The Detroit Pistons’ power forward position can be described in two words: depth and uncertainty. It would seem like those are two contradictory thoughts, but a further look at the team’s roster shows a glut of available players but a lack of consistent productivity from them so far in their careers.
After sitting out the entire 2010-2011 season with a right Achilles’ tendon injury, Jerebko played in 64 games last season and averaged 8.7 points and 4.8 rebounds in 23 minutes of action. His minutes decreased from December to April (33.5, 24.2, 21.8, 21.7, 20.3) and with the decreasing minutes, his production faltered too. Head coach Lawrence Frank should take note of his production when given minutes – Jerebko had 20 points and 12 rebounds against Indiana and 22 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks against Charlotte. Matchups will surely dictate his usage, as he is somewhat of a tweener despite his size (6’10”, 231 pounds), but Jerebko has endeared himself to fans and coaches with his hustle and effort. Considering he’s one of the few candidates to start at the position this season, Frank must have been noticing that effort too.
Despite being just 6’7”, Maxiell’s weight (260 pounds) allows for him to get nearly all of his playing time at the power forward position. After signing the final year of his 2008 four-year deal this offseason with the Pistons, he will once again be one of the first big men off the bench in 2012. He doesn’t score much (highest season average is 7.9 points per game) and his height does come into play against taller forwards and centers, but he does do several things well enough to keep him in Lawrence Frank’s lineup. His ability to block shots is one of the qualities that keeps him in games, as evidenced by this 2009 block of Shannon Brown:
That type of jumping ability also helps with put-back dunks, as Maxiell often violently slams it down should he get within range of the hoop.
After another solid summer league performance, one has to wonder when Daye will be able to put it together when it really matters: the regular season and beyond. A 2009 draftee, the slender forward had his best season in 2010-2011, averaging 7.5 points on 40% shooting from beyond the arc in 20.1 minutes a game. Many figured he could become the team’s next small forward (despite being 6’11”), learning from Tayshaun Prince along the way. Unfortunately for Daye, Prince re-signed with Detroit in December 2011, likely stunting Daye’s basketball growth and causing him to regress. If he manages to stay with the Pistons this season, the former Gonzaga Bulldog must show that he can play like he did in summer league action, only this time against top-tier NBA talent. He must also put on weight, as his current weight of 200 pounds will hinder his ability to out-muscle opponents in the post.
What is there to say about Villanueva that hasn’t already been said? After signing a $35 million contract with Detroit in 2009, his production has gone down every single year; the classic case of a guy having a career year… in a contract year. Surprisingly to some, Villanueva made it another offseason in Detroit without getting amnestied, although next season he might not be so lucky. Aside from that, he also was cut from the Dominican Republic national team for conditioning issues. While numerous injuries kept him from playing much last season (just 13 games played), poor conditioning and an aversion to playing in the post despite his height advantage kept him from seeing much floor time. He shot a career-high from three-point range in 2010-2011 (.387) but that average is more an exception than the rule. Unless something changes in training camp and preseason, it’s likely that Charlie V will find himself once again riding the pine.