Posts Tagged ‘Ben Wallace’

Don’t Forget About ‘Dre (Drummond)!

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — While the entire basketball world and the Twitter-sphere were busy going off the rails about LeBron James and his monster, 61-point night, another Eastern Conference human behemoth was busy turning Monday night into his own personal showcase.

Andre Drummond, the Detroit Pistons’ young giant, went to work on the glass in a win over the New York Knicks. He grabbed 26 rebounds, to go with his 17 points, to tie Dwight Howard for the league high this season and the most by a Piston since Ben Wallace grabbed 28 on March 24, 2002.

Drummond, 20, joins Howard as the only players to grab 26 or more rebounds in the game at the age of 20 or younger. The Pistons haven’t had much to get excited about this season, as they have struggled with consistency. But Drummond’s future is bright if he keeps at his overall game and continues to polish his rough edges.

Check out his work against the Knicks …



VIDEO: Andre Drummond goes to work on the New York Knicks

Blogtable: Role Players In The Hall




Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Role Player Hall of Fame | I Wish I Would’ve Seen … | How to Avoid a Decision


Robert Horry’s name is being bandied about for Springfield. So, what are some of the names that make your Role Player Hall of Fame?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comDowntown Freddie Brown. And here’s why: Most specialty players earn their keep as starters, their egos sufficiently stroked. But a great sixth man is best left as a substitute forever. So guys like J.R. Smith and Monta Ellis (he’d be terrific in the role but refuses to consider it) need to see it honored, even revered. Yes, the Celtics built a tradition of great sixth men but it took Brown and the Seattle SuperSonics to update the role in the late 1970s and early ’80s. They went to two straight Finals and won in ’79 with Brown in reserve of Gus Williams and Dennis Johnson. Then over his five final seasons, from age 31 to 35, the laconic gunslinger averaged just 20.5 minutes but scored at a 36-minute pace of 20.2 ppg. Brown lived up to his nickname, leading the league in 3-point percentage the first year the shot was instituted. And he spawned not only the instant-offense future of Vinnie Johnson, a young Sonics teammate, but the Sixth Man Award idea itself.

Maurice Lucas (NBA Photos)

Maurice Lucas (NBA Photos)

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comMaurice Lucas. The 1976-77 Trail Blazers were a championship puzzle where all of the different pieces fit together perfectly — Bill Walton, Johnny Davis, Bob Gross, Lionel Hollins, Dave Twardzik, Larry Steele, Herm Gilliam, Lloyd Neal, Robin Jones, Wally Walker, Corky Calhoun. But in addition to being their leading scorer, Lucas was the Enforcer, who gave the Blazers their sneer, swagger and hard-edged toughness and carried that role on through his entire career.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: To narrow the field, I’ll stick with players I grew up watching to the present: On my big-shot, big-game performer list is Steve Kerr, Michael Cooper, Cedric Maxwell, Vinnie Johnson, Ray Allen, Jason Terry and Robert Horry. Kurt Rambis, A.C. Green, Charles Oakley and Joakim Noah are on the all-blue-collar team. Bruce Bowen and Bill Laimbeer (he’s not in the Hall of Fame, so he qualifies here, right?) co-captain the all-agitator team, and Rick Mahorn and Maurice Lucas lead the all-enforcer squad with Ben Wallace taking the lead as an all-time intimidator.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comI have to start with Robert Horry for big-shot specialist. Too many fans in opposing cities are nodding their head in agreement right now to have to ask why Horry is the ultimate role player at making shots. Mark Eaton is the shot blocker. What a difference-maker for someone who was considered a complementary player. Enforcer? Larry Smith. “Mr. Mean” was a description of Smith on the court, not just a nickname. Kenneth Faried is the hustle guy. His second and third efforts make a difference on both ends of the court -– offensive rebounds, screens -– and his first effort isn’t so bad either.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: I’ll give one retired player and one current player. Retired: Bruce Bowen, who basically created the “3 and D” role as the defensive stopper and corner 3-point shooter for a perennial contender. Current: Shane Battier, for basically taking that role to another level with several different playoff teams. Neither guy would have been as good without their star teammates, but nobody played their roles better. And those roles were critical parts of five championships.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA.com Greece: An easy one. Robert Horry! One of the greatest clutch players of all time and one of the few that needs two hands to wear his championship rings. It is no coincidence that he had played in championship-caliber teams in all of his career in Houston, Los Angeles and San Antonio. A great player, an even better teammate and a notorious winner. Is If you could pick five players to finish a Game 7, would you dare not have Horry on the floor?

