The other Bull starters include 6'7" Guard Reggie Theus, Chicago's leading scorer (20.2 ppg) last season; Forward David Greenwood, who paced the Bulls in rebounds (9.4 ppg) and blocked shots (1.6); and Center Artis Gilmore. Gilmore missed much of 1979-80 with a knee injury and has been slow getting into shape, but when he's healthy, he can score, rebound and block shots in bunches. However, one teammate wonders, "Does Artis really want to gut it out like Kareem did last year?" And that's yet another "if."
With a new owner, Ted Stepien, a new coach, Bill Musselman, and several new players, Cleveland is a team in transition. A lot of shifts were made as recently as the preseason, when Campy Russell was traded to New York and Foots Walker to New Jersey, and Guard Roger Phegley and Forward Bill Robinzine came in from New Jersey and Kansas City, respectively. Amid the revolving-door confusion, Musselman forged on, stressing defense to the Cavs, who gave up 113.8 points a game last season, a stat that largely explained the poor 37-45 record.
The starting unit includes leading scorer Mike Mitchell (22.2 ppg) and Kenny Carr at the forwards and Randy Smith and Phegley at guards. The center is Dave Robisch, a reliable journeyman who isn't about to lead any team, much less these Cavaliers, to a championship.
You can't help but feel sorry for Detroit Coach Scotty Robertson. Twice he has been a head coach in the NBA, and twice he has had disastrous records with lousy teams. In 1978-79 he took over after midseason for Larry Costello at Chicago and lost 15 of 26 games; in 1974-75 he was 1-14 with the expansion New Orleans Jazz. In both places he got the Anne Boleyn treatment. As the fifth coach in the last four seasons at Detroit, he'd probably have more luck trying to raise the Titanic than trying to improve the fortunes of the Pistons. Last year Detroit finished with a humiliating 16-66 record, and things shouldn't be much better this season.
Leading the Pistons is well-traveled Center-Forward Bob McAdoo, whose talent is exceeded only by his loser's reputation. McAdoo didn't practice or play during the exhibition season because of groin and stomach muscle pulls, and he began the regular season in Los Angeles undergoing exploratory tests with Dr. Ernie Vandeweghe. Without him, Detroit lacks a big scorer. Most likely, the starting forwards will be Terry Tyler, the Pistons' leading rebounder and shot blocker though he's only 6'7", and Greg Kelser, who also plays on a pogo stick. Robertson hopes to capitalize often on Center Kent Benson's fine outside touch by moving him—and, thus, opposition centers—far outside. It's a good strategy when Benson's hot, but when he's not, the Pistons will get annihilated on the boards.
"O.K., these guys are not very talented," says Robertson, summing up the Pistons. "But they're much better than they showed last year. For one thing, the effort has improved. Especially on the 'D.' " Good luck, Scotty.