Group 3: The Interchangeable Sure-Fire Lottery Teams
I.Last Season In Review
Somehow the Pistons went .500 down the stretch last year, winning 21 of their last 42. Consider this the first jaw-dropping reality of these previews from yours truly. I watched all of three Detroit games last year and could easily glean their ineptitude. The stats certainly support it. Detroit was the second worst offense in terms of efficiency, a bottom 5 FG% defense, turned the ball over at the third highest rate (on the fourth lowest pace) and most significantly, had the fourth lowest assist rate (more on this later). Anyone who watched this team could see it’s Greg Monroe and everyone else, and everyone else largely consisted of two combo guards who didn’t pass trying to man the point guard spot. How exactly are Corey Maggette and Andre Drummond supposed to change any of this?
In: Corey Maggette (Trade), Andre Drummond (Draft), Kim English (Draft)
Out: Ben Gordon
Detroit’s only significant offseason free agency move was shipping Ben Gordon to Charlotte in a straight salary dump for Corey Maggette’s $10.9M expiring contract. And it was a pricey salary dump at that. The Pistons gave up what will likely be a 2015 lottery pick to shed $12M off their 2013-2014 payroll, which offers them enough cap space to sign a respectable free agent next summer. Ironic that they trade BG’s heinous deal only to inevitably replicate the exact same type of contract. SMH Joe Dumars.
Grade: N/A. Joe Dumars is exempt from being assessed in non-draft oriented transactions for everyones benefit.
B.Draft: Andre Drummond (9th overall), Kim English (44th overall)
For the third consecutive year, Detroit sat pat in their draft slot and the player they coveted fell into their lap (see Monroe in 2010, Knight in 2011). Only this time, the player was much more controversial. Drummond has legit upside defensively, and will likely be able to help immediately on that side of the floor to a respectable extent, but offensively he resembles DeAndre Jordan, albeit to his credit he can actually make a shot outside the paint. Drummond is heinous at the line and really doesn’t have any sort of go-to move, let alone a move at all offensively. He’s a work in progress in every since of the word on that end of the floor. Regardless, if any team was void and desperate enough due to center scarcity to roll the dice on Drummond, it was Detroit. Drummond was well worth the risk for this team at pick 9. The Pistons really had nothing to lose. As for their second round pick, English can really shoot the three and should command playing time at the backup two spot.
Grade: B+. Unfortunately can’t fault Dumars here, but I’ll subtract half a grade on principle.
PG: Brandon Knight
SG: Rodney Stuckey
SF: Tayshaun Prince
PF: Jason Maxiell
C: Greg Monroe
PG: Will Bynum
SG: Kim English
SF: Corey Maggette
PF: Jonas Jerebko
IV.Cap Situation: $67M
The Pistons are paying a hefty sum for a surefire lottery team this season. However, next season, as referenced above, Maggette’s deal coming off the books actually provides Detroit with approximately $12M in cap room. Judging by past events, that probably isn’t a good thing, but still, they’ll have the flexibility to make alterations to the roster. They could potentially have more cap room available if they amnesty Villanueva and his $8.5M!!!!! contract, who is their only amnesty eligible player left on the roster.
Monroe is the only elite option here. If you can pair him with a shot-blocking ace his production in points and rebounds combined with underrated FG% and steals is worthy of a third or fourth round pick, especially considering the center position is so barren this year. The two combo guards are worthy selections anytime after round 8 (Knight for threes, Stuckey for points), but I wouldn’t roll the dice any sooner. Their best assets are both are rightfully SG eligible (since they’re both really shooting guards), so you’ll have above average assists at that position should you start them there.
This team is not only incredibly boring, but non coincidentally project to be incredibly poor, last seasons’ second half dash notwithstanding. You just can’t win basketball games with two combo guards who can’t create plays for others running the offense. Knight and Stuckey were 56th and 57th respectively in assist rate last year, which is ungodly terrible. Both can penetrate and get baskets for themselves at the rim, but they can’t create for others. Now throw in Corey Maggette, the biggest black hole of the past decade, and Monroe might light himself on fire. Speaking of that Monroe guy, he’s all-star caliber good. He’s good post scorer, excellent on the offensive glass and one of the best passers at his position. Unfortunately there just isn’t enough talent around him to even allow him the opportunity to carry Detroit to a playoff spot. Drummond on paper compliments Monroe well, due to the latters’ lack of athleticism and shot blocking ability. But Drummond is a few years away from truly impacting a game, if he ever does.
As for the rest of the roster, Prince is still a solid defender and a capable mid-range shooter, but he can’t create. Maxiell is only starting because Monroe isn’t strong enough to take the bludgeoning at center on a nightly basis (he really shouldn’t be starting). Jerebko is an excellent source of raw energy off the bench, and brings that attribute which for the most part is non-existent on the rest of the roster. But all in all, it comes down to three combo guards (Will Bynum doesn’t pass either), two of whom are the second and third best players on the team, that will lead to this teams demise. Both Stuckey and Knight are 6th man bench scorers. Until Detroit grasps this while additionally acquiring more talent, the Pistons are stuck in the locker.
VII.Projection: 30-52 (4th in the Central Division).