Adriano Albuquerque, NBA.com Brasil: If there was such a Hall of Fame, there would be plenty of inductees: Vinnie Johnson, Bobby Jackson, Manu Ginóbili, Bill Laimbeer, Dan Majerle, Dikembe Mutombo — heck, even Brian Scalabrine! If I had to nominate a current player, out of all the possible answers, I’d go with Manu Ginóbili, because he transcends the sixth man role and is also a hustle guy. Maybe he shouldn’t qualify because he’s a star and his sixth man status is merely a decoy. If not, I’d go with Ben Wallace, who was a leader via shot-blocking, hustling and defense, but wasn’t a true star, even though his appearance was imposing and unique and made him famous.

Where Have All The Shot-Blockers Gone?

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – The demise of the true center is typically lamented by the dearth of low-post skill on offense, but we can’t ignore its effects at the other end, too.

You know what they say about every action: there is an equal and opposite reaction. Among other things, the evolution of the face-up, jump-shooting “big”, and the age of the drive-and-kick 3-pointer have taken a toll on the art of shot-blocking. With seemingly fewer one-on-one, low-post defensive opportunities there is an equally diminishing chance to deliver an opposite reaction.

There are tremendous shot blockers in the league. Thunder power forward/center Serge Ibaka will attempt to become the first player to lead the league in shot blocking three consecutive seasons and average at least 3.0 bpg in three straight seasons since Marcus Camby did it from 2006-08. Ibaka’s 3.65 bpg in 2011-12 was the highest since Alonzo Mourning‘s 3.7 in 1999-2000.

Bucks rim protector Larry Sanders could cross the 3.0 barrier. Indiana’s young, old-school center Roy Hibbert made a significant jump last season to 2.61 bpg, fourth in the league, from 1.97. A healthy and happy Dwight Howard could surge to 3.0 for the first time in his career.

Still, today’s drooping block numbers are eye-popping when compared to prior decades. Blocks weren’t recorded as an official statistic until the 1973-74 season. That season, five players averaged at least 3.0 bpg, led by Elmore Smith (4.8 bpg), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (3.5), Bob McAdoo (3.3), Bob Lanier (3.0) and Elvin Hayes (3.0). In the seven officially recorded seasons in the 1970s, two players averaged at least 3.0 bpg in a season five times.

In the ’80s, it was seven of 10 seasons, and at least three players averaged at least 3.0 bpg four times. Utah’s 7-foot-4 center Mark Eaton still holds the single-season record of 5.56 bpg in 1984-85. The ’90s — with shot-swatters such as David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, Shawn Bradley, Theo Ratliff, Shaquille O’Neal and Mourning — marked the salad days of shot-blocking.

Every season during the physical, hold-and-grab ’90s saw at least two players average at least 3.0 bpg. Eight times at least three players recorded 3.0 bpg or more. Four times the season leader topped 4.0 bpg, and two more times the leader finished at 3.9 bpg.

Those numbers haven’t been sniffed. Since the close of the ’90s, only four times in the last 13 seasons have at least two players finished a season averaging at least 3.0 bpg  (and largely credit Ben Wallace and Ratliff early in the 2000s for that). It hasn’t happened since 2005-06 when Camby (3.29) and long-armed small forward Andrei Kirilenko (3.19) finished one and two, respectively.

The lowest league-leading shot-block averages have all come since the turn of the century, and two of the three lowest have been posted in the past five seasons. Andrew Bogut‘s 2.58 bpg in 2010-11 is the lowest season leader of all-time. Howard’s 2.78 bpg the season before is the second-lowest and his 2.92 bpg to lead the league in 2008-09 is better than only the 2.8 bpg put up in 2000-01 by Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal and Bradley.

Could 2013-14 be the season we see one, two or even more players join Ibaka in 3.0 territory? Sanders is trending that way and Hibbert and Howard are candidates, but it’s hard to envision Tim Duncan surpassing last season’s career-high of 2.65 bpg.

Maybe 3.0 is a stretch for most. Only five players averaged between 2.45 bpg and Ibaka’s 3.03 last season.

Here are my five players that could vault into this season’s top-5 (but may not necessarily get to 3.0):

1. Derrick Favors, Jazz: The 6-foot-10 power forward is going to see his minutes jump as he moves into the starting lineup with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap gone. Favors averaged 1.7 bpg in 23.2 mpg off the bench last season. He’ll go up against more elite front-line players this season, but it’s not a reach to suggest he could average 2.5 bpg.

