The Whiteboard: Pistons, All-Star picks, NBA Draft Big Board and more

Today on The Whiteboard, positive developments for the Pistons, All-Star selections, perfect NBA product placements and more.

Detroit Pistons v Milwaukee Bucks
Detroit Pistons v Milwaukee Bucks / John Fisher/GettyImages
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It's been a rough go for the Pistons. Since breaking their historic 28-game losing streak against the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 30, they've gone just 2-10 with their only wins coming against other historically awful teams — the Wizards and Hornets.

However, there are, finally some positive signs of development.

Jaden Ivery and Cade Cunningham may have turned the corner

Jaden Ivey had an impressive rookie season with Cunningham out of the lineup recovering from surgery. However, his place in the rotation was unexpectedly small to start the season — coming off the bench for the first nine games and averaging just over 20 minutes per game.

Ivey is not a reliable outside shooter at this point in his career and with the Pistons desperately needing spacing, something had to give. However, Ivey can contribute in a lot of other ways and it was frustrating (for both Pistons fans and certainly for Ivey) to frequently see Isaiah Livers and Killian Hayes getting what could have been his minutes.

But Ivey was inserted into the starting lineup for good on Dec. 18 and over the 18 games since, he's averaging 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists, shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from beyond the arc. His jump-shooting efficiency still leaves a lot to be desired but he's creating positive plays on offense with his physical tools and finishing.

The other big development has been Cade Cunningham's efficiency. He was putting up big box score numbers right from the beginning of the season but really struggled to finish in the first few weeks — raising questions about whether he really could handle the primary creation load for a competitive team.

But if we divide his season into 15-game buckets, we see he's continued to improve and is currently playing the best basketball of his career.

For the season, he's averaging 22.8 points, 7.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game, with a 54.4 true shooting percentage. The efficiency is not elite, but it's functional and getting better.

The Pistons still have a long way to go before they're competitive but those foundational building blocks — Ivey, Cunningham, Jalen Duren, Ausar Thompson — are starting to look like they're worth investing in again. The timeline might not be what they hoped when the season began, but it's telling that those four are now considered untouchable in trade talks as the Pistons look to deal their veterans for a reset.


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Oct 26, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) meets with Los
Oct 26, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) meets with Los / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

NBA All-Star starters announced

The NBA announced the results of All-Star voting last night and the five starters for each conference. They were light on surprises but we did see Damian Lillard nab a starting spot in the East over Jalen Brunson and Trae Young. In the West, Steph Curry missed out on a starting spot for the first time in a healthy season in nearly a decade. Here are the full starters:

NBA All-Star Starters: Eastern Conference

  • Tyrese Haliburton
  • Damian Lillard
  • Jayson Tatum
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Joel Embiid

NBA All-Star Starters: Western Conference

  • Luka Doncic
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
  • Kevin Durant
  • LeBron James
  • Nikola Jokic

LeBron James was the leading vote-getter in both conferences, receiving a record 20th-consecutive All-Star starting nod. The reserves will be announced Thursday, Feb. 1, also on the NBA on TNT pregame show.

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Oct 20, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Detroit Pistons head coach Monty Williams and guard Cade
Oct 20, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Detroit Pistons head coach Monty Williams and guard Cade / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Three: Kyle Delaney on the Pistons, Deo-Durant and the Bucks being unreasonably reasonable

Kyle Delaney joined our FanSided NBA team in August and has brought wit, humor and panache to important stories like Jimmy Butler's country albumRussell Westbrook's self-awareness and the athletic benefits of darkness retreats.

Kyle joins us today to answer three big questions on the Pistons, NBA product pitches and head coaches the Bucks may have overlooked. You can read more of his work here.

1. What would make a bigger impact for the Pistons over the rest of the season — big trades or a big coaching change?

I've talked about this with friends, people who I consider ball-knowers, and one of them made an observation that has stuck in my mind ever since. He said, "trading dudes in the building for draft capital or getting vets doesn’t mean s*** to me at this point if it’s going to look like this schematically night to night." Though I'd argue that Troy Weaver, our General Manager, is in the hottest seat of all. I would say a coaching change would make more of an impact.

Weaver has to do a better job of bringing the right talent together, but Monty is responsible for getting players to buy in. Considering the Pistons' atrocious record and their bottom-of-the-barrel offensive and defensive ratings, it's safe to say that hasn't happened yet.

