By Eric Woodyard | slamonline.com

A huge poster of a menacing player hangs directly outside of the Detroit Pistons locker room. The player is gripping the ball in his right hand as he flexes his muscle in a Pistons, home jersey. The word “DETermination” bombards the top of the poster in bold, white letters. The person on the sign was a joke to fans three months ago but in the Pistons’ final home game of 2010, could it be possible for Tracy McGrady to steal the show against the Boston Celtics?

Heading into the game, there was a huge build up about the Charlie Villanueva/Kevin Garnett match-up. When the Celtics raided the Palace of Auburn Hills on Tuesday, November 2, the C’s left with a 109-86 victory. Despite their dominating team effort, the trash talking of Kevin Garnett created a frenzy.

“KG called me a cancer patient, I’m pissed because, u know how many people died from cancer, and he’s tossing it like it’s a joke,” Villanueva posted on his twitter account after the game.

“My comment to Charlie Villanueva was in fact ‘You are cancerous to your team and our league,'” Garnett said. “I would never be insensitive to the brave struggle that cancer patients endure. I have lost loved ones to this deadly disease and have a family member currently undergoing treatment. I would never say anything that distasteful. The game of life is far bigger than the game of basketball.”

Bullshit! Garnett is notorious for his trash talking and he went way too far with Charlie Villanueva.

In the visitor’s locker room prior to the game, the incident between the two didnt seem to bother Celtics guard, Ray Allen as he sat comfortably studying game film. Come to think about it, what really does bother Ray Allen?

SLAM: It’s been a big thing about the trash talking between you guys, has this been something that you guys talked about in practice about maybe cutting down on because of what happened the last time between KG and Villanueva?

Ray Allen: It has been a non-issue at this point. I think we play from one game to the next and it’s always somebody whether it’s a older player in the league that you know is a trash talker or a young guy that’s trying to establish himself but you just deal with it. Somebody blocks a shot and talks a shot and talks a little trash is part of the game. It’s always been a part of the game so for us it’s been a non-issue even since that issue and I forgot about it to you mentioned it just now.

SLAM: You guys have been in so many battle this season. How is it to get up every night for these battles with everybody coming for y’all heads and continue to play a high level of basketball and stay focused?

RA: You just have to always tell yourself that ‘this team is good enough to beat you tonight.’ Regardless of who it is because they are and you always look at that this could be a turnaround for their season if it’s a bad team and a good team could use it as a gauge so you just always have to remember that it’s preparation and motivation and go out there and do your job.

SLAM: Do you feel like this team is a lot better than last year at this point of the season or do you think you still have a lot to learn about each other with all the new faces?

RA: It’s not really learning, it’s really doing with everybody being on the same page and just going through the process of what it takes to be successful so I dont really compare the last year’s team because all we really need to do is be better than everybody else and not worry about being better than ourselves and how we judged ourselves last year and just beat everybody we’re supposed to.

SLAM: You’re not much of a trash talker, you have always just let your game speak. Do you think if someone talked trash about you that you or anyone else on the team for that matter would be more leery to talk back because of how big it was with the KG incident last time here?

RA: Kevin I think he’s the type of guy that plays the way he plays always. You know I grew up with Kevin and he used to talk trash to me on the floor when we played against each other so I dont think it’s ever personal. He’s for everybody that he plays with and against everybody he doesnt and he’s just always been that type of guy, that type of player.

As Kevin Garnett and Charlie Villanueva met at the center of the court for the tip-off, the two were both “against each other,” as Ray Allen described it. They didnt acknowledge one another, shake hands, or even make eye contact. The tension could be felt from a mile away when Villanueva picked up two quick fouls guarding KG less than three minutes into the game. Garnett would also leave the game after throwing down a monster dunk at the 2:31 mark of the first quarter. He suffered a lower right leg injury and didnt return.

The KG/Villanueva beef would quickly turn into the Paul Pierce/Tracy McGrady showdown. With Rodney Stuckey sitting out the contest due to a stomach virus, Tracy McGrady was inserted into the starting lineup to play point guard for the Pistons. In 30 minutes, T-Mac connected on 7 of his 11 attempts for 21 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Pierce tried his hardest to put the team on his back with 33 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals, including 13 fourth quarter points but it wouldn’t be enough as the Celtics lost to the Pistons, 104-92.

