Can Rodney Stuckey Resurrect His Career with the Detroit Pistons?
When the Detroit Pistons drafted Rodney Stuckey with the 15th-overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, he was supposed to two a few things for Detroit.
First, he was supposed to add needed youth an athleticism to a rapidly aging team.
Second, he was supposed to be the heir apparent to Chauncey Billups and eventually take the reins as the starting point guard.
And third, he was supposed to make Detroit Pistons' fans forget about Darko Milicic, who was traded for the pick that would become Stuckey.
To say that Stuckey's career with the Pistons has been disappointing would certainly qualify as an understatement. That being said, there have certainly been extenuating circumstances surrounding Stuckey.
In his first year, a broken hand forced Stuckey to miss much of the season, limiting his time to develop. Once he did make it on the court, he provided a nice spark off of the bench, especially in the playoffs.
In his second year, the team was a mess. Team president Joe Dumars foolishly traded away team captain Billups for an over-the-hill Allen Iverson. First-year coach Michael Curry was completely overwhelmed with the situation and badly handled the team.
Stuckey was thrown into the starting lineup and had to try to lead a highly dysfunctional team that struggled to utilize both Rip Hamilton and Iverson. This led to a toxic environment that culminated in the Pistons getting swept out of the playoffs and the firing of Curry.
In his third and fourth years, the Pistons brought in yet another first-time coach in John Kuester, who the team and Stuckey could not get along with.
Kuester lacked people skills and severely mismanaged the roster and rotations, leading to an even more toxic environment that culminated in a mass mutiny led by Stuckey.
Stuckey handled the Kuester situation horribly and Kuester eventually was let go as well.
Entering his fifth year, Stuckey seemed to finally turn things around. He reportedly started seeing a therapist and his demeanor and attitude seemed to improve dramatically.
He appeared to thrive as a mentor to young point guard Brandon Knight and his play on the court seemed to improve as well.
He even started to improve the weakest area of his game, three-point shooting, and became the team's best perimeter defender.
His scoring was down a little, but he seemed to find some sort of niche with the team. He no longer had the pressure of being the point guard, thriving when playing off of the ball.
Then came this year. Stuckey started out playing horribly and was eventually benched in favor of rookie Kyle Singler.
Stuckey said all the right things about his demotion, but his return to solid play was slow in coming. While he has had a handful of good games since embracing his role as sixth man, he still has been wildly inconsistent and is having his worst season since his rookie year.
So this brings us to the question of the article: Can Stuckey resurrect his career with the Pistons?
In order to properly gauge this, we need to discuss who Stuckey is as a player at this point.
He is a slasher who can get to the hoop at will and use his strength to create space. But despite this great talent to get to the hoop, he is not a particularly good finisher.
He is very athletic and quick, but his lack of strong decision-making cancels out some of that athleticism when he gets on the break.
He lacks strong court vision, meaning that when he takes it to the hoop he usually can't create for others.
Defenders know he is going to the hoop so they dare him to shoot, but Stuckey never has been a good perimeter shooter.
Stuckey takes a lot of ill-advised shots and often does not seem to be on the same page as his mates.
Stuckey on offense reminds me of the Family Guy episode when Peter and the guys form an improv troupe. The guys were embracing the idea, but Peter couldn't get past his own lame John Wayne impersonation. Stuckey, like Peter, was playing a whole different game and he didn't even realize it.
Stuckey was originally billed as a poor man's Dwyane Wade; at this point, he is a poor man's Antonio Daniels.
It seems, at this point, Stuckey is the player he is going to be. He can't shoot, he can't create for others and he typically can't finish.
He gets to the hoop and draws fouls, but he doesn't seem to fit in the Pistons' plans. He is a loose cannon who is playing by his own rules.
But there is value in what he does and he could eventually turn around his career and become a valuable member of a contending team.
However, it seems as though his chances for doing so in a Pistons jersey are probably running out.
Stuckey has a partially guaranteed contract for next year, which should be his last in Detroit.
Look for the Pistons to shop Stuckey aggressively during the draft this year and for him to be wearing a different uniform a year from now.
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