The Pistons have completed a productive offseason and are finally beginning training camp this week. While the majority of the starting lineup appears set, the shooting guard spot remains wide open for plenty of candidates.
Last season ended with a Detroit backcourt of Jose Calderon and Brandon Knight. Calderon has since left as a free agent, and Knight was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for point guard Brandon Jennings. Before the Pistons acquired Calderon, Kyle Singler had been starting at shooting guard with Knight running point. While Singler has a chance to return to starting at the "two" spot, he's much better suited as a backup small forward.
Rodney Stuckey has been starting in the Pistons' backcourt for years, but last season he was benched early in favor of Singler. New Pistons head coach Maurice Cheeks could opt to put Stuckey back in the starting backcourt alongside Jennings. While it could make sense from the standpoint that Stuckey's confidence might rise with the return of a starting spot, his game doesn't seem to fit with the rest of Detroit's projected starters - Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Jennings - who, like Stuckey, all mainly look to attack the rim as opposed to shooting jump shots on the perimeter.
This past summer, after signing Smith as a free agent, the Pistons brought back Chauncey Billups, who has said he doesn't want to play shooting guard. It probably makes the most sense to use Billups in a reserve role anyway to monitor his minutes, but Detroit's starting lineup needs a shooter to provide spacing on the offensive end of the floor. Billups' ability to shoot as well as handle the ball makes him a viable option as a starter next to Jennings.
Perhaps the ideal fit as a fifth starter, in terms of skillset, is rookie swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. KCP offers the best combination of size, defense and scoring ability via both shooting and penetration. He was drafted ahead of players perceived as being better because the Pistons needed an athlete on the perimeter who could spread the floor and defend the NBA's best athletes. The hope is that KCP will be able to rise to the challenge sooner than later.
Possessing as many options as they do is a nice problem for the Pistons to have. That said, it's extremely vital for Cheeks to demonstrate confidence in his own ability to establish a set rotation to put his starters and reserves in the best position to win. Assuming the rest of the projections for the starting lineup are accurate, Cheeks will need to surround that group with somebody capable of knocking down open perimeter jumpers. It's the only way Detroit will truly be able to maximize the talents of its new players, allow the pieces to fit and ultimately return to postseason play.