Well that whole draft thing was demoralizing. Rather than dwell on it, I'd rather keep looking at what this team, as configured, could be. And keep an eye out for what they still need. A look back at the 07-08 Pistons, coached by one Flip Saunders, may give more reason for hope for the Bullets than a straight statistical analysis of the roster did. Comparing the pieces, it seems like Flip has raw material on the current roster that should be on par with what he had then, though he'll need the youngsters to progress to have the depth that he had on that team and they could, as we all know, use another rotation big. If EG/Flip's template for this team is that Pistons team....they may have something. At least a regular season something.
Of course, what we don't know is how much of that team's success was actually due to Flip (and maybe some groundwork done both in prior seasons by Flip and by Larry Brown a few years earlier) and how much was just a natural fit of the personalities and talents on that roster and/or the tremendous amount of court time its core had seen together. It is also fair to wonder how good that same team would be if dropped into what is shaping up to be a much deeper 09-10 East. I'm not entirely sure how useful an exercise this is, but anything to get the mind off Rubio/Blair.
The 07-08 Pistons
07-08 was the third and final year of Flip's tenure with the Pistons, following two years of Larry Brown and two years of Rick Carlisle. It was their 7th straight 50+ win season and that year they posted the 2nd highest win total of the entire run, with a record of 59-23. It ended with their 3rd straight loss in the Eastern Conference Finals, this time to the Celtics.
The starting five (Billups/Hamilton/Prince/Sheed/McDyess) were in their third season together, though McDyess was the 6th man his first season, later replacing Ben Wallace in the starting lineup. It was the 6th year of a Billups/Hamilton backcourt
The top four reserves (by minutes) were Maxiell (1,768), arvis Hayes (1,287), Rodney Stuckey (1,081) and Arron Afflalo (970). After them, the next-most-used were Amir Johnson (62 games, 764 minutes) and Ronald Murray (19 games, 2 starts, 347 minutes). Nazr Mohammed (beginning) and Theo Ratliff and Walter Hermann (end) also spent part-seasons there. Ratliff averaged 13.9 minutes per in 16 games, including 3 starts.
The average age of the starters was 30 y/o; the top four off the bench was a very young 23 y/o. Stuckey and Afflalo were rookies , Maxiell was in his third year, and, as we know all too well, arvis was by then a veteran. (Un-fun fact: ex-Wizards played 6,300 minutes for that team, including Juan chipping in 244.) Flip Lesson One: He will play youngsters.
Stuckey got 19 minutes per in February and March (and even more in April, though that's probably more due to Flip resting his starters), with only one game under 13 minutes. Flip Lesson Two: He lived with the young players' inconsistencies (off the bench) rather than leaning heavily or falling back on veterans. In the same stretch of time, Nick Young averaged 17 minutes (not bad, right?), but had 8 games of single-digit minutes.
No starter played more than 33.7 minutes per. Compare to the Big 3 all tallying more than 38 minutes per under EJ in 06-07. Flip Lesson Three: He knows it is a long season and plans accordingly. Plus, I think we can tie the last two ‘graphs together for Flip Lesson Four: The man likes a set rotation. (Anecdotally, I remember lots of times watching that team where it seemed like the players knew whether they were going in and out of the game based on game time/situation, without needing to be told.)
Having set the stage, let's do a spot-by-spot comparison of the rosters. Because there's so much to go through, (and I've already written so much in drowning my draft day sorrows) I'm going to break it down into one post each for backcourt offense and defense, one for the frontcourt, and then an extra Agent Zero vs Big Shot Chauncey post. I basically have the backcourt parts written, but I'll pace myself here and try to incorporate any feedback into the later posts.