Originally written on In The Neutral Zone  |  Last updated 11/5/13
Since being ousted in the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs, the Detroit Pistons have gone a combined 111-201 over the last four years, firing two coaches in the process. This offseason, GM Joe Dumars brought the Pistons closer to contention, signing free agents Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings to multi-year contracts, while hiring Maurice Cheeks to take over the helm. With a roster chalk full of young stars and more than $18 Million coming off the books next summer, the future is very bright for Detroit. The biggest question marks concerning the Pistons’ roster are the allocation of minutes at the guard positions, and the fit of Josh Smith in the rotation. There is a major logjam in the Detroit backcourt, as Brandon Jennings, Chauncey Billups, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Rodney Stuckey all have the talent to start, and will be jockeying for playing time the entire season. It will be interesting to see how Cheeks will divvy out minutes. Jennings and Stuckey both need the ball in their hands, whereas, Billups and Caldwell-Pope can shoot the lights out from beyond the arc. Possibly the biggest issue for the Pistons will be how Josh Smith gels with the rest of Detroit’s starting five. At the small forward position, Smith debilitates an offense, restricting floor spacing due to his poor perimeter shooting, and clogging the paint with defenders. He is at his best as a small-ball power forward, where he can use his strength and athleticism to clean the glass and get buckets around the rim. The only problem is that in order to play J-Smoove at the 4-spot, Cheeks will have to put either Monroe or Drummond on the bench. For the first time in five years, the Detroit Pistons are on the rise. He might have overpaid both Jennings and Smith, but Joe Dumars has assembled a young, talented and exciting roster that can contend for the eighth playoff spot in the East. He would be smart to shop Stuckey or Billups to a contender in order to free up minutes at the guard positions. Even without a pick in this year’s Draft, the future is bright for Detroit, and if Cheeks can find a way to get the most out of his roster, the Pistons could make the playoffs for the first time in four years. Current Rotation and Stat Projections (All projected statistics are from ESPN’s 2014 Fantasy Projections) No. Player Name POS MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3PM 1 Brandon Jennings PG 35.8 17.2 3.2 7.7 1.7 0.2 42.3% 1.8 2 Chauncey Billups SG 25.8 12.1 2.1 3.7 0.5 0.1 40% 1.7 3 Josh Smith SF 34.8 17.9 8 4 1.5 1.9 48.5% 0.6 4 Greg Monroe PF 31 14.7 9.1 2.8 1.2 0.6 51.1% 0 5 Andre Drummond C 31.7 14 10.5 0.8 1.3 2.3 58.8% 0.1 6 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope SG 28.7 11.6 3.2 1.7 1.3 0.2 42.5% 1.7 7 Rodney Stuckey SG 27.4 11.2 2.6 3.3 0.7 0.2 41.8% 0.5 8 Kyle Singler SF 25.4 7.3 3.5 0.8 0.6 0.4 43.4% 1 9 Luigi Datome SF 24.5 11.3 3.7 1.1 1.1 0.4 47.8% 1 10 Jonas Jerebko SF 17.4 7 3.6 0.7 0.6 0.2 45.8% 0.4 11 Charlie Villanueva PF 13 5.9 2.8 0.6 0.4 0.4 39.5% 1 12 Will Bynum PG 15.1 7 1.2 2.7 0.6 0.1 45.6% 0.3 2013-2014 Depth Chart POS No. 1 No. 2 No. 3 PG Brandon Jennings Will Bynum Peyton Siva SG Chauncey Billups Kenvatious Caldwell-Pope Rodney Stuckey SF Josh Smith Kyle Singler Luigi Datome PF Greg Monroe Charlie Villanueva Jonas Jerebko C Andre Drummond Josh Harrellson - Player Contracts Key: (P)=Player Option (T)=Team Option (R)=Restricted Free-Agent Player Name POS AGE 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 Josh Smith SF 27 $14.0 M $14.0 M $14.0 M $14.0 M Charlie Villanueva PF 29 $8.85 M None None None Rodney Stuckey SG 27 $8.50 M None None None Brandon Jennings PG 24 $7.65 M $8.00 M $8.34 M None Jonas Jerebko PF 26 $4.50 M $4.50 M (P) None None Greg Monroe PF 23 $4.08 M $5.47 M (R) None None Will Bynum PG 30 $2.79 M $2.91 M None None Kentavious Caldwell-Pope SG 20 $2.65 M $2.77 M $2.89 (T) $3.67 (T) Chauncey Billups SG 37 $2.50 M $2.50 M None None Andre Drummond C 20 $2.46 M $2.56 (T) $3.17 (T) $4.43 (R) Luigi Datome SF 25 $1.75 M $1.75 M None None Kyle Singler SF 25 $1.04 M $1.09 M None None Josh Harrellson C 24 $884 K $948 K (T) None None Overall – – $62.38 M $39.16 M $22.34 M $14.00 M Team Needs: Locking up Drummond and Monroe Position Needs: PF This off-season, the Pistons will have the cap space lock up Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe for the long-term, which would establish the Pistons’ identity for years to come. Along with the long-term deal of Josh Smith, Detroit would have an excellent foundation to build around in free agency. As I mentioned above, the Pistons should entertain the idea of shopping either Rodney Stuckey or Chauncey Billups to a contender looking for added scoring at the guard positions. This will allow Caldwell-Pope to step into a starting role, and give Detroit the chance to add a young asset, which will compensate for the lack of a first rounder. At this point, there are several needs for the Pistons, but none of them are major. With Villanueva coming off the books, Detroit should look to add frontcourt depth by signing a veteran free agent. Without a spot in the first round (the Piston’s first round pick is top 8 protected, which means it will likely be sent to the Bobcats/Hornets), Detroit won’t be able to pick up a future starter, but can still add a potential role player in the second round. There are several different options that the Pistons have for their second round pick, as they could use a backup point guard, frontcourt depth, or a project at the center position. Potential Prospects: Second Round PF Chance Behanan – Louisville – 6’7” 255 Pounds PG Bryce Cotton – Providence – 6’1” 170 Pounds PF Patric Young – Florida – 6’2” 180 Pounds C Przemek Karnowski – Gonzaga – 7’1” 300 Pounds SG PJ Hairston – UNC – 6’5” 225 Pounds 1 total views, 1 views today
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