Arron Afflalo – A rookie out of UCLA, Afflalo may be best known for his collegiate career and announcers stumbling over his last name for some inexplicable reason. To be honest I was a little surprised to see that he played in 75 regular season games (12.9 MPG) and 9 of Detroit’s 11 playoff games thus far. Afflalo entered the Association with the reputation of a defensive stopper that could score as well. Playing 9 minutes per game in the playoffs to this point Afflalo’s statistical contributions have been modest across the board. For what it’s worth he is further along than his former Pac-10 rival Gabe Pruitt. Remember him?
Chauncey Billups – Billups appeared in 3 games against the Orlando Magic but for all intents and purposes was only a factor in 2. Allegedly he is healed and ready to go. Regardless Rajon Rondo should attack the 11th year player and test that hamstring. On the flipside Billups is a match up nightmare for Sam Cassell, Eddie House and Rondo. That’s why I’d like to see the former Celtic work on the defensive end of the court. In closing check out what I wrote about Billups prior to Boston’s first game against Detroit, way back in December:
"On a team full of Celtics killers he might be the number one guy. He's a big point guard that creates all types of match up problems. And we all remember how the Ricktator shipped him out of town after 51 games. But here's my question. Why did it take him so many teams to finally emerge as a player? Billups is not a system guy like Matt Harpring who just had to catch on with the right team. I know his field goal percentages were rough over those first four seasons (39%, 35%, 37%, 34%) and point guards take time to develop. But you're lying if you saw this coming. Finally, Billups is yet another player that was robbed this year. Robbed of the chance to dominate Sebastian Telfair four times a season."
I enjoyed that Telfair joke. And if you click on that old post you’ll notice I recycled the pronunciation point about Afflalo. In closing Billups is supposed to be good friends with Kevin Garnett. Check that best friends. For some reason Tyronn Lue always stands out for me in that story.
Juan Dixon – He was traded to Detroit for Primoz Brezec right around the most recent trading deadline. And though he saw decent minutes in the regular season (14.4 mpg in 17 games), Dixon has only appeared in 2 playoff games, in limited time, to date. Factor in Rodney Stuckey’s solid play and Billups’ health and I don’t expect to see too much of Dixon. As a side note I loved his game at Maryland. And I vaguely recall someone (Billy Packer??) yelling, "Juan Shining Moment!" during the Terrapins' NCCA run.
Rip Hamilton – Just when you think everything had already been said about Hamilton – runs off screens, improved 3-point field goal%, Reggie Miller 2.0, wears that mask, efficient scorer, etc. – he goes out and becomes Detroit’s all time leading playoff scorer. Move over Isiah Thomas. I did not see that coming. It’s going to be important for Ray Allen to rebound and win the battle of the former UConn Huskies. As a side note why do I always forget that Hamilton is 6’7?
Jarvis Hayes - He played in 81 games this season at a respectable clip -15 mpg. However, his minutes have dropped off significantly in the playoffs. I wonder how much of that is due to Jason Maxiell being Jason Maxiell.
Walter Herrmann – I’ve linked to this post before and I’ll link to it again. Quite simply it’s the best Herrmann post I’ve read, although to be fair I have not done thorough research. More importantly is there a more random, enjoyable bench player in the NBA? Even if Tony Allen were healthy, harassing people on defense and possibly blacking out after ridiculous dunks, I’d still give the nod to Herrmann.
Lindsey Hunter – He’s in his 15th NBA season out of Jackson State and turned 37 back in December. So of course I had to post this clip. That’s not a knock at Hunter. I just really enjoy that commercial. And to be fair Hunter is still getting it done. He was on the court when the Pistons knocked out Orlando. Say what you want about Rodney Stuckey’s emergence but Hunter’s minutes increased in Billups’ absence as well. The 14 year vet is a steady ballplayer.
Amir Johnson – How many players do the Pistons have in that 6’7 – 6’9 height range? Off the top of my head I’d say 8. And by the top of my head I mean the Pistons’ website. Meanwhile, the very fact that this t-shirt exists probably means I should not expect to see too much of Johnson in the next week or so. Dude can jump though. Random question - Is he their Gerald Green?
Jason Maxiell – You have to give him credit for this block of Tyson Chandler. And then you have to remember that Rajon Rondo put him in a poster. Maxiell is an athletic, energetic player that can pump life into the Pistons. Must keep him off the boards.
Antonio McDyess – He’s an under the radar "What if?", as it would have been interesting to see how his career would have gone minus the knee injuries. It is easy to forget but McDyess could jump out of the gym. Back to the present. McDyess will knock down an open jumper and grab some rebounds as well. On top of that he is not afraid of physical basketball. In the two series thus far he has split the starts with Maxiell. I wonder who gets the nod tonight.
Tayshaun Prince – This is Prince’s 6th NBA season. In related news Detroit is appearing in its 6th straight Eastern Conference Finals. Interestingly he has played in every game since the start of his sophomore campaign. Prince’s freakishly long arms give players like Paul Pierce trouble. And I respect the way he puts up modest stats on a winning team. Here’s a question. Is Andre Iguodala worth more? Couldn’t Prince do a lot more on a lousy team? Just throwing it out there.
Theo Ratliff – I caught one of his first games of this most recent stint as a Piston on NBA TV. And after the game the announcers interviewed Ratliff. He was so happy to be in a good situation again that he laughed uncontrollably throughout the interview. I wish it were on YouTube. Between that and his role in bringing KG to Boston I can’t help but like Ratliff. Having said all that, it will be easy to root against him.
Cheikh Samb – A 7-1 rookie from Senegal that only played in 4 games this season would be in the running for the random bench player award. Alas Herrmann is on this squad. Outside of recalling the time Samb lost a few teeth in a D-League game and mentioning his brother’s prospect status I’m not sure what else to say about him.
Rodney Stuckey – He scored 15 points (5-10 from the field, 5-6 from the line) grabbed 3 rebounds, dished out 6 assists and topped it off with 2 steals in 33 minutes of playing time to help send Orlando home for the summer. That’s not bad. Now with Billups returning the Pistons are faced with the age-old question – experience (Hunter) or youth (Stuckey)? I wonder how this situation would look if Stuckey did not miss 2 months with a broken hand. In closing I’d like to call out Stuckey for listing Dwayne Wade as his favorite athlete. It shouldn’t be a player he has to face.
Rasheed Wallace – As one of the ultimate X factors and arguably the most controversial NBA player of the last decade, he deserves his own post at some point. And yes I just put him over Artest, Rodman, Oakley and everyone else. In the meantime check out his pre game dance. For some reason it reminds me of GOB from Arrested Development. It must be the music. Meanwhile, people ask me all the time why I love the NBA. There are a lot of different ways to go with that one. But the little things help. Watch that clip of Rasheed dancing again. One of the Pistons yells something along the lines of, "Who's a gangsta?!" Long live the NBA.