1980-81 Detroit Pistons Games Played/Started & Transactions

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1980-81 Detroit Pistons Games Played/Started & Transactions

Postby MCT » Thu Sep 04, 2014 5:32 pm

This is the eleventh of a planned series of threads analyzing games played, games started and transactions for the 1980-81 season. Before reading any further, see the introductory thread below:

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=4961

DETROIT PISTONS – PART I

SEASON OVERVIEW

The Pistons had a 21-61 record. They finished sixth and last in the Central Division, and had the worst record of the eleven teams in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons did not qualify for the playoffs.

The Pistons used 16 different players for the season, five above the minimum.

ROSTER AND TRANSACTIONS

OPENING NIGHT ROSTER

Kent Benson
Larry Drew
Tony Fuller
Keith Herron
Phil Hubbard
Greg Kelser
Ron Lee
John Long
*Bob McAdoo
Paul Mokeski
Wayne Robinson
Terry Tyler

*placed on injured list 10/8/80

IN-SEASON TRANSACTIONS

In the list below, anything which is underlined is the subject of discrepancies or guesswork, or is the result of further research beyond my usual sources.

11/13/80 – Signed Larry Wright as a Veteran Free Agent; sent two draft picks (1981 3rd round and 1983 2nd round) to the Bullets as compensation for Wright; waived Tony Fuller.

12/5/80 – Placed John Long on the injured list; signed Lee Johnson to a 10-day contract.

12/15/80 – Activated John Long from the injured list.

12/16/80 – Traded Greg Kelser to the Sonics for a 1983 1st round pick.

12/17/80 – The previous day’s trade involving Greg Kelser was voided after Kelser failed his physical.

12/18/80 – Placed Greg Kelser on the injured list; activated Bob McAdoo from the injured list.

12/21/80 – Placed John Long on the injured list; signed Norman Black to a 10-day contract.

1/1/81 – Activated John Long from the injured list.

1/26/81 – Placed Kent Benson on the injured list.

1/27/81 – Signed Ed Lawrence to a 10-day contract.

2/5/81 – Activated Kent Benson from the injured list.

3/11/81 – Waived Bob McAdoo; activated Greg Kelser from the injured list.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

Larry Wright signing:

Wright’s signing with the Pistons was reported in the transaction column in the 11/14/80 Globe, but it doesn’t mention compensation. Through the Google News Archive, I found an AP wire service story in the 11/14/80 editions of the Owosso (Mich.) Argus-Press and Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star, and well as a transaction column sourced from UPI in the same day’s Bryan (Oh.) Times, confirming that compensation was announced at the same time as the signing.

Voided Greg Kelser trade:

Prior to doing my Globe research, I was unaware that the voided trade of Kelser to the Sonics had ever happened. (The NBA Register showed rescinded trades later on, in the ‘90s and ‘00s, but not in this era.) The Globe reported the trade in the transaction column its 12/17 edition. I also found additional papers in the Google News Archive reporting the trade in their 12/17 editions. This suggests that the trade happened on 12/16/80.

The trade being voided never appeared in the Globe transaction column, but I found two newspapers in the Google News Archive reporting it in their 12/18 editions (the Milwaukee Journal and the Eugene (Ore.) Register-Guard), suggesting that this happened on 12/17. The Google News Archive also has two newspapers with an AP wire service report in their 12/19 editions on Kelser being subsequently placed on the IL which mentions Kelser failing his physical and the trade being voided on “Wednesday”, which would be 12/17 (the Milwaukee Journal again, and the Lewiston (Me.) Daily Sun).

10-day contracts:

b-r.com shows the date that Norman Black signed his 10-day contract as 12/1/80, rather than 12/21/80. I am fairly certain that b-r.com’s date is a typo. All of my other sources with coverage of this transaction show the date as 12/21 (NBA Register, pst.com, Globe, several additional newspapers in the Google News Archive). The 12/21 date is also consistent with Black’s appearances in the TSN box scores and with other transactions the Pistons are known to have made.

When Lee Johnson signed with the Pistons on 12/5, b-r.com gives no indication that it was a 10-day contract, showing it as what seems to be a regular free agent signing. I am fairly certain that the contract Johnson signed was a 10-day contract; b-r.com’s write-up must have been based on an incomplete description of the transaction. All of my other sources with coverage of this transaction show it as a 10-day contract (NBA Register, pst.com, Globe, and two additional newspapers in the Google News Archive – the Wilmington (N.C.) Star and the Sumter (S.C.) Daily Item). A 10-day contract is also consistent with Johnson’s appearances for the Pistons in the TSN box scores and with other transactions the Pistons are known to have made.

Injured list transactions:

The 10/8/80, 12/5/80, 12/18/80, 12/21/80, 1/1/81, 1/26/81, 2/5/81 and 3/11/81 transactions involving players coming on and off the injured list were all reported in the Globe’s transactions column (i.e., in the following day’s edition of the paper). Of these, pst.com has the 10/8/80, 12/18/80, 12/21/80 and 1/26/81 transactions.

I don’t have any documentation of John Long being activated from the IL on 12/15/80, but this must have happened on or about this date. When Long went on the IL on 12/5, the Pistons filled his roster spot by signing Lee Johnson to a 10-day contract. Johnson wasn’t re-signed when his 10 days were up, and Long returned to action on 12/17 (the Pistons’ last game before that had been on 12/13). So Long must have activated at some point between the time Johnson’s 10-day contract expired and the game on 12/17.

pst.com has a transaction showing Bob McAdoo being placed on the IL on 12/29/80. I have not found this in any other source, and I do not think it is correct. It is my understanding that players placed on the injured list needed to miss five games before they could be activated again. McAdoo did not play in the Pistons’ next game after 12/29, which was on 12/30, but he returned to action in the following game. Based on that, I don’t see how he could have been placed on the IL on 12/29. I am wondering if this ultimately came from a report which meant to say that McAdoo was out with an injury (on a day to day basis, where he might miss some games but would remain on the active roster) but was misunderstood somewhere along the line to mean that he was being placed on the IL.

GAMES STARTED INFO

MEDIA GUIDE

When it comes to games started numbers for the Pistons, there’s some good news, and some bad news.

The good news: the 2013-14 Pistons Media Guide has regular season games started stats going back to the 1977-78 season, including 1980-81.

The bad news: the figures for 1980-81 in the Media Guide don’t add up correctly. For an 82-game season, the games started totals for a given team’s players should add up to 410 (82 times 5). The totals in the Pistons Media Guide add up to 411, which is one too many.

More bad news: I thought I might be able to locate the source of the one-game discrepancy by comparing the media guide numbers with the TSN box scores. Instead, when I started looking at the TSN boxes, I found more discrepancies.

But none of the discrepancies between the media guide and the TSN boxes involve more than a game or two. So while the numbers we have may not be exact, they are probably close, and should at least be decent estimates.

For the record, here are the totals in the Pistons Media Guide (bearing in mind that these can’t possibly be 100% accurate, since they don’t add up correctly):

Tyler 67
Hubbard 62
Benson 57
Long 54
Wright 38
Mokeski 34
Herron 33
Lee 28
Drew 16
Kelser 16
McAdoo 4
Fuller 2

TSN BOX SCORES

All but four of the TSN box scores for the 1980-81 Pistons appear to list the players in “starters first” F-F-C-G-G order. The four exceptions were games on 11/7/80, 11/14/80, 11/18/80 and 11/20/80. All of these games fall within an eight-game period, with the last three representing three games in a four-game period. The last two are consecutive games.

