The names and the teams may change, but NBA training camp is annually littered with position battles. This year, for example, you’ll have Steve Blake trying to keep his starting PG job safe from Andre Miller in Portland; Brandon Jennings and Luke Ridnour (and perhaps Ramon Sessions) fighting for top QB duties in Milwaukee; and in Washington, Nick Young, Randy Foye, Mike Miller and DeShawn Stevenson will vie for the starting backcourt spot next to Gilbert Arenas, while JaVale McGee and Fab Oberto challenge Brendan Haywood for minutes at center.
Most of the time, you can predict the winners fairly accurately before camp even opens. Not so much in Detroit. While Pistons president Joe Dumars has been active in free agency and looks to have had a solid Draft, he’s still being criticized for failing to (at least effectively) address the hole at center left by Rasheed Wallace. As it stands going into camp, the candidates to start at the five are Kwame Brown, Chris Wilcox and Ben Wallace. In yesterday’s Detroit Free-Press, columnist Michael Rosenberg speculates on who could win the job:
The Pistons ostensibly signed Wallace to back up Kwame Brown, but I already can hear Pistons PA announcer John Mason doing the pregame introduction: “Aaaaaaaaaat center … Kwame Brown?!?!?”
I suspect newly acquired Chris Wilcox will be the starting center before long. Wallace’s role should be limited: 5 to 20 minutes per night, depending on matchups and his energy level.
While five minutes a night seems like a low number, there’s no argument that Big Ben shouldn’t be a starter at this point in his career. Kwame is getting better (really), but I doubt he’ll ever get out of the “just focus on defense and rebounding and don’t try to do too much” mode. Ideally, he’s a backup. And then there’s Wilcox, who isn’t too undersized (6-10, 235) for center, but is a natural power forward and leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to rebounding (5.3 rpg for his career). Wilcox is also wildly inconsistent — in production and effort — and not somebody you can depend on to log major minutes for you 82 games per year.
The only guarantee is that whoever wins the job, he’ll automatically become the front-runner for the 2010 Mike James Award as the NBA’s worst regular starter. And, more importantly, he could be an easy scapegoat if Detroit misses the playoffs for the first time since ’01.
Who is the worst starter in the League?