I’m not sure why I keep going on these Detroit Pistons tangents in the midst of one of the best NBA playoffs in recent years, but I can’t stress enough how huge this summer is for the this organization.
With money at their disposal, a top 10 pick in the 2013 NBA draft and young talent that can be shopped around, the Pistons are in a great position to once again contend in the Eastern Conference. And while free agency is probably the biggest of the Pistons concerns going forward, whoever they select in the upcoming NBA draft could dictate their moves for the rest of the offseason.
A few weeks back I put together an article that showed who I believe the Pistons should pick in the draft, and since then, my mind hasn’t changed too much. While a shooting guard and small forward are the Pistons primary needs, if Michigan point guard Trey Burke is sitting there when the Pistons select I think he will be their choice.
Aside from his ties with Joe Dumars (Burke played briefly with Dumars’ son, Jordan, while at Michigan), I believe Burke has the best upside in the draft and could benefit the current Pistons roster immensely.
Burke is one of three players that the Pistons would benefit most from selecting. The other two players? Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum and Georgia shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Both of these guys can light up the scoreboard: McCollum averaged 23.9 points per game as a senior and Caldwell-Pope (underclassmen) averaged 18.5 ppg during his sophomore season. Scoring from the perimeter is something that the Pistons lacked consistently this season, and unless Burke is available at seven, I believe these two guys have the potential to be the best scorers in the draft.
However, while all three of these guys could be potential options for the Pistons, each selection would force the Pistons to bring different pieces in via trade or free agency this summer. And if Dumars and staff play their cards right I truly believe there will be more fans in the seats next season and more victories in the win column.
Now, it’s time for another hypothetical situation (Yayyyyyy!) in which my hopeful mind generates the best possibilities for the Pistons based on which of the three they select (Yes, I’m that confident that the Pistons will select one of these players. Kind of…not really).
If the Pistons draft Burke — assuming he is available — then they have some major decisions going forward with Brandon Knight. The best case scenario in this situation would be to start Burke at point guard and trade Knight. One player whose name I keep hearing on around in possible trade talks is Indiana small forward Danny Granger. The former NBA All-Star missed the majority of this season with a knee injury, and with the emergence of Paul George, it could be possible that the Pacers are trying to ship Granger and his contract. If this trade happened it would give the Pistons a future, a TRUE point guard and a proven small forward to go with big men Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
So, if some form of that trade miraculous happens that still leaves the Pistons open to a huge move via free agency. One player who is available is O.J. Mayo. I think he would be the exact player the Pistons need at shooting guard — young, a hard worker and a scorer — and it wouldn’t cost them so much money to the point that they couldn’t grab significant bench players or give Monroe a long-term deal.
Here is what the starting lineup would look like if this illusion comes true:
PG – Burke
SG – Mayo
C – Drummond
Look’s solid to me. Matter of fact, it looks damn good.
McCollum can score the ball, no question. I recently compared him — as did many others — to Portland rookie Damian Lillard. Standing at 6-foot-3, I don’t see McCollum being a shooing guard — which would add another trademark “tweener” to the Pistons roster — but he can be a successful scoring point guard.
Similar to the Burke scenario, if the Pistons draft McCollum then Knight has to go. I still think adding a more offensively minded small forward like Granger is what the Pistons should aim for in dealing Knight, but the difference in this scenario comes via free agency. If the Pistons package a deal to get Granger or maybe (this is a reach) Harrison Barnes then I think they should aim for a more defensively minded guard/forward via free agency. Someone like Andre Iguodala could fit perfectly in this situation. It would maybe be tight financially, but I think they could find a way to get it done.
PG – McCollum
SG – Granger
SF – Iguodala
PF – Monroe
C – Drummond
Not a bad scenario if you ask me, but I’m more of a fan of the Burke lineup.
Similar to McCollum, Caldwell-Pope is another under the radar (publicly that is) guy that could potentially fill the scoring void on the wing for the Pistons. Caldwell-Pope is a true shooing guard — standing at 6-foot-5 — and is only 20 years old.
Guess what happens in this scenario? You guessed it! Knight traded. For who you ask? Granger? Yep! I really think Granger’s injury this season could scare the Pacers and cause them to move him due to the fact that they don’t want to take the chance that he comes back and struggles and then they get nothing in return for him. If the Pistons get Caldwell-Pope and trade for a Granger-esque player, I believe that they will go after a point guard via free agency. Two that really attract me –aside from Chris Paul who wouldn’t even think twice of coming to Detroit — are Golden State’s Jarrett Jack and Atlanta’s Devin Harris. These two guys catch my eye because they won’ t be too expensive, they are aggressive on both ends of the floor and they have experience in the league. If I had to chose between the two I would go with Jack because I believe he is more consistent than Harris.
This is my least favorite lineup scenario, but it’s definitely an upgrade from recent years:
PG – Jack
SG – Caldwell-Pope
SF – Granger
PF – Monroe
C – Drummond
Hopefully something positive comes out of this offseason for Pistons fans, but with the front office’s recent track record I wouldn’t be surprised if another disappointing summer comes and goes.