It’s not even August, but the Detroit Pistons already have a full roster for next season, barring some sort of a trade.
Given that the Pistons continue to be linked to just about every point guard in the NBA, it’s not out of the question that the roster could change and Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars told reporters last week that he’s open to any move that could make the team better.
Gone from the roster that went 29-53 in 2012-13 are guard Jose Calderon (signed as a free agent with the Dallas Mavericks), guard Kim English (waived), forward Corey Maggette (still unsigned as a free agent) and forward Jason Maxiell (signed as a free agent with the Orlando Magic).
The team brought back one of its own free agents, guard Will Bynum, and added free-agent forward Josh Smith from the Atlanta Hawks, free-agent guard Chauncey Billups from the Los Angeles Clippers, Italian free agent Luigi Datome and rookies Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Georgia (eighth overall) and Tony Mitchell from North Texas (37th overall).
The Pistons haven’t made an offer yet to second-round pick Peyton Siva of Louisville, who Detroit took 56th overall, and Siva may be the odd man out. With the Pistons already at 15 players, there’s no room on the active roster for Siva. Dumars told the Detroit Free Press he’d like to retain the rights to the young point guard, which could mean Detroit could “encourage” Siva to play abroad this year.
In order to keep Siva’s rights, they have to make him an offer by Sept. 6 and Siva has until Oct. 15 to sign. If he doesn’t sign the tender, he could go to the D-League with the Pistons retaining his rights.
So what will the Pistons look like in 2013-14?
C Andre Drummond: Drummond played 60 games as a rookie and made 10 starts and he impressed many with his raw athleticism in the middle. He averaged 7.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in just 20.7 minutes, but did I mention he was raw? He shot 60.8 percent from the floor, with an effective shooting range of about 18 inches—as evidenced by the frighteningly bad 37.1 mark at the free-throw line.
PF Greg Monroe: Monroe led the team in scoring and rebounding while playing mostly at center last year, averaging 16 points and 9.6 boards. He also showed a deft passing touch for a big, averaging 3.5 assists per game, and he was a 48.6 percent shooter.
SF Josh Smith: With an overabundance of size, it looks on the surface as if the Pistons will go big in 2013-14, teaming the 6-10 Drummond and the 6-11 Monroe with the 6-9 Smith. Smith was Atlanta’s leading scorer at 17.5 points per game last season and had 8.4 boards, but reverted to his tendency to jack up long-range jump shots instead of relying on his athleticism and ball-handling skills to drive to the paint. In 2009-10, former Hawks coach Mike Woodson had Smith disciplined to the point he attempted just seven 3-pointers all season. But under Larry Drew, that number ballooned to 201 by 2012-13. The problem was that Smith made just 30.3 percent of them.
SG Brandon Knight: Knight averaged 13.3 points per game and shot 36.7 percent from deep while also playing primarily as a point guard, something he struggled with—to the tune of a 270-134 assists-to-turnover ratio. While Knight is a bit undersized for a 2 at 6’3” and 189 pounds, maybe playing the 2 can help him offset the awful 98 offensive rating to 111 defensive rating split he posted last season.
PG Chauncey Billups: It’s not 2004 anymore and no one expects Billups to come in and play like the Finals MVP he was 10 seasons ago. He was limited to just 22 games for the Clippers last season because of injuries and averaged only 19 minutes, 8.4 points and 2.2 assists. Still, if Billups is healthy, he’s the best point guard option on the roster as well as a guy who can mentor the younger guards.
The Rest of the Rotation
SF Luigi Datome: The sharp-shooter averaged 16 points per game while shooting 41.9 percent from deep for Lottomatica Roma in Italy’s Serie A last season and he’s likely to be the first frontcourt player off the bench. If Datome is on the floor, Smith could move to the 4 and Monroe to the 5 (assuming Drummond may have some foul trouble issues if given starter’s minutes).
SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: The rookie can get his feet wet at the NBA level without having the pressure to be a franchise savior, or even a starter. That should ease the transitional burden for last year’s Southeastern Conference Player of the Year.
PG Rodney Stuckey: Billups said Stuckey could be a “great player” when he was introduced earlier this month. Of course, the rest of us have only seen that ability in fits and starts and it’s likely Stuckey is going to be the primary trade bait for Detroit until the February deadline, given that he’s an $8.5 million expiring contract. Despite his minutes being at their lowest since his rookie season, Stuckey still averaged 11.5 points and 3.6 assists last season … it was the 40.6 percent shooting and 30.2 percent from the land of 3 that was alarming.
In the Mix … Somewhere
F Charlie Villanueva: Villanueva did shoot 34.7 percent from 3 last season so he can function as a reasonable facsimile to a stretch 4 in certain situations. He’s also an $8.6 million expiring deal; not that anyone would actually trade for one of the worst free-agent signings in recent NBA history (five years, $37.7 million in the summer of 2009).
F Kyle Singler: Singler started 74 games last season, but it’s hard to see him getting a lot of run with the additions of Smith and Datome in front of him. He wasn’t horrible (8.8 points, four rebounds, 42.8 percent from the floor, 35 percent from 3), but he wasn’t great, either.
G Will Bynum: Another guy who got a lot of playing time last year (18.8 minutes per game) and produced 9.8 points and 3.6 assists per game, but with the roster moves in front of him, it’s easy to see him being the forgotten man in the backcourt—at least until/if Stuckey is moved.
Oh, Yeah … Those Guys
F Jonas Jerebko: Jerebko had a problem with the way he was buried at the end of the bench by former coach Lawrence Frank. Maybe it wasn’t the coach.
C Viacheslav Kravtsov: Massive foul trouble, some sort of disaster that renders Monroe, Drummond, Smith and Villanueva unable to perform … that’s about the only way the big but sloooooooow Kravtsov ever leaves his seat.
F Khris Middleton: If Singler is going to struggle to find minutes on this roster, Middleton is really going to have a hard time ripping off the warm-ups.
F Tony Mitchell: At least this is a redshirt year a guy can get paid for.