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As a Pistons fan, I'm finding Detroit at a very crucial offseason here in 2012. They are at a point right now where they are set up to be a back-end lottery team for the foreseeable future (as currently constructed). They are not so bad that they'll end up in the top 3 picks where you can potentially grab a franchise changer and not good enough to compete for anything but an 8 seed even on a good year; this is known as no man's land in the NBA. Joe D has put the Pistons in this position with a combination of bad signings and hanging on to players too long.  So let's examine where it went wrong before we talk about what needs to happen now.

The list below is the string of bad front office decisions that have led to being in their current position:

  • First and foremost the Gordon/Villanueva signings in the same offseason have proven disastrous and most could have predicted it at the time. Gordon was coming off three straight very productive scoring seasons so there was hope with him at the beginning but Villanueva had never shown he was worth the money the Pistons offered.
  • One of the most overlooked bonehead moves made by Joe D was trading Aaron Afflalo to Denver for Walter Sharpe and a 2011 second pick. Seriously?! Afflalo has turned into one of the core players of a young nucleus for an up and coming Denver team. He's a 6'5 wing who is a lock down perimeter defender while averaging 15 points a game and shooting 40% from 3pt. Think Detroit could use him on the wing?
  • The 2009 NBA Draft is one that has always bothered me. I just never saw what others saw in Austin Daye. I saw length but no real desirable skill set; wasn't a great athlete, not a great shooter, horrible defender, and IMO not a very high ceiling even if he did develop. Meanwhile, PG's like Jrue Holliday and Ty Lawson were passed over because it wasn't a need. Learn your lesson Joe, drafting for team need results in bad players. Find the best talent on the board and make it work. Having Holiday or Lawson in place would have allowed them to go with a guy like Klay Thompson or Kawhi Leonard last year rather than having to use that pick on Knight (I like Knight but taking Daye pushed the PG need back a couple years).
  • Holding on to Tayshaun Prince for far too long and passing over other talented wings in the draft because of his presence.

Those are just the major moves that come to mind; there have been others dating all the way back to the 2003 NBA or as I like to call it, the great mistake.

That being said, the Pistons have had some recent draft success and appear to have a few young pieces that could help lay the foundation for years of future success. Knight and Monroe will never be good enough to be able to be the #1 guy on a championship contending team but they can certainly be the #2 and #3 guys if they develop properly. Jerebko is the perfect role player type that you'd love to keep around for a long time especially since he's only 24 years old.  As I go through this I'm basically assuming Knight and Monroe are untouchable (unless a blockbuster occurs for a superstar which I just can't see). Jerebko is also very unlikely to be moved. Everyone else is in play...and I mean EVERYONE.

So with that being said I have put together a list of possibilities for the Pistons during the upcoming offseason that will put them in a better position to contend going forward.

This is a list of moves that I believe they should do and it appears they have a realistic shot at accomplishing:

 

