Lawrence Frank Discussion: 5 Things the Detroit Pistons' New Coach Must Do
The Detroit Pistons have found their new man.
The goal for the new Tom Gores-led franchise was to bring in someone with head coaching experience who could bring back the old style of Pistons basketball.
While most fans were hoping for former player Bill Laimbeer to get the job, it became apparent that he was not strongly considered.
Therefore, it came down to a choice between Lawrence Frank and Mike Woodson.
Some have speculated that Frank was owner Tom Gores' choice and Woodson was team president Joe Dumars' choice. This speculation will probably never be substantiated, so to explore it further is pointless.
The bottom line is that Frank has been brought in to coach this team, and the front office will all hold hands in backing him up.
That was the easy part. Here comes the hard part.
Of course, the season is far from assured to happen. The owners are currently locking out the players, and the season is very much in jeopardy.
Personally, I think it will be at least a year before this lockout gets resolved. But that is neither here nor there. Frank has a lot of work to do, so it really doesn't matter how long the lockout lasts. Eventually, there will be basketball again and there needs to be a lot of changes in Detroit.
Here are five things Coach Frank must do.
Bring Back the Accountability
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Last year, the inmates ran the asylum. They had lost all respect for their coach, and were in the midst of a complete free fall.
Frank must get control of this team.
The easiest way to do so is to parcel out playing time based solely on effort and understanding of the schemes.
He needs to play the players who are on board with his system and bench indefinitely those who are not. However, he needs to communicate with the players just what they need to do in order to get back.
Last year, John Kuester tried to do the former, but he forgot the latter. Rip Hamilton was benched indefinitely, but he had no clue how to get back. Kuester made him persona non grata and banished him to the bench. This turned into a circus in which neither side knew exactly how to get out.
Frank needs to communicate with his players what he expects and put them in a position to figure it out; then and only then should he start shortening up his bench.
Once he figures out his rotation, he needs to work with those that are on the outside looking in and get them knowledgeable about what it will take to get back.
This way, players will view it as a fair system and the onus will be put back on the players to step up and take back their jobs.
Additionally, his rotation spots must be determined by the players' ability and effort, and not the size of their paycheck. If Will Bynum is better than Brandon Knight, he should get the job. True, we want the young guys to be developed, but they need to earn their stripes.
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I have to admit, I am glad to hear what I have been hearing from Frank. He is saying all the right things about buying into Detroit tradition and echoing the mantra that defense wins championships.
But this must not be lip service.
This team needs to get back to an attacking, trapping defense. Frank remembers this defense very well as his team in New Jersey broke the Pistons' record-breaking streak of holding opponents to under 70 in 2004 (although, the Nets had to intentionally foul the Pistons at the end of a blowout to get a final offensive possession, which was pretty bush league, if you ask me).
The Pistons have some very athletic big men that can cover the middle of the court, which would allow Brandon Knight, Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey to use a full-court trapping defense.
The Pistons had tons of success in 2004 and 2005 doing this, and for some reason the Flip Saunders, Michael Curry and John Kuester eras decided to completely scrap this idea.
The Pistons don't have the greatest personnel right now, but defense is an attitude. Frank needs to stress this attitude and dictate playing time accordingly.
Figure Out What To Do with Ben Gordon
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Ben Gordon has been a huge disappointment since signing a hefty free-agent contract two years ago.
The hardest thing about this is that the Pistons have seen him at his best when he was in Chicago. We know he can score in bunches, but it hasn't happened so far.
What compounds this problem is the fact that it is obvious Gordon is not bringing this on himself. It's not like he is being lazy or lackadaisical, he just can't find a groove—a problem amplified by a lack of a clearly defined role.
Gordon is that rarest of players who does not mind coming off the bench. He also is a "tweener;" he is too short to be a pure shooting guard, and he doesn't have the handle to allow him to be a point guard.
Frank needs to harness Gordon's strengths while avoiding the trap of starting him.
That's why Frank needs to make Gordon his go-to sixth man.
He needs to guarantee Gordon at least 30 minutes a game (provided he earns them). This will allow Gordon to find his groove and regain his confidence.
Of all the contracts the Pistons have on their books, Gordon's is the one that could still turn out to be a mutually beneficial one.
I really do think that Gordon can still average 20 points per game if he gets enough minutes.
Regardless of what he decides, Frank needs to have a clearly defined role for Gordon.
Slide Rodney Stuckey Back to the 2
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The Rodney Stuckey point guard experiment needs to come to an end.
Stuckey is not cut out to be a point guard. He can score, and he has the athleticism to become a good defender, but he cannot properly run a team.
Three different coaches have tried to make this happen. It won't happen, and Frank needs to avoid this trap as well.
Stuckey still could have value to this team as its starting shooting guard.
True, Stuckey needs to learn how to knock down the perimeter jumper consistently, but that is part of the reason that he pairs so well with Brandon Knight. Knight has the range that Stuckey lacks, which allows Stuckey to play off the ball and score as needed.
Again, he needs to buy into the system and earn his minutes, but the Pistons can still get something out of Stuckey.
That being said, Stuckey could play the role of combo guard when Gordon is in the game, but this will still be a score-first position, essentially playing another shooting guard while Gordon is in the game.
The Pistons did their best work with a very good, interchangeable three-guard rotation. This could be that type of rotation.
Build the Offense Around Greg Monroe
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The Pistons made a wise choice when they drafted Greg Monroe.
He completely out-performed his expectations, and turned into a double-double machine in his rookie year.
Monroe is not the perfect big man, but he could be the perfect big man for Detroit.
One of Monroe's greatest assets is his ability to pass the ball. The Pistons could easily make this the emphasis of their offense.
This team needs to run the ball through Monroe and let their talented big man initiate the offense on every possession.
By running a post-generated offense, the entire machine works together as one. It frees slashers like Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko to get to the hoop. It allows shooters like Ben Gordon and Austin Daye room to operate and get their shot off. It takes pressure off of the young point guard, and allows him to ease into the game.
Personally, I see Monroe as a Vlade Divac or Bill Walton type on the offensive end, using his passing ability and post play to initiate the offense and free up his teammates.
We have a great weapon, now we have to use it!