The Detroit Pistons picked up a win in Utah on Monday night to put an end to a five-game losing streak. That wasn’t enough to hide the fact that they’ve lost 15 of their last 20 games, though. In a season that will forever be associated with “tanking,” it’s all too easy to come to the conclusion that the Pistons must also have chosen that path. The reality of the situation is that they are just a very bad team though. Poorly constructed by general manager Joe Dumars, and lacking cohesive coaching and strategy under both Maurice Cheeks and John Loyer, the Pistons are in worse shape than most franchises in the league. So with the playoffs now an unrealistic ambition, surely the Pistons focus should be solely on the draft, right?
The problem with that is that the Pistons don’t have the luxury and security of holding complete rights to their pick. Detroit’s first-round selection in the upcoming draft was traded to Charlotte alongside Ben Gordon for Corey Maggette, in one of Dumars’ many head-scratching moves as GM. Luckily for the Pistons, the pick is top-eight protected, yet that is exactly the number Detroit is currently projected to draft at. With the team potentially right on the bubble in terms of keeping their pick, common sense suggests that they do the unpopular thing and tank their way to the finish line.
The Pistons have expiring contracts this summer, and as a result will once again have the opportunity to spend in free agency. Although an outstanding talent, the expiring Greg Monroe, in particular, offers Dumars and the front office the opportunity to undo some of the mistakes they made last summer. By allowing Monroe to walk in free agency, Josh Smith can slide up to his more favored power forward position alongside Andre Drummond, and Detroit can try to acquire some much needed “Three and D” style wing players between the draft and free agency.
With the teams greatest weaknesses currently falling between shooting guard and small forward, let’s take a look at some of the guys the Pistons could draft, if they manage to hold on to their pick.