But in his absence, the Pistons abandoned their smallball experiment, which featured Rodney Stuckey at the point, Allen Iverson at the two and Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince playing out of position at small and power forward, respectively.
By going to a more traditional lineup featuring Amir Johnson at power forward and everyone else in their natural positions, the Pistons ripped off eight wins in their last 10 games, including a stretch of seven in a row.
In theory, putting your best five players on the court at the same time sounds like a good idea, but not when four of your best players are perimeter players (actually, five, if you consider how much time Rasheed Wallace spends behind the three-point line). Last month, soon after Hamilton went down with injury, Curry admitted that smallball had its limitations -- especially on the defensive end -- and that the team would probably be better served with either Iverson or Hamilton coming off the bench.
The fact that Hamilton has missed eight games in a row has allowed Curry to postpone deciding which of his shooting guards deserved to start, but it also put both players in the uncomfortable position of not really knowing what their roles will be once everyone gets healthy.
When asked about the possibility of moving to the bench last week, Hamilton drew a line in the sand: "That ain't happening." Turns out, he was right, at least for the time being: Curry revealed after today's shootaround that he was going back to smallball, at least in the short-term. From Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News:
Instead Curry said he's comfortable with this starting lineup -- especially against Charlotte, Indiana and Oklahoma City this week. All have struggled against the Pistons' small lineup this season.It's curious to see Curry cite those matchups as a reason to stick with that lineup: those are three of the worst teams in the league, and while it's true the Pistons went 3-0 against them last month, they did it with a combined 10-point margin of victory. The Oklahoma City game in particular was an ugly 90-88 nail-biter that seemed to be proof that Detroit's small lineup wasn't built for lasting success.
Still, Curry said either Hamilton or Iverson will be substituted early most games as the Pistons switch to a bigger lineup.
In any case, it's clear that at some point Curry will have to decide. Neither Hamilton nor Iverson are exactly warm to the idea (Iverson told Kulfan: "Obviously, it would be difficult for me. It's something I've never done in my career.") but Curry risks losing authority if he lets his players' egos guide his rotation decisions.