“We played like a team tonight more than I’ve ever seen this year,” Pistons Head Coach, John Kuester said.

“I’m always confident when I’m on the court, it doesnt matter whether I’m a starter or coming off the bench,” Tracy McGrady said after the game. “Now my role is a little bit different. Obviously I’m used to starting and adjusting to coming off the bench is something that I’m still working with but it was just a game that I wanted to have under control right away and get us organized and we did a great job with that.”

McGrady also said this was the best he’s felt on the court since 2008. The Pistons will travel to Phoenix to take on the Suns this Friday at 9 p.m.

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What drives Detroit Pistons basketball? DETermination.

This is the new motto for the franchise. The word DETermination is displayed on every possible Pistons outlet imaginable in the Palace of Auburn Hills. Honestly, what word would better describe the franchise heading into the 2010-2011 NBA Season?

After suffering a loss in their season opener, 98-101, to the New Jersey Nets, the Pistons were eager to bounce back in their home-opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder. They blew a seven-point lead in the final 2 minutes. The Pistons and Thunder also met last year in the Pistons’ home opener when the Thunder beat them Pistons, 91-83.

The Pistons were once again plagued with injuries, including Will Bynum (hamstring), but with a sellout crowd cheering them on would this be enough to top the young Thunder? If they were to lose, it would be the franchise’s worst start in 11 years.

Pre-Game

Oklahoma City Thunder forward, Morris Peterson, released this statement…

As the reporters flocked to Kevin Durant for pre-game interviews in the visitor’s locker room, Mo-Pete gave him a heads up.

“That’s a Flintstone right there,” Peterson pointed towards me as he tapped Durant on the shoulder just before the interview session began.

“Oh ok a Flintstone? That’s what’s up,” KD responded as he nodded my way.

This set it up for me to ask these questions:

SLAM: How much more confident is this Thunder team this season based on last year’s success?

Kevin Durant: We’re confident (but) I think we’re not overconfident. I think we gotta learn that any time or any game we can get beat but we are confident in that each and every day we can get better.

SLAM: There’s been so much hype and hooplah surrounding you this year and being 22 years old myself I couldnt imagine what you’re going through, how are you able to stay so humble and focused through all of this hype?

KD: You know I didnt have this growing up. I worked for this. It just didnt come to me. At anytime it could be taken away so I gotta be thankful for it everyday and be humble and know that there is somebody better than me and just try to get to that level as well. So I’m not the best player ever or the best person ever so I still got room to grow and like I said just at this point anything can be taken away so I gotta be that way.

First Quarter

“Over-Rated,” a drunk fan yelled early in the quarter as Durant touched the ball. He would quickly eat those words.

Durant more than lived up to the hype! He scored an effortless 12 points, knocking down 3 of his first 6 shot attempts. The highlight of the quarter came off a Rip Hamilton turnover when Durant and Russell Westbrook connected on a fast break, two-handed jam.

Rodney Stuckey set the tone for Detroit, chipping in 8 points and 2 assists.

Second Quarter

A few local celebrities stole the show.

There was more hype about Kid Rock than the actual game. The franchise honored the legendary musician with a banner right before the quarter began. The words “KID ROCK 21 SELLOUTS” was etched onto the purple and white banner and raised into the rafters as the fans went crazy. Kid Rock was also briefly interviewed about his history with the Pistons as his music blasted over the stadium’s speakers.
Detroit Lions, rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was also in the building. He was asked to shoot free throws for charity during a time-out. For every free throw he made, $200 was donated to a charity. Suh had 24 seconds and he was able to raise $1200. Not bad.

Oh yeah, the Thunder finished the half with a 56-51 lead.

The jumper was falling for Ben Gordon as he led the Pistons in scoring with 12 points while Stuckey dropped 10 points and 4 assists. Kevin Durant finished with 16 points and 4 boards for the Thunder.

Third Quarter

Rodney Stuckey stole the show.

There was 5:21 on the clock when Russell Westbook and Nenad Kristic tried to double Stuckey near center court. Spotting how loose they were playing him, he easily split the defense and met Thabo Sefolosha at the rim for a nasty one-handed jam.

