At his best, Detroit Pistons sixth man Rodney Stuckey can look like the second coming of Dwayne Wade, as he did in today’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. But for the past few years, regardless of his stat-line, Stuckey has been a player that makes Pistons fans everywhere shake their heads, throw their hands up in the sky and ask “Why, Rodney? Why can’t you do what we know you can do every night?” (I may have cleaned up the language I usually use).
Stuckey has become comfortable with his role off the bench, and has scored at least 16 points in his last six games for the Pistons. Why has he performed so much better this season? Maybe it’s the renewed hope that has surrounded the Pistons since signing Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. Maybe he’s found a reason to play for new head coach Maurice Cheeks. Maybe he’s in a contract year, and wants to prove he can contribute at a high level in the NBA. Whatever the reason, Rodney Stuckey is finally playing well in his contract year, and living up to the expectations that have followed him since his rookie season back in 2007.
Stuckey put up 27 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and only 1 turnover in only 31 minutes against the Brooklyn Nets on the Sunday afternoon game in Brooklyn. Though Stuckey was certainly the hero of this game, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give credit to the rest of the Pistons lineup, which performed admirably. Brandon Jennings passed the ball, and despite a poor 2-10 shooting effort, chipped in 14 points. Andre Drummond grabbed rebounds. Greg Monroe put up a quiet 18 point, 11 rebound game. Josh Smith, in his new role, did a little bit of everything. Kyle Singler and Josh Harrellson came in and provided energy off the bench. Even Charlie Villanueva chipped in eight points.
Therein lies the epitome of the Detroit Pistons: Teamwork. Anyone, whether he starts or comes off the bench, can be “the man” on any given night, in any given game. Rodney Stuckey, in this game, was unquestionably “the man.”
The biggest factor for the Pistons, however, will rely on every man playing his role to perfection. Andre Drummond has to rebound. Jennings has to pass. Smith and Monroe have to live up to their All-Star potential, and perhaps most importantly, Stuckey has to continue to provide energy to the second unit. Hell, if he keeps playing like this, expect to hear his name a LOT in the sixth man of the year award talks.
Whether or not Stuckey ever lives up to his potential is totally up to him. Whether he is still with the Pistons this time next year, or even in the next few months, is up to Joe Dumars. Regardless, Stuckey will continue to play a valuable role in the Pistons, as well as his own, futures.
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