Believe it or not, the NBA's regular season is three weeks away. To get you ready, Crossover Chronicles will be profiling a team each day for the next few weeks. This week is the Central Division. Today is the Detroit Pistons.
2011-12 Record: 25-41
Key Losses: Ben Gordon (traded to Charlotte), Damien Wilkins (signed with Philadelphia), Ben Wallace (retired)
Key Acquisitions: Andre Drummond (draft), Corey Maggette (traded from Charlotte), Kim English (draft)
The Pistons are building from the ground up and laying a nice foundation in the aftermath of the summer of spending and the fall of this once proud franchise.
Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight were two incredibly shrewd draft picks from Joe Dumars. Knight put in 12.8 points per game and 3.8 assists per game in his rookie campaign, sharing point guard duties with scoring combo guard Rodney Stuckey. Monroe was nearly an All Star in some people's opinions after scoring 15.4 points per game and grabbing 9.7 rebounds per game. Monore made a real leap in his second year and is one of the truly underrated players in the NBA.
The Monroe/Knight combination has the potential to be a devastating duo in the NBA to come if the right pieces come together and the two continue their development.
Detroit is not going to turn many heads this year and get to the Postseason. But the team will be a tough out because of Monroe and Knight.
Knight is working to become a better distributor while also increasing his scoring. That is something he can certainly do. And Monroe can get better too as his post game becomes more refined. Those two players represent a very bright future.
Now you add in Rodney Stuckey, a strong scorer who can be a bit of a volume shooter, and Tayshaun Prince, a veteran who is the last holdover form the championship team. Detroit will be a very tough out as the team continues to improve.
And that does not even mention first round pick Andre Drummond.
Guard depth will be an issue for the Pistons. Whild Drummond, Monroe, Jonas Jerebko and Jason Maxiell make for an impressive and potentially solid front line, outside of Stuckey and Knight the backcourt leaves a lot to be desired.
This group is full of guards who think shoot first and few who work to make others better. Chauncey Billups is not walking through that door.
Stuckey posted a 22.7 percent assist rate and is capable of being a distributor as well as a scorer. Knight posted a 20.8 percent assist rate last year and it is an area he needs to improve upon. Corey Maggette has long been known as a high-volume shooter who needs a lot of shots to get his points.
This does not seem to be the formula for a winning team.
It can change though. Knight can still grow into that kind of a point guard and Prince is still around to be something of a facilitator. But with the front court largely settled, Detroit will need to replenish its backcourt and build up the guards to get the ball to the team's big men down low.
There is still a learning curve for Knight to get through.
The ugly of the Pistons is owed $16.5 million for the next two years (with a player option for the 2014 season). Yes, it is Charlie Villanueva.
Joe Dumars got rid of Ben Gordon and is left only with Villanueva as the lone remaining player from that ill-fated summer of 2009. Those mistakes have been hard to erase. But no player has likely disappointed as much as Villanueva.
He averaged 7.0 points per game last year and shot 38.5 percent in just 13 games. Villanueva has been hampered by injuries along with his underperformance. And he is eating up salary cap space too with little production.
In three years with Detroit, Villanueva simply has not delivered. He knows he can do more. Detroit is certain he can do more. The question is not only can he do more, but can he get the opportunity to do so. It seems every year, Detroit puts Villanueva back in the doghouse and he cannot come off the bench. Maybe this year is his year... not likely.
Have thoughts or predictions on the Pistons? Leave them in the comments below or drop us a line @CrossoverNBA on Twitter or join the discussion by using the hashtag #PistonsDay. We will be back with a closer look at the Pistons throughout the day.