Sunday, April 13, 2008

Props to Joe Dumars

Don’t know if anyone has noticed, but Detroit has themselves a pretty nice young bench.

Yesterday against the Raps, with 4:43 to go, Jarvis Hayes checked in for Lindsey Hunter. At 26, he was the oldest Piston on the court. The rest of the youngins joining him:

Aaron Afflalo 22
Amir Johnson 20
Jason Maxiell 25
Rodney Stuckey 21

The Pistons were up 83-75 at the time, and the lead had only been 6 three minutes earlier when Johnson came in for Ratliff. They held on to win 91-84. That Flip Saunders left crunch time in the hands of two rookies (Stuckey, Afflalo) and three other guys with not much more service time is significant.

Was it a meaningless game? Maybe. The Raps didn’t have a shot at the 4 seed because of Cleveland’s head-to-head tiebreaker and maybe they don’t have a preference who they face between Detroit, Orlando, and Cleveland.

But maybe not. They did have Ford, Calderon, and Bosh on the floor at the end of the game and couldn’t chip away at the Pistons' lead. Regardless of just how hard the Raps were playing it, the youngins’ performance in this game isn’t the ultimate point. Rather, the game was representative of the kids' success, and a pointer to the Pistons' future.

Maxiell has established himself as their sixth man, and Stuckey and Jarvis Hayes get the 7th and 8th most minutes, respectively.

While this may not be indicative of their playoff minutes, as those will likely skew to the older guys (more time for Ratliff and Hunter), the point is that the Pistons bench is very young, and possibly primed to take over the reigns once the current group tires.

Credit goes to Joe Dumars for not having any high picks and still doing so well. These guys have been to the Eastern Conference Finals 5 years running, so naturally their draft position hasn’t been anything to get excited about. Look at where Dumars grabbed these guys. None higher than Stuckey at 15, and even as low as Amir Johnson at 56. And everyone just keep in mind how little value there is to be had outside the lottery. Maybe in a year or two people will consider forgiving him for Darko, and years from now it’ll be the only blotch on an otherwise impeccable resume.

I think its fair to say that the Pistons have only 2 years left with their current core. Sheed’s contract is up next year and Rip’s is up in ’10. They’ll be 34 and 32 respectively at the end of each of those. Even if those guys have something left in the tank after playing close to a 100 games a year for maybe as many as 8 consecutive years, and are re-signed for reasonable money at a reasonable length, Chauncey’s recent deal will then expire in ’11 and then Rip will be the youngest of the three at a spry 33.

So its safe to say that that group’s window is closing. But I think the Detroit fans will have it good for years to come.

They’ve already maintained without Ben Wallace, after they let him leave when he became too old and too pricey. In part, because of Maxiell, and to a lesser degree Johnson (1.29 bpg at only 12 mpg). In Afflalo and Stuckey (look at how Stuckey has responded to more minutes in April) they perhaps have the backcourt to replace Rip and Chauncey, and the 28 year old Tayshaun* (signed through ’11) will be the bridge.

No, I’m not going so far as to predict anything big, because that would be withholding the current group’s just due; what they've accomplished will be tough to match, plus who knows how these kids will pan out. I’m just giving props to Joe Dumars and the Pistons for drafting well and being able to account for the present as well as the future without sacrificing one at the expense of the other.

So no, there aren’t any guarantees of everlasting success, but we can expect Dumars to continue to draft well. And what they do have is promise, and options, and very few teams can claim that in tandem with present-day title hopes.

*Dumars also snagged Prince with the 23rd pick in 2002.


  1. it's some ShepherdsApril 25, 2008 at 3:40 AM

    great article aaron.

  2. "very few teams can claim that in tandem with present-day title hopes." BAM. that's a powerful point is all i'm sayin.