Diagnosing the Detroit Pistons' Stuckeyitis

Michael DangContributor IApril 25, 2009

AUBURN HILLS, MI - MAY 24:  Rodney Stuckey #3 of the Detroit Pistons moves the ball across the court in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics during the 2008 NBA Playoffs on May 24, 2008 at the Palace at Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  The Celtics won 94-80.  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 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

There were several reasons why Joe Dumars pulled the trigger in acquiring Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups last November. The first reason was that he saw an opportunity to get rid of Billup’s remaining three-year $35 million contract, swapping it with Allen Iversons’ $22 million expiring contract. 

With Rasheed Wallace’s tenure as a Piston due to be over by season’s end, the Pistons will have approximately $30 million of cap room in 2010 to sign players from the deepest and possibly most talented free-agency pool in NBA history. 

The second reason is the fact that Allen Iverson, though old, can still dominate against any team on the offensive end. Dumars had hoped that Iverson’s scoring ability could spark the franchise back into contender status and possibly compete with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics

After all, he was able to do the same in Philadelphia with a supporting cast nowhere as talented Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace, and Rip Hamilton.  

The third reason was that Joe Dumars saw something promising in Rodney Stuckey, and with Billups being the perfect point guard, the second year player would have to ride the bench for the next three seasons. 

Since he didn’t feel the Billups-led team had enough star power to beat the Celtics in a series, he pushed the reset button on their plans. Now, with Mr. Big Shot no longer here, Stuckey would get his early training to become the new franchise point guard.

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Now look, I don’t want Pistons fans thinking that I’m attacking their team or their future plans by any means, but the team will not succeed with Rodney Stuckey as the franchise point guard. 

Michael Curry experimented with the lineup with moves like moving Richard Hamilton to the small forward position, A.I. at shooting guard and Stuckey at the point. Those experiments didn’t work out too well, so he decided to make bolder decisions. 

He publicly announced that either Hamilton or Allen Iverson had to be the team’s shooting guard while the other had to come off the bench. With class, respect for Iverson’s legendary career, and a sense of team sacrifice, Hamilton initially agreed to come off the bench “as long as it was good for the team”, via wins.  The team eventually went on a losing streak and Allen Iverson became Michael Curry’s scapegoat. 

It’s very clear to me, and I hope to everyone else, that Stuckey is not a “pass first” point guard.  I’ve seen too many times where he puts his head down and bulls his way into the paint for a layup.  He does it over and over again until teams catch on and clog up the paint area. 

Most of the teams caught on during their eight game losing streak earlier in the season.  He can’t expect to spot open teammates doing that all the time.  He isn’t 6’8” and 250lbs and his name isn’t LeBron James. 

He doesn’t have LeBron’s passing ability and court vision (his 2-to-1 Assist/TO ration is the evidence), and that’s when team chemistry goes down the drain, especially when the team is full of scorers. 

When the paint area is clogged, Stuckey is then unable to do anything else because he is the worst shooting point guard the NBA has seen since Eric Snow.  How often does the man assigned to guarding him, leave him to double team on R. Wallace, Hamilton, or Prince?  Like Eric Snow in Cleveland several years ago, every game. 

Whenever Stuckey was on the court, his man would leave him wide open to double up on the Piston with the ball.  A team simply cannot win when they struggle to score points, and they have trouble putting the ball in the basketball with a point guard that happens to be an offensive liability when teams clog up the paint. 

Diddo, a point guard that can’t shoot and isn’t that great of a passer.  After all, Stuckey shot .19% from behind the arc in the 2007-2008 season and .29% in this year.  Many of the losses could have been prevented had Michael Curry moved Stuckey to the bench for the bench minutes that he deserves, have The Answer play the point, and Hamilton at shooting guard. 

After all, these two stars had shown to be much more successful in their careers than Stuckey will ever be.  In fact, Stuckey will be lucky if he has an Eric Snow career.  Why give him the star treatment when he hasn’t done anything for the team?  What has he done that warrants him a starting spot over Allen Iverson at the point? 

Reasons two and three are already out the window, and the only hope remaining is for that $30 million cap space to kick in.  However, this all could still happen with the Pistons playing Iverson at the point and Hamilton at shooting guard. 

The Pistons wouldn’t be in the eight spot in the playoffs, and even if they did, you won’t see a 3-0 Cleveland lead like you see now.