  • Trade Ben Gordon to the Chicago Bulls for Omer Asik and 2013 First-Round Pick. Ben Gordon is in the physical prime of his career at age 29 but he needs to play in a system that utilizes his talents correctly. Playing alongside Rose would take Gordon back up to the 18 point per game mark and give Rose a sharpshooting backcourt mate for the next 4 or 5 years. It would also allow the Bulls to use Hamilton strictly as a scorer with the 2nd unit which would better fit his skill set at this point in his career. As for the Pistons it will finally end the experiment that was Ben Gordon who wasn't horrible but never lived up to expectations (or the contract). And if they are able to land a true center who is only 25 years old they should be thrilled. Asik would only be asked to control the paint defensively and rebound (the two things he does best). He averaged 5 rebounds per game in just 15 minutes of action. He'd be the perfect complement to Monroe. It's a win-win for both teams. Plus the Pistons could add an additional first round pick next year (which will more than likely be a better pick than this year's #29 slot).
  • Use the #9 pick on Jeremy Lamb, Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones III, or Terrence Ross. Almost everywhere you look, the "experts" have the Pistons taking a shot-blocking project to pair with Monroe. This is falling back into the drafting for need strategy and if they are able to land Asik the need is much smaller. Plus I don't think reaching for Henson, Zeller, or Moutrie gets them much better defensively or on the glass for at least a couple years. Where the Pistons are selecting they are going to have their pick of a number of high risk/high reward wings and it's time they roll the dice. I really like all 4 of the guys mentioned above for one simple reason: they all know how to score the basketball! Something the Pistons have been lacking out of a wing since Hamilton during their championship years. They all have different levels of risk associated with them and my preference would be for someone who could play both the SF and SG positions but I'd be happy with any of the above. In 3 years it wouldn't surprise me to see 3 of these 4 guys develop into 15+ point per game wing scorers with one of those three being a 23-25 point per game guy. Don't ask me which is which but I'm willing to chance it with whichever one of the four the scouting department thinks has the best chance to be the 23-25 point per game guy.
  • Trade Tayshaun Prince and the #39 pick to Dallas for the #17 pick. We all know the Mavericks are looking to make big moves this offseason (Deron Williams and Dwight Howard would be a nice start). Part of convincing Williams to sign is going to be bringing in a roster around Nowitzki that shows D-Will they can compete for a championship immediately. Drafting a project player at #17 that may develop in 2-3 years isn't going to impress Williams in the least. So if they are able to grab a veteran defensive stopper like Prince (who just happens to be a good matchup against Durant) who can also knock down shots may go a long way. No idea how they'd get Howard but not sure they have a shot anyways. As for the Pistons, it's finally time to say goodbye to Prince. He's been good for Detroit on the court but he's also forced them to turn down chances at other wings that would have been good fits. With the moves mentioned above they'd be able to use this pick on truly the best player available and take a guy that has a high upside. If Dallas wasn't a willing trade partner there are other Western Conference teams in that mid-teens area that may be willing to deal (Houston and Minnesota).
  • Take best player available with the #17 pick. Depending on how the draft shakes out this could be any number of different players that play a multitude of positions and it will also depend on who they select with that #9 pick. The list should include guys like John Henson, Tyler Zeller, Arnett Moultrie, Terrance Jones, Austin Rivers, Meyers Leonard, Moe Harkless, Fab Melo, and Quincy Miller. Out of all those guys I would be very happy with Terrance Jones, Myers Leonard, or Moe Harkless. Jones and Harkless are multi-dimensional and have high upside while Leonard is a raw post who has the chance to develop into an impactful starting center in 2-3 years. However, any of the guys listed wouldn't be expected to play a huge role as a rookie and would be allowed to develop over the next couple of years.
  • Sign Jordan Hill (unless they use second first round pick on a center). I know he's not the dominating player that you would expect out of a lottery pick just a few years ago but I think he found his game a little during the Lakers playoff run. Not to mention he's relatively young and has a chance to continue to develop. He's a bit undersized at the center position but he plays big and his high energy and athleticism would be a great complement to Asik.

Those five moves may seem a little aggressive and too reliant on this year's draft class but Detroit needs to make some drastic moves ASAP. The results of these moves would be mean their key contributors would be Knight, Monroe, Stuckey, Asik, Hill, Jerebko, Bynum, and 2 rookies (along with a few leftovers from the current roster). Not to mention they would end up with an additional first round pick next year. A 4-man rotation of Monroe, Jerebko, Asik, and Hill at the 4 and 5 positions would drastically improve their ability to score in and defend the paint. The perimeter will depend largely on who they take with their draft picks (Perry Jones III and Terrence Ross would be the absolute perfect combination IMO). However, I'll take that roster in hopes the 2 rookies develop nicely over the next two years (along with Knight and Monroe) and ultimately produce a young and talented roster that is able to compete in the Eastern Conference.

Pay Attention Joe D!!!

 

 

 

June 6, 2012  10:44 AM ET

Good read....1. Omer Asik is a restricted free agent and Chicago has little to no cap room...Ben Gordon will make $12 million next year, no way the salaries match up to do the Asik/Gordon trade. 2. I like them drafting Barnes or Jones III..SG isn't a huge need and the draft is DEEP with them...3. Assuming they get Barnes or Jones III, with the 17th pick T. Jones or A. Rivers would fit perfectly there. 4. Jordan Hill should come cheap, he's a decent talent that could still blossom...Anyway, I'm a Knicks fan but it seems like Detroit should consider you for their GM job (can't do much worse than Dumars).