2. JaVale McGee, Nuggets: With Washington in 2010-11, he finished second in the league at 2.44 bpg, but his minutes dropped dramatically the past two seasons in Denver under George Karl. The 7-footer should be in for quite a change with Brian Shaw taking over for Karl and ownership wanting to see McGee earn his money on the floor. More minutes are in his future. Are more blocks?

3. Brook Lopez, Nets: Last season was the first of his young career to average more than 2.0 bpg (2.1) and that number could be on the rise this season playing next to Kevin Garnett. If KG doesn’t teach Lopez a thing or two about defending the post, he might just frighten the 7-footer into protecting the rim at all costs.

4. DeAndre Jordan, Clippers: Potential is running thin for this 6-foot-11 center from Texas A&M. Entering his sixth season, it’s time to mature and play big in the middle for a team that will need it to contend for the West crown. He took a step back last season and under Doc Rivers he’ll need to prove he’s worthy of more minutes. He can do that by swatting basketballs.

5. Anthony Davis, Pelicans: The youngster just looks like a shot-blocker with those long arms and all. He’ll head into his second season healthy, accustomed to the NBA game, smarter and stronger. He’s got great natural instinct, athleticism and a desire to dominate defensively. During his one season at Kentucky, he averaged 4.7 bpg. The 20-year-old blocked 112 shots in 64 games as a rookie. Expect more.

Blogtable: Title Without A Superstar?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Week 16: All-time favorite Dunk Contest dunk? | On LeBron’s hot streak … | Winning it all without a star


Can a team win it all nowadays without an MVP-type superstar?

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Steve AschburnerDon’t want to say “can’t” about a superstar-deficient roster surviving to win the NBA title but I do think it’s a long shot. The ability to ride one (or better yet, two) hot hands and the role that free-throw opportunities can play in pivotal games — built off of star power, in many cases — are the things of which champions are made. It would be fascinating to a lot of hardcore pro hoops fans to see, say, a Nuggets-Pacers Finals, but it wouldn’t thrill the marketing types or maybe even the folks in Olympic Tower. But I don’t see them having to fret beyond the conference finals round.

Fran Blinebury: This is like the old kids’ riddle about how many balls of string would it take to reach the moon?  Just one, but it better be big. Of course, a team without a superstar can win it all. But it had better be talented, tough, unselfish and have enough players who could make all the big and little plays in the clutch. The stars have to be perfectly aligned to produce the 2004 Pistons again.

Jeff Caplan: OK, so the star-less Detroit Pistons won it all against the bickering, last-of-the-line Kobe-Shaq Lakers nearly a decade ago. The Chauncey Billups-Rip Hamilton-Tayshaun Prince-Rasheed-and-Ben Wallace Pistons remain the lone example, an exception to the rule. So, no, I don’t believe a team without a bona fide superstar in today’s NBA can win it all. We’ve seen that it’s nearly impossible for a lone superstar to take his team to the top. Dirk Nowitzki finally managed that task with one of the great postseason runs of all-time in 2011. And let’s be real, those Mavs caught a collapsing Lakers team with Phil Jackson having one foot out the door, a very young Thunder team just getting their feet under them and the Miami Super Friends in their first season together. I truly enjoy watching George Karl‘s squad run up and down the floor, but a team has got to have a go-to-guy who can create his own shot when the game turns into a halfcourt grindfest and when crunch-time demands an isolation takeover.

Scott Howard-CooperPossible, but it makes the odds much longer. The team does not have to have an MVP-type superstar, but it needs to have a player able to beat coverage to hit a pressure shot coming out of of a timeout in the final seconds. It also needs to have the player strike a fear in defenses, enough to create an opening for a teammate if Player X himself does not take the shot. That usually describes a superstar.

John Schuhmann: I think so. It would take great defense (like what we’ve seen from the star-less Pacers and Bulls) and an offense with shooting and ball movement (like the Spurs in Chicago on Monday). Of course, I don’t think the Nuggets have what it takes. They’re not good enough defensively, not good enough on the road, and not good enough from behind the 3-point line to thrive in at a slower, playoff-like pace.

