The Detroit Pistons need some improvements this offseason.
It was not long ago the Detroit Pistons were the class of the Eastern Conference. They made six straight conference finals, appeared in two NBA Finals and won a title. Now the team sits with a 23-37 record, which has them in 11th place in the East.
Like many teams with a long run of success, the Pistons had a difficult time cutting ties and moving on. In order to stay at the top, a team needs to have an ever-evolving roster. Once they did start to break up the team, the wrong moves were made, which lead to a free fall to the bottom of the league.
Added to that was the death of owner Bill Davidson and the subsequent sale of the team. Until the sale happened, the team was essentially in a roster freeze that did not allow them to make some of the moves that were needed.
What does the team need to do in order to challenge for a spot among the better teams in the east? Joe Dumars should have a busy offseason improving the team.
Re-sign Jose Calderon
The Pistons traded for Jose Calderon last month. In 12 games, he has averaged 12.3 points and 7.2 assists. He is the type of point guard the team needs.
The other players that they have tried to force into the point guard position–Brandon Knight, Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey–are talented, but are either better suited for shooting guard or are not the type of point guard the team needs to be starting.
Brandon Knight has played better at shooting guard. (Photo Credit: Keith Allison, Flickr.com)
The backcourt log jam
The team has some interesting decisions to make with their guards. Bynum, Stuckey and Knight all play a similar game. These players can fill the point guard spot but are better suited as shooting guards.
Bynum actually fills the point guard role the best of these three. He is the most willing to set up teammates, but can turn on the scoring touch when needed as well.
Bynum will be a free agent this offseason; he might make the decision for the team. Ideally the team re-signs him, as he is a good fit as a guard off of the bench. He could fill a Vinnie Johnson-type of role for the team.
Knight is a good player and since playing more at shooting guard, has shown that he is a natural for that position. The problem is that at 6’3” he is undersized and becomes a defensive liability. Over the remainder of the season, the team will need to determine if he can also create as many matchup problems as he causes.
Stuckey is a taller version of Knight. He, too, can be a scorer and is good at driving to the basket but has never fully lived up to his potential.
Added to the mix is Kyle Singler, who has started at shooting guard and small forward for the team. Ideally, Singler is a sharpshooter who comes off the bench to provide some outside shooting. He should not be starting for the team at any position.
Stuckey and Knight would attract some attention on the trade market. It is doubtful that the team would trade Knight, but both of these players could grab more draft picks or players that could greatly help the team.
Regardless of what the team does, they need to clear up the overstocking among their guards. Each of these players has talent and value but they just do not have enough minutes to go around.
Greg Monroe has a bright future in Detroit. (Photo Credit : chiuchiu11 flickr)
Singler starting at small forward is a big concern, as mentioned earlier; he is better suited as a role player off of the bench. The team does have Jonas Jerebko, who should be starting now.
Jason Maxiell is starting at power forward. He has no business starting. He is a very good energy guy who should be coming off of the bench to spell the starters. He has played admirably this season in a role that is beyond his ability.
The team needs to address their starting forwards this offseason.
In the offseason, the team will have several contracts coming off the books. Corey Maggette, Maxiell, Charlie Villanueva, Calderon, Bynum will all be free agents. Also, the Richard Hamilton contract will finally be done.
This means that they will have the funds to go after a small forward. The answer for the power forward position is already on the team.
A big future
In Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, the team has the makings of a dominant frontcourt. They have been reluctant to play both of them together this season, but that needs to be part of the team’s future plans.
The team has brought Drummond along slowly this year. He has averaged 7.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in less than 20 minutes per game. In the six games where they have allowed him to play more than 25 minutes, his average goes up to 12.6 points and 10 rebounds. Even with those stats he has only topped 30 minutes twice. He has the potential to be a regular double-double player.
Both players are meant for the center position, one of them will need to move to power forward or coach Lawrence Frank will have to be creative with his offensive and defensive schemes. Perhaps Drummond plays in the middle on defense and Monroe on offense.
Viacheslav Kravtsov provides another big body off the bench. He has only seen limited action for most of this season. Recently, the team has been giving him some opportunities to play and he has responded with some good games. Against the Indiana Pacers, he scored 14 points and 10 rebounds. While he still needs work, Kravtsov is a usable piece.
Villanueva should be playing out his last games in a Pistons uniform. He certainly has not only played better this season, but also seems to be putting forth a full effort. Still, his signing will go down as one of the worst the Pistons have ever made. He is getting starter’s money for a backup player’s production.
Ideally, the Pistons parts ways with a player who has only scored 9.3 points and 4.0 rebounds in four seasons with the team.
Is Dumars the person to do it?
Perhaps this is the biggest question of all.
Joe has certainly had his ups and downs as a general manager. A look into most general managers will find both good and bad moves. Dumars though seems to have such wide extremes on both sides.
He did bring in Chauncey Billups, drafted Tayshaun Prince and traded for Rasheed Wallace and Hamilton. They would help form the team that led to the 2004 championship and the successful run of the 2000s.
He has made bad free-agent moves, such as signing Nzar Mohammed, Ben Gordon and Villanueva, as well as re-signing his own players to bad deals. He traded away Aaron Afflalo for nothing as well.
His hands were tied for two years with the slow sale of the team. This may be a make or break offseason for him. He has some nice pieces already in place and has plenty of money that will be available for free agents. Since they will likely miss the playoffs again, he will also have a lottery pick.
He will have plenty of tools to be able to set this team back on the right path.
Expect the team to be very busy this offseason. While the past couple of seasons have been difficult for fans, brighter days are on the horizon. If Dumars can make the right moves, those days may be closer than many think.