The Detroit Pistons are winless through five games, but fans shouldn't push the panic button yet. There's tons of basketball left to play and the Pistons have been without their leading scorer from last season, Rodney Stuckey.
Actually I should preface that. Stuckey played in all five games. He even averaged 31 minutes per. It's his best attribute that's been missing—his scoring.
Stuckey—the scorer—made a brief appearance on Tuesday against the Denver Nuggets. He launched up 17 shots and made five of them, finishing with 17 points and a .294 FG percentage. That actually qualifies as a great game for the Pistons starting shooting guard.
That's a good indication of just how bad he's been.
Stuckey has gone absolutely cold. He was 1-of-23 in the Pistons' first three games and he's shooting a frigid .194 percent from the field for the season. He's scoring eight points per game less than his career average (13.7) as well.
As bad as he's been, Stuckey can't take all the blame for the Pistons' terrible start, can he? Yes he most certainly can.
Consider that—besides the collapse in L.A.—the Pistons only lost games by nine, three, 12 and two points. Those are all winnable games if Stuckey holds up his end of the bargain.
Stuckey's always had his share of detractors. Pistons fans are split on whether he'll ever be a reliable scorer in the NBA because he's never shot for a high percentage. Yet Pistons' GM Joe Dumars has shown unwavering support for him.
When Dumars signed Stuckey to a three-year, $25.5 million deal last year the haters were in disbelief. Many felt he overpaid for a midlevel talent who'll never lead the team to a championship.
So far, Stuckey is supporting that sentiment with his play.
He's supposed to be the Pistons' most dangerous scorer, yet he's being outplayed by the Pistons' second-round draft pick Kim English. By all accounts, English looks like the best option to start, not Stuckey.
Maybe Lawrence Frank should make that move.
Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus analyzed Stuckey's poor start and gives Pistons fans a ray of hope. In summary, he suggests that Stuckey's ice-cold streak is extremely unlikely, thus one shouldn't expect it to continue much longer.
However, Pelton also suggests that Stuckey's poor shooting percentage represents a change in his shot selection. He's shooting too many threes, and that's never been his strength.
The Pistons' fortunes rely on Stuckey turning his season around. Haters are already starting to come forward to play the I-told-you-so card, and the only way Stuckey can shut them up is to be the slashing scorer the Pistons pay him to be.
If he does that, then Detroit will start adding some Ws in the win column and the haters will back off, for now.