Sekou Smith: It’s only been done once in my time eyeballing the league, by the 2004 Detroit Pistons. And they did it with one of the most meticulously crafted rosters I can remember seeing that was didn’t have a true MVP-type anchor (Chauncey Billups or Ben Wallace came close). I love the Nuggets and the way they are playing this season. The committee approach only goes so far in the NBA playoffs these days. Sooner or later you run into a team built around a superstar player (or players, in most instances).

Should Pistons Keep Big Ben Ticking?

HANG TIME, Texas – It was a good summer for Big Ben, the iconic symbol of London, still ringing loudly 153 years after its construction along the banks of the Thames.

The question is how much more ticking is left in iconic Big Ben Wallace of DEE-troit BAS-KET-ball! and whether it makes sense to bring the soon-to-be 38-year-old back at a time when the Pistons are striding toward the future.

On one hand, he averaged just 1.3 rebounds and 1.4 points and 15.8 minutes in 37 games last season. On the other, he could step in an right away become the best big man and inside force behind Greg Monroe.

In his PistonPowered blog at the Detroit Free Press, Patrick Hayes acknowledges that newcomers Andre Drummond and Slava Kravstov will need time to develop. He presents the pros and cons of the decision facing general manager Joe Dumars and comes down on the side of a 17th NBA season for Wallace:

I’m not big on the symbolic, mentor type narrative, though. I think Wallace is a positive influence in that regard, but I think his presence on the roster offers something more important. Namely, I don’t think it’s the right move to hand rotation spots to untested players. I think teams that are the best at player development are the teams that make young players earn their spot by beating out an incumbent for minutes. (more…)

Two Homecomings Worth Mentioning

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’d be remiss here at Hang Time if we didn’t review a pair of returns Wednesday night, Rip Hamilton in Detroit and Rashard Lewis in Orlando. For completely different reasons, both players made their mark on those franchises before moving on, mainly because those franchises didn’t want them anymore.

Let’s get to Rip first. He led the Pistons to the 2004 title and a string of deep playoff runs last decade before the team around him crumbled. And then he was bought out and waived by Detroit and fell into the lap of the Bulls, thrilled to have a guard with a nasty mid-range jumper playing next to Derrick Rose. Well, Rip was warmly welcomed back to the Palace — by all six fans who showed up (actually, the announced crowd was 9,125. For the Bulls. Yeesh. Remember when The Palace was always filled with 20,000 strong?). It was a surreal sight for Rip, if only because the atmosphere was far different during the glory years, but times have changed for Rip and the Pistons, as we see.

Hamilton had nothing but positive memories and things to say anyway, as recounted here by Perry A. Farrell in the Detroit Free-Press:

What few fans showed up for the Pistons’ 99-83 loss to Chicago gave Richard Hamilton a warm round of applause tonight at the Palace.

Public address announcer John Mason described him as the longtime shooting guard.

Before the game Hamilton chatted with Austin Daye, and just before tip-off went over to the Detroit bench and hugged Rodney Stuckey, trainer Mike Abdenour, assistant coach Brian Hill and coach Lawrence Frank. He spent a lot of time at half-court afterward greeting his former teammates.

Hamilton said every time he looked up into the Palace rafters he saw his name — alongside those of Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Corliss Williamson, Elden Campbell, Mehmet Okur, Rahseed Wallace, Chauncey Billups and the rest of the group that brought a title back to Detroit in 2004.

He faced his old team for the first time since being waived and bought out of his contract last month.

“It was fun,” said Hamilton, who scored seven of his 14 points in the third quarter and played through a sore left groin while racking up five assists and three rebounds. “I couldn’t wait for the ball to be thrown up. There was a lot of emotion early in the game, being on the visitor’s side and not being accustomed to it in this building. It was difficult. I said. ‘Man, please don’t start crying or anything crazy.’

“The fans appreciate what I did here. They’ve always been supportive of me. Even when things weren’t going well they’d always chant my name. I have a lot of love for them. It’s tough to see this place half empty. I think when Chauncey and Rahseed and I were here they had sellouts for seven straight years.”

(more…)

Curtains For The Real Big Ben?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Long before someone decided to tag that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback with the same nickname, “Big” Ben Wallace was busy becoming an icon in Detroit.

One of the truly unique players of his era and really in league history — he was a four-time All-Star and a four-time Defensive Player of the Year while barely a factor on offense for much of his 15-year career — Wallace is talking about calling it quits after this season.

He didn’t say he would retire. But he did say it is one of the options that could be under consideration this summer, per my main Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News:

“That’s always been the case, the last couple of years,” said Wallace, 37. “When the season is over with, I’ll see how my body feels. See if I can get my strength back. If can help this team, maybe I’ll come back.”

