By Brandan Wonch
By now, real Detroit Pistons fans know that the team is out of the 2013 playoff race. Any hopes we may have had for this year are long gone so perhaps it’s time to look towards the off-season.
What Pistons fans can expect from the off-season no one knows for sure, especially with so much time between now and the draft. There’s plenty of time to fill needs with free agents or to talk about possible trade deals to make once the deadline is lifted. But right now, it’s all speculation. So here are some of my thoughts.
The Pistons should keep the core of young talent that they have assembled over the last few years. It’s been a long time coming, but with the trade of Tayshaun Prince earlier this year, the old guard of Detroit’s past is gone. This means they have to keep the group of young talent they have — players like Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Other players on rosters that should be kept and could actually end up slipping away are Jonas Jerebko, Kyle Singler and Khris Middleton. They have shown a lot of talent and potential. The chances of any of them becoming superstars is unlikely, but they have proven to be good players (most likely bench players), but depth is key when putting together a championship team.
Talent to gain, trades and signing big-name free agents aren’t what Detroit is known for, but it’s fun to think about.
The two weakest points in Detroit’s starting lineup are the point and small forward. There is a large amount of talent at the point in the NBA today, but the Pistons need someone to fit their style. They recently got Jose Calderon from Toronto, who is a solid point guard. But due to his age and being prone to injuries, I don’t feel he’s the answer. Preferably they could find someone young enough to grow with the rest of the team.
There have been rumors that Brandon Jennings and John Wall are looking for ways out of Milwaukee and Washington respectively, but those are just rumors. If the Pistons went for someone a little older, Rajon Rondo seems to be on his way out of Boston, but he has also had a career with some injury trouble and if he does leave Boston chances are he would either want a lot of money or just want to go to a team with better championship prospects.
As for small forward prospects, Cleveland is currently loaded with talent, so we could see them drop some of that talent — Alonzo Gee, C.J. Miles and Omri Casspi – and with it some big salaries. Casspi is only on a one-year deal that well may be up at the end of this year and I think the 24-year-old shooter has some good potential.
A much more likely outcome is that the Pistons look toward the next draft to fill in the holes of the team. Not knowing for sure which college prospects will enter the draft or where the Pistons will pick, again makes it hard to say who they would even have a reasonable chance to get. Regardless, I think they should look to fill in the needs at small forward by either getting a small forward or a two guard willing to move up.
The number one option on my list would have to be Indiana’s Victor Oladipo. Listed as a 6’5” shooting guard, he could struggle to transition to small forward, but he has some major advantages. He’s very athletic, a good runner who likes to get up and down the court, and he specializes in defense, which Detroit is always looking for. He also has some good ball-handling skills to go along with a lot of potential at offense. I have read scouting reports comparing him to Kawai Lenard of San Antonio, whom I’m a big fan of, and definitely feel we could use someone with that skill set, a.k.a. defense, rebounding and dunking.
Another good draft choice would be Ben McLemore, who most professionals peg as the number one overall draft pick. A good small forward who actually plays the position would be Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng, though I suspect Michigan fans would cringe at the prospect.
People to look for in the second round would be Michigan’s own Tim Hardaway Jr., who recently announced his intent to enter the draft. Point guards to look for include Lorenzo Brown from N.C. State, and Michigan’s Trey Burke. A more likely prospect though would be Isaiah Canaan from Murray State. If he sleeps to the second round, he would be a good scoring guard, predicted to be the best pure shooter at the point in the upcoming draft.
So while the options are many, the task ahead for Pistons management is a big one. And hopefully the goal is to do some serious building for the future. Detroit basketball hungers for a playoff run.
(Any thoughts or recommendations on the future of the Detroit Pistons? What plan do you think Pistons management should adopt during the off-season? Send your ideas to us at email@example.com.)