After seven years of Rodney Stuckey, Detroit fans can say “goodbye” to another Joe Dumars draftee that failed to reach his full potential and “hello” to a Stan Van Gundy-approved line up.
Dumars drafted Stuckey No. 15 overall in the 2007 NBA draft to play as a point guard. The Pistons spent the next seven years gradually transitioning him to a shooting guard with mixed results.
Offensively, Stuckey’s numbers were just okay for a sixth man. Compared to the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili, Stuckey’s shooting percentage is only down slightly. Ginobili shoots at about 45 percent for his career average. Stuckey’s average is around 42 percent.
Stuckey struggled immensely from the three-point line since day one. He shot better than 30 percent from long range in only two of his seven seasons as a pro. It is no secret that shooting from beyond the arc was a glaring problem for the Pistons last season. Stuckey’s 27 percent three-point shooting surely did not help.
Josh Smith’s terrible three-point shooting was bad enough, but Stuckey fouled things up even more. At least Smith has the career numbers to excuse a bad season’s worth of shooting in Detroit. Stuckey is not so lucky.
At the end of the day, Stuckey’s “take it to the hoop” style of play is not what Detroit needs in its lineup. Let Smith or Andre Drummond worry about buckets down low and play someone like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who can hit threes as the team’s new go-to sixth man.
Defensively, Stuckey was almost completely absent. Last season saw Stuckey perform either at a career worst or tied for career worst in rebounds, blocks and steals. Stuckey was seventh in defensive rebounds and steals per game out of the whole team. He was ninth in offensive rebounds per game yet in the top five for nightly turnovers. This could lead to questions as to how committed he actually was to making the play.
With Stuckey now safely stuck in the Paul George-less Indiana Pacers lineup, Detroit’s new lineup is another step toward completion. Changes under the Van Gundy administration so far include: the addition of D.J. Augustin, Caron Butler, Jodie Meeks and draft pick Spencer Dinwiddie while Chauncey Billups, Peyton Siva, Charlie Villanueva and Stuckey are gone. Greg Monroe’s status with the team is up in the air, as his restricted free agency predicament has no visible end in sight.
Throughout last season, it was clear the core of the Detroit Pistons roster consisted of Drummond, Monroe and Smith. Detroit’s next biggest name was its new addition, point guard Brandon Jennings.
What is missing from that line up? A competent shooting guard. Caldwell-Pope’s rookie season was less than spectacular and certainly undeserving of the top spot in the depth chart. An aging Billups’ was on the roster more for support and guidance than for on-the-court performance and will not be returning to the Pistons for next season.
What has changed since last season? The shooting guard void has been (hopefully) filled.
Meeks will most likely start at shooting guard in the first game of the year. The 26-year-old ex-Laker should definitely light a fire under Caldwell-Pope who just closed a great summer in Orlando. Shooting percentage is up for both men, which is a positive any way you slice it. Plus, with the rookie Dinwiddie’s injury status still largely unknown, Detroit fans can look for a potential surprise later on in the season.
Colin Jackson is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.