Stuckey would strike again near the end of the quarter with his best Allen Iverson impression. Just him and Daequan Cook were isolated as Stuckey had Cook on ice skates. It started with a between the legs crossover which led into a step back crossover and ended with a blow by layup.

He added 10 more points to his total giving him 20 heading into the final period.

Fourth Quarter

Ben Gordon was on fire the entire quarter. He scored 14 points in this period alone. Fans applauded his efforts for all but the last 2.5 seconds.

The Pistons led 104-103 when the Thunder got possession with just 7.5 seconds left on the clock. Everybody in the gym thought Kevin Durant would take the last shot. As the ball was inbounded, the Pistons placed so much emphasis on Durant that they gave up a wide open driving lay up to Jeff Green which put the Thunder ahead by one point. With 2.5 seconds still on the clock, Ben Gordon pushed the ball up court with no regard for the shot clock as the time ran out without even getting off an attempt.

The hero quickly became the goat as fans expressed themselves rather clearly.

“Boooooooo!!!”

Oklahoma City defeated the Pistons, 105-104. Gordon finished with a game-high 32 points but Durant dropped 30 points, his ninth consecutive game of 30 or more points.

Post Game

Pistons Head Coach, John Kuester, summed up the game the best at the post game presser.

“That last play, you have a decision you have to make in regards to trying to put out your best defenders and Green’s a good player and Max has done a good job and Tayshaun did a good job at taking the ball away from Durant. Jeff Green didnt know what to do but drive the ball and unfortunately it didnt work out the way we wanted it to.”

Rodney Stuckey didnt seem too upset, more frustrated. After a 24 point, 9 assists, and 5 rebound effort, I dont think I would have been either. He gave it his all. As he got dressed to leave the office, I caught up with Stuckey at his locker for his thoughts on the game.

SLAM: How tough was that loss?

Rodney Stuckey: Man, we was right there and I think turnovers and second chance points really hurt us. I think if we would have took care of the ball a little bit more and kept them off the boards a bit then we would have been alright.

SLAM: Were you surprised with how easy it was for you to get to the basket all night?

RS: Nah, that’s just what I’ve been working on just being more explosive and stuff like that but that’s my game anyway it’s attacking the hoop.

SLAM: I like how you broke down Daequan Cook in the corner with that crossover in the third quarter, is that ball handling something else you’ve been working on?

RS: Yea just my ball handling and stuff like that. That’s just all I’ve been doing this summer, just been working. I was just trying to prepare myself for this run.

SLAM: Do you think this team lost any confidence with these two tough losses?

RS: Nah, not at all. A little slippage but I think we’ll be alright though. We just gotta come in and do the little things like rebound and take care of the ball and we’ll be alright.

The Pistons will head to Chicago to take on the Bulls tonight at 8 p.m.

*This post can also be viewed at slamonline.com!

It’s tradition. Anytime Morris Peterson is anywhere in my vicinity I have to catch up with him.

When the Detroit Pistons hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder for this season’s home opener, this year was no different. Although he was on the inactive list, there wasnt any other player on the roster that I wanted to talk with more, not even Kevin Durant.

That’s how us Flintstones roll.

Here is how our conversation went…

Eric Woodyard: Obviously you’re back home. How does it feel to be back home in Michigan?

Morris Peterson: It’s always good to be back home and see some familiar faces especially with the long season and being on the west coast. We dont get a chance to get home so it’s always good to come home and see some familiar faces and see your family.

EW: I read something the other day where it talked about how the young guys on this team was blazing you because you were older than most of the players on this team, could you talk about how that’s been? (laughs) Do they still tease you about that?

MP: (laughs) Not as much, but that first week was rough. It’s a thing to go from being one of the youngest guys in the locker room, I remember those days, to now being the older guy but it’s all good that just means they like you.

EW: Last year when we talked, I asked you how was it to play with Chris Paul. This year you’re with another superstar in Kevin Durant, how fun is it to watch him?

