Let’s start off with the number one contentious issue – minutes played. Across the 44 games played so far this season the trend has been in the right direction. Like last season Hamilton leads the team in minutes per game, but with an average night 1.5 minutes shorter this season than last. Billups, Prince, and Wallace have also decreased minutes per game this season, with Prince down the most - by nearly three minutes. McDyess and Maxiell have the largest increases with McDyess up nearly ten minutes a game and Maxiell up nearly nine. This season Max is playing more minutes per game than Dyess did last season. The Pistons finished last season 53 up and 29 down, winning 65% of their games. The team is up on that pace this year at 31-13, winning 70% so far. Projected to the full season, the Pistons would end up five games better than last year. That’s good enough right now for the third best record in the league, behind only Boston and New Orleans (tied with Phoenix). Improvements on both ends of the court account for the difference. The Pistons are scoring better this season, up 1.6 PPG, and defending better, holding opponents to 90.2 PPG (versus 91.8 last season). That comes out to an average per game difference of 7.4 points, up from 4.2 last season.The team is shooting slightly better this season than last, on the strength of a big increase in three point accuracyTwo point shooting is down – 0.466 this season versus 0.481 last yearThree point shooting is up – 0.364 this season versus 0.344 last yearThe share of FGAs from beyond the arc is basically the same – 20.2% this season versus 20.1% last seasonFour players, Billups, Wallace, Hayes, and Hunter, take more than a third of their shots from downtownThe increase in three point shooting accounts for 1.1 more points per game this season (most of the average scoring increase of 1.6 PPG)Free throw shooting is down – 0.774 to 0.763Assists are up nearly one per game, and turnovers down by 0.5 per gameAssist to turnover ratio is up to 1.939 this season versus 1.766 last yearThe table below shows shooting percentages by player for this season and last. Productivity is up overall for the top four plus McDyess. The five are playing a higher share of team minutes (owing to having been injured less and having played in a higher share of total games than last year) and contributing a higher share of Sprocket Points. In total this group is about four percent more productive this season than last (driven mostly by better shooting by the guards). (Productivity is measured by comparing the share of Sprocket Points produced to the share of minutes played. In the tables below a 100 index means a player contributed the same share of Sprocket Points as minutes – i.e., performed as you would expect from the average player. An index above 100 indicates that the player is contributing more than the average Piston.) On an individual basis, Billups is the most productive starter, and has increased productivity relative to minutes by ten percent over last season (% Chg). Can you say All Star? Of the big five, Prince and McDyess both are less productive this season than last, though only Prince is not holding his own relative to minutes played. The table below provides productivity data for the rest of the team.Amir is the most productive player on the team, edging out Billups for the top spot. Limited minutes make it difficult to project this number up though.Maxiell is nearly as productive as Wallace and McDyess (110 index versus 116 and 112). His productivity this season is up 22% over last year (numbers not shown in the tables), the largest increase of anyone on the team. So, he is not only playing more minutes, but producing at a higher rate per minute than last year.All of the rookies / new players are less productive than the average Piston given their minutes played, with Stuckey anchoring the ranking, then Affalo, then Hayes. Of course this isn’t unexpected with an average dominated by the starters. Stuckey and Affalo do not do too badly when compared to Hayes, not bad at all for rookies.