Wallace is under contract through next season ($1.9 million), but with the drama — and losing — it’s not hard to envision him reconsidering.

“I’d definitely like to honor (the contract),” Wallace said. “But I have to do what’s best for me as far as my body.

“My legs are feeling good. Let me run up and down the court a little bit, see if I need to do some more work or sit my butt down.”

(more…)

Yet Another Twist In Pistons’ Saga

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The finger pointing in Detroit won’t subside anytime soon.

It’s going to take someone’s departure — Rip Hamilton or John Kuester, whoever goes first, take your pick — before we get any sort of handle on what’s really going on in Mowtown.

Because as of right now, there are more conflicting reports than there is anything else emanating from pile of rubble that is this once proud franchise. Kuester has “lost the locker room,” per our very own David Aldridge of TNT and NBA.com (above). That massive player revolt of the other day was actually just a perfect storm of events, highlighted by Hamilton’s one-man revolution. And at least one local scribe, Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News, asked for the players to apologize before Saturday night’s game against Utah for a stunt that others suggest never was:

They can call it whatever they want, but this was a players’ mutiny against Kuester, a decent guy but a poor leader. He’s not strong enough to be an NBA head coach and surely will be fired at some point, but the players’ power-play against a powerless coach is indefensible.

Those guys are permanently stained, unless they make a sincere move to address it. Here’s their one short-term shot: The players should take the microphone before tonight’s game against Utah at the Palace and apologize to the fans — however many are left — for poor decisions. Say they’re remorseful and they’d like to try to fix it. Then play as if their careers are at stake.

Of course, that’d require accepting some blame, and accountability sure is in limited supply these days. No, words don’t automatically heal, but the Pistons must realize they still have fans who’d like to cheer instead of boo all night.

The Pistons did knock off the Jazz with an inspired performance led by their youngsters and journeyman. Hamilton watched it all unfold in street clothes, same as he has much of this season.

The Pistons’ Player Revolt

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Things have gone from bad to worse for the Detroit Pistons after Thursday’s trade deadline.

Several Pistons missed this morning’s shootaround practice in Philadelphia in some sort of “player protest” against coach John Kuester, per the Detroit Free Press.

Tracy McGrady, Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton and Chris Wilcox all missed the shootaround. But that’s just the start. More from the Vince Ellis of the Free Press:

Team spokesman Cletus Lewis said Rodney Stuckey and Austin Daye missed the team bus as well, but they did arrive toward the end of the media session.

Lewis said McGrady had a headache, Prince had an upset stomach and Hamilton and Wilcox missed the bus from the team hotel.

Ben Wallace also missed the shootaround. Lewis said Wallace was dealing with a family matter. Wallace has missed games and practices over the past month because of the issue.

Only Greg Monroe, Will Bynum, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell and DaJuan Summers were full participants in the morning shootaround.

Sources indicated that the discontent is directed at Pistons coach John Kuester, who has clashed with players repeatedly this season. The organization downplayed the absences, insisting Prince and McGrady were ill.

One source, who asked not to be identified, said he didn’t know what the next step would be, and didn’t say who organized the absences. But he said it was an organized protest, with some players deciding it was best to show up anyway.

Has it come to this for the Pistons?

Have things really gotten this bad for this Kuester, who said he will go with whoever is available for tonight’s game against the Sixers?

Maybe the players thought there was going to be some mass exodus at the trade deadline. And when that didn’t happen, they decided to take matters into their own hands.

Either way, this is a disastrous start to the stretch run of the season for a Pistons team that certainly didn’t need any more distractions.

Daye-ja Vu

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – No strangers to slender frontcourt starters in recent years, the Detroit Pistons are taking it a step further this year with the announcement that second-year man Austin Daye will start at power forward.

That means the 6-foot-11, 200-pound Daye will work alongside Tayshaun Prince, who outweighs him by roughly 15 pounds. Starting these two with Ben Wallace in his prime might not have seemed like basketball red flag for opposing teams when they attack the rim. But just thinking about the Pistons’ frontline trying to hold up against some of the larger groups around the league — Boston, Los Angeles, Orlando, etc. — makes you shake your head.

No one is questioning Daye’s offensive prowess. But just like Prince found out a couple of years ago, working every night at power forward is much tougher on the body than playing small forward. And when you don’t have as much body to work with, well … it makes things even tougher: