One of the major complaints levied against Flip Saunders in Detroit, even through a season in which the aging starters played short minutes, was the lack of confidence in Amir Johnson. The wunderkind 21-year-old only got into 62 games and didn't hit 800 minutes on the season ... despite producing at a high level every chance he received.
New coach Michael Curry isn't making the same mistake. He told reporters this weekend Johnson will be the team's new starting power forward.
"Amir does things without having to have the ball," Curry said. "He's able to pick up baskets through his activity, by running the floor and playing off the other four guys. He does all the intangible things, and through that he's able to create offensive opportunities for himself."
That seems to be the key in fitting the Pistons pieces together. The other four incumbents can score and create offense. Historically, last year's starting four Antonio McDyess (who will be the first forward off the bench) has been a good creator and scorer. Johnson figures to block more shots, create more turnovers, and crash the offensive boards better than McDyess. That's where the Pistons need help in the starting lineup.
It doesn't hurt that McDyess will be joined by Rodney Stuckey -- a gutsy, explosive guard -- and rough as rocks Jason Maxiell off the bench. Barring injury, Detroit really seems to fit together well.