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Picking Greg Monroe was great, and taking Terrico White was OK, but together, those moves don’t add up for the Detroit Pistons

The Pistons landed a top-five player with the seventh pick in the draft.

That’s the most important thing to take from last night. Try as he did, Joe Dumars couldn’t trade up to get his ultimate prize – DeMarcus Cousins.

In five years, we might cry at the thought of not giving up Tayshaun Prince or a couple first-round picks for the game’s most dominant big man. Or we might be laughing about that time we almost gave away so much for someone who ate himself out of the game.

The point is, Cousins is far from a sure thing. I don’t know what it would’ve taken Dumars to move up, but I believe two things: Dumars really wanted to trade up, and the Kings loved Cousins after his phenomenal workout for them. So, I think the odds are high there was never a plausible deal on the table.

The Pistons were stuck with the seventh pick – likely the first pick of the second-tier big men. They would’ve had to choose between the unappealing options of Ekpe Udoh, Ed Davis and Cole Aldrich.

But Monroe fell into their laps.

Still, when Monroe becomes a good player, let’s not just say Dumars lucked into him. The Timberwolves made the wrong pick. The Warriors made the wrong pick. Dumars could’ve out-thought himself and reached for Ed Davis. But he didn’t.

It’s fair to criticize Dumars for plenty of things. But with the most important draft pick of his tenure, he got it absolutely right, given what we know on draft night.

Fits the system

A huge plus to Monroe: he fits perfectly in the Pistons’ half-court offense.

  • His passing ability should provide Detroit’s shooters, like Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, more open jumpers.
  • He’s a great defensive rebounder, which should help the Pistons control the pace.
  • He can also create his own shot.

Sure, there’s always talk of running more. But aside from Rodney Stuckey and Chris Wilcox, the Pistons have a roster full of players who fit in the half-court offense (including some who would be fine up-tempo, too).

Instead of completely changing the team’s identity, Monroe should allow the Pistons to remain a half-court team. That only speeds up the rebuilding process – especially given how NBA-ready Monroe appears. With the possible exceptions of Kevin Love and Elton Brand, Monroe is the most fundamentally-sound big man out of college since Tim Duncan.

Then, the Pistons picked Terrico White in the second round.

Obliterates the system

In all honesty, the pick probably doesn’t matter much. As much we were spoiled by Jonas Jerebko and Mehmet Okur, most second-rounders never make an impact. But it’s the logic – or lack thereof – behind the White pick that bothers me.

White might be the best athlete in the draft. He’s fast and can jump. He doesn’t draw a lot of fouls or pass extremely well. He’s built for the fastbreak.

So, how does he fit?

You obviously don’t cater your system to a second-round pick. But White obviously doesn’t fit with Detroit’s system.

Maybe the hope is Stuckey and White can play like Rondo does with the Celtics. That’s about the only way I can make sense of the pick.

I’ve never seen a player attack the rim 1-on-2, 1-on-3 or even 1-on-4 more than Rondo does. Playing with a team full of older players, he’s up the court ahead of his teammates often. Maybe the Pistons think Stuckey and White can do that.

But neither players are Rondo, and I’m not sure even Rondo does it successfully enough to justify the plan.

There are certainly other questions the White pick generates, too.

As it stands now: Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey and Austin Daye are all best at shooting guard. Where does White find minutes?

White doesn’t necessarily have the motor to compete in the NBA (and this could be a problem for Monroe, too). Is this team, especially if Ben Wallace retires, going to instill in them the proper tenacity?

The Pistons are a team struggling to find their identity. Last night, they lost a little more of it.

Grading the picks (updated with another day’s perspective)

Monroe: A-minus A

White: D-plus

Overall: B B-plus


  • Jun 25, 201012:04 pm
    by nuetes


    Austin Daye is a SG? Thats not good. I don’t get why so many people are complaining about a 2nd round pick? White was the best athlete in the draft. He can provide some excitement off the bench, when he gets off the bench, ala Shannon Brown. He’s a better finisher and 3-point shooter than Stuckey, but he lacks the passing skills, and Stuckey doesn’t even have the passing skills, so thats not the best endorsement. White is another Dumars attempt at finding a poor man’s D-Wade from the looks of it. I have no problems at all with the White pick. Upside for a 2nd rounder. Thats about all you can ask for.

