Its been a rough season for Pistons fans but at this point I'm rather optimistic about the direction of the team. Here's why I'm gonna mix up a tall glass of kool aid and knock it back. Lawrence Frank: I don't know if the Pistons would have won a championship with Frank during the Flip years but I think we may have gotten to the finals one more time. Key problems that bit the Going to Work team in the ass like rebounding, points in the paint and drawing fouls are relatively strong areas for this current team. Frank is quick to use time outs to control momentum. Aside from Daye, team morale looks good despite losing. Frank's been doing more with less. I'm interested to see what he can accomplish with a full offseason and a full training schedule. Floor Spacing: At the start of the season we looked like a bunch of really good pickup players vs. an NBA team. The results were horrible. As the season wore on, the team got to put more time on the offensive end. You can see nowadays that the players have the floor spacing concept clicking in their heads. We still play a 2 man game with the other 3 standing around. With the practice time as it is, I think Frank is keeping it simple. Given more time, I am confident he can introduce motion concepts where we see regular movement off the ball and guys cutting to the basket. JJ would benefit greatly from this. Scrappy defense: We have a front line that gets dunked on regularly by forwards and centers who play above the rim. Still, we're getting stops and forcing turnovers. What really kills us is cold shooting. That puts too much pressure to continue getting stops and if a guy heats up on the other team, its over. We still have problems with guys cutting to the lane and that's because we have no real shot blocking threat. Our defense is a team thing. I don't think there can be a whole lot of improvement there without bringing in some defensive talent. Monroe: Greg was playing his ass off at the start of the season. He's picking his moments more now. He's also getting caught up complaining to the refs. Still, he's drawing attention from up to 3 defenders in the post. Against weak front lines, he can be dominant. Against tall, athletic opponents, he struggles mightily. That coupled with Stuckey's rise as the focal point of our offense has reduced Greg's role on offense. Watching the Lakers game, I could not help but think that if we had a big next to Monroe that could block shots and take attention off of him as a scoring threat, it would open up everything for the team. We should be giving the ball to Greg at the high post more and working around him. He becomes a triple threat at the free throw line area. Knight: I'm not going to lie and say that I've seen flashes of point guard brilliance because I haven't. What I have seen is a real competitor with an extra gear that he needs to figure out how to get into regularly. The good thing about this is that if you got the ball out of his hands, the offense would still function unlike when teams trapped Chauncey. He does need to improve his ball handling. He has the speed to break the trap but was caught several times by Memphis. I have a lot of confidence in this kid because you can see his brain working night in and night out. He sees more than just his man on defense which is why he rebounds so well. Stuckey: There's been a lot of talk around the internet about Stuckey and his super collider attack mode. during the Toronto game he showed the pull up and medium range jumper. Its good to have a guy that can score but Stuckey does so sometimes at the expense of the team. Maybe Monroe is struggling, I haven't made a connection between Monroe's struggles and super collider attack overboard. Stuckey has carried the team out of the hole and back in again. Sometimes in the same game. Even when he's hot, he has to involve Monroe. It will benefit him more in the long run. Maxiell: Jason's come up big. For all the dunks and blocks, its the 15 foot open jumper that I love the most. The thing about starting is he's with Monroe who will get double team or guys cheating off to cover him leaving Maxiell wide open. He's got the confidence and that shot is dropping. You need that contribution from Maxiell and Jerebko to take the pressure off your main guys. Imagine a 15/8 guy at this spot vs. a 6/5 guy. The thing is, we need a guy that plays around the basket and can hit the 15 footer not a guy that tweets from the perimeter and can hit the 15 footer if he takes a dribble in. Like the US economy, recovery is fragile. A botched draft pick could derail this rebuild permanently. But they're far from a collection of hopeless scrubs waiting for a superstar to bail them out. Jerebko could become an elite 6th man a la Shane Battier. He's got the athleticism, the hustle and range on his jumper. He's got great body control and a high motor. So I'm optimistic despite the sometimes demoralizing results.