June 6, 2012  11:06 AM ET

Great blog, and I'm a Pistons player myself.

Key is definitely the hard task of trying to unload Ben Gordon and Villanueva's massively bad contracts.

And getting lucky in the draft. Darko Milicic anyone?!

June 6, 2012  01:20 PM ET

Dang I like that Dallas deal for both sides.

The chicago deal, not so much.

June 6, 2012  01:38 PM ET

Good feedback and I appreciate the kid words fellas. Let me address a few of your concerns.

As for the Gordon trade, the Bulls would have to amnesty Boozer in order to add anyone and I believe that's a very real possibility. That frees up $13 million in cap space to add key pieces. In order to make the Gordon trade work, it would have to be an extend and trade situation for Asik along with a "throw-in" contract to make things work. Asik could probably look for $5 million in his new deal which would help to close the gap between Gordon's contract and his. IMO Gordon still has 18+ point per game potential for the next 3 years and with defenses collapsing on Rose, he'll get plenty of open looks.

June 6, 2012  01:47 PM ET

And I'm getting my resume around...when Joe D is done, I'm officially putting my hat in the ring! If Shaq thinks he can do it, I sure as hell can!

June 6, 2012  02:36 PM ET

Good blog. Not sure about that Bulls trade but you addressed that already in the comments. Jordan Hill would be a good fit for the Pistons, but I'm hoping the Lakers bring him back next season.

June 6, 2012  03:46 PM ET

Joe Dumars put together a great contendor for years, then broke them up and has fallen apart ever since. You hit the nail on the head and I agree that Monroe and Knight are untouchable. They wouldn't get a superstar in a deal, they would likely just get less talent. They do need that one player to glue their starting five together, whoever it may be. Chauncey Billups is still missed dearly in Detroit...

June 6, 2012  09:19 PM ET

I'm not sure Chicago has the money to just amnesty the Booz, unless there was a major player out there wanting to play there (howard)

Is Gordo that much of an upgrade over Booz? I think so, but is he 18M more of an upgrade? (13+5)

I could see them swinging Hinrich or even Deng, but that's still not going to help Detroit.

Dumars gets a bad rap for the Darko pick. At the time 9 of 10 GMs would have done the same, and had Darko averaged 15/10, he would have been a hero.
Dumars didn't NEED another wing, and Darko was the best thing over 6'8 in the draft, Dumars biggest mistake was not selling the pick to Miami or Denver for a few more picks/players.

Dumars gets 2 no1s and Darko, Melo goes to Miami. The league changes.

June 6, 2012  10:17 PM ET

very good blog. Dumars went downhill after drafting Darko in 2003. Seems like every move he has made has been very bad. should be fired pretty soon.

June 6, 2012  10:42 PM ET
QUOTE(#9):

very good blog. Dumars went downhill after drafting Darko in 2003. Seems like every move he has made has been very bad. should be fired pretty soon.

Well, in 2004 he did acquire Rasheed Wallace while he was still one of the premier post players in the league midway through the season. Though he has always made puzzling moves... like firing Flip Saunders and Rick Carlisle at the times he did. It isn't like they were bad coaches.

June 7, 2012  02:24 AM ET
QUOTE(#2):

Great blog, and I'm a Pistons player myself.Key is definitely the hard task of trying to unload Ben Gordon and Villanueva's massively bad contracts.And getting lucky in the draft. Darko Milicic anyone?!

Where I read "player", please read "fan" :)

June 7, 2012  04:11 AM ET

*Where I wrote

(geez, I'm lousy)

 
July 9, 2012  11:17 AM ET

NCshvDavid...I completely agree that they didn't NEED another wing that year. But that's my whole argument with Dumars and his drafting strategy. You can NOT draft for need and expect good results. Maybe in the NFL you can get away with that a little but not in the NBA. There just aren't enough high impact guys to let you draft for need over best available. You take the best basketball player and figure it out later, plain and simple. You can play two SF's at the same time or two PF's or Two SG's if you're creative with your offensive sets and defensive scheme.

I completely disagree with your assessment that 9 out of 10 GMs would have taken Darko over Melo. In fact I would argue that there were less than 5 in the league who would have done the same. And the other 4 (besides Dumars) are probably out of a job by now.

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