NBA / Apr 30, 2010 / 4:47 pm

Should Rodney Stuckey be “The Franchise” for the Pistons?

Rodney Stuckey, Dime #47

While teams like the Spurs and Mavericks can carefully audition young role players to eventually take over as “The Franchise” once the time is right, others are under the gun — both basketball-wise and at the box office — to find out ASAP precisely who they’re going to hitch their wagon to and take their best shot at a championship.

The Detroit Pistons are in that second group. After snapping an eight-year run of making the playoffs, which included an NBA title in ’04, an NBA Finals loss in ’05, and four other appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pistons landed in the Lottery this year. And for a fan base and front office that’s grown accustomed to success, that’s not going to cut it for too long.

Rodney Stuckey has been identified as Detroit’s future franchise player ever since Chauncey Billups was traded in November 2008. But is Stuckey living up to the crown and progressing at a good pace? This season the third-year pro averaged 16.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Only a handful of players — LeBron, Kobe, D-Wade, Monta Ellis, Tyreke Evans, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala — were able to crack 16 ppg, 4 rpg, 5 apg and 1.5 spg, and Stuckey was just a handful boards, dimes and steals away from joining that group.

Being a true franchise player, however, means more than just putting up numbers. Does Stuckey — who shot 40 percent from the field and 22 percent from three-point range — have the trust of his teammates and his coach that he can carry the Pistons? Does he elicit grown-man fear from opposing defenses that he can slice them up whenever he gets in the mood? In the Detroit games I watched that came down to the wire, Rip Hamilton and Ben Gordon were called upon just as much as Stuckey, maybe even more so, when the team needed a big shot. On one hand that’s a good problem to have when you can keep defenses guessing on critical possessions; but on the other hand it pokes a big hole in the Stuckey-as-The-Franchise argument.

If Pistons president Joe Dumars is convinced Stuckey is his guy, I think the best move would be to trade Hamilton this summer.

When he was healthy this year, Rip proved he could still play, dropping 18.1 points a night in 48 games. And while he’s got a monster contract ($37.8 million over the next three seasons) to unload for a 32-year-old, Rip could be attractive to a mid-level contender looking for a scorer to help them get over the hump. In return, Detroit may be able to add some more pieces to surround Stuckey. But more importantly, Stuckey would finally feel like this is really his team, that he’s really The Franchise.

Stuckey is a young respectful guy, and Rip is a respected vet. He’s one of the last remaining links to Detroit’s championship squad, where he was the top offensive option. And it’s not like he’s washed up today, so it’s completely understandable that Stuckey would still defer to Rip — even if Rip accepted a secondary role to the young gun — no matter what his coaches, team execs and shot distribution might be telling him.

If Stuckey is supposed to be Detroit’s meal ticket, next season is “put up or shut up” time. Not saying he needs to hoist the team on his back and go championship-or-bust — but by the end of a player’s fourth year, most of the time, we know whether or not they’ve got superstar quality. Kobe, Wade and Tim Duncan all won a ‘chip by the end of their fourth year as the best or second-player on their team. LeBron, Deron Williams and Paul Pierce had at least led their team to a conference finals by the end of Year Four, while CP3, Dirk Nowitzki and Allen Iverson had at least taken their teams into the second round.

Stuckey played in the conference finals in ’08, but that was his rookie year as a backup. He has to prove he can do postseason damage as the alpha male if he’s going to be considered franchise material. Especially in Detroit, where the rafters hanging overhead in The Palace are a constant reminder that middle-of-the-pack isn’t good enough.

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  • http://dime eyes

    Hell to the NO. 50 cents aint no franchise player. LOL. He’s aiight. At best. Might be a rich man Corey Maggette. He will never be a PG, or shooting guard. He’s a solid player. John Keuster looks like Steve Martin’s grandfather. The Pistons are in trouble.

  • Tom

    No. Not a chance.

  • Scott

    Rip needs to go. Stuckey isn’t the franchise, but he’s a solid piece to build with.

  • http://www.forevercherishedproductions.com Aaron

    It’s still 2 years away.

  • http://123.com g

    No Way. He is terribel for them. He shoud honestly coem off the bench. This is Mr. Potential who ruined Allen Iversns legacy. Dumars picked this subpar player and tried to reinvent himself but it aint working period. Stuckey could have been traded 5 times for either some all stars or 1st round pics. Joe failed and not Austin Daye is the future.

  • Steve A

    The Pistons case for him being the franchise player makes about as much sense as Stern backing the WNBA

  • dvs

    Stuckey isn’t a “franchise player”, but Detroit doesn’t need a superstar to be competitive.
    He is the future of the team.
    When Rip is moved, Stuckey can take control of the team.
    Stuckey, along with some more young guys, like BG, can make up a good playoff team. Dumars is slowly building a solid team and Stuckey will be a major player, regardless of if he is considered a “franchise player” or not.