In the 11/7/80 box score, the first four names look like they could be in “starters first” order (Kelser, Tyler, Benson, Long), but the fifth makes no sense at all (Robinson at what would be a G slot). In every other game between 10/22 and at least 11/12, the other starting guard opposite Long was Ron Lee. Lee doesn’t appear in the 11/7 box score, raising the possibility that this is one of those box scores where one of the regular starters didn’t play and the scorekeeper apparently used a template with the usual starters. Official NBA statistics credit Lee with playing in all 82 games this season, however. If that’s correct, Lee must have played in this game. Is it possible that Lee started this game, but was left out of the box score because he did not compile any stats that would have been shown in the box score? Or even was omitted accidentally?

In the other three games (11/14/80, 11/18/80 and 11/20/80), the Pistons players are clearly listed in alphabetical order.

I went through the TSN box scores and added up the number of games each player is shown starting. Then, I tried to guess how many of the four games whose box scores do not appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order were started by each player. I took into account who played in each game and who started the surrounding games. These are the numbers I came up with. For players whose games started are in the form of “x+y=z”, x is the games they are shown starting out of the 78 games whose TSN box scores appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order, y is the number of games I am guessing they started out of the four games whose box scores do not appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order, and z is the sum.

Tyler 61+4=65
Hubbard 61+2=63
Benson 53+4=57
Long 51+2=53
Wright 36+2=38
Herron 32+2=34
Mokeski 34
Lee 26+2=28
Kelser 14+2=16
Drew 16
McAdoo 4
Fuller 2

For the four games whose box scores do not appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order, here is what I based my guesses on, position by position:

Center: I think that Benson likely started all four of these games at center (11/7, 11/14, 11/18, 11/20). Benson played in all four games, and the TSN box scores show Benson starting every other game at center through 11/22.

Forward #1: I think that Tyler likely started all four of these games at forward (11/7, 11/14, 11/18, 11/20). Tyler played in all four games, and the TSN box scores show Tyler starting every other game through the end of November.

Forward #2: Up to this point in the season, Kelser had been the regular starter at the other forward position. Right around this time, however, Kelser was displaced as the starter by Hubbard. Kelser played in the first two of the four games, but did not play in the last two. The game that fell immediately after the second one marks Hubbard’s first appearance in a starter’s position in a TSN box score (11/16). I am guessing that Kelser started the first two games out of this group (11/7 and 11/14), and Hubbard started the last two (11/18 and 11/20).

Guard #1: For the previous few weeks before this group of games, Lee was the regular starter at PG. Right around this time, however, Lee was displaced as the starter by the recently acquired Wright. Wright had not yet been acquired as of 11/7, and 11/14 was his first game in a Pistons uniform; the game immediately after that marks Wright’s first appearance in a starter’ position in a TSN box score (11/16). I am guessing that Lee started the first two games out of this group (11/7 and 11/14), and Wright started the last two (11/18 and 11/20).

Guard #2: Up to this point in the season, Long had been the regular starter at SG. Long only played in the first two of these games (11/7 and 11/14), however. After 11/16, he dropped out of the lineup for a lengthy stretch. His usual fill-in was Herron. I am guessing that Long started the first two games out of this group (11/7 and 11/14), and Herron started the last two (11/18 and 11/20).

All of the above is consistent with the possibility that the first four players listed in the 11/7 box score were the actual starters at F, F, C and one G position. I am guessing that Lee was the remaining starter in that game, even though he doesn’t appear in the box score (but must have actually played, since he is credited with appearing in all 82 games). If Lee didn’t start, note that the starter couldn’t possibly have been Wright, since the Pistons didn’t sign Wright until six days later.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

Comparing the media guide numbers to the TSN box scores (taking into account my guesses as to who started the four games whose box scores do not appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order), there are four players who have discrepancies:

--The media guide credits Tyler with starting two more games (67) than my analysis of the TSN box scores (65).

-- The media guide credits Long with starting one more game (54) than my analysis of the TSN box scores (53).

--The media guide credits Hubbard with starting one fewer game (62) than my analysis of the TSN box scores (63).

--The media guide credits Herron with starting one fewer game (33) than my analysis of the TSN box scores (34).

The above discrepancies don’t balance. This is because the media guide numbers don’t add up correctly in the first place. As noted earlier, they add up to one too many games. Given that Tyler has a two-game discrepancy, while everyone else has a one-game discrepancy, it’s very possible that Tyler is the player with one too many games started in the media guide. If he is, and we subtract one start off his media guide total, that would leave us with two players who the media guide credits with one more start than the TSN box scores (Tyler and Long), and two players who the media guide credits with one fewer start than the TSN box scores (Hubbard and Herron), taking into account my guesses as to who started the four games whose box scores do not appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order.

The discrepancies for Tyler and Long cannot be resolved by adjusting my guesses as to who started the four games whose box scores do not appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order. My guesses already assume that Tyler and Long started every game in this group that they played in, so there is no way to adjust my guesses to credit Tyler and Long with more starts. Those four games are not the source of the discrepancies.

The discrepancies for Hubbard and Herron could be resolved by adjusting my guesses. I guessed that each started two games out of the group whose box scores do not appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order. We could instead assume that they each started only one game out of that group. If we did that, their media guide numbers and TSN box score numbers would match. That would create another problem, however. If the media guide numbers are accurate, there is no one else who could have started those games in place of Hubbard and Herron. We will be left with two “missing” games started, with no players whose games started totals correspond to them. (For the reasons explained above, even though Tyler and Long have a surplus of games started that mirrors the deficit for Hubbard and Herron, Tyler and Long couldn’t have started these two games in place of Hubbard and Herron.) Either the media guide numbers for Hubbard and Herron are wrong, or they are wrong for someone else, or there is an issue with a TSN box score somewhere.

At this point, I’m just going to accept that these discrepancies exist, and that I can’t resolve them with the information currently at my disposal. No matter how you slice it, there is no obvious way to reconcile the numbers. And we’re only talking about a game or two in every case.

Taking into account my guesses as to who started the four games whose box scores do not appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order, the media guide numbers and the TSN box scores are in agreement for Benson, Wright, Mokeski, Lee, Kelser, Drew, McAdoo and Fuller. The media guide indicates that Robinson and the three players who were with the Pistons only on 10-day contracts (Johnson, Black and Lawrence) did not start any games, and the TSN box scores are consistent with this. They do not show these players starting any games.

In Part II below, if the media guide and my analysis of the TSN box scores agrees on a particular player’s games started, I have used that number. For the four players whose games started numbers don’t agree, I haven’t used any number at all, but have addressed the discrepancy in the text.
Last edited by MCT on Wed Aug 09, 2017 5:33 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 Detroit Pistons Games Played/Started & Transacti

Postby MCT » Thu Sep 04, 2014 5:41 pm

DETROIT PISTONS – PART II

PLAYER INFORMATION

For our snapshot of the Pistons’ roster, I’m going to use our usual time period of late February, but I’m going to bend the rules for one thing. During this period, Kent Benson was on the active roster, but wasn’t playing, apparently due to an injury. Rather than listing him as the last player on the bench, the roster I am presenting below reflects the Pistons’ roster as it had been used when Benson was healthy. This wasn’t actually the case in late February, but I think it presents a much more sensible way to look at the roster.

