Wednesday , Jul , 20 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Pistons will continue winning ways without Brown

(Sports Network) – Larry Brown guided Detroit to consecutive appearances in
the NBA Finals and one championship during his short tenure as its head coach.
The Pistons will now prove to the rest of the league that even without Brown
on the bench, they are still one of the top teams in the NBA.

Yes, the 64-year-old Brown did get the Pistons, who fell in seven games to San
Antonio in this year’s championship round, over the hump and did look like a
genius during their five-game series victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in
the 2004 NBA Finals. However, let’s not forget that he took over a team that
was ready to take the next step even before he entered the picture.

The Pistons had registered back-to-back 50-win seasons under Rick Carlisle,
who is the head coach of the Indiana Pacers, before Brown, who is already a
member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, became the general
prior to the 2003-04 campaign. Brown did do a great job, but Detroit’s
president of basketball operations Joe Dumars had already put together a
roster that was ready to win with or without Brown.

Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace, who has been named the
league’s top defensive player three times during his career, is the catalyst
for Detroit’s tenacious defensive play and will make sure the team continues
to win with its trademark. The All-Star Wallace averaged 9.7 points and a
team-best 12.2 rebounds in 74 regular-season games this past season. He shined
during this year’s postseason on both ends of the court and is a key to the
Pistons’ success.

Forwards Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace and guards Chauncey Billups and
Richard Hamilton team with Ben Wallace to form one of the best starting five’s
in the NBA. Prince has evolved into one of the best defensive forwards in the
league, while Rasheed Wallace averaged 14.5 points and 8.2 boards in 79
regular-season contests in the 2004-05 campaign. Both Prince and Rasheed
Wallace played well in the postseason, and they came through in the clutch
when their team needed a lift.

The guard combination of Billups, who was the MVP of the 2004 NBA Finals, and
Hamilton is one of the top all-around tandems in the league. Neither player
has appeared in an All-Star Game during their careers, but they can both flat
out play. Billups is the right point guard for Detroit as he gets everyone
involved on offense and is able to knock down a big shot at anytime, while
Hamilton is methodical in his approach to the game. The 27-year-old Hamilton
is always moving off the ball and uses screens better than any player in the
NBA.

Hamilton led the Pistons in scoring during the regular season (18.7 ppg) and
the playoffs (20.0 ppg). The Connecticut product could be the most underrated
player in the NBA, as he has become the go-to guy for Detroit. The 6-7
shooting guard is a winner and definitely plays the game “the right way.”

Billups played in 80 games during the 2004-05 regular season, averaging 16.5
points and a team-high 5.8 assists. He made 42.6 percent of his attempts from
beyond the arc and continued his stellar play during Detroit’s recent playoff
run.

Detroit also has veteran forward Antonio McDyess and guard Carlos Arroyo on
the bench. The two are solid reserves and are valuable to the Pistons. Twenty-
year-old Darko Milicic, who was selected by Detroit with the second overall
pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, may finally get his chance to show off his talents
in 2005-06. The 7-0 Milicic appeared in just 71 games during his first two
years in the league and was never given a real chance by Brown, who prefers to
play veterans over younger players.

Dumars has put together a roster that knows how to win. He will add some more
pieces to the puzzle in the offseason. With their starting five leading the
way, the Pistons will once again be primed for another run at an NBA title.

Even without Brown calling the shots from the bench, the Pistons will still be
winners.

DET