Detroit Pistons Basketball changes lineup in trade for Nugget Allen Iverson

November 7, 2008

This past Tuesday, the people of the United States of America voted for change and went with Barack Obama as President. The day before, Joe Dumars and the staff of the Detroit Pistons voted to shake up their core by trading team leader and point guard Chauncey Billups to the Denver Nuggets for Allen Iverson. The move was called change for the sake of change, but it might be a move that undermines Detroit’s entire season.

NBA teams tend to gel during training camps and form chemistry in addition to coming together with an offensive and defensive game plan. When a trade happens mid-season, it results in new players having to adjust to the system. Many teams in history have gone through struggles as a part of this and tend not to adjust completely until the next season’s training camp. What makes this move worse for Detroit is that this move comes just one week into the new NBA season. Detroit must spend an entire season without having bonded.

Just ask Miami and Phoenix about the difficulties. Last year they swapped Shawn Marion for Shaquille O’Neal in February, two very different players that changed the style of play for each team. Miami was slightly worse after the trade. Phoenix on the other hand dropped from winning 71% of their games pre-trade to 62% of their games post-trade. In the strong west, this dropped them out of serious contention for the top spots in the conference.

It is likely that this trade will cause similar problems for Detroit. The four-man core of Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Rasheed Wallace has been together since the middle of the 2004 season. Detroit plays a team oriented game. Billups was considered the glue that made it work, distributing the ball evenly. Iverson is anything but a pure point guard. He is undersized and is primarily a scorer who gets his assists off of his drives to the basket. It is extremely questionable how the output of Hamilton, Prince, and Wallace will be affected by having a shoot-first point guard instead of Billups. It calls for a complete revamping of Detroit’s offensive scheme. With a new head coach in Michael Curry, one questions how Detroit can easily adapt and remain a winner in an eastern conference that while weak, has several very strong rising teams.

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