For the first time in years, people are excited about
Detroit Basketball. The Pistons went out this past off-season and really made
some noise in free agency. On paper, they're definitely a playoff team and have
enough talent and versatility to challenge even the top contenders in the
Eastern Conference. Here's an in-depth look at the entire 2013-14
F Josh Smith - One of the biggest names on the free-agent
market, Smith was a surprising acquisition for the Pistons. Having spent most
of his NBA career playing power forward, J-Smoove shifts down to small forward
in a larger frontcourt with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Smith will have to
watch his shot-selection on the perimeter, but defensively he's even better
than former Piston Tayshaun Prince. He's an excellent addition for a young team
looking to take the next step toward climbing up the NBA ranks.
G Brandon Jennings - Acquired for former Piston
point guard Brandon Knight, Jennings gives Detroit a more-proven player at that
spot. Since his days with the Milwaukee Bucks, Jennings has established himself
as one of the better scoring point guards in the NBA. With the Pistons, he'll
need to make sure he sets up his teammates as much as he looks to score
himself. Defensively, he's an excellent fit with Detroit's frontcourt as he
looks to aggressively trap and force turnovers. Playing for a coach like Mo
Cheeks should pay major dividends for both Jennings and the Pistons.
F/C Greg Monroe - For the past few seasons, Monroe has been
labeled as the Pistons' cornerstone. What the team realized, however, is that
he needed more help around him. Monroe has that now with Smith and Drummond,
who allows Monroe to move to power forward. It's a gutsy call for the Pistons,
but so far it's a move that seems to be working for all three players. Monroe's
passing ability has led to several backdoor plays for Drummond under the rim
for easy dunks. Likewise, Monroe's quickness has allowed him to keep up with
most of the power forwards he's faced thus far. He's never going to be a
defensive powerhouse, but the hope is that he won't have to playing in this
C Andre Drummond - Following a rookie season in which he
played a limited role off the bench before missing a chunk of the year due to
injuries, Drummond has now been promoted to starting center. It's a move that
should've occurred much sooner but nevertheless puts Detroit in a position to
not only compete for a playoff spot but potentially match up with the biggest
and best teams in the league. Drummond is basically a younger Dwight Howard. He
has the exact same skill set but needs to learn how to dominate the
way Howard does. Drummond's still very young and still developing his game, but
he has all the tools to eventually become a star in the NBA.
G Chauncey Billups - The savvy vet returns to the Motor City
to end his storybook career. So far, Mr. Big Shot looks healthy and active at
both ends of the floor. He's currently starting at shooting guard, though he
could be switching responsibilities with Rodney Stuckey and taking on a smaller
role off the bench. He might actually be a better fit with the starters,
though, as he's able to knock down open shots on the perimeter and gives the
team another established floor general at the beginning of games. Either way,
Billups hopes to be just as valuable to the Pistons on the court as he is in
the locker room, at the practice facility and drawing a crowd at the Palace.
G Rodney Stuckey - Though he missed all of preseason, Stuckey
has already established himself in the Pistons' guard rotation. Whether or not
he starts or comes off the bench, he'll be playing exclusively as a shooting
guard unless he plays spot minutes at the "3" in a smaller lineup. Hopefully,
Stuckey will get back to being aggressive and getting to the basket, something
Coach Cheeks is putting Stuckey in the position to accomplish. It's the only
way Stuckey's going to maintain any value on this team that now has several
other options in the backcourt.
G Will Bynum - Surprisingly returned to Detroit as a free
agent this past summer despite all the new additions to the backcourt. Bynum
remains one of the better backup point guards in the league, and he's a nice
insurance policy in case something happens to Billups or anybody else at guard.
G/F Kyle Singler - From starter to role player, Singler
knows he's on a much better team now than a year ago. He's much more suited as
a bench player than a starter, and his skill set will still allow him to play
consistent minutes even as a reserve.
F Jonas Jerebko - Perhaps the biggest question mark on the
Pistons this season, Jerebko has gone from starting at small forward to
starting at power forward to not starting to hardly playing. It's disappointing
because he has the talent and desire to be a major contributor to any NBA team.
The Pistons have been wise to maintain patience with Jerebko, but perhaps
they'll wind up looking to trade him if it brings back something the team deems
to be a better fit. Here's to hoping he stays and that both sides make it work
even in a crowded frontcourt.
F Luigi Datome - Like Stuckey, Datome missed the entire
preseason. He's a very intriguing prospect for Detroit and will battle the
likes of Singler and Jerebko for minutes off the bench at both forward spots.
He's known for his outside shooting and overall toughness on both ends of the
floor. Gigi will be a fun player to watch when he plays. Again, it's possible
that a trade involving Jerebko could lead to a larger role for Datome, but he has
to prove he's worthy of it first.
G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope - The Pistons' first-round draft
pick this year, KCP should eventually become the team's starting two-guard.
With Billups and Stuckey still on board, however, it's probably not going to
happen this season. In spurts, KCP has demonstrated a knack for playing
hardnosed defense on the perimeter to go along with a decent shooting stroke.
F Tony Mitchell - Adding to the depth of Pistons forwards,
Mitchell is another rookie who will have to continue proving himself in
practice before he earns any substantial minutes in games. He's very athletic
and could wind up earning a role in the rotation at some point, but he's behind
too many veteran players right now.
G Peyton Siva - A valuable and proven winner at the
collegiate level, Siva is the fourth rookie on Detroit's roster. He played
decent minutes in preseason due to the team's injuries in the backcourt, but
for now he'll mainly stay on the bench and learn under the guidance of Billups
F Charlie Villanueva - Still somehow fighting for a spot in
the Pistons' rotation. It's surprising Villanueva's even still on the team. He
could have easily been amnestied at the beginning of the summer, but the
Pistons elected to keep him. It's possible his expiring contract could be used
in a trade at some point this season, but he's always hurt and has no value
other than he can sometimes hit outside shots. He's been an absolute
disappointment since he signed with Detroit in 2009 to be the team's starting
power forward. This could very well turn out to be his final season in the
F/C Josh Harrellson - The player who the Pistons used their last roster spot to sign, Harrellson wont likely see much playing time unless an injury occurs to either Monroe or Drummond. He's the only other player besides those two who can play center, so his presence on the roster maintains value. He's shown promise on both ends of the floor going back to his college days at Kentucky as well as his limited NBA career with the New York Knicks and Miami Heat.