KENT BENSON

History: 1st round pick of Bucks in 1977. Acquired in trade with Bucks, February 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 59 G, 33.2 MPG): The 23 games in which Benson did not play were one game on 11/26/80, four consecutive games from 11/29/80 through 12/6/80, and 18 consecutive games from 1/26/81 through 3/3/81. During the early part of the 18-game stretch, from 1/26/81 to 2/5/81, Benson was placed on the injured list, and the Pistons signed a player to 10-day contract as a fill-in (Ed Lawrence). After Lawrence’s 10-day contract expired, the Pistons moved Benson back onto the active roster, even though he wouldn’t actually appear in a game for another month, playing shorthanded in the meantime. The Pistons already had another player on the active roster who was injured/inactive (Bob McAdoo), so they were playing at least two men short throughout that period.

Games Started (Regular Season: 57): The Pistons Media Guide credits Benson with 57 starts. My analysis of the TSN box scores agrees with this number. Benson is shown as the starter in 53 of the box scores that appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order, and I think it is likely that he started all four of the games whose box scores do not appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order. If Benson made 57 starts, this means there were only two games he played in but did not start. According to the TSN box scores, these were two consecutive games on 3/5/81 & 3/7/81, Benson’s first two games back after the 18-game stretch when he didn’t play.

Of Benson’s 57 starts, the TSN box scores indicate that he made 48 at center and 9 at forward. All of Benson’s starts up to and including his first game back in the starting lineup after the 18-game stretch (3/11/81) were at center. At that point, with nine games left in the season, he was shifted to power forward; Paul Mokeski, who had started at center in Benson’s absence, was reinstalled in that role.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

JOHN LONG

History: 2nd round pick of Pistons in 1978.

Games Played (Regular Season 59 G, 29.7 MPG): The 23 games in which Long did not play were one game on 10/25/80, 17 out of the 20 games from 11/18/80 through 12/30/80 (the three games that Long appeared in during this period were three consecutive games from 12/17/80 through 12/19/80), and five consecutive games from 1/14/81 through 1/20/81. During the 20-game stretch, Long was on the injured list from 12/5/80 until approximately 12/15/80, and again from 12/21/80 to 1/1/81. Both times, the Pistons signed players to 10-day contracts as fill-ins (Lee Johnson and Norman Black).

Games Started: The Pistons Media Guide credits Long with 54 starts. My analysis of the TSN box scores suggests that Long made 53 starts, however. Long is shown as the starter in 51 of the box scores that appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order, and I think it is likely that he started two games out of the group whose box scores do not appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order. He couldn’t have started the other two games in that group, because he didn’t play in them.

If Long made 53 starts as suggested by the TSN boxes, this means there were six games he played in but did not start. According to the TSN box scores, these six games were the game following the one he didn’t play in on 10/25/80 (10/29/80), the three games in December in between his two stints on the injured list (three consecutive games from 12/17/80 through 12/19/80), and his first two games back after the 5-game stretch he missed in January (two consecutive games on 1/22/81 & 1/24/81). Long played in and started every game from 1/26/81 through the end of the season.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard-Forward. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career.

TERRY TYLER

History: 2nd round pick of Pistons in 1978.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 31.1 MPG): Tyler appeared in every game the Pistons played.

Games Started: The Pistons Media Guide credits Tyler with 67 starts. My analysis of the TSN box scores suggests that Tyler made 65 starts, however. Tyler is shown as the starter in 61 of the box scores that appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order, and I think it is likely that he started all four of the games whose box scores do not appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order. If Tyler made 65 starts as suggested by the TSN boxes, this means there were 17 games he played in but did not start. According to the TSN box scores, these 17 games were as follows:

--12/5/80. This game was during a period when Tyler and Phil Hubbard were the usual starters at forward. For this game, however, the TSN box score shows Greg Kelser starting and Tyler coming off the bench. This is the only one out of the first 37 games of the season that the TSN boxes show Tyler not starting.

--Four of the five games from 12/27/80 through 1/7/81. These five games were shortly after Bob McAdoo had been activated from the injured list, and McAdoo started four of them. The one game in this stretch that Tyler started was on 12/30/80, when McAdoo didn’t play. After 1/7/81, McAdoo apparently got injured again (McAdoo would only play in one more game between that point and the time the Pistons waived him on 3/11/81), and Tyler returned to the starting lineup.

--Four of the five games from 2/4/81 through 2/10/81. The TSN boxes show Keith Herron starting all of these games at forward, with Tyler coming off the bench, except for the one on 2/8/81. The TSN boxes show Tyler starting on 2/8/81.

--Eight of the last nine games of the season, from 3/13/81 on. For these games, Kent Benson was shifted to starting at power forward, and Tyler went to the bench. The TSN boxes show Tyler starting only one game in this stretch, which was on 3/24/81. Tyler started that game in place of Hubbard, who came off the bench; why this would have been done for just that one game is not apparent to me.

An oddity from the TSN boxes is that Tyler is shown in a starting guard position for one game on 12/6/80 (this was the game immediately after the one Tyler didn’t start on 12/5). Herron is shown starting at forward in Tyler’s place. If this and the other TSN box scores can be trusted, Tyler therefore started 64 games at forward and 1 game at guard. It’s not impossible that the box score has Tyler and Herron erroneously listed in each other’s positions, although they do not appear on adjacent lines of the box score, so it isn’t just a simple matter of two lines being out of order. The Pistons’ first five players listed in that box score are, in order, Herron, Hubbard, Mokeski, Tyler and Wright; could it be that the first five players are the starters, but in alphabetical order, not F-F-C-G-G order? The reserves clearly aren’t in alphabetical order, though, in relation to either the starters or to each other.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Guard. Primary position switches back and forth between PF and SF in early part of career – 1980-81 is shown as SF – then is SF for all seasons from 1982-83 onward.

PHIL HUBBARD

History: 1st round pick of Pistons in 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 80 G, 28.6 MPG): The two games in which Hubbard did not appear were on 10/14/80 and 10/18/80 (there was one game in between these two in which Hubbard played).

Games Started: The Pistons Media Guide credits Hubbard with 62 starts. In the TSN box scores, Hubbard is shown as the starter in 61 of the box scores that appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order, and it is plausible that he started one of the games whose box scores do not appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order. In the absence of the media guide numbers, however, I would have thought that Hubbard started two of those games, which would give him 63 starts.

The TSN box scores show Hubbard coming off the bench behind Greg Kelser for about the first month of the season, then taking over as the starter. The first TSN box score that shows Hubbard in a starter’s position is 11/16/80. As of that date, the Pistons had 64 games remaining. The only game after 11/16/80 that the TSN boxes show Hubbard not starting is on 3/24/81. That game fell during a period towards the end of the season when Kent Benson had been shifted to starting at forward alongside Hubbard, sending Terry Tyler to the bench. The TSN boxes show Tyler starting on 3/24/81, however, with Hubbard coming off the bench. Why this would have been done for just that one game is not apparent to me.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Center. Primary position is shown as PF for first two seasons – including 1980-81 – then is SF for all seasons from 1981-82 onward.

LARRY WRIGHT

History: 1st round pick of Bullets in 1976. Signed as Veteran Free Agent, November 1980 (compensation owed to Bullets).