    • Jun 25, 20104:22 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Nuetes, my biggest complaint is that picking White signals the Pistons don’t have a vision. What do they want to become?

      I like White fine for a player in that range. He represented good value — for the right team.

      But my case is that will be too difficult for him to realize his potential with the Pistons. Their style, roster and attitude just doesn’t fit his best interests.

    • Jun 26, 201011:38 pm
      by Caleb



    • Jun 27, 20102:31 am
      by Dan Feldman


      Caleb, White might be a first-round talent. I think he falls into the early second, but you can certainly make the case.

      But he doesn’t hold that type of value for the Pistons. His skill-set is completely suited to an up-tempo team, which the Pistons aren’t.

  • Jun 25, 201012:20 pm
    by Mitch


    Woah have you seen Terrico White’s highlights? The kid is unreal. When I watch him, I think of D Wade only faster. He can dribble under pressure, he can shoot lights out, he can attack, basically anything you want him to do, he will and can do it.  The pistons half-court offense you love so much PLAIN SUCKS.  Its basically because RIP, Tay, and Ben have to wheelchair themselves down the court.  The half-court is wayyyyyy out of style. We need a guard like Terrico White to push the tempo and get easy transition buckets like the Rondos and Wades of the league. Why dont we trade RIP and Tay… and try out a starting lineup of:  PG: White/Bynum   SG: Stuckey/Gordon   SF:Jerebko/Daye/Summers  PF:(Whoever we get from trading RIP and Tay)/Villanueva  C:Monroe/Wallace

    • Jun 25, 20104:27 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Mitch, highlights only tell part of the story. White is the type of player who looks great in highlights. But highlights don’t show his turnovers, forced shots and low motor.

      I’m not in love with a half-court offense. Frankly, I don’t think it makes a ton of difference. Teams win with different tempos.

      But the Pistons have a roster full of players who fit that tempo. Would it make more sense to trade everyone just to play with a different style? That’s quite the rebuilding effort.

      No, it makes more sense to do the best with you have — and White doesn’t help Detroit do that.

  • Jun 25, 201012:47 pm
    by Laz


    As it stands now: Austin Daye is best at shooting guard.
    That sentence just made me throw up in my mouth a little.
    And it seems like running a more up-tempo gameplan is our only option, because we lack a true point who can make the right decisions in the half-court. At least Stuckey/Bynum can do what they do best (attack the rim relentlessly) in the up-tempo game.

    • Jun 25, 20104:29 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Laz, you’re catering the offense to one position, albeit the most important one. Still, I don’t think having an up-tempo point guard in Stuckey (Bynum fits both systems) outweighs having shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards and centers who are better in the half-court.

  • Jun 25, 20101:33 pm
    by alex


    First of all, Austin Daye is not best at SG.  He can function there in small spurts, but he is a SF.  Second, one of the great things about drafting White isn’t necessarily putting him in our system.  It’s having the option of using him as a tradeable asset to sweeten trade deals.  If he’s as athletic as everyone believes, he could be an added piece to a trade that we can now get done without giving up a player like Summers instead.

    • Jun 25, 20104:43 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Alex, by the end of the year, most of Daye’s minutes came at shooting guard. The coaches know Detroit has a lot of money tied up with Ben Gordon and Richard Hamilton. It’s in the organization’s best interest Daye plays forward. So, that he was playing shooting guard should say something.

      And if White doesn’t play much, or plays poorly, because he doesn’t fit the system, he won’t have much trade value. When’s the last time you saw a team give up anything for a second-round pick who didn’t play?

      I’m not sure what keeping Summers has to do with it. What has he shown that he’s someone who’s important to keep?

