Trio and error: Detroit must shrink

Numbers show the Pistons have more success when taking away one big man

Updated: February 9, 2014, 10:34 PM ET
By Kevin Pelton | ESPN Insider

The challenge for John Loyer, who is expected to replace Maurice Cheeks on an interim basis after Cheeks was fired as head coach of the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, is staggering. No, not in terms of magnitude despite the implications of owner Tom Gores asserting that the team's 21-29 record "does not reflect our talent." Instead, the key to Loyer's success -- and Cheeks' failure -- is staggering the minutes of frontcourt starters Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith.

When the Pistons signed Smith as a free agent last summer, critics immediately recognized the difficulty in playing him alongside Drummond and Monroe. Former head coach Lawrence Frank was reluctant to play Drummond and Monroe, both more comfortable at the center position, in tandem. Adding Smith into the mix, who is best suited to play power forward, contributed to the issue.


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