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Stan Van Gundy wants to keep Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe together

May 31, 2014, 6:29 PM EDT

Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond

Last season when Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond were both on the court for the Detroit Pistons, the team scored at a clip of 103.8 points per 100 possessions, which is nearly 1 point better than the Pistons team average. They looked better when not there with Josh Smith.

Problem was, Detroit gave up a whopping 110.2 per 100 when those two were paired.

A year ago Drummond and Monroe were seen as the front court of the future for Detroit, then now deposed Joe Dumars decided to help everything out by adding Josh Smith to the mix. That worked out about as well as Caddyshack II. The offense had no flow and it was worse on defense where the trio allowed 110.5 per 100 when on the court together.

Stan Van Gundy wants to get back to what works — and he thinks the Drummond/Monroe combo works. He wants to keep Monroe (a restricted free agent) with the Pistons and play him more with Drummond. That’s what he told the Pistons’ official Web site.

“I think it is an ideal pairing,” he said. “If I look at just the film I’ve watched now and looking at the numbers, you would say that Greg and Andre together were great offensively. That was a great combination on the offensive end of the floor, especially when the three guys around them were shooters — more conventional perimeter types. That worked very, very well. Now, it didn’t work very well defensively. I think it puts a lot of responsibility on Greg Monroe to have to guard out on the perimeter.

“But I think there are things we can do in terms of schemes and things that would make it a little easier on Greg to make that unit better defensively and then take advantage of the offensive end of the floor.

“In the things we’ve studied — when you look at our three frontline guys, there’s your strength — but when you study it, when you play two of those three guys together, the Pistons were a very good team, at least last year. When you played all three of them together, they really struggled.”

That presents two challenges for Van Gundy.

First is keeping Monroe — the big man with a good outside touch (he shot 48.9 percent on midrange baseline jumpers last season) plus deft passing skills —  has a lot of fans in front offices around the league. Someone is going to come hard at him this July — like max contract hard. Or close to it. The Pistons have the cap room to match right now, but that could make things tight in a couple years when they start having to pay Andre Drummond max money, also. Basically, three front line guys all on eight digit salaries makes it hard to build a team. Someone eventually has to go and that could be Monroe because of the contract situation.

The other trick is how he gets the Smith/Drummond/Monroe trio to work. The obvious idea here is to not play any of them together, but which one are you going to bring off the bench? Can’t be Drummond, he’s the best of the three. Do you think Smith would handle that well (he’d just come in, dominate the ball and fire up shots indiscriminately more than he already does). That might leave Monroe, the guy you’re about to give a massive contract to.

(If you’re thinking, “just trade Smith” remember he is owed $40.5 million over the next three years, an anchor contract that the Pistons can only trade if they give the other team something of real value just to take it on.)

There are no easy solutions, but that’s why Van Gundy is getting the big bucks.

But clearly Van Gundy wants Monroe to be part of the answer in Detroit.

  1. saint1997 - May 31, 2014 at 6:53 PM

    SVG is a smart man – a skeptic would say he’s doing this to drive Monroe’s trade status up so he has more value. I think if he is being genuine, they just have to find someone to take Smith. I mean he’s no awful player – just need someone with cap room (maybe Dallas/Washington)

    • muathjam21 - May 31, 2014 at 7:07 PM

      Doubt anyone’s gonna take on Smith.

      An interesting trade would be GSW sending David Lee to the Pistons for Greg Monroe and Charlie Villanueva. Detroit gets a guy that should be able to play well with Drummond in the front court and they get rid of CV’s contract, and GSW gets a PF of the future without throwing the farm at Minnesota for K-Love.

      • weaselpuppy - May 31, 2014 at 7:37 PM

        CVs contract is up, he and Stuckey are FA.

    • irvfin3 - Jun 2, 2014 at 6:54 PM

      Nah Dallas doesn’t need another PF like Smith for the next 2 years! They need a center BAD!!!

  2. spyder9669 - May 31, 2014 at 7:05 PM

    They will never have to pay Drummond max money. He’s an average player.

    • ss3walkman - May 31, 2014 at 8:50 PM

      Drummond will be the best and/or most dominant center in the league soon. Believe that!

    • ProBasketballPundit - May 31, 2014 at 9:23 PM

      But he’s a GREAT free throw shooter! Chris Dudleyesque

    • muhangis - Jun 2, 2014 at 2:03 AM

      Lol obviously you don’t know crap about basketball, maybe run your mouth on the ‘sewing’ boards instead. Do you know with the minutes/playing time Drummond gets on the court, how condensed it is with production?!?! VERY much so! AND HE’S ONLY 20 YEARS OLD last season!!!!

      Dwight Howard, Duncan, Garnett, you name em, wasn’t doing what this guy’s doing at the age of 20 in the NBA!

      ..think again fool.

      • marcuspokus - Jun 2, 2014 at 8:21 PM

        Damn right! Drummond is already a beast and he’s basically an NBA rugrat. I’m afraid to think how good he’ll get in a couple of years with SVG at the helm, helping him improve. Pistons will be watchable next season.

    • muhangis - Jun 2, 2014 at 2:05 AM

      And he’s been the Piston’s best defensive player the last two years! Again, I hate to beat a drum… This guys barely out of his teenage years for God sake*

  3. weaselpuppy - May 31, 2014 at 7:40 PM

    The more likely JSmoove trade scenario is they take back a zero player in their last year with a similar number and give up talent. He can play, but he’s a terrible fit in Detroit. Bargnani, Amare Stoudamire, Garnett, Nash….even if they had to eat 2 years and take back Gerald Wallace….

  4. tuberippin - May 31, 2014 at 8:13 PM

    Everyone always talks about Josh Smith’s contract being untradeable.

    Let’s always remember that someone traded for Gilbert Arenas on a max contract, after knee surgeries, in the wake of a gun scandal. If that dude could get traded, anyone is tradeable, regardless of the size of the contract. The devil is in the details.

  5. eugenesaxe1 - May 31, 2014 at 8:28 PM

    You tell Smith he can be 2nd team, or he can stay home until he’s traded. SVG has a mess to clean up, that’s the best place to start. You don’t break up Monroe/Drummond.

  6. mungman69 - Jun 1, 2014 at 3:00 AM

    Detroit has lots of talent but these guys have trouble playing together.

  7. fredgb21 - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:47 AM

    What is totally bogus is that Smith has no value and you have to give him away and take on bad deals in return.

    That idea is extended by the short sighted sports media and not by people who know the NBA well. Smith is still a valuable PF in his prime and his contract is not anywhere near the very top paid players, and its not an ‘anchor’ contract, its flat. And he only has 3 yrs left, all of which will be in his prime. He’s an energy do-it-all PF, there is always a market for that, he played out of position.

    I don’t think you need to trade Smith, I would test him off the bench, because I think he could be great there. And I think you’re not going to get equal value, i’d argue a great 30 mpg PF off the bench is more valuable than most any starting wing of comparable abilities. But if Smith wont play off the bench of it creates issues, you absolutely can trade him for value and not have to just dump him.

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