance to get out in the open floor last year at Connecticut.
He was dealing with a transitional coaching situation and they never really realized his potential in the transition game. A huge, athletic and quick big man is a disaster for opponents.