2011 NBA Offseason: Detroit Pistons

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Detroit Pistons (Last Year: 30-52)

2011 NBA Draft Team Grade:

I don’t love Brandon Knight, but he was a solid value at No. 8 especially since the big guys Detroit reportedly coveted were off the board. I will say this though, Knight gives Detroit a potential franchise point guard which could make Rodney Stuckey expendable. Kyle Singler is a solid, solid pick at No. 33 and provides some depth at the three figuring free agent Tayshaun Prince will not be back. Vernon Macklin is a big body, but I wouldn’t expect to see him make the final 15-man roster. (Team Grade: Makes sense)

Live 2011 NBA Draft Grades:

8. Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky
Pistons wanted a big like Tristan or Biyombo to put alongside Greg Monroe, but end Brandon Knight�s slide. It is a solid value and gives them a point guard of the future since I am not sure restricted free agent Rodney Stuckey is the guy. (Pick Grade: Makes sense)

33. Kyle Singler, F, Duke
The Pistons are likely losing their glue guy, Tayshaun Prince to free agency so adding a great team player like Kyle Singler in the second round is a great value. Kyle Singler knows how to win and will bust his butt at every practice which will automatically make a struggling team better. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT!)

52. Vernon Macklin, PF, Florida
The Pistons didn’t grab size with their first two picks, so they chose to do so here. The only problem is that there are not a whole lot of quality big guys late in the draft, and Macklin is physical but not much more than that. (Pick Grade: Meh)

*** 2011 NBA Offseason Needs and Free Agents listed below this comment box. ***

2010-11 Season Summary:
You know what is not a good sign for your team? When the veterans stage a walkout on their head coach. That is what happened this past season for Detroit and first-year head coach John Kuester after he benched long-time Piston Richard Hamilton. As a result, inner turmoil tore through the team as they suffered through another miserable season.

Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva ate up almost half of Detroit’s salary cap but failed to live up to their value. Hamilton posted his lowest scoring total since his rookie season while Gordon and Villanueva both averaged around 11 points per game which is a career low for both players. With all three guys under contract for two more years, their inability to carry their weight has put the Pistons and general manager Joe Dumars in a rough spot.

With Jonas Jerebko missing the entire season due to an Achilles injury, Austin Daye failing to capitalize on his opportunity in his second season, and the point guard situation still in limbo despite Rodney Stuckey leading the team in scoring; Detroit struggled to find consistency with their lineup, having at least 11 players start double-digit games.

There were some positives amid the madness. Tayshaun Prince continued on with his steady career and was the only Piston to start every game he played in. Greg Monroe showed improvement during the season averaging around 13 points and 9.5 rebounds per game over the final month and a half of the season, and became an integral part of the Pistons while also giving them a low-post scoring option. Tracy McGrady revived his career in Detroit as he was able to stay healthy and prove he still has some gas left in the tank.

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Greg Monroe/Ben Wallace/Jason Maxiell/Vernon Macklin

PF: ^Jonas Jerebko/Charlie Villanueva

SF: Austin Daye/Kyle Singler

SG: Richard Hamilton/Ben Gordon/Terrico White

PG: #Rodney Stuckey/Will Bynum/Brandon Knight

NBA Free Agents:

SF-Tayshaun Prince (UFA)

G/F-Tracy McGrady (UFA)

PF-Chris Wilcox (UFA)

SF-DaJuan Summers (UFA)

#PG-Rodney Stuckey (RFA)

^F-Jonas Jerebko (RFA)

2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $48.3 million

NBA Offseason Needs:

1. Unity: It is an interesting debate as to whether John Kuester or the players are to blame for the mutiny that occurred this past season. Whichever side you take, all indications are pointing toward Kuester returning for his second season despite the team walking out on him in practice and laughing at him after he got ejected from a game.

Whoever ends up being the head coach for next season needs to build a unity with this roster. More segregation and disrespect for authority will only set this franchise back, and Joe Dumars needs to hope Kuester can find a common ground with his players and that the veterans on the roster can better adapt to his coaching. If not, Kuester will likely get the boot and a more player-friendly coach will need to be brought in since it would be too difficult for the Pistons to undergo a major roster change.

2. Small Forward: One would assume that unrestricted free agent Tayshaun Prince will be moving on with his career after eight seasons in Detroit. The Pistons do not seem to be moving in the right direction as a team, and Prince should be sought after by several title contending teams this offseason. The Pistons will need to pursue a replacement since Austin Daye does not seem ready to assume the starting role.

3. Another Big: While Greg Monroe seems to have a bright future ahead of him, Detroit is still lacking a lot of size inside. Chris Wilcox is a free agent, Ben Wallace is likely entering his final year as a pro, and Jason Maxiell is an undersized, overpaid role player. Jonas Jerebko’s return should improve the play at power forward, but the Pistons could still use a defensive presence in the middle especially since opponents shot 48.6 percent versus them which is the highest percentage allowed by any team in the league.

4. Point Guard: The jury is still out on whether or not Rodney Stuckey is the long-term solution at the point. Like most, I have always been of the mindset that he is more of a combo guard than true floor leader. Plus, he is also a restricted free agent this offseason and Detroit might have to let him walk rather than pony up a long-term extension to keep him around. Will Bynum is a solid backup but should not be getting major minutes. If Stuckey returns for one more season, this will not be an immediate need, but the Pistons should be on the look out for an upgrade if the opportunity arises.

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