  • Jun 25, 20105:22 pm
    by David


    Mitch- have you seen a fastbreaking team win the championship in the past 10 years?  I haven’t – it makes for fun watching but the half court game wins championships!

  • Jun 25, 20105:38 pm
    by Dan Feldman


    Here’s how the last 10 NBA champions ranked in terms of pace:

    • 2010- Lakers (14th)
    • 2009- Lakers (8th)
    • 2008- Celtics (19th)
    • 2007- Spurs (27th)
    • 2006- Heat (12th)
    • 2005- Spurs (23rd)
    • 2004- Pistons (24th)
    • 2003- Spurs (20th)
    • 2002- Lakers (6th)
    • 2001- Lakers (14th)
    I’m sticking with my case that there’s not a set speed that’s better than another. The key is figuring out which style fits your players best.

  • Jun 25, 20108:08 pm
    by displacedMIguy


    Dan I like this data as a comment and the more important comment of your that rings true is the “key is figuring out which style….”  I do want to support you in that the stats you site fit a nice standard distribution but the mean is 16.7 so there really is a slight lean toward a half court game.  30 teams mean should be 15 so there is a SLIGHT bias.  That being said, your analysis of the draft is spot on, I could not believe that the pistons could get monroe.  It was a weak draft.

  • Jun 25, 20109:24 pm
    by oracle


    Dan, so we don’t want an athletic, fast guard?  Rodney Stuckey and Bynum are both better suited for running and gunning, do we have to get rid of them because they don’t fit the system either?
    And about Daye being better suited for SG last year, it was a strength issue.  He’s not destined to play SG forever, although he’s versatile enough to do it when necessary (Summer league).  He’s had an offseason of strength training, and with another year in the league, should be fine at SF.  Another example of a thin player who started as SG his rookie year?  Kevin Durant, but you can bet the Thunder fans didn’t critique them signing Harden or Sefalosha.  SG was never the long term role for Durant, it just fit at the time.
    Similarly, we can’t plan for the future by assuming Daye will only ever be able to play SG.  I’d also dispute whether Stuck is best suited as a 2 guard, especially when ball distribution will now run frequently through Monroe.
    The pick makes sense because he’s a first round talent at combo guard and gives us the depth we need in case we lose anyone else to injury.  Would you rather have Chucky back for another year?  Seriously?  There’s a reason we only won 27 games.  With Stuckey exhausted, Atkins useless, and Will out with ankle injuries, I can’t believe you’re this upset about picking the best athlete in the draft who still fits a need.  He could easily be better than Bynum as an energetic defensive stopper off the bench, and at the very least he gives us depth.

    • Jun 26, 20106:38 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Oracle, there’s a big difference between Stuckey/Bynum and White. The Pistons already have Stuckey and the rights to match a contract for Bynum. Until the Pistons drafted Monroe, there was more flexibility to go to an up-tempo system. Once you draft Monroe, drafting White doesn’t make a ton of sense.
      That’s a great comparison between Daye and Durant. Daye could certainly grow into being a small forward. And maybe Stuckey will be a more successful as a point guard with Monroe. But my point was those guys are all best at shooting guard right now. And the longer it takes White to get minutes, the more his confidence and trade value diminish.
      And I think White focusing on become a defensive stopper is the best way he could crack Detroit’s lineup. But I’m not counting on that from a guy who shot more often (per 40 minutes, pace adjusted) than anyone in DraftExpress’ database besides nine first-round picks and Luke Harangody.

  • Jun 25, 201010:20 pm
    by Dan Feldman


    DMIG, I’d be careful about drawing too much of a conclusion from that data. Ten years is a pretty small sample size. (Although, if you go back further, you’re entering a different era of basketball, so that’s not reliable, either.)

    Also, that only includes five coaches — one of whom (Gregg Popovich) learned the game from another (Larry Brown).

    I don’t think the draft was necessarily weak overall, but I think there were noticeable drops. I think there was a big drop after the top 5 guys, which should’ve hurt the Pistons. But I think there were a couple ranges (roughly 12-18 and 27-36) where the talent was better than usual.

