The nightmare that was the 2011-12 season for the NBA is nearing its’ conclusion with the NBA Playoffs in full swing. Some GM’s are still watching their team trying to take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy. In the case of Joe Dumars, he has watched other teams fighting to
become NBA Champions. Joe D was accustomed to have the Pistons making a deep playoff run nearly every year. Now he must sit in his office at 6 Championship Drive and try to conjure a plan for the upcoming 2012 NBA Draft. This year’s draft strategy may be different than in year’s past.
Since 2008, the Pistons have had three first round picks in the top 20. Austin Daye has not come to fruition despite being given ample opportunity to seize a starting role. Greg Monroe was arguably the best player available in the 2010 Draft and has become the centerfold for a new look Pistons. And the Stones had luck on their side when Brandon Knight slipped to 8th overall last June. It seems that Joe has used a “Best Player Available” mantra to craft the new cast of the Detroit Pistons. Thist time around, however, Dumars must go into this draft trying to plug two glaring holes on this team: A true Center which will help Coach Lawrence Frank optimize the play of Monroe and a Small Forward that has shutdown defensive capabilities to replace the veteran Tayshaun Prince.
The Pistons finished with a 25-41 record, which was 9th worst in the NBA in this lockout-shortened season. Unless the Pistons find some more magic in the ping pong balls for the Draft Lottery, they will be in the lower half of the NBA Draft in June. The Pistons should leave three options open when they are on the clock:
Draft another big man to compliment Monroe: In a draft that is full of quality, NBA-ready big men, Detroit can capitalize on adding another piece to the puzzle up front. Players like Tyler Zeller and John Henson might still be around at the #9 pick. Both players are tenacious defenders and would command some of the double teams that Monroe was receiving during the season. This would also free up lanes for Guards Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey to drive the basketball and draw fouls. Detroit has many big men on their current roster, but the potential to add a bonafide starter to the mix will make everyone fresh.
// Complete a draft day trade and select a Shooting Guard: I will be the first to admit that the Pistons are depleted with actual talent. Some pieces that the Pistons do actually have on their current roster could become expendable to try and move up (or down) on Draft Day. Rodney Stuckey signed a 3 year, $25 million contract during the Lockout to become the team’s starting “2” (shooting) guard. Now that Rodney’s focus was not to handle the plays and the basketball, Stuckey was able to
overwhelm teams with his 6-5 and 205 frame. He averaged 14.8 PPG this season and showed flashes of what made him the 15th Pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. With a massive contract binding the Pistons potential free agent outlook, Stuckey would be a great starter/6th man for many Championship-contending teams in the NBA. When they do that, the hope would be that Connecticut SG Jeremy Lamb is still on the board. This 6-5 Sophomore led a UConn team that was hurt by many off the court issues.
Trade down in the Draft: Depending on where the Pistons sit on Draft Night, their pick could be sought after by teams in the middle of the rounds looking to get younger. The Pistons will already have to deal with signing Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe to long term deals in the not-so-distant future. Not to mention Joe D will be bringing in new players to the fold and money will become very tight for this team. That is why another top 5 pick would hurt this team. They should try and trade down (depending on position) to tailor their needs as a basketball team. This Draft is still littered with talent throughout much of the first round. Therefore, the Pistons can still add another quality player that can still help fill the seats.
As June nears and the NBA Champions will be crowned, one can only hope that this draft pick from this year will help bring the Pistons back to the promised land. Draft Position is extremely crucial under the new CBA that was deliberated for months by the Players and the NBA. Depending upon draft position, Detroit may have a formidable young core that can contend for a decade. The options are not their only options but rather they highlight what would be the best for this team in the here and now. Change is in the air at the Palace of Auburn Hills. And this year’s Draft will be extremely significant in the Pistons’ rise to dominance once again.
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