Over the summer when the Sixers acquired Andrew Bynum, in the Dwight Howard trade, to pair with other competent bigs Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen, I thought to myself, hmmmmmm, this size and athleticism combo – if it works as hoped – could give the Heat fits in the playoffs!
Bosh was injured and out in the Pacers series last spring, and Indiana C Roy Hibbert shined with a 12 and 11 stat line in the 6 game series loss to the Heat. Garnett inflicted damage to the Heat in the following series. Boston then muscled up with Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger in June’s draft, specifically with Miami in mind.
Even with Bosh’s size and length in the lineup, the Heat aren’t a big, bulky team that’s going to defend relentlessly in the paint and pull down every rebound. They’re 25th in the rebounding to begin the season, and a modest 14th in points in the paint allowed (the Heat will turn you over before you even get there though). Further, can we agree Bosh, while exceptionally accomplished, is not a muscular presence? OK, good. The other players listed at center for the Heat are averaging a combined 8 minutes game. Former banger Udonis Haslem is at 17 minutes per game. The Heat aren’t big, but they have the best player (Lebron at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) at just about every position in the game. In his prime. They don’t really need big, they have him.
Wanna beat the Heat? Do what Memphis did on Sunday night in their 18 point win over Miami. Bludgeon them to death with stout, talented big men like Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Marreese Speights and Rudy Gay also contribute in that front court, with Gay being more of a swing man type.
So the Sixers can beat the Heat with what they’ve acquired, IF it works. What the hell does this have to do with the Pistons? I’m getting to that.
Greg Monroe is the Pistons best point guard. Not really. I’ve seen the FSD commercials. Knight is duhhhh a superior dribbler, but Monroe’s their best passer. Don’t even gripe with me on that point. Lawrence Frank is still VERY obviously figuring things out with his team, so I’m not going to throw stones eight games into a season. But, my suggestion has been out there for a minute. Run a significant portion of the offense throught Greg Monroe. Let him, with his innate vision and awareness, orchestrate things. That’s my idea!
Then I came across a Zach Lowe article on Grantland.com. Memphis apparently has shown some new characteristics this year, it may or may not last, yadda, yadda, yadda. Read the excerpt below and try to grasp where I’m going with this.
Marc Gasol and Mike Conley
Gasol has taken his brilliant passing to an entirely new level, and he is lifting the Grizz offense in the process. Gasol is averaging better than five dimes per game and assisting on 23 percent of Memphis baskets while on the floor, giant numbers for a center; only one player listed at 6-foot-9 or taller (Hedo Turkoglu) finished last season with a higher individual assist rate.Gasol facilitating from the elbow or on the move in the pick-and-roll has become an enormously powerful weapon. He has his high-low partner back at something closer to full strength in Zach Randolph, and he is finding guys all over the floor with nifty looks — tiny bouncers to Randolph in the lane, or one-handed flings on the move to the opposite corner.
Oh, hello Memphis, you have the best passing center in the league (I think it’s Monroe, but he has FAR less to distribute to so Lowe says Gasol), and another big who’s the surest bet in the league for 20 and 10?
I’m not kidding myself. I don’t think THIS strategy is going to beat the Heat right now. By the time the Pistons are genuinely ready to equal the Heat – when it counts – they should be able to do it by having the youthful advantage. Lebron won’t be what he is now, and he may he even be a Laker. In the meantime…
I advise Frank to get some Grizz game tape because that’s a very reasonable blue print for the Pistons to mimic. Yep, another team without a superstar, but they’ve got a plan. Sorry, but until global warming makes it 68 on the coldest day of the year, that’s how it’s going to have to be done in the frigid Motor City.
To be candid, I haven’t seen a single Grizzlies game since the last postseason, but I’m curious to get a glimpse of them and how their two bigs run offense, along with point guard Mike Conley – who one could argue is similar to Brandon Knight. More candor, I couldn’t draw up a play to save my life. But I think there’s a method here the Pistons should attempt once Drummond gains the trust to get 25 minutes a night. After all, you didn’t draft two highly skilled and athletic, near seven footers to not heavily involve them in the offense. That’s like pouring draft endless draft resources into the running back position when you aim to throw 65% of the time. If Monroe and Drummond are as viable as we hope, build around them.
As the graph from Lowe mentions, let’s close our eyes and envision it at the Palace. Monroe on the elbow…Knight dashing off the intial pass, into the lane, Drummond roaming the baseline for a keen look from Monroe, and the shooters (whoever they’d be, Singler? English? Acquisition TBA?) hovering around the arc. That’s an offense in the halfcourt that could work.
Then again, Andrew Bynum is hurt, and if he’s always hurt, the Sixers scheme to contend with Miami may be in the tank.
Here’s to hoping Monroe and Drummond are what the Pistons need them to be. If not, someone start checking on 8th graders to see who’ll be atop the lottery in 2017.