Winners and Losers from Week 1 of Detroit Pistons' Preseason
The Pistons kicked off their much-anticipated 2013-14 campaign with games against Israel's Maccabi Haifa and the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.
The matchups were the first looks Pistons fans got at a roster with eight new faces and new head coach Maurice Cheeks at the helm.
The frontcourt trio of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith started both games, but Cheeks used four different players at the guard spots.
With so many new parts, the Pistons rotation is far from a certainty at this point. Cheeks will have to use preseason performances to determine who will get playing time when the regular season begins.
Losers: Rodney Stuckey
One day after Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons in playing time against Maccabi, he suffered a fluke injury off the court that will keep him off the court for several weeks.
According to a Pistons press release, Stuckey will have surgery Friday to repair his right thumb after it was caught in his car door.
My rule of, uh, thumb, is that a broken bone means minimum of 6 weeks. Stuckey missed 27 games as a rookie with broken bone in hand.— Keith Langlois (@Keith_Langlois) October 10, 2013
The injury comes at an especially inopportune time for Stuckey, who was competing with Chauncey Billups for the starting 2-guard spot.
The seventh-year guard didn't exactly blow anyone away with his play in his lone preseason game either. He finished with just five points and three assists in 30 minutes on just 1-of-6 shooting from the field.
Now, because of his car door, Stuckey won't be available for the season opener against the Washington Wizards.
Winner: Jonas Jerebko
Jonas Jerebko has taken an early lead in the battle for backup power forward minutes.
He earned a DNP against Maccabi but made the most of his chances against the Heat. He finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds, going 6-of-7 from the free-throw line.
Jerebko was plus-11 on the court for the Pistons—eight points better than anyone else on the roster.
With the addition of Smith and the emergence of Drummond, the Swedish-born big man will need more performances like this to earn a spot in the rotation this season.
Posting double-doubles is a good way to show a new coach you deserve to play.
Loser: Charlie Villanueva
As the best-shooting big on the roster, Charlie Villanueva appeared to have an advantage over Jerebko heading into the season. That advantage is gone if his shots aren't falling.
Villanueva, who played 21 minutes in both contests, was awful against the Heat, finishing with just two points and four rebounds, failing to make a field goal.
Against Maccabi he posted a line of 11 points and seven boards, but he scored all of his points near the basket.
Villanueva is a combined 0-of-8 from beyond the arc thus far and brings little else to the court if he can't knock down threes. But the Pistons are just 10-of-46 from deep so far, indicating they need someone with his skill set.
Winner: Will Bynum
Will Bynum didn't see the court against Maccabi, but he hardly got a rest in the second game of preseason.
With Brandon Jennings (wisdom teeth), Chauncey Billups (DNP) and Stuckey all unavailable to play, Bynum played 46 minutes against the defending champs. He ended the game with 28 points on 11-of-16 from the field, tied with Miami's Chris Bosh as the game's leading scorer.
Bynum was able to get into the heart of the Heat defense, with 10 of his 11 makes coming in the paint. He also went to the line eight times.
The efficient shooting night was a good sign for Bynum, who'll be fighting for minutes in a very deep backcourt. When he's on his game, nobody else on the roster can match his energy off the bench.
Loser: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
These first two games cannot be how Kentavious Caldwell-Pope envisioned his NBA career beginning.
The former Georgia Bulldog was drafted to provide some outside shooting on the wing, but he hasn't been able to find the touch through two games.
Against Maccabi he finished 1-of-12 from the field, missing all six of his three-point attempts. He was slightly better against the Heat at 2-of-8 from the floor, hitting one of five from beyond the arc.
With Stuckey out through the preseason and an underwhelming performance by Billups in 19 minutes against Maccabi—two points, 0-of-4 from the field—KCP had a real opportunity to prove he deserved a shot to start at shooting guard.
Instead, he looked the part of a 20-year-old rookie who will need some time before he's NBA-ready.
Winner: Andre Drummond
After a summer of hype and buildup, Andre Drummond has definitely looked the part of the future All-Star through two preseason games.
Against Maccabi he posted a line of 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in 25 minutes of action. He was an astounding plus-38 for the game.
He may have been better against the Heat, with 21 points and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes. He missed just three of his 11 field goals and got to the line seven times, making five.
Sure, all 16 of his made baskets have come in the paint. And, yes, he picked up his four fouls too easily against Miami.
But Drummond absolutely looks prepared to take on an increased role in 2013-14. He has looked great physically, and every indication is he can handle 28-32 minutes per night.
It's preseason, so everything has to be taken with cautious optimism. But it's becoming more difficult by the day to not believe in Andre Drummond.
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