The Pistons have been rebuilding for several years now. Tayshaun Prince is the only player remaining from their glory days when they were on top of the Eastern Conference. My, how the times change so quickly. But with a potential star, in the making, down low, are the Pistons finally on their way back up?
It all started when they handed out big contracts to average players (Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva). Calling those contracts “disgusting” would be a bit of an understatement. They traded Gordon this offseason, but Villanueva is still on the team and is due to make $8 million this season.
Since Flip Saunders was fired, the Pistons have gone through a slew of coaches to fill the void at the head of the bench. Somebody should have told management that talent wins games and that coaching is only a small piece to the puzzle. The Celtics had Doc Rivers before they had Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Did they win? No. They finished with one of the worst records in the league before acquiring both players in the summer of 2007. After acquiring both players, they won the title. Funny or coincidence?
The Pistons have had some bad luck in recent drafts, which is a part of why they have been so dismal the past few seasons. In 2009, they passed on point guards Ty Lawson and Jrue Holiday, taking Austin Daye instead. And last season, they selected Brandon Knight ahead of Klay Thompson and Iman Shumpert.
But this team isn’t all bad. Greg Monroe has shown signs of becoming a very good low-post scorer and defender. As he enters his third season, Monroe will look to build on solid numbers (15.4 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game). They also added Andre Drummond, via the draft, and he has potential to become really good.
But if bad teams have learned anything, potential gets people fired and talent wins games.
Point guard(s) – Brandon Knight: Even though Knight went somewhat unnoticed during his rookie season, he was still a solid player. I think Knight has a chance to become a pretty good point guard in the league.
Will Bynum and/or Jonny Flynn will back up Knight.
Position Grade: C+
Shooting guard(s) – Rodney Stuckey: No question that Stuckey is the best player on the team, but he might not be for long. He came into the league as point a guard, but played more of the shooting guard spot last season. I think not much will change this season.
Terrence Williams and Kim English will back up Stuckey.
Position Grade: B-
Tayshaun Prince will back up Maggette.
Position Grade: C+
Power forward(s) – Jason Maxiell: He has mainly been a rebounder for the entirety of his career. That won’t change this season.
Charlie Villanueva and Jonas Jerebko will back up Maxiell.
Position Grade: C-
Center(s) – Greg Monroe: He could become one of the better big men in the league this season. He flew under-the-radar last season, but had too good of a year to be in the same position to start this season. He has All-Star potential, no questions about it.
Andre Drummond will back up Monroe.
Position Grade: B
Projected Starting Lineup
G: Brandon Knight
G: Rodney Stuckey
F: Corey Maggette
F: Jason Maxiell
C: Greg Monroe
Starting Lineup Grade: C+
G: Jonny Flyyn
G: Terrence Williams
F: Jonas Jerebko
F: Andre Drummond
Bench Grade: C-
Coaching Grade: B- (Lawrence Frank)
While the Pistons are somewhat improved, they will still struggle this season. I predict them to finish last in the Central Division.