Five Reasons to Feel Positive about the Detroit Pistons

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(This is another in a series of 30 guest columns that will run in October, when optimism reigns supreme across the NBA. The theme will be “Five Reasons to Feel Positive About … ” We encourage you to follow the authors on Twitter and visit their sites. – CS)

pistons small logoAfter seven straight years of 50-plus wins from 2001-2008 – including one championship - it has been a rough half decade for the Detroit Pistons.

The trade of fan favorite Chauncey Billups was supposed to jump start a new era of contention, but the move backfired in a big way when the $90 million investment in Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva went about as wrong as it possibly could have.

Instead of remaining perennial contenders in the Eastern Conference, the Pistons became a regular in the lottery. Worse yet, they weren’t bad enough to land a top-three pick, never selecting higher than seventh. They’ve been mired in mediocrity, the fans have become apathetic and contention still seems a long way off.

Still, it’s finally easy to see why fans should be excited about basketball in Detroit again. Here’s five reasons:

1. Greg Monroe

Although the Pistons haven’t picked high in the draft since their downward spiral began, they got arguably the best player in the 2010 draft with the selection of Greg Monroe of Georgetown. The multi-faceted big man has already shown 20-10 ability and is on the doorstep of being a top-five center in the NBA.

Monroe doesn’t have the flash of John Wall, the enticing potential of Derrick Favors or the raw talent of DeMarcus Cousins. But he produces at a consistently high level and has been a great teammate since stepping on the hardwood.

He is crafty around the basket, using smarts to compensate for a lack of athletic ability. Last season, he had one of the best true-shooting percentages in the league despite the fact that he largely had to create for himself, with less than half his field goals coming as the result of an assist.

If he takes a step forward in year 3 as he did in year 2, he will make his first All-Star team and will be in the national conversation as one of the NBA’s best big men.

2. Light at the end of the tunnel

The signings of Gordon and Villanueva have been an albatross on the franchise since before the ink dried on the contracts. They were overpaid and surrounded by little talent, meaning their deficiencies couldn’t be covered up by teammates.

But finally it looks like the franchise is poised to move on. Gordon is already gone, traded for Corey Maggette and his expiring contract. Villanueva is still on the team but looks to be a prime amnesty candidate following this season.

And with that money off the books, combined with the collection of young talent the team has amassed during its lean years, the franchise has a chance to reinvest that money to complement its young base.

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Comments

  1. Nice article, but, this roster is brutal. The russian kid and Jerebko may be decent and TWilliams may be best player after Monroe. Knight/Stuckey/Drummond wouldn’t be in rotation on most teams. Nobody kills a 24 sec clock better than Stuck. Drummond hype = 29% free throw shooting. Yikes! Sorry, but this ‘Ston fan sees darkness ahead for many, many years.

  2. Have you watched a Pistons game? Brandon Knight without training camp had a stellar season. He has a high ceiling

    • He might have a high ceiling but he did not have a stellar season. His numbers look better because he played so many minutes.

      Of the rookie class who got enough playing time, Knight ranked sixth out of seven in assists per 48 minutes and seventh out of seven in assists to turnover ratio. He also never got to the free-throw line and as such was a pretty inefficient offensive scorer.

    • Sean is absolutely right on this one. Knight is not a point guard (which is why the Terry comparison fits perfectly) and his inability to get to the line really limits his ability to score deficiency, even with a pretty effective three point shot. He still has plenty of potential, but the strides that Rodney Stuckey made this season are much more of a reason for optimism at the guard position.

      • Or rather, his inability to get to the line limits his ability to score EFFICIENTLY. Man, I wish there was an edit option for these comments.

        • Chris Bernucca says:

          There is – for us editors. Sorry. Thanks for reading. And thanks, Sean, for your contribution. CB

    • The Vatican has a high ceiling.

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