One Team, One Stat: Pistons In The Paint

From Media Day until opening night,’s John Schuhmann will provide a key stat for each team in the league and show you, with film and analysis, why it matters. Up next are the Detroit Pistons, who underwent major changes this summer.

The basics
DET Rank
W-L 29-53 t-23
Pace 93.2 22
OffRtg 100.9 22
DefRtg 105.6 23
NetRtg -4.8 24

The stat

660 – Field goal attempts in the restricted area from Greg Monroe, 96 more than any other player in the league.

The context

It helps that Monroe played 81 of 82 games, but he also led the league with 8.1 restricted-area shots per contest.

Monroe is decent in the low post and solid as a roll man. He even had 94 fast-break points last season. But he’s most comfortable operating from the elbow. In games tracked by SportVU, Monroe led the league with 10.2 *elbow touches per game.

* Elbow touch = Touch that originates within a five-foot radius near the edge of the lane and free throw line, inside the 3-point line.

Whether he catches the ball as a trailer, from a straight, high-post entry pass, or in a pick-and-pop, Monroe knows what he wants to do. It doesn’t matter if he starts at the right or left elbow, he wants to get to the basket with his left hand. There’s not much hesitation, but maybe a pump fake to get his defender off-balance. He shot just 31.4 percent from outside the restricted area, so you really shouldn’t be biting on those pump fakes.

Here are some examples of Monroe’s elbow offense…

Joining Monroe at the basket is new teammate Josh Smith, who also ranked in the top 10 in made field goals in the restricted area. While Monroe’s spot in the top 10 was about volume, Smith’s was more about efficiency. Of 236 players who attempted at least 100 shots from the restricted area, Smith ranked sixth in FG% (73.3 percent).

Most field goals in the restricted area

Player FGM FGA FG% *Rank
LeBron James 411 541 76.0% 2
Greg Monroe 389 660 58.9% 138
Dwight Howard 388 564 68.8% 23
Blake Griffin 364 493 73.8% 5
David Lee 325 516 63.0% 80
Russell Westbrook 323 548 58.9% 136
Thaddeus Young 321 496 64.7% 63
Josh Smith 311 424 73.3% 6
Dwyane Wade 311 447 69.6% 17
Brook Lopez 309 468 66.0% 42

*Among 236 players w/ at least 100 restricted area FGA
Chris Wilcox (103-for-131 – 78.6 percent) ranked No. 1.

Only one team – Denver – attempted a greater percentage of its shots from the restricted area than the Pistons did (without Smith) last season. But Detroit ranked 24th in restricted-area field goal percentage. Brandon Jennings (47.3 percent in the restricted area, 231st of 236) will hurt them there, but Smith and more playing time for Andre Drummond (67.7 percent, 29th) will more than make up for it.

So the Pistons should continue to be strong in the paint … and on the glass. Of 263 players who logged at least 1,000 minutes last season, Drummond, Monroe and Smith ranked third, 29th and 67th in rebounding percentage. So it would be a surprise if Detroit wasn’t a top-10 rebounding team on both ends of the floor this season.

But shooting is more important than rebounding. And the biggest question surrounding the Pistons is how well they’ll be able to space the floor, especially if Smith plays a lot of minutes at small forward.

As noted above, Monroe shot 31.4 percent from outside the restricted area. Drummond shot 11-for-51 (21.6 percent). And Smith…

Among 202 players who attempted at least 100 shots from mid-range (between the paint and the 3-point line), Smith ranked 192nd at 30.5 percent (102-for-334). And among 172 players who attempted at least 100 threes, he ranked 160th at 30.3 percent (61-for-201). That’s bad shooting in high volume.

The Pistons have some good shooters in their backcourt, but putting more shooters on the floor takes away from their dominance inside. It should be a fascinating give-and-take all season.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions


  1. brains! says:

    stuckey and billups on bench… good luck distributing minutes coach!

  2. who? says:

    who cares about detroit????

  3. Alfred says:

    I would Have Monroe take as many inside shoot as possible. What team wouldn’t what the luxury of having Drummond and Smith crashing the boards for the offensive rebounds. Should be fun to watch.

  4. Alfred says:

    I would have Monroe take as many inside shoots as he can. What team wouldn’t want the luxury of having Drummond and Smith crashing the boards for the offensive rebounds.

  5. steppx says:

    excellent and informative article. The issue for Detroit is going to be Jennings. Smith is as much a negative as a positive if he doesnt learn to stop jacking up junk shots. But…..he makes up for it a bit with athleticism and rebounding and defense. Jennings however cannot play like he did in Milwaukee. its a recipe for disaster. Detroit has guys like Singler and Stuckey who as in theory good shooters………or at least average shooters. Singler might be someone they rely on to hit his jumpers. But……….its really all on Jennings.

    • Guest says:

      Singler is garbage, I can’t believe you even put him in the conversation.

      • Guest says:

        If you think Singler is garbage than you’re an idiot, it’s that simple. He can score the ball.|202713;year=201213;season=r

      • Paul says:

        That statement shows how little you know. Singler came in as a second round pick and played a huge role as a rookie. His numbers are obviously not ROY material. But he had a solid rookie season. He has the fundamentals, gives effort on defense and hit 35% of his three pointers. That percentage is about the league average, and he actually had a few months were he was hitting close to 40% of them. That’s really good, and he’s still getting better.