MP: I think KD is a great player. He’s definitely ahead of his time. You dont find too many guys his age doing the things he does. If you look at it, he’s a match up problem. Him being 6-10, 6-11 and being able to handle it and shoot over smaller guys or drive around big guys, he always has an advantage so it’s great playing with a guy like him. To watch him last year and see him do the thing he did was good but once we were in practice, I think he’s worked even harder so it shows out on he court.

EW: How are you feeling health-wise? I know you’ve been battling with injuries for the past seasons…

MP: I’m feeling great, feeling better. I’m just trying to get back into it and get in the rotation and hopefully just try and get out there.

“Last year was tough. We were inconsistent. There was no chemistry. We all just have to stay healthy and the sky is the limit for us. On paper, we are the best team in the League. We are deep and athletic. All we have to do is play to our abilities. We don’t have the biggest roster, but if we share the ball, we’ll be alright.” -Rodney Stuckey says to Dime Mag.

I love Rodney Stuckey but are you kidding me? The “best team in the League!” C’mon son. The Detroit Pistons?

Let me get this straight once again, Rodney Stuckey believes that the Detroit Pistons are the best team in the League…on paper. I want to make sure I’m looking at this same paper so let’s examine the Detroit Pistons roster.

Team Roster
NO. NAME POS AGE HT WT COLLEGE  
12 Will Bynum PG 27 6-0 185 Georgia Tech  
5 Austin Daye SF 22 6-11 200 Gonzaga  
7 Ben Gordon SG 27 6-3 200 Connecticut  
32 Richard Hamilton SG 32 6-7 193 Connecticut  
33 Jonas Jerebko F 23 6-10 231    
54 Jason Maxiell PF 27 6-7 260 Cincinnati  
1 Tracy McGrady SG 31 6-8 223    
10 Greg Monroe PF 20 6-11 250 Georgetown  
22 Tayshaun Prince SF 30 6-9 215 Kentucky  
3 Rodney Stuckey PG 24 6-5 205 Eastern Washington  
35 DaJuan Summers F 22 6-8 240 Georgetown  
31 Charlie Villanueva PF 26 6-11 232 Connecticut  
6 Ben Wallace C 36 6-9 240 Virginia Union  
23 Terrico White SG 20 6-5 213 Mississippi  
9 Chris Wilcox PF 28 6-10 235 Maryland  

I’m looking very closely and I still don’t see this team as being one of the best. In 2004, maybe but this year…nah. Last season, I made the mistake of getting caught up with what was “on paper.” I liked the additions of Charlie Villanueva, Ben Gordon, and Big Ben and  I predicted that the Pistons had the possibility to compile a 50-win season, just like in 2001. Instead they lost 55 games.

At the Pistons Media Day earlier this week, Stuckey did attempt to clean up his statements to Dime.

“That was inaccurate, he kind of wrote it down wrong. I told him that we were one of the best, not the best team and we are,” Stuckey said Monday at the Pistons Media Day. “I believe in my team, I believe that we are very athletic, we have a lot of great players on the team and I think if we could put it together and work as one then we will be pretty good. I know the Eastern Conference is tough now but I think that if we all stay healthy the sky is the limit for this team.”

To the Pistons credit, the injury bug did hit hard. In the 2009-2010 season, Ben Gordon played 62 games, Tayshaun Prince (49), Rip Hamilton (46), and Will Bynum (63). Who knows what the results could have been if they had only stayed healthy . The true starting lineup competed in under 20 games together. How could any camaraderie be established with such miniscule amount of games played with integral pieces to the overall puzzle?

Adding to their injury woes, the Pistons will be taking a chance with Tracy McGrady. Last season, T-Mac only played a total of 30 games but the teams hopes he can be that spark for the franchise by being a key role player.

“I think (McGrady’s) a great addition to our team. He’s definitely gonna help us out but the biggest thing is that we’ve all gotta stay healthy,” Richard Hamilton said. “We went so many years without anybody getting injured to going one year and having four of your top guys injured was a huge blow for us so I think guys really came in this year and prepared their bodies to hopefully having a good year.”

Other than McGrady, the roster has no real noticeable changes. They have two rookies, Terrico White and Greg Monroe, who probably won’t make a huge impact, a head coach who is a year smarter, and a new leader.

