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Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond might be better off taking turns with Pistons

Oct 31, 2013, 6:30 PM EDT

Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, Josh Smith, Maurice Cheeks AP

Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond – arguably the NBA’s most intriguing front line – combined for 55 points, 29 rebounds and nine assists in the Pistons’ season-opening victory over the Wizards.

That alone doesn’t answer all the questions about how they fit together, but it at least quells some of the doubt.

However, the trio’s success didn’t all come together. The Pistons outscored the Wizards when the three played together, but Detroit actually played better when one – and exactly one – sat.

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Of course, that doesn’t tell the whole story. There are three different two-big groups the Pistons can use and three different one-big groups. Here’s how each that Maurice Cheeks used against Washington performed:

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It’s important to remember this is a small sample, and Cheeks is using lineups that he believes have the best chance given whom the opponent has on the floor. We need a lot more data before drawing any conclusions.

But the early returns support what many, myself included, believed before the season. The primary value of having Smith, Monroe and Drummond comes from putting two of them on the court for most of the game rather than using all three at once. There are times when all three sharing the court is advantageous, but that’s secondary, and if the Pistons rely on using all three at once, it could be problematic.

It’s early, though, and this is just one data of point of many yet to come.

  1. wingsfan97 - Oct 31, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    They should trade Monroe for a true small forward unless those three learn to dominate together

  2. sellahh - Oct 31, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    Damn I love those bleacher-like reports that use meaningless charts that are made solely to prove one’s point. Washington sucked, their coach sucked, u go against Drummond/Monroe/Smith and u start Booker/Nene? Gortat played 20 mins and he got like 8 boards, he rebouned a few misses and scoures.. Pistons gonna need to do much better against teams not coached by Randy ‘clueless’ Wittman.

    • fredgb21 - Nov 1, 2013 at 12:32 AM

      Typical simple minded hindsight fan who thinks that because x happened, z was clearly the answer. Its always the play calling or the lineup. (ps Gortat’s been in Washington less than a week)

  3. kingwithringz - Oct 31, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    @Sellah Sir, it is called being professional. Thats what the charts and reports are for.

    • detectivejimmymcnulty - Oct 31, 2013 at 7:14 PM

      Well he has a little bit of a point. Before reading the comments I thought making charts for one games worth of data was a little crazy.

      • eugenesaxe1 - Oct 31, 2013 at 7:34 PM

        Indeed.

      • jerrific3 - Nov 1, 2013 at 12:05 AM

        He did clarify that this is only one game, therefore too small of a sample size to truly say anything definitively. Would you prefer he just talked about how they were better in single pairs without backing it up with any numbers at all?

  4. fredgb21 - Nov 1, 2013 at 12:27 AM

    The NBA isn’t a video game, especially in the frontcourt, especially among bigs. There’s always going to be a revolving door on the floor. Bigs, especially the size of Drummond and Monroe do not play guard like minutes. They’re usually limited to 30-34 mpg.

    There’s is enough time in an NBA game for 3 bigs to play 30-34 mpg at just PF and C spots, forget SF. So clearly the pistons were always planning on having a ‘ROTATION’ where Monroe still plays a lot of C and Smith plays a lot of PF. I didnt know this was a new take, it was obvious.

  5. bugsygod - Nov 1, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    Does Josh Smith really look like a PF? I thought Atlanta was always critized as being a undersized team, because Josh and Al Horford were undersized for their positions. I love the fit of Josh here, he so versatile.

  6. bugsygod - Nov 1, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    So in other words Coach Cheeks used the players properly? The Pistons have a great advantage with there front line.

    My question to you Dan Feldman….Why trade Monroe instead of Smith? Because you just signed him should not be a reasonable excuse. It should be based on keeping the better players, which i think Monroe is the better player. The best part of signing Smith is that(as you have mentioned several times) he is now an asset. So as an asset, he holds value around the league and good bring the SF with shooting range that everyone wants, to balance the team.

    This team will win at least 45 games this year and be a tough out in the playoffs as currently constructed. Add an elite SF and this team becomes a championship contender. Im keeping Monroe and finding a taker for smith at the end of the year.

  7. bugsygod - Nov 1, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    My question to you Dan Feldman….Why trade Monroe instead of Smith? Because you just signed him should not be a reasonable excuse. It should be based on keeping the better players, which i think Monroe is the better player. The best part of signing Smith is that(as you have mentioned several times) he is now an asset. So as an asset, he holds value around the league and good bring the SF with shooting range that everyone wants, to balance the team.

  8. pbtunpaidwriter - Nov 2, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    How do you calculate plus-minus per 48 minutes?

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