Wright did not begin the season with the Pistons. After spending his entire four-year NBA career with the Bullets, he became a Veteran Free Agent at the end of the 1979-80 season, and remained unsigned into the early part of the 1980-81 season. The Pistons signed Wright on 11/13/80, sending two draft picks to the Bullets as compensation.

Games Played (Regular Season 45 G, 22.2 MPG): When Wright was signed, the Pistons had 65 games remaining. Wright played in 45 of those games. After appearing in the Pistons’ first 17 games after his acquisition (11/14/80 through 12/19/80), Wright played in only 2 of the next 16 games (from 12/21/80 through 1/20/81; the two games he appeared in were two consecutive games on 1/6/81 & 1/7/81). Wright then played in the Pistons’ next 26 games (1/22/81 through 3/18/81), before being absent from the last six games of the season. Given that all of the games Wright did not play in were part of larger blocks, and that he started the vast majority of the games he played in, injuries were likely a factor in most or all of the games that Wright missed. I don’t think he was ever on the injured list, however. During the periods when he was out, the Pistons simply played shorthanded.

Games Started (Regular Season: 38): The Pistons Media Guide credits Wright with 38 starts. My analysis of the TSN box scores agrees with this number. Wright is shown as the starter in 36 of the box scores that appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order, and I think it is likely that he started two of the four games whose box scores do not appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order. If Wright made 38 starts, this means there were seven games he played in but did not start. Based on my analysis of the TSN box scores, these were one game on 11/14/80 (the first game Wright appeared in as a Piston), five consecutive games from 1/22/81 through 1/29/81 (Wright’s first five games back after the stretch in December and January where he missed 14 out of 16 games), and one game on 3/18/81 (the last game that Wright appeared in for the season).

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

KEITH HERRON

History: 2nd round pick of Blazers in 1978. Signed as a free agent, July 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 80 G, 28.4 MPG): The two games in which Herron did not appear were on 3/14/81 and 3/28/81. The game on 3/28 was the last game of the season.

Games Started: The Pistons Media Guide credits Herron with 33 starts. In the TSN box scores, Herron is shown as the starter in 32 of the box scores that appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order, and it is plausible that he started one of the games whose box scores do not appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order. In the absence of media guide numbers to check against, however, I would think that Herron probably started two of those games, which would give him 34 starts.

Of the 32 TSN box scores which show Herron in a starter’ position, he is shown at guard in 24 and at forward in 8. To the extent that Herron made one (as suggested by the media guide) or two (as assumed by my guesses) additional starts, they were likely at guard. This would give him 25 or 26 starts at that position. The games Herron started were as follows:

--Two consecutive games on 10/25/80 & 10/29/80, at forward in place of Greg Kelser. Kelser did not play on 10/25, and played but came off the bench on 10/29.

--One game on 11/11/80, at forward in place of Kelser. Kelser played in this game but came off the bench; why Herron would have started in his place isn’t apparent to me.

--At least 18 consecutive games from 11/22/80 through 12/30/80, per the TSN box scores (possibly as many as 20 consecutive games, starting on 11/18/80, if Herron made the one or two additional starts I believe he made). All but one of the 18 starts shown in the TSN box scores are shown at guard, in place of John Long. The box score for the remaining game, which was on 12/6/80, appears to show Herron starting at forward with regular starting forward Terry Tyler starting at guard. That assignment would be very odd for Tyler, however, raising the possibility that the box score has the two players reversed, or that the box score simply isn’t in F-F-C-G-G order (see the discussion under Terry Tyler above). The 20 games correspond to the 20-game period in November and December when Long was absent from the starting lineup, including his two stints on the injured list.

--Seven consecutive games from 1/14/81 through 1/24/81, at guard in place of John Long. Long did not play in the first five games, then played but came off the bench in the last two.

--Four of the five games from 2/4/81 through 2/10/81, at forward in place of Terry Tyler. The one game in this stretch that Herron isn’t shown starting is 2/8/81, which Tyler started. Tyler played in all of these games, so it isn’t apparent to me why Herron started most of them.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard-Forward. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career.

PAUL MOKESKI

History: 2nd round pick of Rockets in 1979. Acquired in trade with Rockets, October 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 80 G, 22.7 MPG): The two games in which Mokeski did not appear were on 11/11/80 and 1/7/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 34): The Pistons Media Guide credits Mokeski with 34 starts. My analysis of the TSN box scores agrees with this number. The TSN box scores show Mokeski starting one game on 11/26/80, four consecutive games from 11/29/80 through 12/6/80, and 29 of the 30 games from 1/26/81 through the end of the season (the one game in that stretch that Mokeski didn’t start was on 3/11/81). Until early March, every game Mokeski started was a game Kent Benson didn’t play in. Benson didn’t play on 11/26, in the four games from 11/29 through 12/6, or in the first 18 games starting on 1/26. Benson returned to action on 3/5/81, but in that game and the one that followed on 3/7/81, he came off the bench behind Mokeski. On 3/11, Benson returned to the starting lineup, and Mokeski went back to the bench. For the Pistons’ next game on 3/13/81, however, Benson was shifted to power forward, and Mokeski returned to the starting lineup at center. That arrangement continued for the remainder of the season.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

LARRY DREW

History: 1st round pick of Pistons in 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 76 G, 20.8 MPG): The six games in which Drew did not appear were on 12/6/80, 1/7/81, and four consecutive games from 2/17/81 through 2/21/81. The four games in February fell during a period when the Pistons already had two players on the active roster who were not playing, presumably due to injuries (Benson and McAdoo). With Drew also absent from the lineup, the Pistons appear to have only had eight players available for each of those games.

Games Started (Regular Season: 16): The Pistons Media Guide credits Drew with 16 starts. My analysis of the TSN box scores agrees with this number. The 16 games the TSN boxes scores show Drew starting are the first seven games of the season (through 10/22/80); four consecutive games from 12/26/80 through 1/2/81; and five consecutive games from 3/18/81 through 3/25/81. Drew started the first seven games of the season at PG, but was then benched in favor of Ron Lee. Later, after Larry Wright was signed, Wright became the starting PG. The nine remaining games that Drew started all came after Wright had been signed. Most of them fell during periods when Wright wasn’t playing, presumably due to injury.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

RON LEE

History: 1st round pick of Suns in 1976. Acquired in trade with Hawks, January 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 22.3 MPG): Lee is credited with appearing in all 82 regular season games, but I only noted him in 81 TSN box scores. b-r.com’s game log feature also shows Lee in only 81 box scores. The box score that he is missing from is 11/7/80. It is possible that Lee played in that game but was omitted because he did not compile any stats that would have been shown in the box score. (If Lee really did play in all 82 regular season games, he obviously has to have played in that game).

Games Started (Regular Season: 28): The Pistons Media Guide credits Lee with 28 starts. My analysis of the TSN box scores agrees with this number. Lee is shown as the starter in 26 of the box scores that appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order, and I think it is likely that he started two of the four games whose box scores do not appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order. These 28 games were 11 consecutive games from 10/25/80 through 11/14/80; two consecutive games on 12/21/80 & 12/23/80; 13 consecutive games from 1/10/81 through 1/29/81; and two consecutive games on 3/27/81 & 3/28/81 (the last two games of the season). The 11-game stretch in October and November began with the eighth game of season, when Lee displaced Larry Drew as the starting PG, and ended after the Bullets acquired Larry Wright and installed him as the starter. Lee’s remaining starts all came during periods when Wright appears to have been unavailable to start due to injury.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

WAYNE ROBINSON

History: 2nd round pick of Lakers in 1980. Acquired in trade with Lakers, October 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 81 G, 19.7 MPG): Robinson is credited with appearing in 81 regular season games, but I only noted him in 80 TSN box scores. b-r.com’s game log feature also shows Robinson in only 80 box scores. It is possible that Robinson was omitted from one box score in which he did not compile any stats that would have been shown in the box score. The two box scores he is absent from are two consecutive games on 11/14/80 & 11/16/80. (If Robinson really did play in 81 games, he obviously must have played in one of those two games.)