  • Jun 26, 20102:00 am
    by Travis


    Wow, i think that White fits the Pistons style very well. Very Athletic and could become a tenacious defender, could use his athleticism to fill a defensive guard spot that Lindsey Hunter dominated for years off the bench.  But more importantly, this must mean that Joe D is going to trade a guard, one of them at least.  I would like to try and trade Rip or Gordon, Charlie V and Jason Max, Try and get a true point and a Center.  Besides the fantasy land of trading for Chris Paul ( or heck even his backup)  Maybe try to land Nelson from Orlando and maybe even Gortat.  Nelson may not be a true point but i think he has room to grow if in the right system.
    I say:
    Ben Gordon/Charlie V for Nelson/Gortat

    • Jun 26, 20106:41 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Travis, I agree White focusing on becoming a defensive stopper is his best chance of contributing. But, as I told Oracle, I’m not counting on that from a guy who shot more often (per 40 minutes, pace adjusted) than anyone in DraftExpress’ database besides nine first-round picks and Luke Harangody.

      For the guys you want to trade, you listed the four most-difficult-to-trade players on the team. Orlando wouldn’t touch that deal unless Gordon and Villanueva show big strides this season. But at that point, you probably wouldn’t want to trade them.

  • Jun 26, 20104:35 am
    by James (Australia)


    I think that in the second round, you just take the best player you can get. If it means he is packaged in a trade, so be it. Provides insurance if we lose one or two guards through free agency or trades as well.
    Really pleased with Monroe.

    • Jun 26, 20106:49 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      James, I think you take the best player available for your team. White is certainly talented enough to qualify as the best player available in that range of the draft. Just not the Pistons.

      I’m also very pleased with Monroe.

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  • Jun 26, 20108:47 am
    by max


    Is the system really the problem?Our problem is the defense.We are giving up too many easy points.Villa can’t defend anyone,Ben Wallace is maybe a year away from retiring and Prince really declined on that side,not to talk about Rip,BG and Daye.If we play better D,we will automatically have a higher pace.It all starts there.Better D means easier transition points.And this is also the reason I don’t like the White pick.There were shotblockers like Varnado or Alabi still on the board,who really could have helped the team now,unlike White who is a project.

    • Jun 26, 20106:58 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Max, I completely agree than fixing the defense should be the Pistons’ main objective. But that doesn’t automatically increase the pace. Plenty of teams play good man-to-man defense and don’t force a ton of turnovers. For example, the Bobcats had the league’s best defensive efficiency and ranked 24th in pace.

      Although, I agree playing better defense could be a simple way to increase the pace.

      Varnado and Alabi were both guys I liked more than White, but top guy was Gani Lawal.

  • Jun 27, 20102:08 am
    by Tarbaby


    “But aside from Rodney Stuckey and Chris Wilcox, the Pistons have a roster full of players who fit in the half-court offense.”
    great. with this admission that our lead guard (and the guy we’ve hung the team’s future on) doesn’t fit a half-court offense, how can you advocate continuing to play that way? just because it’s how our crusty old veterans play? stuckey runs the worst half-court offense i’ve ever seen on a professional level. the only glimmers of success we had were then tayshaun and bynum had the ball in their hands. so something’s got to give.
    me, i’d trade stuckey in a heartbeat and replace him with someone who actually IS a point guard. and if that’s not an option, i’d just let rip go to anyone willing to take on that contract. i’d give our backcourt a shot with bynum and stuckey starting and gordon, white and sometimes daye as reserves. then add a solid rotation big and suddenly things don’t look so bad.

  • Jun 27, 20102:52 am
    by Dan Feldman


    Tarbaby, Stuckey would definitely be better playing up-tempo. Before the Pistons picked Greg Monroe, I wanted them to play faster. Even if most of them are better playing a half-court game, the Pistons have guys who can play multiple speeds.