“I’m gonna be a lot more vocal this year, it’s just in my nature and it’s just my time to take over this team and just to be that vocal person and also just to lead on the court,” Stuckey added. “It starts in practice though and each and every day I gotta come out and work and show that I’m here to get better each and every day and once I do that in practice than it’s gonna lead into games.”

This year’s Pistons team is hard to predict. They may be good or bad, mediocre or solid. The injuries could have given the veterans a new zest for the game and ignite a fire inside of them that we haven’t seen in years. All in all, I predict a .500 team. I think they will go 41-41 and be a sixth or seventh seed in the Playoffs.

*This post can also be viewed on slamonline.com!

 

By Eric Woodyard

There were many questions for the Detroit Pistons heading into this Monday’s media day.

Could they adjust to addition of Tracy McGrady? Will they be able to stay healthy? How can they turn around a losing season? Are Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince on the trading block?

None was bigger than Rodney Stuckey’s comments he made about the franchise this off-season.

“Last year was tough. We were inconsistent. There was no chemistry. We all just have to stay healthy and the sky is the limit for us. On paper, we are the best team in the League.” Rodney Stuckey said to Dime magazine earlier this month. “We are deep and athletic. All we have to do is play to our abilities. We don’t have the biggest roster, but if we share the ball, we’ll be alright.”

To most basketball fans, this had to be a joke. Everyone wondered how did Stuckey believe that a team who had won just 32 percent of their games last season, with an overall record of 27-55, could somehow be the best team this year? When put under pressure from the various media outlets at the event, Stuckey somewhat cleared up his statements.

“That was inaccurate, he kind of wrote it down wrong. I told him that we were one of the best, not the best team and we are,” Stuckey said at the Pistons’ media day. “I believe in my team, I believe that we are very athletic, we have a lot of great players on the team and I think if we could put it together and work as one then we will be pretty good. I know the Eastern Conference is tough now but I think that if we all stay healthy the sky is the limit for this team.”

The newfound confidence comes from a lighter, faster, and quicker, Rodney Stuckey who claims to have lost 10 pounds this off-season. With four years experience and the green light from his team and coaching staff, this could be the year that Stuckey emerges as one of the best young talents in the league at the lead guard position.

He gave fans a glimpse of what he was capable of last year when he averaged a career-high, 16.6 points per game, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. This year he looks to take it up a notch further.

“I’m gonna be a lot more vocal this year, it’s just in my nature and it’s just my time to take over this team and just to be that vocal person and also just to lead on the court,” Stuckey added. “It starts in practice though and each and every day I gotta come out and work and show that I’m here to get better each and every day and once I do that in practice than it’s gonna lead into games.”

The Detroit Pistons may not be the best team in the league but they will have the best Rodney Stuckey that they could possibly have. He’s got the juice now.

*This post can also be viewed in the Western Herald!

SLAM reporter, Eric Woodyard gives viewers a glimpse of what it’s like in Auburn Hills, Michigan as the Detroit Pistons host their annual “Media Day” on Monday, September 27, 2010. Woodyard interviews Tracy McGrady & Rip Hamilton on their shoes for this season, Ben Gordon on his off-season, and Will Bynum on his growth as a player.

*This post can also be viewed on SLAMonline.com!

T-Mac: The Newest Bad Boy!

August 10, 2010

Tracy McGrady

Once a superstar, always a superstar.

It’s now confirmed that Tracy McGrady will officially be taking his talents to the Motor City for the 2010-2011 NBA season. Reflecting on his dazzling career, it quickly brought back memories of not the old T-Mac but better yet the T-Mac of old.

The cocked eye. The swagger. The flashy signature Adidas. The superstar!

Although he’s clearly on the downside of his career, he comes at no risk to the franchise by signing a one-year, $1.3 million contract. Seven years ago, the thought of him joining forces with the Bad Boys would have been absurd.

He was the cream of the crop. He was the face of a franchise. His swagger was at its peak.

In the 2002-03 season, T-Mac became the NBA’s youngest scoring champion, averaging 32.1 buckets per game. He was also considered by many as the league’s best all-around player. Then he delivered a Jordan-esque individual performance against the Pistons in the ’03 playoffs dropping 31.7 points per game.  

