Pistons: Win with Youth

From the Truehoop Bullets today:

  • The 9-22 Pistons are still deciding whether to focus on winning now or playing their young guys as much as possible.

Following that link:

Honestly, I’m surprised Lawrence Frank even accepted the premise of the question. He’s usually so insistent about always playing to win in the present, I figured he’d never acknowledge the Pistons would even consider discussing the idea of a youth movement. So, I guess this is a sign of progress.

I'm rather surprised too. But then, that's because I think the Pistons strategy should be to play their youngest player (Andre Drummond) as much as possible right now, but not in the name of a "youth movement", but because he's their best player. Maybe they are trying to keep Drummond's contract extension in 4 years cheaper by preventing him from winning the rookie of the year award and 2 all-star births in his first 3 years (the so-called "Derrick Rose" rule that allows a player to sign a bigger max extension).

  POS Min WP48 PoP48 Wins PTS DRB ORB REB AST TO BLK STL PF
Drummond C 599 .330 7.2 4.1 17.1 10.2 7.2 17.4 1.1 2.1 3.8 2.0 4.6
Average C C 590 .099 0.0 1.2 18.9 8.7 4.3 13.0 2.6 2.8 2.2 1.2 4.8
  FG% 2FG% 3FG% FT% eFG% TS% FGA 3FGA PPS FTA
Drummond 57.1% 57.2% 50.0% 40.6% 57.5% 55.7% 12.9 0.2 1.32 5.5
Average C 49.9% 50.7% 28.8% 68.6% 50.5% 54.1% 15.2 0.5 1.25 5.2

It's now been 600 minutes. Drummond has been playing like a beast. His numbers in rebounding, blocking shots, getting steals, and avoiding fouls are fantastic (to be above average in fouls as a rookie while blocking 4 shots/48? Amazing!). His rookie season compares favorably to Dwight Howard at this point. Hell, these numbers are better than Dwight's rookie season and compare favorably to his fourth season!

Ok, he's a terrible free throw shooter. Get over it. Fine, play him heavy minutes in Q1-Q3 then. He's hardly the first big man to have trouble in this department, it shouldn't be that hard to coach around. At this point, there is simply zero evidence on the court that whatever secret knowledge that Frank thinks he sees in practice actually reflects the truth. His recent spin about how "there are certain things the numbers don't tell you" sounds suspiciously like code-speech for "I better make up some stuff about why I haven't been playing him or I'm going to look as stupid as Kurt Rambis did for benching Kevin Love all the time."

This isn't rocket science. Dominant big men win NBA games, and Drummond looks like a dominant big man so far. Playing your best guys generally wins more games than playing your oldest guys unless you're coaching the Spurs.

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