Essentially, you have to remember — Monty Williams inherited this group of players. He didn't draft anybody on this roster. These players were handed to him, and so far the disconnect has been disappointingly obvious. After all, it's not like he's a young coach still trying to figure things out. In fact, I'm pretty sure he's the third highest-paid coach in the league. I am not a fan of coaching changes in the middle of the season. However, if the Pistons ever want to be taken seriously, they need to find a way to convey that they're not happy with where they're at as a team, strategically.

2. In a recent piece, you alluded to a friend's idea for t. What's the second-best product idea based on an NBA pun you've ever heard?

Though it's not as good as DeoDurant, and let's face it, nothing is or ever will be, Obscure-seys is the back-pocket plan should all else fail. Across the NBA, we see countless fans wearing jerseys, many of which are the same. So that got me thinking — what about all the other guys? There are 450 active players on the NBA roster, so why am I drowning in this sea of Stephen Curry and LaMelo Ball jerseys? How many NBA players have battled in the trenches only to be forgotten? You're telling me you wouldn't want something like uh, I don't know, a mint condition Brandon Bass #30 Celtics jersey delivered to you on a monthly basis? Show off your basketball knowledge. Collect them like dragon balls. Make a quilt out of them. Do whatever! In a nutshell, it's Netflix, but with bench players' jerseys.

3. Who is the most unreasonable head coaching hire the Bucks could have made in pursuit of a title?

Doc Rivers is probably the most reasonable hire the Bucks could have made at head coach, especially as they pursue a title. Let's face it — although Griffin was successful in Milwaukee, he is still a young head coach in his first season. Rivers is far more experienced, especially when handling All-Star talent. He'll tighten up the Bucks' defense, which dropped from fourth in defensive efficiency last season to 22nd this season. One thing is for sure, the inevitable playoff series between Milwaukee and Philadelphia just got even more exciting.

The most unreasonable hire for the Bucks? I feel like Terry Stotts is off-limits right? That'd be quite a slap in the face for Adrian Griffin. For those that don't know, prior to this season, Terry Stotts was the assistant coach in Milwaukee under Adrian Griffin. This seemed like a match made in heaven considering Stott's past relationship with newly acquired Buck Damian Lillard. However, five days before the season began, Terry Stotts resigned. Why? Because Griffin was upset that Stotts didn't join the coaches' huddle as he wanted to talk with Lillard and Giannis about the offense instead. Without a doubt, Terry Stotts is the most unreasonable (and petty) hire the Bucks could have made.


Recommended Reading:

1. This NBA Draft class is something different: "Sometimes, in the absence of singular athletes and dominant high school track records, we simply need to buy the college (or professional) production. Reed Sheppard has been one of the most efficient and impactful freshmen in recent history. He's the best player at Kentucky. The volume is limited, and yes, he's a 6-foot-3 guard. But he gets the job done, and he should be considered highly. Nikola Topic is another prime example. He has performed against the best non-NBA competition in the world. The 3-point shot is a concern. So is the defense. But, buy the production. Buy the endless paint touches, the advantages created, and the crafty finishes." 2024 NBA Draft Big Board: Reed Sheppard stock up, Isaiah Collier stock down

2. Sam Merrill hive, assemble: "He is attempting 17.7 3-pointers per 100 possessions this season, which is the highest mark of any player in history who has logged at least 300 minutes in a season. Merrill’s rate of attempts edges out Stephen Curry’s 2020-21 season as a plague-year Atlas (17.5) and James Harden’s 2018-19 attempt in Houston to break modern scoring and usage records (17.6)—all while he’s been shooting at a 43.2 percent clip. Or maybe it’s easier to think of Merrill as Double-Time Kyle Korver: He is attempting the same number of 3s per game as Korver did in 2014-15, his lone All-Star season, in nearly half the number of minutes.." You’re Missing One of the Wildest Shooting Seasons in NBA History

3. The answer may surprise you: "Since the start of the new millennium, the fewest wins a champion has had in an 82-game season are 53, shared by the 2022-23 Denver Nuggets and 2021-22 Golden State Warriors. With each of the Thunder, Sixers, Timberwolves, and Clippers on pace to reach or exceed that figure, it’s time to take them seriously as championship contenders, but which of these teams are actually for real?" Which surprise NBA contender is for real?

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