  • Jubilee

    he’s distinctly not franchise material. ask anyone on the planet whose name isn’t joe dumars. why are we even discussing this?

    i hate it when national writers discuss the pistons. here are some important things to note:

    last season AND the season before that should have been put-up-or-shut-up time for stuckey and he shut up. i don’t know how you hand the keys to the kingdom to a kid after 3/4 of a season, but it happened, and he hasn’t done anything to warrant it. he runs an offense worse than any of the other 29 starting PGs in this league. how is it that i notice that he’s a shooting guard with good ballhandling skills, but joe dumars can’t? stuckey would have to improve his playmaking skills significantly for me to even consider him a “combo” guard.

    one or more of our shooting guards (stuckey, gordon, rip) has to go. we have too many wing players and too little of everything else. if it’s rip, it’s rip. but i’d be thrilled to see stuckey leave town in a trade that gets us some frontline help. or gordon. gotta get rid of 1-2 of them.

  • http://myspace.com/40sand9s loc

    He is their PG of the future, but shouln’t be the franchise.

  • sh!tfaced

    franchise player or not (but he isn’t), it’s just a mythical title anyway. unlike in the NFL where being named a franchise player matters.

  • hahns

    every team doesnt have a franchise player, like the knicks. you can be building your team, but you could be missing that one piece. what im trying to say is just b/c theres a lack of a franchise player doesn’t mean one of your current ones automatically is one.

  • Jubilee

    i’m just going to say it: anyone who thinks rodney stuckey is a point guard either doesn’t know his game or doesn’t know what a point guard is.

    his playmaking instincts are an embarrassment. he can’t run an offense to save his life. the only thing he does consistently is attack along the right side of the paint, go up for a soft layup (regardless of how many defenders are in his way or how many open shooters he has to pass to), get blocked, and NOT get a call. if the thought ever occurred to him to drive AND KICK or even drop it off to a big man for a dunk, he might be a halfway decent primary ballhandler.

  • BC

    Decent starting PG.

    Only CP3, Deron Williams, and maybe Derrick Rose are franchise PGs these days (Nash, Billups, and others in the 32+ age are too close to retirement to be considered franchise players).

    Westbrook, Rondo, and maybe Steph Curry, Jennings and Stuckey are the 2nd tier — starters, but not the franchise.

  • jace

    you can call him the future pg of detroit.. but if hes a franchise player.. im a franchise player.

  • Mike

    The Pistons have never been a franchise player type of team even when they’ve won. Who was the franchise player on the ’04 squad? An argument could be made for Rip (leading scorer), Chauncey (offensive leader), or Ben (defensive anchor). The better argument is that there wasn’t a franchise player. Even back in the Bad Boys back-to-back era, as great as Isiah was it was Dumars who carried the Pistons through the finals to that first title. I don’t ever see Stuckey as a franchise player, but if Dumars builds another team in the mold of the Bad Boys and the mid-2000s squad he constructed, it’ll be fine.

  • Odeh

    Stuckey is the franchise player, but only if he is starting at the 2. When he started at the 2 in the middle of the season he averaged over 25 points during that stretch and his assists were up because he wasn’t running the offense, just making plays on instinct. He is one of the most efficient guards in the paint and can score at will when he drives because of his speed and ballhandling skills. Trade Rip for a Big man, move Stuckey to the 2 and get a 3 point shooting PG to open up the lanes for Stuck. BG will still get 30 min per game as the first guy of the bench.

  • http://Wazgood.com Tom

    Stuckey as stated by Odeh is a SHOOTING GUARD. He can be a Brandon Roy, or Dwayne Wade type with his ability to play point guard and take over games late.

    Stuckey had a low FG% this year because he took alot of long shots as shot clocks and game clocks expired. Also with injuried to Hamilton, Gordon, and Bynum. Stuckey was the vocal point of opposing teams defenses, and at one point Stuckey and Lebron actually guarded each other!

    Stuckey needs to be a starting PG, who play the point in a pinch, or slide over and play some on the wing. He needs a solid long range veteren point guard to play along side of him, and Ben Gordon. Will Bynum is a solid backup, but not so much starter material.

    Will can develop his game this summer and add some shooting range. Then a starting tandem of Bynum and Stuckey would work with Gordon as the 3rd guard. Since Stuckey can play BACKUP pg, but starting sg.

  • http://Wazgood.com Tom

    *********I meant to say needs to be a starting SG! sorry:(

  • Chad

    Bynum > stuckey @ PG
    gordan > stuckey @ sg