If you follow me on Twitter, I have made no bones about my love for Pistons President/Head Coach/Grand Poobah Stan Van Gundy over the last few years.
I love how he came to Detroit and instituted analytics into the equation, even if he isn’t necessarily a true believer.
I love how he is honest in his commentary — about both his players’ performance and his own. His postgame press conferences are usually more entertaining than the games.
I love how he basically called Donald Trump voters pieces of shit the day after the Electoral College gifted that human excrement the gig of POTUS.
I love how SVG defended African-American players who chose to kneel for the National Anthem to protest police brutality in a thoughtful op-ed piece in Time.
I love everything about Stan Van Gundy’s tenure in Detroit/Auburn Hills except the thing he was actually brought here to do by owner Tom Gores ……
…. ya know ….. WIN ACTUAL BASKETBALL GAMES.
In his fourth year as Pistons Overlord, the team has a record of 135-151. That’s a win percentage of 47%. Not only have they not won a playoff series, they haven’t even won a solitary postseason GAME™ (Detroit Lions).
And he is starting to look extremely Jim Caldwell-esque with a 22-18 record approaching the halfway point of his fourth season. A team that currently sits sixth in the weak Eastern Conference. Basicallly the equivalent of a 9-7 NFL record if you need to be hit over the head with that correlation.
This team appears to be going nowhere, and as the excellent Pistons beat writer Rod Beard stated the other day, what the hell is their personality? …
We are in the fourth year of the SVG Era and there is absolutely nothing compelling about this franchise. As empty as the lower bowl is for Red Wings games at Little Caesars Arena, the building looks like a Bruce Springsteen/Bon Jovi double bill concert at the Prudential Center in comparison to Pistons home games.
Many in this town are so apathetic about their basketball team that I am not sure most would notice if Gores packed up the Pistons in Mayflower moving vans and relocated them to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in the middle of the night.
Hell, I run a Detroit sports website and I post a Pistons article about once every Tu Bishva (Italian phrase). And I am not trying to come off as an authority figure or some kind of expert when I post about the Pistons or write an article about them as frequently as an appearance of Halley’s Comet.
The NBA is my LEAST favorite professional sport and I’ve been nothing but a passive Pistons fan for years. That’s what happens when your home franchise misses the postseason in seven of the last eight years.
When they have not won a playoff game since George W. Bush was President. And when they have somehow been bad for almost a decade while never picking higher than SEVENTH in the draft. That’s almost a statistical impossibility. They’ve never properly tanked or received any help in the lottery, which has been more maddening than any other development.
It’s been basketball purgatory since the “Going to Work” era unceremoniously ended with the trade of Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson, which did nothing for the people in this town unless you were a shareholder in the MGM, Motor City, or Greektown casino.
And not only has the team done nothing this decade to provide us any entertainment, they are led by a mental midget superstar in Andre Drummond. A hugely unlikeable personality who somehow can even aggravate the fan base during a career year where he has exponentially improved his free-throw percentage.
Of course, Drummond’s best year is no accident. It was predicted by me prior to this season. One of the most underreported stories in Detroit sports over recent years was Drummond’s childish refusal to take physician’s advice and go under the knife for nasal passage surgery.
This is Drummond in his OWN WORDS discussing how he put off this crucial procedure for YEARS …
“Obviously, you need both nostrils to play but I’m hardheaded so I didn’t want to do it at the time. I didn’t feel like it was the right time to do it so I just figured a different way until I got a chance to do it so that’s how I played for four years. I made it work.
“I didn’t do that bad. I still was an All-Star, I still was All-NBA, I still made certain things work but this season was probably my toughest breathing year for me.”
Maybe I was hypersensitive to this issue because of my financial interest in horse racing, but there is nothing that hinders a thoroughbred’s performance more than an inability to breathe. When a horse bleeds through its nose it is prescribed Lasix for it to stop occurring and the improvement is usually remarkable.
For this moron to play FOUR SEASONS with breathing problems was absolutely criminal. So no, I am not shocked that he is enjoying his best season of his career.
Breathing, we’ve learned, is fundamental to humans.
And yet, even during his most impressive season as a professional, this man-child still can’t get out of his own way. In the most embarrassing performance by a Detroit athlete since Roy Williams emphatically signaled a first down when trailing by three touchdowns while wearing the Honolulu Blue and Silver, Drummond recently had the nerve to SHUSH 76er fans after making two free-throws …… while trailing by 30 POINTS!!!!!
As the great American prophet Fred G. Sanford once said, “ya big dummy.”
Please, please, please, please trade this infant while his value is at an all-time high. We know that SVG attempted to last February and couldn’t find a partner but there should be no excuse now.
So in the last year of Van Gundy’s first term, we seem to be on pace for another first-round exit and a lousy, middle-of-the-first-round draft pick, which is a perfect segue into SVG’s pathetic drafting as the Pistons chief executive.
Since Detroit didn’t have a first-round pick in 2014, his initial first-round selection was Stanley Johnson, who has spent more time in the coach’s doghouse than Eastwood Van Gundy.
And if recent rumors are to be believed, Johnson is probably going to be an ex-Piston soon after failing to develop an offensive game since being drafted in 2015 …..
SVG’s first-round pick in 2016 (Henry Ellenson) has barely received any playing time (119 total minutes this season) while averaging a whopping 3.2 PPG.
And SVG once again did himself no favors when passing on the people’s choice (Donovan Mitchell) this past summer for a kid from DUKE (!!!!) who plays less defense than Thomas Vanek. And while the jury hasn’t even started deliberating on Luke Kennard, Mitchell is the co-favorite for Rookie of the Year.
Look, in general, I am not a huge fan of playing the “we could have taken that guy” game**, but at some point you have to look at SVG’s draft history and conclude that shit isn’t going very well.
(** — To clarify I mean unless you are on the record in REAL TIME when the draft occurs like when the Lions selected Terry Fair over Randy Moss; or a tight end with the dropsies in college in the first round over ANYONE ELSE. But get out of here with the Alvin Kamara/Kareem Hunt shit unless you said it the DAY OF THE DRAFT.)
When you are in an undesirable NBA market for pending unrestricted free-agents and you continue to play well enough so you never bottom out and get a high lottery pick, you can’t miss out on hidden gems like Devin Booker while looking to pull the ripcord on Stanley Johnson.
SVG has made some nice moves while in Detroit (trading for Tobias Harris being the most obvious). But overall, SVG the GM has done very little to help SVG the Head Coach.
And yeah, I know that Van Gundy isn’t technically the team’s general manager (that title goes to Jeff Bower) but if the Pistons extend their playoff series winless streak another year, serious questions will need to be asked.
For one, should SVG replace Bower and bring in another player personnel executive with Bower being a scapegoat? And if the Pistons have zero tangible results after four years of Van Gundy, should Stan’s job status be questioned? Because if it’s not, Free Press sports guru Rochelle Riley might start calling this a double standard. And she might actually have a case this time.
I am not calling for Stan Van Gundy to be fired. Fuck, I’d have to care a lot more about Detroit’s basketball team to make that proclamation and then I’d have to invest the time in figuring out who his replacement should be.
But if his first-round picks keep disappointing and this team can’t win a playoff round in an anemic conference I might start pondering if I’d rather have Stan Van Gundy run for Governor of this state against Bill Schuette than continue to spin his wheels with this underachieving basketball team.
(You can follow Moss on Twitter @JeffMossDSR. You can discuss this article on Facebook by clicking here. You can also go fuck yourself if you’d like. Totally up to you.)