Despite McGrady’s amazing antics, the Magic still failed to reach the second round of the playoffs. Even after taking a commanding 3-1 series lead as the eighth seed against the number one seed. Even after McGrady’s comments prior to Game 5 in which he was quoted as saying how wonderful it was to “finally be in the position to advance to the second round!” He and his troops would lose Games 5, 6, and 7 by an average of more than 20 points, and Detroit would advance to the next round.

It doesn’t matter what point they are at in their careers, it never seems to work. The trend stays the same. Superstars just can’t play in the Motor City!

Bob McAdoo tanked. Allen Iverson quit.

It’s because players are supposed to become stars in the D.

Isiah Thomas set the tone. Jerry Stackhouse lit up the league. Chauncey Billups was sculpted into one of the best floor generals of his era.

At this point of his career, what makes Tracy McGrady different? Did anyone inform him of how cold it is in the D? It’s gotten so bad that the Little Caesars pizza mogul, Mike Ilitch, has been trying to step in to buy the team so that the franchise won’t get shipped out of town. Last season they stunk up the league, finishing with a 27-55 overall record. This off-season they weren’t even in contention for any big name free agents as they used most of their cap space last summer.

McGrady will also be entering a roster full of wing players which includes Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Austin Daye, and Charlie Villanueva. Determination will have to will him through.

Last season, McGrady’s determination was on display as he showed the Pistons that he still had something left in the tank. Making his first start of the season after coming to New York at the trading deadline, McGrady had his most complete game in years. He posted 21 points, eight assists and seven rebounds as the Knicks snapped a six-game home losing streak by defeating Detroit 128-104 at Madison Square Garden on March 3, 2010.

He would only go on to average 9.4 points in 24 games due to his inability to withstand the pounding of consistent minutes, but this won’t be the case this season. The Pistons will use McGrady as nothing more than a spark off the bench which sources have quoted him as saying he would be willing to do already.  His new teammate , Charlie Villanueva, has showed his support in the signing of the legend by going on the record to mention McGrady with a tweet earlier today saying:

“@TheReal_TMAC It’s official, welcome to Detroit Basketball. Doubters will become believers, all will witness your delivery. Let’s get this!”

The seven-time NBA All-Star is gone. The two-time first-team All-NBA star is a memory. The two-time scoring champion no longer exists. Although history isn’t in his favor, deep down I hope that T-Mac can make one last run and prove that a superstar can shine in Detroit.

*This post can also be viewed at slamonline.com!

While many things have stayed pretty consistent in the city of Detroit for the past decade, others have taken a big hit. Coney Islands are still popular, Belle Isle is still the hotspot, Detroit Tigers hats are still essential, and despite his untimely demise, rapper Blade Icewood still manages to get the crowds hype in the clubs.

The Detroit Pistons, that’s another story…

“I think that we’ve drifted from who we were. I think that we didn’t play with the same grit and toughness that we’ve played with over the past 10 years,” Pistons’ President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars said in a recent press conference. “That’s the whole focus right now for us is to get back to the grit and toughness that’s identified us for the past decade!”

Honestly, I don’t feel as though one draft pick will help them regain their old-school aura but I do feel that one player can potentially push them in the right direction. After spending a hefty amount in the free agent market last season on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, the franchise is aware that this year’s draft pick will be very important. Gordon, was one of the top free agents of the summer when he signed a $55 million, five-year contract in leaving the Bulls and Villanueva inked a $35-million, five-year deal as he bid farewell to the Bucks. But there’s only one problem…the Pistons have been as lucky as Tiger Woods (as of late) in selecting the cream of the crop that June has to offer in this decade.

Pistons Draft Picks from 2000-2009:

  • 2009: Austin Daye (Round 1, pick 15); DaJuan Summers (Round 2, pick 35); Jonas Jerebko (Round 2, pick 39); Chase Budinger (Round 2, pick 44)
  • 2008: D. J. White (Round 1, pick 29); Deron Washington (Round 2, pick 59)
  • 2007: Rodney Stuckey (Round 1, pick 15); Arron Afflalo (Round 1, pick 27); Sammy Mejia (Round 2, pick 57)
  • 2006: Will Blalock (Round 2, pick 60)
  • 2005: Jason Maxiell (Round 1, pick 26); Amir Johnson (Round 2, pick 56); Alex Acker (Round 2, pick 60)
  • 2004: Rickey Paulding (Round 2, pick 54)
  • 2003: Darko Miličić (Round 1, pick 2); Carlos Delfino (Round 1, pick 25); Andreas Glyniadakis (Round 2, pick 58)
  • 2002: Tayshaun Prince (Round 1, pick 23)
  • 2001: Rodney White (Round 1, pick 9); Mehmet Okur (Round 2, pick 38)
  • 2000: Mateen Cleaves (Round 1, pick 14); Brian Cardinal (Round 2, pick 44)