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): The Pistons Media Guide indicates that Robinson made no starts. The TSN box scores also do not show Robinson starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as PF; this is the only season that Robinson played in the NBA.

BOB McADOO

History: 1st round pick of Braves in 1972. Acquired in trade with Celtics, September 1979.

McAdoo started the season with the Pistons, but was injured or otherwise inactive much of the time, then was waived on 3/11/81.

Games Played (Regular Season 6 G, 28.0 MPG): McAdoo started the season on the injured list, and was not activated until 12/18/80. He did not appear in the Pistons’ game on 12/18 or the three that followed, but he then played in five of the six games from 12/26/80 through 1/7/81 (McAdoo played on 12/26, 12/27, 1/2, 1/6 and 1/7; he did not play on 12/30). After that, he only played in one further game, which was on 1/22/81.

McAdoo’s inactivity starting in January was apparently due to injury, but as far as I can tell he was never placed on the IL during this period, always remaining on the active roster. The Pistons were therefore playing at least one man short throughout almost all of the period from 1/7 on. (At times they were actually playing two or three men short; during this period Kent Benson also spent a considerable amount of time on the active roster but not playing due to an apparent injury.) By late February McAdoo had become involved in a dispute with Pistons management over whether he was healthy enough to play; the Google News Archive has several newspaper articles on this matter. In early March, McAdoo threatened to file a grievance through the players' union if he was not “reinstated”. The Pistons ultimately resolved the standoff by waiving McAdoo. McAdoo was subsequently picked up by the Nets and would play the rest of the season with them, appearing in 10 games. Between the Pistons and the Nets combined, he appeared in a total of 16 games for the season.

Games Started (Regular Season: 4): The Pistons Media Guide credits McAdoo with 4 starts. My analysis of the TSN box scores agrees with this number. The TSN box scores show McAdoo starting one game on 12/27/80, and three consecutive games on 1/2/81, 1/6/81 & 1/7/81. These were the second through fifth of the 6 games McAdoo appeared in for the Pistons this season (there was one game in between 12/27 and 1/2 in which McAdoo did not play at all). All of McAdoo’s starts were at forward.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as C for most seasons of career, but is listed as PF for a few, including 1980-81 (McAdoo’s primary position is shown as PF for his rookie season of 1972-73; the portion of the 1978-79 season that he spent with the Knicks; 1979-80; and 1980-81).

INJURED LIST:

GREG KELSER

History: 1st round pick of Pistons in 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 25 G, 26.2 MPG): Kelser played in 25 of the Pistons’ first 29 games (through 12/10/80). The four games he did not appear in during that period were one game on 10/25/80, and three consecutive games from 11/16/80 through 11/20/80. Kelser did not play in any further games after 12/10/80. On 12/16/80, he was traded to the Sonics, but the trade was voided the following day after Kelser failed his physical. He was then placed on the IL on 12/18/80.

When Bob McAdoo was waived on 3/11/81, Kelser was activated to fill the roster spot. He did not appear in any games during the remainder of the season, however. It is unclear to me if the Pistons had an expectation that Kelser might play but he ultimately didn’t, or if he was activated solely to meet the requirement that there be 11 players on the active roster, with no plans to actually play him. The latter situation really wouldn’t have been much different from what the Pistons had been doing with that roster spot for the previous few months. McAdoo had appeared in just one game since 1/7, and none at all since 1/22.

Games Started (Regular Season: 16): The Pistons Media Guide credits Kelser with 16 starts. My analysis of the TSN box scores agrees with this number. Kelser is shown as the starter in 14 of the box scores that appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order, and I think it is likely that he started two of the four games whose box scores do not appear to list the Pistons’ players in “starters first” order. 15 of these 16 games were among the first 18 games of the season (through 11/14/80). The only games Kelser did not start during that stretch were two consecutive games on 10/25/80 & 10/29/80, and one additional game on 11/11/80. Those three games were started by Keith Herron instead. Kelser didn’t play on 10/25, but he did play on 10/29 and 11/11. It makes sense that Kelser would have played off the bench on 10/29, since it was following a game he had missed, but why Kelser wouldn’t have started on 11/11 isn’t apparent to me. The remaining game that Kelser started was on 12/5/80, his third-to-last appearance of the season, when he displaced Terry Tyler from the starting lineup for one game for some reason.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons of career.

NO LONGER WITH TEAM:

TONY FULLER

History: 5th round pick of Pistons in 1980.

Fuller started the season with the Pistons, but was waived on 11/13/80 to make room for the newly acquired Larry Wright.

Games Played (Regular Season 15 G, 16.5 MPG): The Pistons played 17 games while Fuller was on the roster, and he appeared in 15 of them. The two in which he did not play were on 10/18/80 and 11/4/80. Fuller’s last game with the Pistons was on 11/12/80.

Games Started (Regular Season: 2): The Pistons Media Guide credits Fuller with 2 starts. My analysis of the TSN box scores agrees with this number. The TSN box scores show Fuller starting two consecutive games on 10/25/80 & 10/29/80, in place of John Long. Long did not play on 10/25, then played but came off the bench on 10/29.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as SG; this is the only season that Fuller played in the NBA.

LEE JOHNSON

History: 1st round pick of Rockets in 1979. Signed to a 10-day contract, December 1980.

Johnson was with the Pistons on a 10-day contract signed on 12/5/80, when John Long went on the injured list. He was not signed to a second 10-day contract, as Long was activated from the IL when Johnson’s 10-day deal expired. Johnson had started the season with the Rockets, but had been waived several days earlier, when the Rockets picked up Bill Willoughby. Before being waived by the Rockets, Johnson had played in ten games for them. The 12 games Johnson played in this season – ten with the Rockets, two with the Pistons – were the only NBA games he would ever appear in.

Games Played (Regular Season 2 G, 5.0 MPG): The Pistons played five games during the 10-day period after Johnson signed (12/5/80, 12/6/80, 12/10/80, 12/12/80 and 12/13/80). He appeared in two, which were the first two, consecutive games on 12/5/80 & 12/6/80.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): The Pistons Media Guide indicates that Johnson made no starts. The TSN box scores also do not show Johnson starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as PF; this is the only season that Johnson played in the NBA. Note that while Johnson was signed to a 10-day deal during a period when a roster spot had opened due to Long being placed on the IL, Johnson is shown as playing a completely different position from Long. Maybe he was really more of a replacement for Bob McAdoo, who was also on the IL at the time?

NORMAN BLACK

History: Eligible for 1979 NBA Draft but was not selected. Signed to a 10-day contract, December 1980. (Note: Black had no regular-season NBA experience prior to the Pistons signing him.)

Black was with the Pistons on a 10-day contract signed on 12/21/80, when John Long went on the injured list. He was not signed to a second 10-day contract, as Long was activated from the IL when Black’s 10-day deal expired. The three games Black appeared in were the only NBA games he would ever play in.