    But Monroe completely changes that. He’s good enough that you can adapt your team to his needs, and I believe he’d be best in a half-court offense.

    So where does that leave Stuckey? I’m not sure. It’s certainly something I’ll be exploring in the coming weeks. I wouldn’t be opposed to trading him, but his half-court game has improved. I’m at least a little curious how Stuckey would run (or help run) the offense with a playmaker like Monroe in the pivot. So, I wouldn’t just dump Stuckey, but the Monroe pick may have diminished his value to the Pistons (emphasis on may).

    Speaking of dumping, I think when Hamilton is healthy next season, you’ll realize he’s still too good to give away for anyone willing to absorb his contract.

  • Jun 27, 20107:36 pm
    by josh


    Dan, I actually agree that White doesn’t fit in with the half-court system well, that the Pistons roster and team philosophy fit a half-court system better, and that White has a lot of holes in his game. But let’s not forget that often teams will try to bring in players with their second or third units that switch up the tempo. Chances are White won’t even make the roster unless Hamilton is traded, but I think you would agree he has the physique and skills to potentially come off the bench and impact the game with a burst of scoring if he continues to develop.

    • Jun 28, 20102:47 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Josh, White would bring a change of pace. But most teams don’t play their reserves as a unit. They play them with other starters. There are certain lineup combinations that could play up-tempo with White, but I’m not sure how much John Kuester will cater his rotation to a second-round pick.

      And I expect White to make the team, even if Hamilton isn’t traded. For one, the Pistons knew White wasn’t polished when they drafted him, so no sense cutting him immediately. Two, they could use his cheap contract to fill the roster.

  • Jun 27, 20108:26 pm
    by tads


    Terrico White is unfairly cast as a full court player just because he is fast and jumps high.  He also hits open shots on a consistent basis and can take advantage of size mismatches through post ups, and he has alot of highlights where he scores off of back door cuts, all things that are useful in the half court.
    His turnover numbers aren’t gaudy, and decreased about 25% from freshman to sophomore year.  This implies that he probably doesn’t force it too often, and he has good ball handling skills.  If he can become merely serviceable as a point guard, and doesn’t do anything more than take the ball up the court and takes the safest of shots, I might rather him as a back up point guard over Will Bynum.  Now the second line won’t have Ben Gordon guarding the larger of the two guards.   Moreover, since him and Stuckey have roughly the same skill set, it would make for more consistent offense.
    The second round is for projects, if we would have got a project center we would still need to go out and get a real Center from the free agent market that is ready to play now.  There were probably only 3 nba ready bigs in the draft and we got one of them, any of the guys available in the second round would only play in summer league.  If we get this FA, I’ll say Tyrus Thomas, then we have Thomas, Monroe, Villaneuva, Wallace, Maxiel, and occasionally Jerebko, and Summers putting in work down low, it’s hard to make an argument that we have less of a log jam there than we do between our guard positions.   So of the people we had available to us at 36, we got the person that Joe D thinks will be the shiniest diamond, but that is still a little rough.

    • Jun 28, 20102:55 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Tads, I haven’t finished sizing up White’s half-court credentials. But simple logic says they’re lacking. Given his speed and jumping ability, I think we’d agree he has potential to be a very good fastbreak player. But if he was also good in the half-court, he wouldn’t have gone in the second round. Players who excel in the fastbreak and half-court go in the lottery.

      More on this in the coming days, but his turnovers decreased because he moved to shooting guard and didn’t have the ball in his hands as often. Plus, he often shot before he had a chance to turn the ball over.

      As far as your hypothetical big-man rotation, only Ben Wallace has proven he can be relied on at center, and he’ll be gone in a year or two. Monroe probably will once the season starts, but nobody is a sure thing. Maxiell played better at center than power forward last year, but that’s so counter-intuitive, I’m not sure what to make of it. Villanueva, Jerebko, Summers and Thomas are forwards. Of those four, only Thomas can reasonably masquerade as a center, and he barely cuts it.

      There is definitely room for a project center on this team. You can never have too much size.

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