Pistons

The current state of the Detroit Pistons

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Detroit Pistons v Atlanta Hawks

So here we are a little more than half way thru the 2012-2013 NBA season and with the All-Star break coming up I’d like to take this time to take a look at the current state of Pistons basketball.

Right from the get go I’m not going to sugar coat it, Detroit isn’t close to the playoffs in a relatively weak Eastern Conference. Sure the East has the defending champion Miami Heat but the West features teams currently out of the playoffs that would walk over the bottom seeds in the East which includes the Pistons. But a big issue for Detroit is since trading Chauncey Billups (what seems like a decade ago now) the Pistons have been without an identity. They don’t score (ranked 19th in scoring), they don’t defend all that well, (but are better than almost half of the teams ranking in at 14) and they don’t share the ball averaging 20 assists a game (ranked 24th in the Association). Detroit is also about middle of the pack shooting the basketball but in turn they’re one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the League.

There is one thing Detroit does do well though, in fact they do it really well and are top five in the NBA. That one thing is rebounding the basketball. They also actually shoot the 3-pointer pretty well too ranking in amongst the top 10. However the Pistons rank near the bottom in attempts.

So where do the 21-33 Pistons go from here? The Pistons would have to go 20-8 to finish .500. That run would probably be needed to get into the playoffs as well. Truth be told, the Pistons are closer to a top 5 draft pick than going 20-8 to finish the season. We should also learn a lot about the team after the All-Star break, as Detroit comes back home to play Memphis and later that weekend has a home and home with the Pacers.  The Pistons then have two more games before they start a gauntlet in which the first seven games in March they’re matched up against five teams that are currently in the playoffs. And of the games that aren’t against playoff teams the Pistons will be playing Dallas, Philadelphia and Portland who will be battling for their playoff lives.

So from there Detroit will need to figure out what they’re going to do. Do they need a trade? Keep building in the Draft? Or is there a free agent that makes them a playoff team? They have young building blocks on this team everywhere and I like the Pistons’ recent drafts that have resulted in some decent players. Andre Drummond however looks to be the only player with a high ceiling.

As far as those other pieces go we still don’t know what we have in PG/SG Brandon Knight. Is he the point guard of the future or a shooting guard? And if he’s a shooting guard is he more Rodney Stuckey or Joe Dumars?

Greg Monroe is a solid piece for any team, but is he a franchise player you fit other pieces around, or is he a piece that is fitted into a more ready team? I like Monroe, but I don’t see a franchise player in Moose. He can provide solid numbers and be better in a triangle offense as the big man’s better attribute is his passing. He defends ok and gets boards but his post play on offense leaves a little more to be desired. Once he gets more than 15 ft from the basket, he his rendered useless.

It’s also too bad Pistons rookie Andre Drummond got hurt with that fractured tailbone. He was just starting to break the surface of what he might be. He is a natural shot blocker and grabs rebounds almost like the basketball finds him (i.e. the 7.5 Rebounds in 22 min). If this kid spends his summer in the gym and develops a go to post move and base line jumper the Pistons could have a future starter.

The Pistons also have other pieces that could be key. Kyle Singler is a nice SG/SF that off the bench on a good team can add shooting. I think the Pistons could get away with him at the 2 spot if they had a dominate scoring wing player.

Then there is the newly acquired Jose Calderon.

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First thought of as a way to dump Tayshaun Prince’s salary, the Pistons have mentioned they would like to keep Calderon as he is a good point guard for a team loaded with scoring type players. Calderon will take care of the basketball and get everyone involved but at 31 years of age what does he have left?  I would be open to him on a 2 year deal at season’s end but the Pistons would however need to get a wing as they will more than likely keep Knight at the two if Calderon is kept on board.

After covering the youth and watching and hoping they can grow up together, the rest of the group can leave you with an unsatisfied feeling. Maxiell, Stuckey, Bynum, Charlie V. any one of these players can be worthy of highlights on any night but finding any one of them to repeat a performance is hard to come by.

The bottom line is Detroit struggles to find scoring and they don’t have a go to guy. They don’t have a guy to have the ball late. The bigs aren’t the type to dominate the post on most nights, at least not yet. And again there is still no direction to what kind of team this is.

It still looks like a cheap attempt to rebuild the 2004 blueprint.

Watching Will Bynum run around with the game on the line in the 4th quarter is proof this team isn’t close. By close I don’t mean championship either, I mean 8th seed.

Detroit needs to figure out how they are building, instead of this “Goin’ to Work” redux. Either start a new trend, instead of relying on guard play, dominate the inside with Twin Towers,  a Robinson/Duncan revival with Drummond and Monroe would be ideal. From there get smart shooters around them that are willing to pass the ball as well.

I could be wrong but all I know is this team is loaded with combo guards or guys too small for their position. Joe Dumars should be on notice.

About Jason Bray

Detroit Sports Columist. Joined The Majors staff in 2012 covering the Detroit Lions.

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