Pistons SRD Episode 1-Look To The Far East

Mike is joined by Roger as the guys break down the loss to the Magic, what solutions for the point guard for Reggie Jackson, Drummond’s growth and how many minutes should Ish Smith have.

SRD Roadshow-Manny being Manny, and that guy..softball guy.

On the latest SRD #roadshow, the crew talks about Manny Pacquiao’s recent comments, Fox’s Daytona Day spot, Pistons trade talk, misquoted bible talk, softball guy and more marine sea life talk.

Warning: Explicit Language used.

Building A Championship: Detroit Style

Editor’s Note: You can also see Ari’s work on www.fullcourtfreepress.com, and catch him on The Bad Boys Broadcast Tuesday nights on CaveRadioSports.com and later on SportsRadioDetroit.com


Whether it is by design or by coincidence, Stan Van Gundy is seemingly piecing together another Detroit Pistons core that consists of misfits and over looked talent and molding it into one cohesive defensive minded group. In the early 2000’s Pistons’ great Joe Dumars put together a roster that had seven straight seasons of 50-plus wins, six consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference Finals, two straight NBA Finals appearances and one World Championship led by cast-outs and even an undrafted undersized center with an afro.

That afro-donning, undrafted player was Ben Wallace. He went on to win four NBA defensive player of the year awards in five seasons, and his jersey now hangs in the Pistons’ rafters. Similarly, Chauncey Billups was highly touted out of college, but played for four different teams in six years before landing in Detroit as the focal point; his jersey now also hangs in the Pistons’ rafters.

 (Kevin Ward/Wikimedia Commons)

(Kevin Ward/Wikimedia Commons)

Since Van Gundy came to Detroit as president of basketball operations two years ago, he has overhauled the roster, keeping just two players from the previous regime: first time All-Star Andre Drummond and premier wing defender Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Van Gundy has only selected once in the first round of the NBA draft, Stanley Johnson, this past summer, and has completed plenty of transactions in his 21 month tenure.

Drummond just celebrated his first season as an NBA All Star. He is currently leading the NBA in total rebounds and is looking to be atop the league in offensive rebounding for a third consecutive season. In 2012 there was a lot of concern about Drummond’s general effort in pre-draft scouting, and even though his measurables were jaw-dropping at 6-foot 11-inches, 279-pounds and just 7.5-percent body fat, he fell to Detroit at ninth overall.

Van Gundy noticed striking similarities between he and Dwight Howard, whom he coached to the NBA Finals in Orlando, and he has centered the entire franchise around Drummond. Drummond, 22, is still on his rookie contract and will be signed long-term over the summer.

With a center to build around, Van Gundy pursued a point guard who can become the floor general for his vision on and off the floor. Oklahoma City had just the guard, and a player oozing with talent but never given the full opportunity due to being stuck behind a superstar in Russell Westbrook.

Reggie Jackson had asked for a trade from the Thunder and Van Gundy showed what would become a trend of his by extracting a talent from a team that had no use for it at a discounted rate. Jackson is a multi-faceted point guard who can hit a 3-point shot, drive hard to the lane, and additionally facilitate an offensive system.

Much like Drummond who slid down the draft board, Jackson was underutilized and at times looked over during his days in Oklahoma City. Van Gundy took a gamble on them and has given the opportunity of a lifetime to two snubbed players who are now able to forge their own destiny in Detroit.

Injecting confidence in Jackson and securing a young foundation for the future, Van Gundy signed his point guard over the summer to a five year, $80-million contract. The team was beginning to take shape, with a star in the making at center, and a solid young point guard ready to do whatever his coach asks of him.
Continuing with the trend of pilfering talented players by giving very little in return, Van Gundy added to his starting core by trading for Marcus Morris. Morris was hidden by his brother, Markieff in Phoenix and thus was never able to play up to his potential. Detroit sent a second round pick to be used in 2020 in return for Morris who has developed into a quality offensive player, a solid defender and a true leader in the locker room since joining the Pistons.

However, at the time there was plenty of turmoil and risk considering the Morris brothers took less money to play with one another as teammates. “Everybody knew how bad I wanted to play with my brother,” Marcus Morris said. “Phoenix knew. For them to trade me without consent or telling or anything like that was kind of like a, I would say slap in the face.”

Morris is now paired perfectly as a combo-forward alongside Caldwell-Pope and Pistons rookie Stanley Johnson for a lethal defensive rotation. More mastery came from Van Gundy this week as he made a move to add additional position versatility, while getting younger and doing it with a budget in mind.

