AUBURN HILLS- Joe Dumars claimed to have selected the consensus top coach available this off-season when he and Tom Gores came to agreement to hire new head coach; Maurice Cheeks. “I think you try to hire the best person for your particular team or particular situation. It doesn’t become a popularity contest. It becomes who can best connect with your team and your players.”
Since Maurice Cheeks emerged as the front runner for the coaching position, there has been mixed feelings buzzing in Motown. Considering Cheeks’ pedestrian 284-286 record, was he the right guy? We won’t know that until the conclusion of the upcoming season but as for now, all we can do is wait and watch.
Now that the coaching search is over, the front office can turn their attention to the next important off-season task; the NBA draft.
The Detroit Pistons seem to have found a nucleus that should blend well together if they are properly coached. Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe are on the rise to stardom and could be the best big men duo in the league. Brandon Knight, a promising yet inconsistent guard could be a future all star at either guard position if nurtured the right way. So what position is a need for Detroit? The wings? Yes, that seems to be the most glaring need but if you took a chance to do your own draft research, you’d know that isn’t the case exactly.
The obvious at this point is the available wings at pick 8. Shabazz Muhammad, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and possibly Anthony Bennett. Other than Bennett, Pope and Muhammad are not must have guys at pick 8. If we focus our attention to the point guards, there is speculation Burke might be there at 8 as well. If he is the pick, what happens to Knight? Does he start the 2 despite the undersized back court? How about the pure play-maker in Michael Carter-Williams? Lastly, would you take another combo guard in CJ McCollum? Mock drafts are all over the place when analyzing the Detroit Pistons, they simply have no idea what direction the team can go in because the position of need is the strongest at pick 8.
Lastly, one must not ignore the big men on the board at the pick. Many scouts argue that a player like Cody Zeller or Alex Len would be the best players if they were on the board at 8. Yes, we do have a set of big men but the Pistons could draft according to their big board and make adjustments after the draft. Many teams have done it in the past, and with Joe Dumars being under scrutiny in his last year on his contract, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to draft best available.
I’m sure Joe Dumars will explore trading opportunities with teams that are in a financial hole, because that’s what teams with cap flexibility do. Target the weak links and attempt to steal as much value as you can with teams that are desperate to make a move. The Dallas Mavericks might be one of those teams because they were reported to shed cap to go after big name stars in the Free Agency. We saw the Raptors take advantage of the Grizzlies lack of cap flexibility when they got their hands on Rudy Gay. Why wouldn’t the Pistons be able to duplicate such a move?
With free agency looming after the draft, the Pistons want to be players. Can they? Detroit is not a hot destination for free agents, and the lack of an identity and plan in the future as of right now wouldn’t be something working in their favors. I would lower my expectations if you were expecting a big name signing. Perhaps O.J. Mayo is a possibility but many other teams would be looking to sign him also. The Pistons might be able to make it out with a second or third tier free agent such as Corey Brewer, and I think that is completely fine since we do have a young nucleus already.
The only big name free agent I could see signing here is Andre Iguodala. He is soon to be on the downside of his career at 29 years old. Obviously the team would need veterans but would a 4 or 5 year deal make sense? How much money would he want? It is important to remember to not commit that much money to a player that won’t be in the future plans. Perhaps Maurice Cheeks, known to be someone that has a great relationship with Iguodala could sway him our way. That could have been the reason he was hired. Who knows, only time will tell.
Joe Dumars has to get this right because it is the last year on his contract. Dumars has a lot to prove and so does Maurice Cheeks who would be the head coach of his third team with the Detroit Pistons. Hopefully Joe doesn’t replicate another Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva signing, maybe he can get this ship sailing in the right direction. There is definitely no excuses anymore with a fourth straight lottery pick and north of 20 million dollars to spend.
Hopefully Tom Gores is serious about winning and the Pistons aren’t okay with settling for mediocrity.
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