All due respect to the L.A. Clippers, but the Detroit Pistons are clearly the best 0-4 team in the NBA.
As pointed out in this week’s Dime NBA Power Ranking, Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon have formed perhaps the League’s most explosive backcourt so far this season, and six Pistons are averaging double-figure scoring. Two of their losses were by a combined four points, and Detroit was up 15 on the Bulls in the fourth quarter before losing another one. The Pistons are talented in the backcourt and frontcourt — to the point where two-time NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady can’t even crack the regular rotation — but things are already beginning to unravel going into tonight’s game against the undefeated Atlanta Hawks. From the Detroit Free-Press:
In contrast to the tight ship that president of basketball operations Joe Dumars usually prefers, second-year Pistons coach John Kuester and forward Tayshaun Prince engaged in a public display of finger-pointing after Wednesday night’s 109-86 clubbing courtesy of the Boston Celtics.
Kuester said there is a leadership void among the players, and Prince said he’s partially right — but the onus of the team’s 0-4 start is on Kuester, as well.
The first salvo was fired after the team blew a 21-point lead at Chicago on Saturday night and Ben Gordon said: “Whatever it is, I just didn’t have enough opportunities. I’m not sure why.”
Gordon was held scoreless in the second half after a 21-point first half, and he watched Bulls superstar Derrick Rose run wild as he scored a career-high 39 points.
“I just feel we didn’t make the right adjustments as a team,” Gordon said. “Derrick was really hot, and it seemed like he could do whatever he wanted. We just need to try to take something away from him when he has it going like that.”
And then here comes Kuester after the Celtics loss.
“We have to collectively someway or somehow find another voice besides my own that is going to lead us.”
And here comes Prince.
“He’s right, but at the same time it goes both ways. We can sit here and continue to get on each other and be vocal, but like I said, the right thing has got to come from him as well as us.
“It goes both ways. He says we got to be more vocal; he has to do some things better, too. Obviously we’re 0-4, so it ain’t just the team.”
The last time there was public beef between Pistons players and coaches, Michael Curry found himself fired after one year with the team, during which the Allen Iverson experiment failed, Rip Hamilton became disgruntled with his role, and the Pistons were smashed in the first round of the playoffs. Last year, under Kuester, the team missed the postseason.
As Dumars continues to attempt rebuilding without actually purging the leftovers from the 2004 NBA championship team, chemistry has become a delicate balancing act. Free-Press writer Vince Ellis notes there is a disconnect between the older players and younger players on the roster, and now cracks are showing in player-coach relations. This isn’t the “where drama happens” reality they were hoping for in Detroit.
Can the Pistons make the playoffs in 2011?