Everything Has Changed,
Nothing Has Changed
Comparing Pistons Rosters
Have you ever had a colleague or friend who just complained about EVERYTHING!? I’m sure you have heard some complaining from many a Detroit Pistons fan in the last few weeks. A popular tactic is to envision someone worse off and tell yourself, “at least I’m not that guy!” Let’s do that by comparing the present starting line-up with last year’s starting lineup.
The NBA trade deadline is two weeks away. The Detroit Pistons have gone through a huge roller coaster ride of highs and lows this year and have ended up obtaining a smidgen better record than they had last year at this time, despite a seemingly huge improvement in their roster. In this article you will see how the starting lineups have changed. Feel free to make comments on where President, Joe Dumars, needs to improve in the next two weeks.
2012-13 Starting Lineup 2013-14 Starting Lineup
PG: Jose Calderon PG: Brandon Jennings
SG: Brandon Knight SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Kyle Singler SF: Josh Smith
PF: Jason Maxiell PF: Greg Monroe
C: Greg Monroe C: Andre Drummond
*Most used starting lineups
After the last trade deadline in February 2013, the starting lineup changed significantly, but it seemed it was just a rental lineup as 3 of the 5 were packing their bags by summer. Let’s go player by player to evaluate what Joe Dumars may have been thinking.
Jose was a great 3-point efficiency player and had a high assist-to-turner over ratio. He led the plays and did what Coach Frank wanted. He was not resigned because he may have been too expensive for an older veteran on possibly his last contract. Joe Dumars wanted to have a young and fast point guard to “run and gun” with the young bigs he had in Monroe and Drummond.
Knight was a great shooter and tried really hard on the rest of his game, showing a lot of progress along the way. I never felt he was the future of the Pistons – neither did Joe Dumars, as he was packaged for what many feel was an upgrade in Brandon Jennings.
Jason was a (very) poor man’s Ben Wallace. You become like your mentor and Jason was mentored by Ben Wallace, despite never rockin’ the fro. He was a swatting machine and could use his weight to get great position. He was a free agent who was old and slower than what Joe Dumars had in mind. He is now riding the pine in Orlando.
Brandon is highly energetic and wears his emotions on his sleeves…er….jersey. He is a little short for an NBA point guard at 6’1’’, and Joe Dumars typically likes tall but quick guards. He saw a lot of potential in Jennings, which reminds me of when he plucked Chauncey Billups in the free agent market back in the day who ended with a cabinet of full of accolades. Is this the next All-Star point guard the Pistons will have? Jennings has his moments of turning the ball over, and shooting threes at the stupidest times (like every time he dribbles up the court in any given 4th quarter). He is still learning the position. Coach Mo Cheeks needs to teach him how to be a better point guard, but better yet, Jennings needs to listen and allow himself to be mentored or he will be getting escorted off the team very soon.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (aka KCP):
When it was announced that the Detroit Pistons selected KCP with the 8th pick of the 2013 NBA Draft many were extremely ticked off and downright hated Joe Dumars for the choice. Many wanted their home grown boy, Trey Burke. The starting point guard of the University of Michigan who went to the Championship NCAA Game…but lost. Joe Dumars had done that move before and lost when he selected Mateen Cleaves after he led the Michigan State Spartans to a championship. Cleaves went nowhere fast. Dumars was not going to use a 1st round pick that way again (but he would end up using a 2nd round pick to choose the championship-winning point guard, Peyton Siva).
Back to KCP – it seems Joe D wanted a “3 & D” player, which means a player that can shoot the 3-pointer and also possess a lock-down stifling defense. Joe D got his man. Trey Burke is not a “3 & D” player. Joe Dumars drafted for need. It is important to note that at the time of the draft he still had Brandon Knight lined up for point guard. KCP has played around 40 games as a starter, and was thrown in for a bunch of reasons (Billups was found to be too slow, Middleton was traded, Knight was traded, and Stuckey was injured). At this point it appears Mo Cheeks is tweaking the lineup and started Kyle Singler as recently as Wednesday night, but Singler too was found to be too slow at times. No plays have been run through KCP, and he has done what has been asked in shooting the 3-pointer and playing lockdown defense…on most players. KCP won’t win Rookie of the Year and he was not selected to the All-Star Rookies roster. He will get his moment as long as he commits himself to daily improvement and waits his turn.
There was so much excitement over this signing. I do believe Joe Dumars surprised everyone. Who asks someone to play a different position (small forward) meanwhile signing him to a sizeable contract? This is an experiment that Joe Dumars has started and the outcome is not what he expected. He envisioned a defensive backcourt of Monroe (who played center last year), Drummond (who was a rookie off the bench last year playing center) and Smith (who played power forward last year) to not let anyone in the key and a complete block party when they did! With each player learning a new position, plus getting used to each other, the experiment has been tedious at times. I do believe that this experiment is not over and it is time for a serious coach and his staff to analyze the issues and make some intelligent changes. This could include making plays for each of the three, telling Smith not to shoot anything outside the key, guards waiting until there are rebounders ready before they shoot their 3-point attempt, and maybe just having a point guard who passes to them. Either way, Josh Smith is a rarity. He is a big guy who is quick enough and big enough to upset any small forward. This position is oftentimes the other team’s highest scorer. Prior to this year, the Pistons have had Tayshaun Prince to be the lock-down defensive presence, but was never known to be a scorer. We gained size and scoring ability when we added Josh Smith.
Last year Drummond was delayed in his playing time due to weeks on the injured reserve with back issues (fractured vertebra). This delayed the plan to have Drummond start at center and Monroe switch to power forward. Drummond is a huge guy and with his youth (age 20) and supreme off-the-chart quickness, he will be the block (no pun intended) that the future Piston team will build around.
If you were like me, you were fascinated and utterly shocked by the concept of Joe Dumars actually making trades this last summer. Some wonder if the Davidson family didn’t want any change in their team while they were trying to sell it. Others believe that Dumars just got lazy. I personally tend to think that Joe Dumars got the better of many of the teams in his past dealings. He used this opportunity to lay low while conveniently allowing the team to change owners.
It is quite obvious by looking at the starting lineup of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 Detroit Pistons that they became better almost overnight. There are tweaks that will come, but we do not know what Dumars has up his sleeve for this quickly approaching trade deadline. I would guess that Dumars may not even know at this moment. Here are some questions for you to comment on and ponder in the next two weeks as we grit our teeth and hope for the best: ~Hank
Where are the Piston’s biggest weaknesses?
What trade proposals would you recommend to fix the present roster?
What do you think Joe Dumars will do before the trade deadline?
Share your thoughts!