Games Played (Regular Season 3 G, 9.3 MPG): The Pistons played five games while Black was on the roster (12/21/80, 12/23/80, 12/26/80, 12/27/80, and 12/30/80). He appeared in three, which were the first two games (consecutive games on 12/21/80 & 12/23/80) and the last (12/30/80).

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): The Pistons Media Guide indicates that Black made no starts. The TSN box scores also do not show Black starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as SG; this is the only season that Black played in the NBA.

ED LAWRENCE

History: 5th round pick of Cavaliers in 1976. Signed to a 10-day contract, January 1981. (Note: Lawrence had no regular-season NBA experience prior to the Pistons signing him.)

Lawrence was with the Pistons on a 10-day contract signed on 1/27/81, when Kent Benson went on the injured list. He was not signed to a second 10-day contract when his first one expired. (Even though Benson wouldn’t play in a game for another month, the Pistons neither signed Lawrence to another 10-day contract nor signed anybody else in his place, instead placing Benson back on the active roster and playing shorthanded). The three games Lawrence appeared in were the only NBA games he would ever play in.

Games Played (Regular Season 3 G, 6.3 MPG): The Pistons played four games while Lawrence was on the roster (1/27/81, 1/29/81, 2/3/81, and 2/4/81), which were the two games immediately before and after the All-Star break. Lawrence appeared in three, which were the first three (1/27, 1/29 and 2/3).

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): The Pistons Media Guide indicates that Lawrence made no starts. The TSN box scores also do not show Lawrence starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center. Primary position is shown as C; this is the only season that Lawrence played in the NBA.
Last edited by MCT on Fri Aug 04, 2017 3:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.
MCT
 
Posts: 940
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Re: 1980-81 Detroit Pistons Games Played/Started & Transacti

Postby MCT » Thu Sep 04, 2014 5:46 pm

DETROIT PISTONS – PART III

PLAYERS BY POSITION

STARTERS

At each position, a single player was the Pistons’ regular starter for much of the season (the five players we used as the starters for our snapshot, bending the rules a little for Benson). In each case, however, the player either wasn’t the starter for the entire season, or missed significant time due to injury. Looking at each position one by one:

Center – Kent Benson was the starter for most of the season, but missed an extended period between late January and early March. While he was out, Paul Mokeski started at center. After Benson returned, he was shifted to power forward instead. For the season as a whole, Benson started 48 games at center, Mokeski 34.

Forward – Terry Tyler and Phil Hubbard were the starters for most of the season, but neither really started all year. Hubbard came off the bench behind Greg Kelser for about the first month of the season before assuming a starter’s role. Tyler began the season as the starter, but had a few brief interruptions as the season progressed (Bob McAdoo displaced him for a short time in late December and early January, and Keith Herron displaced him for a short time in February), then went to the bench when Kent Benson was shifted to PF towards the end of the season. For the season as a whole, Tyler and Hubbard both ended up with games started totals in the 60s.

Guard – John Long was the regular starter at one guard slot, but he missed significant time due to injury between November and January, ending up with games played and games started totals in the 50s. His usual replacement was Keith Herron, and Herron managed to accumulate a significant number of starts at guard (at least 25, plus some additional starts at small forward). At the other guard slot, the Pistons tried Larry Drew and Ron Lee for stretches early in the season before signing Larry Wright and installing him as the starter. Wright seems to have had injury issues, however, cutting down on the number of starts he made, and allowing Lee and Drew to make additional starts in his place. For the season as a whole, while Wright started more games at guard than any player aside from Long, he only made 38 starts. Lee ended up with 28, and Drew 16.

At guard, b-r.com shows Long and Herron as SGs, and Wright, Lee and Drew as PGs. I agree with that assessment.

Classifying the forwards as PF and SF is trickier. Both Tyler and Hubbard seem like “tweeners”, with similar skill sets. When paired up with each other, neither one jumps out at me as an obvious PF or obvious SF. b-r.com shows both playing some PF early on before settling down as SFs for the bulk of their careers. Hubbard is shown with a primary position of PF for his first two NBA seasons (1979-80 and 1980-81), then SF for all seasons from 1981-82 on. Tyler is shown with a primary position of PF as a rookie in 1978-79, then SF in 1979-80 and 1980-81, then PF again in 1981-82, then SF for all seasons from 1982-83 on. I can’t really argue with b-r.com’s assessment for 1980-81 (Hubbard at PF, Tyler at SF), but would be curious if anyone has any insight into how these players were used.

Bearing in mind that neither Hubbard nor Tyler really started for the entire season, whether Hubbard played PF and Tyler played SF may have also depended on who they were paired up with. Early on, Tyler was starting opposite Kelser, who b-r.com consistently lists as an SF throughout his career. In that lineup, I guess Tyler would be the PF and Kelser the SF. During the brief period when Bob McAdoo displaced Tyler from the starting lineup, McAdoo would presumably be the PF, and Hubbard the SF. Late in the year, when Benson moved to forward and Tyler went to the bench, Benson would be the PF and Hubbard the SF. Whenever Herron was starting at forward, he would have been the SF, and either Hubbard or Tyler the PF.

The Pistons likely didn’t originally set out to use this starting lineup at forward, but may have been forced into it by Bob McAdoo’s injuries. If McAdoo was starting at forward, he would be the PF, and whoever the other starter was (Tyler, Hubbard or Kelser) would be the SF. The Pistons may have simply gone with Hubbard and Tyler as the two best forwards they had available, even if they didn’t fit especially well into PF/SF roles, or with each other. Moving Benson to PF late in the season may have been done in part to address this.

Benson and Tyler were the only players on the team to average 30 mpg, although Long and Hubbard weren’t far behind, and their numbers may have been pulled down a little by injuries or periods when they were playing off the bench. Wright played very light minutes for starter, at 22.2 mpg. Injuries probably played a role in that, but it looks like the Pistons may have used kind of a three-man rotation at PG (Wright, Lee, Drew) even when Wright was healthy. Lee averaged more mpg than Wright, as did two other players who were primarily reserves (at other positions).

RESERVES

The reserve who played the most minutes, by far, was Keith Herron (28.4 mpg). He could be fairly labeled as the team’s sixth man. Herron appears to have split his time between SG and SF, serving as the primary backup at both positions for much of the season, but playing more heavily at SG. He made more than 30 starts, most at SG in relief of the injured Long. Herron played parts of three seasons in the NBA, but never saw anywhere near as much playing time as he did this year, which accounts for 86.6% of his career minutes. I don’t know if that means he had a career year this season, or if the fact that he played so much for this Pistons team is a sign of how weak the team was, especially in terms of depth at the two positions Herron played. Probably some of both.

Other rotation reserves included Mokeski (22.7 mpg), Lee (22.3 mpg), Drew (20.6 mpg) and Robinson (19.7 mpg). Mokeski was the backup center, and accumulated a significant number of starts (34) due to Benson’s injuries and late-season shift to PF. Lee and Drew were both PGs. As noted earlier, it looks like the Pistons may have used kind of a three-man rotation at PG (Wright, Lee, Drew); Wright also wasn’t there all year, and missed a lot of time when he was, opening up opportunities for more playing time for Lee and Drew. One or more of the PGs likely also played some SG, especially with the time Long missed, and with primary backup Herron needed to also cover some minutes at SF. Robinson was a PF. Similar to Herron, he was an everyday rotation player this season, but it was the only season he played in the NBA. There can’t be too many other players in NBA history with as many games and minutes played who played only one season in the league.

