2012-2013 Game 6 Preview: Thunder Debut New Alternates Vs. Dreadful Pistons

Yeah, this is the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge. But just pretend that Gary Neal isn't there. - Kevork Djansezian

Okay, so at first glance, this matchup doesn't look that appealing. But there's gems to be found on every NBA team, even the Pistons....

2012-2013 NBA Season
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The Detroit Pistons (0-5)
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The Oklahoma City Thunder (3-2)
November 9th, 2012
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
7:00 PM CDT
Fox Sports Net Oklahoma, Fox Sports Net Detroit, WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1)
Enemy Blogs: Detroit Bad Boys, Need4Sheed, Piston Powered
Previous Meetings: None
Probable Starters
Brandon Knight PG Russell Westbrook
Rodney Stuckey SG Thabo Sefolosha
Tayshaun Prince SF Kevin Durant
Jason Maxiell PF Serge Ibaka
Greg Monroe C Kendrick Perkins

Okay, so at first glance, this matchup doesn't look that appealing. The Pistons are headed straight for the lottery, have yet to win a game (they lost to the lowly Kings on Wednesday), and don't really have a single headline player on their roster. Rodney Stuckey has started off the season with a glorious 17.4% shooting percentage (I'm not joking), the team is dead last in rebounding, and they can't score most of the time. To make things worse, they're starting off the season with a brutal six game, nine day road trip against some tough opponents. Oh yeah, and Jonas Jerebko just took an elbow to the throat.

So, what does make this matchup appealing? Well, Greg Monroe will be a nice test for the Thunder bigs, and give a bit of a chance for Kendrick Perkins to prove himself after some recent poor play. Monroe had his first career triple-double against the Kings on Wednesday. Surprisingly for a center, part of it was 11 assists, showing that Monroe's passing ability is as keen as his post moves. Well, against a run the floor team like the Kings, anyway.

Brandon Knight is also an intriguing prospect on the Pistons. He's kind of a combo guard who the Pistons want to push into a point guard position, but his similarities with Russell Westbrook end there. He's a much better shooter than Russ is, and works tremendously off the ball. However, for every night where he flashes brilliance there's another where he looks like a pile of meh, and his performance serves as a nice litmus test for how the team is doing as a whole. In other words, if Westbrook can demoralize Knight early, this could be a blowout for the Thunder.

But, other than looks at those two guys, there's just not a lot to get excited for when you're watching the Pistons. They're bad at offense, bad at defense, and bad at rebounding. All they really seem to know how to do is get to the line. And it's still a mystery to me as to why Tayshaun Prince is still on that roster. It's like the guy is Milton in Office Space, who was actually fired two years ago but stayed around due to some payroll bug. Prince is a good player in his own right, but he's been riding a sinking ship for years now, and he's not getting any younger. Still, I have to give him props for loyalty. Rare to see an NBA guy stick in one place with no complaints for so long. (Aside from, you know, that rebellion he helped start.)

How could the Pistons win this game? Well, they'll just have to play their butts off. Greg Monroe and Jason Maxiell would have to do a much better job on the boards. Stuckey and Knight would have to form a decent scoring combo and take advantage of weak D from K-Mart as well as the smaller size of Maynor. Tayshaun Prince would have to slow down KD. And the bench would have to improve their shot selection while also becoming much better defenders.

Anyway get ready for a pleasant Friday matchup. Every NBA game holds surprises, and who knows? The Pistons might be better than we think. If not, at least we'll get some more footage of the elusive Lamb and Jones. In any case, the Pistons never steal the ball, so at least we won't have to sigh at Durant turning it over tonight.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 108, Detroit Pistons 87

If you are looking for tickets to upcoming games, you can find Oklahoma City Thunder tickets here.

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