Looking back on their recent picks it’s clear to see that the Pistons need help!!

With the seventh pick in the 2010 SLAMonline Mock Draft the Detroit Pistons select…

Ed Davis from the University of North Carolina!

Lacking consistency in the frontcourt, the Pistons need a “true” big man. The sexy picks would have been DeMarcus Cousins or Derrick Favors but they have to settle for what they can get. Currently, the franchise is led by Ben Wallace, Kwame Brown, Austin Daye, Jason Maxiell and Charlie Villanueva (if he counts). Swingmen and guards dominate their roster.

Davis has been described by ESPN’s Chad Ford as a player who has “a nose for the ball and attacks the offensive glass. But he’s also not the most polished player in the draft.” Despite his weaknesses, he may be the perfect choice for the Pistons. At 6-11, 225 pounds, Davis may be able to add a bit of intimidation towards the opposition with his huge frame. Although his averages of 12.9 points 9.2 rebounds and  2.7 blocks per game weren’t the most impressive, he has tremendous room for growth. Under the tutelage of the Pistons, the sophomore from Richmond, Virginia could potentially bring back the “Bad” for the boys in the Motor City.

You be the judge…

*This post can also be viewed on slamonline.com!

Darko Milicic Interview!

January 9, 2010

Although the Detroit Pistons did end up winning the NBA Championship in the 2003-2004 season, the 2003 NBA Draft is still haunting them to this day.

With the second pick in the draft, the Pistons selected Serbia’s own Darko Milicic passing on elite players such as Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh! Not only did Milicic not play in Detroit, he has been nothing more than a journeyman throughout his six-year career. Playing for the Orlando Magic, Memphis Grizzlies, and currently the New York Knicks after his time in the D, his best statistical season came in 2007-2008 when he averaged 8.0 points and 5.5 assists with the Magic.

Not bad huh? Well, terrible when you put that in perspective of the guys he was drafted ahead of including Wade and Anthony who in their worst seasons haven’t done that bad. On the eve of announcing that he would return back overseas after the season saying that “The NBA for me is not the way that I want to be,” I caught up with Darko. He sat in the visitor’s locker room at the Palace of Auburn Hills with me to talk about his time as a Bad Boy.

Eric Woodyard: Obviously you’re coming back to the Palace, are there any hard feelings with the team or anything like that?

Darko Milicic: No. That’s the past. I didn’t play and they didn’t want me to play and I dont understand why they took me with the second pick if they were not gonna play me. I didnt get it but that’s the past and it’s behind me. So that’s it.

EW: Is it pretty emotional? Do you feel like you ever have something to prove?

DM: No, it was different for me the first couple of games because I used to be here as a home game and then the first couple of games to come here as the opposite tables it was kinda different so it was a different feeling. But right now it’s a different team and they have a different team and I already changed like 3 teams so for me coming here…I know I used to be here but it’s nothing like special or anything.

EW: Do you ever get mad when people say that they wasted a pick when they could’ve got Dwyane Wade or…

DM: They did! No, they did waste a pick you know why did they take me. Who knows if I really had a chance to play like these players that play like Dwyane Wade or Carmelo, those guys are incredible players. So for me, being a second pick, I dont get why they didnt play me at all and secondly they did waste you know? Why did they take me? You should take someone that they really think was gonna play right away because just taking someone to sit on the bench you waste a pick and you waste the guy’s time. You wasted my time for three years not playing so you f*** up a player and you f*** up yourself and I just didnt get it. So I just didnt get it, I guess they thought they were gonna be champions forever I dont know?

EW: So what was like your favorite memory here? Obviously yall won a championship here but do you have any good memories?

