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All the new pieces in Detroit not fitting together well

Nov 13, 2013, 4:34 PM EDT

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

When the Detroit Pistons went out to get Josh Smith to pair with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, then added Brandon Jennings to the backcourt, it looked like they had something. It looked like they had a playoff team.

Instead the Pistons are off to a bumpy 2-5 start and they have the worst defense in the NBA through seven games.

Then Tuesday night Josh Smith got benched after playing just 18 minutes and scoring just two points.

Coach Mo Cheeks is looking for answers but there simply are no easy ones.

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The problem is the Smith, Monroe Drummond combination is a disaster defensively — when they are on the court together they are a -34, opponents are shooting 51 percent, they give up 116.9 points per 100 possessions (for comparison, the Bobcats had the worst defense in the NBA last season at 108.9) and are a -15.7 points per 100 possessions. Those numbers are via John Schuhmann at who went on to say this:

There are a bunch of issues that need to be cleaned up. It starts with transition, where Monroe is particularly slow. He also struggles to contain ball-handlers on pick-and-rolls. Smith and Drummond can be too aggressive, often biting on pump fakes or sacrificing rebounding position by trying for blocks. And sometimes, the problem is with the backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Chauncey Billups, a pair of liabilities in their own right.

Cheeks threw out Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Singler in the second half Tuesday night looking for answers. Any answers.

Cheeks needs to experiment with various twosomes of that three man front line to see if something clicks. He needs to throw different backcourt combos out there with them. He needs to throw everything against the wall and see what sticks.

It’s far too early to give up on that front line combination and on the Pistons playoff dreams. There is a lot of season left. But I don’t envy the job of Cheeks trying to figure out what works.

  1. spursareold - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    The only surprise is that they are failing on defense. Everyone knew that trio would struggle with spacing the floor. Shooting beyond 12 feet, none of them could hit water if they fell out of a boat.

  2. telldatruth - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    This team can shoot a ball in ocean! Smith signing has been terrible thus far. Gores demanding a playoffs was the worst thing that could happen to this team. They need to taint so they can get a legit superstar. Nothing sure if Cheeks coaching is the answer too

  3. asimonetti88 - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    Why not do what the Lakers used to do with Pau, Bynum and Lamar? Pau and Bynum played together much less than people think, the most effective lineups were Bynum/Odom or Pau/Odom… the Pistons should look at finding ways to mimic that… with Smith playing the Odom role, Monroe playing the Gasol role and Drummond playing the Bynum role…

    • spursareold - Nov 13, 2013 at 5:11 PM

      Odom had range out to the 3 point arc. Smith can’t shoot.

      • asimonetti88 - Nov 13, 2013 at 5:13 PM

        Fair enough, but with Smith playing the 4 in those lineups it’s easier to tell him to stay away from the three, whereas when he’s playing SF he should be able to stray out there.

  4. rdssc - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    It is about time teams stop hiring cheeks as a HC, guy is horrible.

  5. tigers182 - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    Have you seen their schedule this far?

  6. zerole00 - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    The problem is the Smith, Monroe Drummond combination is a disaster defensively — when they are on the court together they are a -34, opponents are shooting 51 percent, they give up 116.9 points per 100 possessions (for comparison, the Bobcats had the worst defense in the NBA last season at 108.9) and are a -15.7 points per 100 possessions.

    Small sample size, but this is hilarious.

  7. reasonablemindsays - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    Anyone who understands basketball could have seen this coming.

    You simply can’t have three big men on the floor at the same time. It’s the NBA. Teams love to space the floor and run pick and rolls. That’s why teams love going with small lineups for important defensive possessions. Even teams that love big men like the Pacers and Bulls still only have 2 on the floor at most. Smith is a 4, not a 3. Trade the overrated Monroe for a legitimate 3 like Evan Turner. Move Smith to the 4. Start Caldwell-Pope and have him develop by playing more minutes instead of the ancient Billups.

