Detroit Pistons: Finger Pointing Begins, but Who's Really To Blame?

Jay Wierenga@@JayWierengaCorrespondent INovember 3, 2010

BOSTON - MARCH 15:  Tayshaun Prince #22 of the Detroit Pistons is helped off the court in the first quarter against the Boston Celtics  on March 15, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Detroit Pistons appear to be in free-fall mode, falling yet again Tuesday night at home against Boston 109-86. The latest loss leaves Detroit 0-4, which is the worst record in basketball.

Apparently, the most emotion that Detroit showed on Tuesday was after the game. According to the Detroit Free Press, coach John Kuester called out his team for their lack of a vocal leader.

"We have to collectively someway or somehow find another voice besides my own that is going to lead us."

Apparently, those words didn't sit well with forward Tayshaun Prince.

"... He's right, but at the same time it goes both ways," Prince said. "We can sit here and continue to get on each other and be vocal, but like I said, the right thing has got to come from him as well as us.

"It goes both ways. He says we got to be more vocal, he has to do some things better, too. Obviously, we're 0-4 so it ain't just the team."

(Read more: Tensions rising as Pistons remain winless; Kuester calls out team, Prince fires back | | Detroit Free Press

Both sides have a point. Kuester can not be the only one leading this team. However, this is a veteran team that has proven they know how to win. Prince, Richard Hamilton, and Ben Wallace all have won a championship and Ben Gordon has won his share of big games.

What exactly has Kuester done as a coach? Sure, he was a part of Larry Brown's coaching staff in 2004. But it wasn't as though Brown was leaning heavily on Kuester. Brown had won at every level and was obviously the alpha on that team.

Kuester has had a long career as an assistant coach,but on his short head coaching resume he has one of the worst seasons in NCAA history, leading George Washington to a 1-27 record in 1989.

So what does that have to do with this current situation? It's possible that Kuester might not be head coaching material, and the players know it.

Last season was a terrible situation and Kuester should get at least somewhat of a free pass. The team was completely injured and they were not in a position to succeed.

But this year is different. From the start, this team has looked like a bunch of strangers. Personally, I have placed the blame almost exclusively at team president Joe Dumars' feet.

Sure, Dumars still needs to take a hit on this season's mess. This team is not built to succeed and Dumars apparently is resigned to just ride out this year until Mike Illitch takes over.

But at the end of the day, you have to work with the parts you have, and the Pistons aren't exactly void of talent. They are action-packed with scorers and while they are Austin Daye-thin up front, they have been in a position to win in three of their four games.

In fact, Detroit probably should have won their first three games, and this brings us back to Kuester.

When a team chokes at the end of games, it is a direct reflection of the coach. When we look at each game, there are plenty of coaching errors that come to attention.

In the first game, the Pistons completely blew a seven point lead in the last couple minutes. In fact, the game was completely in hand in the first half, but New Jersey made adjustments at the half and Detroit didn't. Namely, New Jersey pounded the ball down low in the third quarter, riding Brook Lopez against a very thin Pistons front court.

Given that they were getting beat up on the boards and down low in the third, wouldn't it make sense for Detroit to put their first round rookie Greg Monroe in the game? The biggest guy on the roster?

In the second game, Kuester had Jason Maxiell guarding a much quicker Jeff Green at the end of the game against Oklahoma City, and without surprise Green blew past him to score the winning bucket. Wouldn't it have made sense to put the much longer and quicker Austin Daye on Green?

Considering Daye held Green to 2 for 7 shooting in the first quarter, it would have made sense from a strategic sense.

To add further insult to injury, Kuester had blown all of his timeouts, leading to an unfocused and confused final possession in which Ben Gordon failed to get a shot off.

In the third game of the year, Gordon continued his torrid shooting from the Oklahoma City game, scoring 21 points in the first half.

Chicago made the adjustment to put taller defenders on Gordon and completely took him out of the game. The Pistons had been ahead by as many as 21 points at the beginning of the second half yet managed to shoot themselves in the foot against a very beatable Bulls team.

Kuester seemed to be completely lost, leading his team to a paltry nine points in the fourth quarter while Derick Rose went off for 39 points.

Obviously some players just have it going and are hard to stop. But Kuester failed to make the adjustments that coaches must make. He needed to shake up his team on defense and take the ball out of Rose's hands by running a second defender at the point guard.

Offensively, Kuester needed to find a way to get Gordon free. When a guy scores 32 points in the previous game and then goes off for 21 in the first half, he is obviously feeling it. It is inexcusable for Gordon to only shoot the ball five times in the second half of that game. On the road. Against his former team.

There are countless ways you can counter taller defenders. You can run Gordon off of screens. You can go small and make Chicago pay with their other matchups, effectively forcing them to switch back. If they refuse to switch, take advantage of Gordon's quickness by running him as the point.

Kuester instead allowed the game to be dictated to him by taking the ball out of Gordon's hands.

In Tuesday's game, Kuester finally turned to Monroe, who promptly grabbed 10 boards in only 18 minutes, which begged the question of why he had not been playing prior to this blowout.

However, the Pistons were just plain at a disadvantage against the very talented Boston Celtics. This was a clear cut example of a complete team playing a team of swing men. The Celtics have a strong front court, veteran shooters, and a true point guard. The Pistons didn't stand a chance.

That being said, the Pistons obviously were a defeated team by the fourth quarter and they probably gave up a little.This ultimately falls on the players.

But it also falls on the coach. Kuester obviously does not have this team's respect and for a team comprised of veterans, they may have begun to tune him out.

The hardest currency in the NBA (besides actual currency of course) is respect. Players, for better or worse, need to feel respect and they have a need to respect. Players want to respect their coach because they know that they need a focused and intelligent coach to win.

For the Pistons players, Kuester does not pass the smell test. They know what a good coach looks like, and though Kuester is a smart guy, he probably is not cut out to be a head coach. And by showing up his players in the media, he will not get his coveted echoing voice in the locker room.

If anything, this will get much worse before it gets better. The Pistons are getting ready to begin a west coast trip in a little over a week and their schedule does not have any easy wins.

I hope I am wrong, but this team might not get their first win until November 24 against Memphis if they are unable to win one of their two games against Golden State.

This is a team without direction and now they apparently are without a voice. This is the time where Dumars needs to do something. Either he needs to weigh in on the situation, or he needs to make a trade.

Hamilton needs to be moved. Gordon is playing lights out basketball and he needs to play 30 plus minutes each game. And with Tracy McGrady's career circling the drain, Daye needs to be moved back to a backup spot behind Prince and Gordon. Therefore, Dumars needs to get what he can for Hamilton, namely a veteran big man and cap relief.

Obviously there are no quick fixes for this team. However, the players know that they are not being put in a position to succeed, and this is magnifying the issues with their coach.

At the end of the day, Kuester is not a top-notch coach, but he is a solid basketball mind that can help develop the young players. Dumars needs to embrace this aspect of his coach and focus on the future by dealing the past.


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