DM: Really, I didnt have any favorite memories of playing here. Like I said, I didnt have no fun on the court.

EW: Was it any one situation?

DM: I cant really remember. Nah. All those times that I did play, I played in the last couple of minutes in the game when they was 20 up or 20 down so I dont think that’s any fun for anyone. Not for me, I dont know for other people but I got a couple times I got to play in the pre-season but that’s it. In the Miami game, in one game that I got in, I had that dunk but didnt much come on the court.

*This post can also be viewed at SLAMonline.com!

Walking into the locker room as the Detroit Pistons prepared to take on the New York Knicks on December 29, 2009, Pistons guard Will Bynum stands by the training room in conversation with a Pistons employee. Dressed in full practice gear, without any socks, I was shocked at how small he was. Of course, I’ve seen him before but usually it’s just a “Hey, what’s up?” kind of thing and I’m gone.

Not trying to interrupt his convo, I simply tap him and ask him could I have a word with him when he was done and he said, “Sure! I will come back there as soon as I’m done.”

As I waited for Bynum in the locker room, a few of the players (Austin Daye, Jason Maxiell and Jonas Jerebko) all studied film on the Knicks. The “We Are Young Money” album also blasted through the speakers giving me some sort of entertainment as I waited.

After about three minutes, Rodney Stuckey strolled through holding a pair of dapper red, white and blue adidas singing along to “Bedrock” as I caught up with him for a quick second…

Eric Woodyard: You’ve been putting up numbers this year. Do you think you have been shining so much because of all the injuries?
Rodney Stuckey: Uh, yeah. I know that once all those guys stepped out and got hurt that I just had to step my game up. We went on like a five-game winning streak but we’re kinda in a slump right now but once we get everybody healthy, we’ll be alright. I think if we go on a five-game winning streak then we’re right back in the fifth or sixth spot so we’re right there.

EW: I see that your jumper is looking a lot better, have you been putting more emphasis just on improving your jumper and do you think your numbers have improved because of that?
Stuckey: Yeah. I think hitting a couple of more jump shots is getting me a couple more points. (laughs as Will Bynum steps in the locker room)

EW: So everybody has been talking about yall two (Stuckey and Bynum) but how much do yall enjoy playing together?
Stuckey: Aw, I love this man. He’s cool and we just chill.

EW: The streets always debating on who’s better but we’re just happy to have yall both here…
Stuckey: I like his game, he’s a quick point guard, can get up, got boosties. He’s good!

Eric Woodyard: Thanks man! (transitions to Bynum)…First of all, I read a story on you in the Bounce Magazine and before that I didnt know that you were a streetball legend like that. So talk about playing in Chicago and how it used to be down there…
Will Bynum: You know I grew up in the city and kind of all around the city so everybody pretty much know me from basketball and I’ve been in like every neighborhood playing against the best player and whoever was their top player. I mean just all the time, just playing since I was five years old.

EW: So why do you think you have been able to bring that streetball game into the big stage?
Bynum: I think everybody got a little streetball in them and if they tell you dont than they probably lying. The top players definitely do. No matter if they from overseas or no matter where they from, they got it in their game. They’ve watched somebody who had it in their game, tried to imitate them or something like that and it’s the same with me.

EW: When you’re playing against the Knicks tonight…
Bynum: Nah, I aint playing (smiles)

EW: You aint playing tonight?
Bynum: Naw, I’m hurt…

EW: Aw, I thought you was playing tonight?
Bynum: Naw, I’m hurt…

EW: Oh, for real…
Bynum: Yeah…

EW: So what’s wrong with you now?
Bynum: For the past like three weeks, I been playing with a sprained right ankle and I sprained my left ankle in Philadelphia and now I got a bad bone bruise on the bottom of my left foot and I’m just trying to heal it and get back 100%.

EW: Is it pretty tough, because you was in your zone, to kind of get back in the groove that you was in earlier in the year?
Bynum: Yeah, it’s been tough playing hurt because people try to judge you while you’re hurt taking it not that you’re hurt because of the way you’re moving sometimes but it’s been a learning process. I’m definitely learning about it and now I gotta get myself healthy and get back to the way that I’m capable of playing.