That leaves one roster spot. From early January onward, that spot was a black hole. It was occupied continuously by two players who were almost always injured or inactive (Bob McAdoo and Greg Kelser). After 1/7/81, the two combined to play in a grand total of one game.

Early in the season, things would have looked very different. The starting lineup would have been Benson at C, Tyler & Kelser at F, and Long & Drew/Lee at G, with a bench of Mokeski at C, Hubbard & Robinson at F, Fuller & Drew/Lee at G, and Herron as a swingman. The roster wouldn’t have been as PG-heavy, would have been deeper off the bench at forward, and wouldn’t have had a dead 11th spot. Replacing Fuller with Wright, and Kelser with essentially no one, then created the roster we used for our snapshot.

POSITION NOTES

Where did Herron play (more): SG or SF?

It appears to me that Herron was a swingman who played both SG and SF, playing more at SG, but seeing significant time at both positions (the TSN box scores indicate that he started games at both positions). For much of the season, Herron looks to have been the main backup at both SG and SF. If you divide all of the Pistons’ other players into two groups, one group whose main position was in the frontcourt and one group whose main position was in the backcourt, and add up their minutes, 1469 backcourt minutes are unaccounted for versus 801 frontcourt minutes. This is probably a rough approximation of how many minutes Herron played at each position.

Multi-position players

The Pistons have several players whose old b-r.com headers show playing multiple positions. When there are more than a couple of players like this overlapping at the same positions, it becomes very difficult to work out exactly who played how much where. With that caveat, here is my sense as to how these players may have been used:

Mokeski (C-F) – I think of the 7'0" Mokeski as a center, and hadn’t realized that he played any forward; if he did, my initial reaction is that it would have been later in his career. In addition, the Pistons only had two players on their roster with a primary position of C (the other was Benson), so I can’t see Mokeski having much availability to swing to forward, especially with all the time Benson missed. On the other hand, one of the Pistons’ challenges this season appears to have been the lack of a big forward with McAdoo injured. I can’t say it’s impossible that Mokeski played a little PF, at least before Benson got injured, but I’d be surprised if it was very much.

Hubbard (F-C) – As discussed earlier, the 6'8" Hubbard seems like more of a SF to me than a PF (or at best, a “tweener” who falls in the middle); my initial reaction was that I’d have a hard time seeing him play C. But b-r.com lists his primary position as PF in his first two seasons in the NBA, and if he really did play some C, you’d think it would have been early in his career. In addition, as I’ll get into further in a moment, someone has to have backed up Mokeski at C while Benson was out. Hubbard is as good a guess as any; aside from the players whose primary position is shown as C, he’s the only player on the Pistons’ roster whose b-r.com header makes any mention of playing center.

Tyler (F-G) – If Tyler played some guard, I’d think it would have been later in his career. Then again, we have that 12/6/80 box score that seems to show him starting at guard (though whether that’s really true isn’t conclusive). He could have seen some playing time at SG while Long was out, but I’d be surprised if it was very much.

Herron (G-F) – As discussed earlier, I think Herron saw significant playing time at both SG and SF, but the former more heavily that the latter. He started games at both positions.

Long (G-F) – I think of the 6'5" Long as a guard, but I could see him playing some small forward early in his career. In 1979-80 – not the season we’re looking at, but the year before – he pulled down 337 rebounds in 69 games, for a 6.4 average. The Pistons seem to have been glutted with small-to-mid sized forwards this year, however, and I don’t see much need for Long to have played SF. It's certainly possible that he played a few minutes there, however.

McAdoo is also listed as C-F, but since he played so few minutes with the Pistons (168), he’s not going to have much effect on the season as a whole. b-r.com shows McAdoo’s primary position this year as PF, and all four of the games he started were at forward.

As always, if anyone has any insight into how these players were used, whether in 1980-81 or elsewhere in their career, I’d be interested in hearing it.

Centers

The three players whose primary position was center (Benson, Mokeski and Lawrence) collectively played 161 minutes fewer than the number available at that position. These minutes must have been covered by players whose primary position was forward. 161 minutes is only about two minutes a game, but I suspect that these minutes were heavily concentrated during the period from late January to early March when Benson was out, and may have amounted to as many as ten minutes a game during that period. Since Benson didn’t accumulate all of his minutes for the season at center – he started several games at power forward late in the season – there may have actually been more than 161 minutes that needed to be covered.

So who played these minutes at center? McAdoo may have played some, but I’d be surprised if he played very many. None of the handful of games McAdoo played in were during the period when Benson was out (so the Pistons probably wouldn’t have needed him to play much center then), and all of McAdoo’s starts were at forward. While he doesn’t seem like much of a center to me, Hubbard was the only other player on the team whose old b-r.com header makes mention of playing center, so he’s as good a candidate as anyone. Could Tyler or Robinson have seen some playing time at center out of desperation?

Guards

For most of the season, the Pistons carried three PGs (Wright, Drew, Lee) versus two SGs (Long and Herron). Two observations on this:

First, it seems to me that the Pistons had kind of a three-man rotation at PG, with all three players seeing significant minutes but none really getting the lion’s share. Wright was the starter for much of the season, but he played very light minutes for a starter, even taking into account that he appears to have had injury issues that may have limited his minutes at times in the season. Wright actually averaged slightly fewer mpg than Lee, and only a couple more minutes a game than Drew.

Second, the PGs collectively played 4407 minutes, versus 3495 for the SGs (even including short-term SGs Tony Fuller and Norman Black). The Pistons’ decision to sign Wright and drop Fuller left them with a backcourt corps that was tilted towards PGs, and they must have sometimes had two PGs on the floor, using them to cover some minutes at SG.

TRIVIA

Oldest Player: Bob McAdoo, born 11/25/51 (age 28 at start of season, turned 29 in November). After McAdoo was released, the oldest player was Ron Lee, born 12/2/52 (turned 28 in November).

Played in ABA: none. The Pistons are the first team we’ve encountered with no ABA vets at all. Part of that is attributable to youth. Bob McAdoo was the only player on the team who had even been playing professionally at a time when the ABA existed.

Longest continuous service with team: John Long and Terry Tyler were both acquired in the 1978 draft, and had been with the team since the 1978-79 season.

Highest original draft position*: #1 overall – Kent Benson.

Lowest original draft position*: Norman Black was not drafted at all, one of only a handful of players in the NBA this year who could make that claim; back when the NBA Draft used to run 10 rounds or more, very few undrafted players ever made it to the NBA. Among players who were actually drafted, the lowest picked was Tony Fuller (5th round, #93 overall). Ed Lawrence was also a 5th round pick, but went a few slots higher than Fuller (#84 overall).

Youngest Player: Tony Fuller, born 9/4/58 (age 22); after Fuller was waived, Wayne Robinson, born 4/19/58 (also age 22 throughout the season). Larry Drew was 17 days older than Robinson.

*Which player was chosen with the highest/lowest selection, by round and/or overall pick, with no regard to whether any players may have been drafted under circumstances not reflecting their “true” value (e.g., player was a junior eligible who had not committed to turn pro right away; player was already under contract to ABA, or thought to be likely to sign with ABA).
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Re: 1980-81 Detroit Pistons Games Played/Started & Transacti

Postby MCT » Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:02 pm

A while back, Mike G. posted some material in the Spurs thread, with position information for 1980-81 sourced from Neft & Cohen’s NBA Encyclopedia. I recently posted about this in the introductory thread to this series, noting that I planned to post and comment on this data on a team-by-team basis. See the eighth post in the introductory thread for more information.