With the NBA salary cap set to spike with every team obtaining salary space, the Pistons decided to opt out of the upcoming free agent bidding wars, and Van Gundy found his power forward of the future via trade for less than he would have spent in the open market. Sending expiring contracts of Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova to Orlando for 23-year-old Tobias Harris. The young core has now been cemented in Detroit.

The Pistons have true position flexibility alongside a dominant NBA center. Harris and Morris are athletic forwards who can play both on the wing and down low. Both players look to pair nicely alongside Caldwell-Pope and Johnson on both ends of the floor effectively being able to switch at the 2, the 3 and the 4 on defensive rotations for most every match-up against any team.

Jackson, Drummond, Harris, Johnson, Morris and KCP are all under the age of 27, and all are signed long term with an average age of just 23 years old. If you were to tell Detroit that in less than two years Van Gundy would renovate the Pistons core by giving up future second round picks, Brandon Jennings and some role players like Ilyasova, Kyle Singler and DJ Augustine to create the current youthful roster, there would assuredly be a collective sigh of relief among fans.

Stand Van Gundy by Keith Allison WikiCommons

(Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons)

Van Gundy pulled off yet another heist like he did last year on the day of the NBA trade deadline by bringing in a young talented restricted free agent to be. Last year it was Reggie Jackson, this year it is Houston’s Donatas Motiejunas. The 25-year-old power forward is one that Van Gundy has coveted since the summer, and shows early similarities to Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis who Van Gundy coached in Orlando.

Motiejunas will serve as a primary back up to both Harris and Morris at power forward and will continue the trend of allowing Van Gundy to mix and match his forwards with ease. Standing at 7-feet tall he has great defensive timing with his rotations, can be a solid shot blocker and ranks high in drawing charges. ‘

He is offensively gifted in the pick-and-roll, has a polished mid-range game, is a skilled passer and can step out and hit a 3-point attempt. All in all, Van Gundy has replaced Ersan Ilyasova with a younger, high upside version that he can sign long term this summer in Motiejunas via restricted free agency.

To come back to the championship comparisons of the ’04 Pistons title team and the 2009 Orlando Magic that Van Gundy coached to an NBA Finals. Andre Drummond’s game may well draw parallels to Dwight Howard as a player, but off the court, he fits the mold of a competitor who was overlooked and has battled hard to prove his critics wrong, much like the beloved Pistons of old.

Reggie Jackson had been passed over for his entire career before coming to Detroit. Much like his predecessor Billups did, Jackson has found himself closing out games and hitting Big Shots for the Pistons now that he has the confidence of a team to allow him to be who he was always meant to be.

The Pistons’ wing combination of KCP and Stanley Johnson is starting to shape up as a lethal defensive version of Tayshaun Prince which is proven to be so essential to a contending team in today’s NBA. Morris and Harris have the ability to stretch the defense, rebound, get much-needed baskets and they have the fiery spirit much like Rasheed Wallace brought to the table in 2004. Both Morris and Harris were buried on the bench at times in their previous stops, hindering their opportunity to make something of themselves in this league early in their careers.

With all the pieces of the puzzle coming together, who better to execute Van Gundy’s vision on the court other than Van Gundy himself? Being president and coach is a daunting task that only a few are given, but when you have confidence in the system, and the ability to acquire the players that you feel will most perfectly fit the mold, then as Van Gundy is showing in Detroit, your vision can become a reality

His plan all along has been to obtain high character, high IQ players who play tough and play with heart. Guys who fit his offensive and defensive system and that can play alongside Pistons All-Star Andre Drummond. Little did he know, or perhaps he was aware the whole time, he has perfectly crafted a cast of players that fit the mold of previous Detroit Basketball championship teams.

Detroit has not made the post season since 2009 and the city is hungry for another set of unique players that can bring excitement back to the city. Fans can finally get behind their team because this young core of players will be representing Detroit Basketball for a long time. Perhaps once you get to know their individual stories you will get a familiar feeling, a sense of nostalgia for the good old days.


Live in the Pizzacave: Madonna University’s two newest broadcasters

From Saturday, January 16th, Roger, Fredi and Pete are joined with Brendan Johnson and Jeremy Otto of Madonna UniversityPIZZACAVESRD LOGO (1) to talk the Detroit Red Wings recent road trip, Ben Wallace going up to the rafters at the Palace and more.






PISTONS SRD: Morris, Baynes May Give Van Gundy Hope in 2015

(Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons)

(Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons)

In this episode of Pistons SRD, Roger Castillo is joined by guest co-hosts Eric Constantini and Doug Branson of Hive Talk (SB Nation). Topics include the NBA draft, the Pistons trade for Marcus Morris, and whose made the most of free-agency so far this off-season.