    That way you can have a line-up that looks like this:
    1- Jennings
    2- Caldwell-Pope
    3- Turner
    4- Smith
    5- Drummond

    You could honestly pull any homeless crackhead off the street and they could do a better job than some of these NBA GMs.

    • spursareold - Nov 13, 2013 at 5:15 PM

      lol. Turner is shooting 19% from 3 this year and can’t space the floor any more than the 3 players named in this article. He did shoot average last year at 36%, but that was obviously an outlier. You should never acquire a player based on a one year outlier stat.

    • unfrozencavemanlawyer2 - Nov 13, 2013 at 7:08 PM

      That would be a decent lineup- but where’s the shooting going to come from? Pope only- I presume. Jennings, Smith and Turner are all chuckers. They’d be fighting each other for contested shots- like Gay and DeRozan do.

  8. mimaiheatdynasty - Nov 13, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Why does it seem like a lot of NBA teams are panicking? We aren’t even 10 games into the season!!

  9. wingsfan97 - Nov 13, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    Trade Monroe for a true small forward

    • johnlongdongsilver - Nov 13, 2013 at 6:40 PM

      Trade Greg Monroe for Danny Granger of the Pacers. Some other posters should chime in to give their opinions about how to make the salary cap work, since I am not sure how this transaction would impact either team’s current financial positions.

      • johnlongdongsilver - Nov 13, 2013 at 6:41 PM

        Maybe Indiana could include Luis Scola, a few picks, and Detroit could include Chauncey Billups and a small forward such as Singler.

  10. kclanton80 - Nov 13, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    This is just shocking!!!!! I can’t believe this dysfunctional group of misfits and sub par head coach haven’t materialized into a perennial powerhouse!! Seriously, who does Joe Dumars have naked pictures of to keep his job?? He has made mistake after mistake after mistake. Trading Chancey Billups for a washed up Iverson. Keeping Rip Hamilton and Taysaun price long after they had any value as trade assets. Hiring a yes man retread of a head coach that has yet to have any success in the league. And the greatest gem is hiring Rasheed freaking wallace as an assistant coach!!! The poster child for lack of desire and disciple.Yes he helped assemble a championship team almost 10 years ago!! But its clearly time for a change. rant concluded

  11. edwardemanuelson - Nov 13, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    Gee, I cannot believe a team with both Smith and Jennings is struggling.

    I’d be thrilled for my Spurs to take Monroe off their hands, for some change.

  12. eugenesaxe1 - Nov 13, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    “Cheeks needs to experiment with various twosomes of that three man front line to see if something clicks. ”

    Someone on another site already did the research. Any combination of two of those 3 works better than all 3.

  13. joerymi - Nov 13, 2013 at 11:58 PM

    This is the equivalent of dooming a major league baseball team’s season after 2 1/2 innings.

    • sportsfan18 - Nov 14, 2013 at 3:01 AM

      Geez, Americans really are math challenged.

      9 games of an 82 game schedule in the NBA equates to 160 innings in a 162 game MLB season.

      • joerymi - Nov 15, 2013 at 12:04 PM

        And hyperbole to make an obvious point is lost on others. Now we will see if you can find a dictionary as quick as a calculator. And go…

  14. jimsjam33 - Nov 14, 2013 at 2:14 AM

    The problem is at the two guard . Chauncey Billups is a major liability as he cannot shoot or play defense anymore . When is Cheeks going to acknowledge this liability instead of playing him 15 to 20 minutes a game without production . Billups was sensational in 1997 when he came into the league . That was 16 years ago . He’s finished . He cost the Clippers a second round playoff series last year . Waive him now .

  15. uncleanesthesia - Nov 14, 2013 at 5:15 AM

    Chauncey is completely washed up and Smith is well on his way to becoming one of my least favorite Pistons ever. Looks like it could be another brutal season here.

  16. joerymi - Nov 15, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    Billups is certainly a liability, and choosing to utilize him is a reason to criticize Cheeks. Cheeks needs to show fortitude, and do what is best for the team.

    While I understand sports is instant and no perspective is usually given in regard to a season, I feel as though this team is being buried far before we truly know what they are.

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