10 Thoughts on the Detroit Pistons in 2011-2012 (NBA Season Preview)10 Thoughts on the Detroit Pistons in 2011-2012 (NBA Season Preview)

1.       The Pistons have finally, belatedly, realized Rodney Stuckey is a decent passing 2, not a point guard!  Stuckey can back down 1s and take 2s off the dribble with ease and, while he’s not a great finisher, he’s excellent at drawing fouls and finishing through contact.  That skill, and that he’s very good defensively against 2s, could make him a minor star if he simply stops playing the 1 and taking outside shots, both of which are huge weaknesses.


2.       The reason Stuckey was stuck at the 2 was the presence of 2 other highly paid 2-guards on the roster.  Rip Hamilton is doubtlessly a Piston legend, but the ugly end to his tenure with the team did no one any favors.  He’s in Chicago now and the only 2 left on the roster is Ben Gordon.  Gordon is a small 2 who seems to have lost a step from his instant scoring of a few years ago.  If he doesn’t recover in a big way this year, likely off the bench, he’s likely to be amnestied this off-season.  He’s the only pure 2-guard on the roster, allowing Stuckey plenty of time at that spot.


3.       Making the transition to the 2 easier is the presence of both Will Bynum and super-draft pick Brandon Knight.  Bynum is a terrible defender, but looks to get a decent number of minutes.  Unfortunately, he’s yet another shoot first guard, and the worst of them on the club.  Knight, however, is another matter entirely.  On skill and talent, Knight should have gone top 3.  Yes, he’s another combo guard, but he’s one that mixes particularly well with Stuckey in that both are solid passers, hard workers, and will wreak havoc in the lane.  Knight is better covering ones than 2s, which likewise fits well with Stuckey, and is developing his shot quickly.  With a higher free throw rate and development of PG skills, it’s not hard to see this backcourt as deadly by as soon as next year.


4.       Holding down the fort at the 3 is the returning Tayshaun Prince.  He was expected to go to a contender, but didn’t.  He remains a great shooter and finisher, and a near-elite defender, just as he has been for about a decade.  The only real note about him is he’d be great on a fast-paced team, which the Pistons might end up forced to be thanks to speedy, but small guards.


5.       The backup wing positions are strange for the Pistons as almost everyone on the squad is a tweener between the 3 and 4, and the 1 pure 4 is exclusively a soft jump shooter.   Austin Daye is a good shooter and solid rebounder, but at 6’11 needs more muscle to hang in the post.  If not from outside, he’s most likely to be the long-term answer for the Pistons. Jonas Jerebenko, at 6’10 is a pure energy player, but he makes things happen off the ball and on defense.  He’s currently very good defensively at the 3 and needs muscle for the 4.   The team drafted Kyle Singler, a slow former Dukie with a good shot who will see limited minutes between the 3 and 4. 


6.       And finally, the main 4 on the team Charlie Villanueva is one of the softest and worst defensive players in the league.  He’s a pure jump shooter who at least rebounds a bit.  The only 4 who plays like a 4 is undersized Jason Maxiell, a poor rebounder and defender who at least bangs.  Luckily, the Pistons will probably suck and it’s a deep draft in the frontcourt.


7.       Luckily, the Pistons have a true 5 on the roster, draft steal Greg Monroe.  Monroe needs to add strength to guard 5’s effectively, but he already has a good post game, is a great rebounder, and competes hard on defense.  He isn’t a star, but he’s a step below and seems like he could be a good third wheel on a winning team.  If Knight becomes a superstar, as potential and the chip on his shoulder from slipping in the draft would seem to indicate is a strong possibility, then Stuckey can be a secondary star and Monroe a half court and defensive weapon.  Without Monroe’s steadying presence, this could easily be the Warriors kind of mess, though.


8.       Keeping the time likely better than most think is new Coach Lawrence Frank.  Frank is an excellent coach and will both develop the youth and make sure everyone plays defense to keep the club competitive.


9.       This team, more than most others, seems like it’s one player away from developing a competitive core.  That player is likely a 4 or 5.  While they might be too good for an Anthony Davis/Andre Drummond/Perry Jones/Jared Sullinger, they aren’t far off (TANK) this is the deepest draft in recent memory.   At worst they should end up in the Thomas Robinson/Quincy Miller/John Henson group and suddenly seem an amnesty move and a bit of development from the playoffs.


10.   This is a bad team, but one with good young players and a load of potential.  For all the weird moves that Joe Dumars has made over the years, Knight, Stuckey and Monroe, the homegrown core are all real players and each could be an All-Star down the line.  Add in another big talent, a good coach, and a play-the-right-way veteran like Prince and ancient holdover Ben Wallace… Piston fans have a reason for hope.  Just remember: TANK!


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