We usually like to give a report card for the Pistons at the end of the season, but there’s no reason to bother this year. The players either underperformed or didn’t play enough to warrant anything besides an “Inc.” Instead, here’s a breakdown of the entire roster with a description of what each player has done and what the future holds for them:
Greg Monroe: Now officially the face of the franchise, Monroe is also now the starting power forward for the Pistons. It was a small sample, but Detroit used Monroe alongside center Andre Drummond, and the combination looks great at the moment. Monroe should have been playing at the “4” all season, and it remains to be seen if he’s capable of playing at an All-Star level while guarding smaller, more-athletic frontcourt foes. He had a good season statistically, but as the leader of this team he needs to take his game to the next level, particularly on the defensive end.
Andre Drummond: After coming off the bench and then sustaining injuries, Drummond is now the Pistons’ starting center. His upside is by far the highest on the team, and he’s already proven to be a valuable rebounder, shot-blocker and scorer around the basket.He needs to work on his shooting, especially from the free-throw line, which he acknowledges. Teams will continue to foul him on purpose and make him earn it from the stripe.Next season, Drummond should be able to develop further as a full-time starter.
Brandon Knight: Let me be very clear about this…BK7 is the key to the Pistons’ off-season this summer. The organization must define his role moving forward and determine whether or not they can build around him. He was drafted to be the team’s point guard but has since moved to shooting guard, which is not a good fit as he’s undersized at that position. If Detroit is not comfortable with Knight as the point, it would be wise to look into trading him while he still has some value. This franchise cannot afford to sit on another combo guard who has no clue where and when he will play each game. You can’t win that way in the NBA. My suggestion: move him back to the point full-time and surround him with young, long, athletic wings. It can be done!
Jose Calderon: An unrestricted free agent, Calderon must be commended for everything he did as a Piston. He gave the team a true floor leader who set a tremendous example for the young players on this roster, particularly Knight. Going on 32, Calderon isn’t much of a fit for this organization. His expiring contract helps give Detroit much-needed cap space, and Calderon would be wise to look at a team looking to compete for more than just a playoff spot at this stage of his career. Though a poor defender, Calderon is still one of the best ball-handling, shooting and play-making point guards in the NBA.
Rodney Stuckey: Another current Piston who needs a change of scenery. Stuckey’s a perfect fit for a team looking for a combo-guard who can come off the bench and increase the scoring on a second unit. The Pistons have always tried to brand him as a franchise player or building block, but he’s never going to live up to those expectations. His contract is not fully-guaranteed next season, which means he should be fairly easy to trade. Otherwise, Detroit would be wise to just buy him out and set him free. Stuckey’s a good player and a nice person. He deserves a chance to catch on with a winning team.
Kyle Singler: As a rookie this past season, Singler quickly earned a spot in the Pistons’ starting lineup. He was first inserted at shooting guard before the team dealt veteran Tayshaun Prince, at which time Singler was shifted to small forward. Whether or not he remains a starter in Detroit depends on what other moves the team makes in the 2013 NBA Draft, free agency and/or trades. He’s probably better suited as a reserve, but he’s young enough that he could still develop into a solid starting small forward. He needs to get a little better defensively, but Singler’s smart and plays hard. It remains to be seen whether or not he has the upside to be anything more.
Jonas Jerebko: After sitting the bench most of this season, Jerebko finished the year off very strongly. He’s an excellent combo-forward who could still fight for a starting spot but definitely at least warrants a guaranteed role in the rotation. Whoever coaches the Pistons next season would be wise to take a long look at Jerebko and put him in the best position to both develop his game and help the team win games.
Jason Maxiell: A starter most of the season with the Pistons, Maxiell’s days in Detroit look to be numbered. He’s an unrestricted free agent who was finally benched towards the end of the season before sitting out the last handful of games with an eye injury. Like Stuckey, Maxiell would be an ideal fit as a reserve on a veteran-led team looking to compete for a championship.
Will Bynum: Still one of the best backup point guards in the game, Bynum never gets the credit he deserves as a scorer, facilitator and constant rotation-energizer. He could still re-sign with the Pistons this summer, but surely better teams will look at him as an option to help out the second unit.
Charlie Villanueva: Since receiving his contract at the height of the popularity of the “stretch four”, Villanueva’s been a disaster in Detroit. The Pistons have had the chance to amnesty him the last couple seasons but gave him the chance to prove his worth or somehow increase his value in order to be traded. That hasn’t happened and it’s not going to, so the franchise needs to finally pull the plug and amnesty him. It’s true that he could be easier to trade heading into the final year of his contract, but it’s not worth the risk. Make the move and turn the page!
Khris Middleton: One of five Piston rookies this past season, Middleton displayed promise and confidence on both ends of the floor. His role next season will be determined based on what moves are made this summer. He could either be in the rotation every game, glued to the bench or completely cut from the roster.
Kim English: English is in the exact same boat as Middleton. Both are nice players who work hard and always stayed ready throughout the season, and they’ll have to continue to prove their value to the organization moving forward.
Slava Kravtsov: Yet again, we have another player coming off his rookie season in which he saw minimal minutes on the floor. Kravtsov’s a defensive-oriented center who still needs a lot of work offensively. Because he’s still young, he should have an opportunity to remain with the team and definitely deserved more minutes last season, particularly when Drummond got hurt.
Corey Maggette: A classy veteran who never complained, stayed ready and, like Calderon, set a terrific example in the locker room on a very young team. Maggette was once one of the best reserve scorers in the NBA, but his best days are behind him. In fact, his career could be over.
Coaching: Lawrence Frank has officially been fired as coach of the Pistons. It comes as no surprise, and it's likely he was already told he would be dismissed well before it became official. He's not a bad coach, but he should have started Drummond. To be fair, we don't know if it was truly his decision to bring Drummond along slowly. Whoever gets hred as the team's next coach needs to clearly define the roles of his young players and keep their minutes consistent in order to help them move forward in their development.