Here’s what Neft & Cohen have for the Pistons:

Mike Goodman wrote:
Code: Select all
tm     player         pos   Min     
Det   Terry Tyler      F   2549         
Det   Phil Hubbard     c   2289         
Det   Keith Herron     g   2270         
Det   Kent Benson      f   1956         
Det   Ron Lee          g   1829         
Det   Paul Mokeski     c   1815         
Det   John Long        G   1750         
Det   Wayne Robinson   f   1592         
Det   Larry Drew       g   1581         
Det   Larry Wright     g    997         
Det   Greg Kelser      G    654         
Det   Tony Fuller      g    248         
Det   Bob McAdoo       c    168


A couple of things catch my eye right away here. There isn’t a single player listed with multiple positions. That’s not inconceivable, but a couple of players are listed at positions that I have to think can’t possibly be their exclusive, or even primary, position. I would put Benson and Hubbard into this category, at least. Note that there is no starting center and only one starting forward listed, and these two players are probably the most logical choices to fill those roles. Should Benson be “Cf” and Hubbard “Fc”?

Greg Kelser is another oddity. He is shown as “G”, but all other sources point to Kelser playing forward exclusively. He started 16 of the 25 games he played in, and the TSN box scores show him making all of those starts at forward. Did Kelser really play guard at times, and Neft & Cohen really think that was his position this year? Even if he did sometimes play guard, I have a hard time seeing guard as the only position he saw significant minutes at this year. Should it be “Gf”? Or is showing Kelser as a guard just plain wrong?

Then there are Keith Herron and Bob McAdoo. While showing Herron as “g” and McAdoo as “c” seem more plausible than the other examples cited so far, I would have thought that both played forward as at least a secondary position; b-r.com has McAdoo’s primary position this year as PF. Should these be “gf” and “cf”? Or in McAdoo’s case, even “fc”?

All of this makes me think that some players should be shown with multiple positions, but these players are being erroneously shown with only one. Transcription errors? Errors in the source?

MCT wrote:It appears to me that Herron was a swingman who played both SG and SF, playing more at SG, but seeing significant time at both positions (the TSN box scores indicate that he started games at both positions). For much of the season, Herron looks to have been the main backup at both SG and SF. If you divide all of the Pistons’ other players into two groups, one group whose main position was in the frontcourt and one group whose main position was in the backcourt, and add up their minutes, 1469 backcourt minutes are unaccounted for versus 801 frontcourt minutes. This is probably a rough approximation of how many minutes Herron played at each position.

As noted earlier, the Neft & Cohen list that Mike G. provided has Herron as exclusively a guard (“g”); they don’t show him as playing significantly at forward. Someone must have played those minutes at forward called out in my analysis, though, and Neft & Cohen don’t identify an alternative candidate. If Herron didn’t play those minutes, who did? Note that the TSN box scores show Herron starting eight games as forward, providing some evidence that he really did play there. Is there an error here, and it should say “gf”?

MCT wrote:The Pistons have several players whose old b-r.com headers show playing multiple positions. When there are more than a couple of players like this overlapping at the same positions, it becomes very difficult to work out exactly who played how much where. With that caveat, here is my sense as to how these players may have been used:

Mokeski (C-F) – I think of the 7'0" Mokeski as a center, and hadn’t realized that he played any forward; if he did, my initial reaction is that it would have been later in his career. In addition, the Pistons only had two players on their roster with a primary position of C (the other was Benson), so I can’t see Mokeski having much availability to swing to forward, especially with all the time Benson missed. On the other hand, one of the Pistons’ challenges this season appears to have been the lack of a big forward with McAdoo injured. I can’t say it’s impossible that Mokeski played a little PF, at least before Benson got injured, but I’d be surprised if it was very much.

The Neft & Cohen list that Mike G. provided has Mokeski exclusively as a center.

MCT wrote:Hubbard (F-C) – As discussed earlier, the 6'8" Hubbard seems like more of a SF to me than a PF (or at best, a “tweener” who falls in the middle); my initial reaction was that I’d have a hard time seeing him play C. But b-r.com lists his primary position as PF in his first two seasons in the NBA, and if he really did play some C, you’d think it would have been early in his career. In addition, as I’ll get into further in a moment, someone has to have backed up Mokeski at C while Benson was out. Hubbard is as good a guess as any; aside from the players whose primary position is shown as C, he’s the only player on the Pistons’ roster whose b-r.com header makes any mention of playing center.

As noted earlier, the Neft & Cohen list that Mike G. provided shows Hubbard as “c”. I have to think that’s an error; Hubbard’s primary position has to have been forward. But is this supposed to be “Fc”, supporting the theory that Hubbard played some center while Benson was out?

MCT wrote:Tyler (F-G) – If Tyler played some guard, I’d think it would have been later in his career. Then again, we have that 12/6/80 box score that seems to show him starting at guard (though whether that’s really true isn’t conclusive). He could have seen some playing time at SG while Long was out, but I’d be surprised if it was very much.

The Neft & Cohen list that Mike G. provided has Tyler exclusively as a forward.

MCT wrote:Long (G-F) – I think of the 6'5" Long as a guard, but I could see him playing some small forward early in his career. In 1979-80 – not the season we’re looking at, but the year before – he pulled down 337 rebounds in 69 games, for a 6.4 average. The Pistons seem to have been glutted with small-to-mid sized forwards this year, however, and I don’t see much need for Long to have played SF. It's certainly possible that he played a few minutes there, however.

The Neft & Cohen list that Mike G. provided has Long exclusively as a guard.

MCT wrote:McAdoo is also listed as C-F, but since he played so few minutes with the Pistons (168), he’s not going to have much effect on the season as a whole. b-r.com shows McAdoo’s primary position this year as PF, and all four of the games he started were at forward.

As noted earlier, the Neft & Cohen list that Mike G. provided has McAdoo as exclusively a center. Should this be “cf” or even “fc”?
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Re: 1980-81 Detroit Pistons Games Played/Started & Transacti

Postby Mike Goodman » Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:40 pm

Wow. It's hard to explain this mess. I hand entered every number and letter, back when there weren't any online resources.
Centers add up to 52 mpg, forwards to 74, and guards total 114. I'll take the blame for never noticing this, but I don't know what's really in Neft and Cohen.

Having found my original spreadsheet for that year, there are other errors in the Pistons. When guys played for multiple teams, I entered a 1 or a 2 if it's their 1st or 2nd team that year. I show Kelser arriving midseason, Hubbard and Drew leaving at some point; none of which is correct.

Maybe the author paid less attention to the lousy teams. Or maybe I did it. I know I omitted players whose careers total less than 100 minutes; and sometimes I left guys out who would eventually total >100.
Playoff lineups often solidify which guys played where. There's much less in-and-out-of-the-lineup stuff going on.

In general, I don't much believe in "position" as a statistic. A player may guard the opponent's center, then play the perimeter on offense. Going with 3 guards doesn't really make one of them a forward. Does it?

Oh, my computer in those days held 240 megabytes. So I had to delete files before I could create more. Such fun.
`
36% of all statistics are wrong
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