Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gordon Joins Hamilton, Prince On Pistons' Shelf

Pistons guard Ben Gordon sprained his ankle last night in Detroit's home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He becomes the third player to join the team's sidelines, next to fellow swingmen Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince.

The Pistons are on a six-game losing streak, and they've played inconsistent on both ends of the floor even with Gordon. Now they'll be without their top three scorers for at least the near future as Gordon's day-to-day, while Hamilton and Prince are still out indefinitely.

On the bright side, these injuries have allowed other players to step up and gain experience on the court, such as Detroit's three rookies Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers and Jonas Jerebko, who has been starting at small forward in place of Prince. Likewise, reserve guard Will Bynum has emerged as one of the best bench scorers in the NBA, something the Pistons had hoped Gordon could provide while backing up Hamilton at shooting guard.

Unfortunately, Detroit will have to search hard to find enough offense to replace all three scorers as long as they're out. The team has struggled to get consistency out of its big men, particularly the reserves. Charlie Villanueva has been solid at both ends of the floor as the starting power forward, and Ben Wallace - though offensively challenged - has reestablished himself as one of the best interior defenders in the league after nearly retiring this summer before deciding to sign with the Pistons for the minimum. However, bench players Kwame Brown, Chris Wilcox and Jason Maxiell have been shaky in the time they've been on the floor, and the team's going to need more scoring out of this group to compensate for the injuries.

If the Pistons have any chance of turning this season around, it might be in the best interest for Joe Dumars, Pistons President, to find a more-versatile pivot man to hold down the middle both offensively and defensively. Again, it can't be stressed enough how vital Wallace has been in leading this young team, setting an example in showing teammates how to win by playing hard and never quitting. However, what the Pistons need most right now is a better all-around center who can better complement Villanueva's versatility.

Just who that center may be and what it would take to bring him in remains to be seen. What's clear is that the Pistons are moving in a new direction. John Kuester, Pistons Head Coach, reminds the press after every game that the team is a work-in-progress, and it's obvious that the number-one goal right now is evaluating Detroit's youth. Therefore, trading Hamilton and/or Prince could be in the best interest of all parties, assuming that could help bring in an All-Star type big man. Then again, not many teams are likely lining up right now for two injured, aging veterans.

For the time being, the Pistons will continue to focus on growing, developing and continuing to play hard no matter what. Their intensity this season has shown the kind of fire Detroit fans haven't seen since the team's back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 2004 and 2005. Here's to hoping they're able to put their best players on the floor as much as possible, as soon as possible.

Steve St-Pierre
Sports Writer
In Play! Magazine


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