Do the Drew. After his 23-point effort on Saturday, Drew Gooden is now averaging 30.3 mpg, 17.4 ppg and 9.4 rpg on .474/.375/.853 shooting in seven games as a starter, all of which have come at the center position in Andrew Bogut's absence. The problem? The Bucks are just 1-6 in those games, underscoring the obvious fact that Gooden's encouraging raw stats obscure the huge defensive downgrade that comes from swapping the former Kansas star for Bogut in the pivot.
As always, Gooden is posting poor +/- numbers, reflecting both a) his difficulty holding position down low against opposing centers and b) his inability to block shots or otherwise make up for teammates' mistakes as a help defender. Unfortunately those things are unlikely to change so long as he's operating exclusively as a center. However, it would be nice (and maybe not completely unrealistic) if Gooden showed a bit more patience offensively. While Gooden is shooting a healthy 66% in the immediate basket area, he's made just 27/91 of his two point shots between three and 23 feet. That's a problem when most of your shots are long twos, which is once again the case with Gooden (32% 16-23 ft) this year.
Detroit Rock Bottom. The Pistons have dropped 14 of their last 16 games, including a 102-93 defeat in Milwaukee on January 12. The Bucks struggled to put away Detroit down the stretch and survived a nervous final two minutes to prevail in large part thanks to Brandon Jennings, though Greg Monroe utterly dominated Bogut with a career-high 32 points (12/16 fg) and 16 boards.
The Monroe Doctrine. After quietly ranking among the league's best rookies a year ago, the 21-year-old Monroe has taken his game to new heights as a sophomore (15.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 55.5% true shooting, 23.67 PER, 18.2% rebound rate). His PER ranks second behind only Dwight Howard among centers, and he'd be a good bet for an all-star berth if he played on a team that wasn't quite so terrible.
Though he may lack the explosiveness needed to be an impact defender, Monroe has developed into an excellent rebounder, is among the league's best passing bigs and generally plays to his strengths offensively: he creates a high volume of shots at the rim (6.9/game, 60% shooting) and shoots just enough from outside to keep defenses honest (1.4/game, 37%). Drew Gooden, take note.
To the Point. Both Lawrence Frank and Scott Skiles have regularly deployed two point guard lineups this season, with the Bucks starting Shaun Livingston next to Jennings for the past six games and the Pistons going with a Brandon Knight/Rodney Stuckey combo of late.
In his first 21 games as a pro, Knight has been an inefficient shooter (50.6% true shooting) and racked up turnovers almost as frequently as assists (15.3% turnover rate, 18.1% assist rate), but he's also delivered more than a few flashes of the upside that made him a lottery pick after just one season at Kentucky. The Bucks should know better than to underestimate him affter he scored 20 points on just nine shots in the teams' previous meeting.