With six games remaining in the 2012-2013 regular season, Detroit fans will be watching their fourth straight NBA playoffs without their Metro Detroit Pistons. This season will mark the first time that the Pistons have missed the playoffs for four consecutive years since the 1980-1981 season (Detroit actually missed the playoffs six consecutive years during that span as they didn’t find their way into the postseason until the 1983-1984 season), and based on the current pieces in place, I’m not so sure that they won’t make it five years straight.
The Pistons have a record of 25-51 — a winning percentage of .329 — and last year they finished with a winning percentage of .379 with a 25-41 record (lockout season). While Detroit has a chance to exceed their wins from last year, for whatever that’s worth, they still underachieved slightly this season, and even if they win their remaining games I don’t see how fans don’t call this season a disappointment.
Second-year point guard/shooting guard Brandon Knight took a step back this year. Knight is shooting worse from the field, beyond the arc, and from the free throw line compared to last year, and while his assists per game and points per game have barely increased from his rookie to sophomore campaign, his turnovers per game increased slightly as well. When the Pistons drafted the guard out of Kentucky they thought they were getting a player that could play two positions and facilitate effectively, and I haven’t seen that consistently thus far in his career.
Sixth-year guard Rodney Stuckey has had his worst season since his rookie year, and with his salary I don’t see the Pistons getting rid of him anytime soon. The former first-round pick back in 2007 was sent to the bench earlier this year, and that’s not something that you want from somebody that was one pick removed from being a lottery selection and averaging over 15 points per game combined in his last three seasons.
When the Pistons shipped their only remaining NBA champion Tayshaun Prince (who is giving the Grizzlies solid minutes) to Memphis at the trade deadline, they also shipped 2009 first-round pick Austin Daye. The 6-11 “power” forward wasn’t fitting in to the scheme of things while in Detroit, but why give up on him so fast? He has more potential going forward than Corey Maggette and Charlie Villanueva, and if you’re trying to gather young pieces why not keep him around for a little longer?
Management has made some head-scratching decisions in recent years and some of the pieces that they’ve added don’t seem to be part of the grand scheme of things if their goal is multiple NBA titles. Kim English and Khris Middleton aren’t more than career bench players, and if you tell me that big man Viacheslav Kravtsov will become a solid option off the bench in years to come I can’t take you seriously. Outside of 2012 first-round pick Andre Drummond the Pistons didn’t make any beneficial additions for this season, and for a team that is looking to improve that’s a huge problem.
One thing for sure is that the Pistons interior is set for years to come in 2010 first-round pick Greg Monroe and Drummond. Monroe has come along nicely in his third year as he average 16 points and 9.6 rebounds per game and Drummond has surprised many across the league as his energy and ability to rebound and finish near the rim has exceeded what many thought would come from him this early in his career. These two are the foundation of the Pistons, but I’m not sure these two alone can make the Pistons a serious contender again.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, surely optimistic fans will bring up the argument that they are “rebuilding” and that they’re one of the “youngest” teams in the NBA (ranked seventh), however, how much longer can that be an excuse? Maybe if the Pistons fail to produce next season with all of the money that they have to play with this summer that will constitute as a disappointing season. This team has a lot of work to do, and after watching them play all season I’m not convinced that all of the pieces that they think they have to build a team going forward are actually there.