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The Pistons aren’t tanking, but are still hopefully playing their way into a top five pick

The Pistons, clearly, still need impact players. With plenty of salary flexibility coming in the offseason, trades and free agency are both in play as ways to land those types of players. But with the team dealing with injuries to key players, a tough schedule coming up and teams behind them in the standings playing a bit better of late, I wrote about a possible positive on the horizon in today’s Detroit Free Press column — the Pistons could have a legitimate shot at getting a top five pick in the draft as the season winds down:

Now, no fan, myself included, wants to openly root for his or her team to lose. But if it happens to play out that way, well, no harm done. There isn’t a particular player in this draft that fan bases are desperate for their team to get — like Anthony Davis, last year for example. But the current playoff landscape should serve as an example of why a top 5 pick won’t hurt the Pistons’ cause at all. Of the 16 teams who would be in the playoffs today, only Indiana, Milwaukee, Denver and Golden State are doing so without significant contributions from a player who was picked in the top five in his draft.

It’s true, there are other ways to acquire those types of talents, and with their pending cap space in the offseason, the Pistons are certainly in position to look for that type of impact player in free agency or trades. But those moves are dependent on either teams being willing to trade talent or individuals being willing to sign with the Pistons. The organization can’t control those things. They can control how careful they are with the injuries to Drummond and Knight and they can control how many minutes they give to their untested young end-of-the-bench players down the stretch of the season. Those two things won’t necessarily lead to more losses, but if they do, it gives the Pistons one more asset at their disposal to add an impact player to a roster that has shown it desperately needs a few more.

13 Comments

  • Mar 1, 201312:28 pm
    by Big Rick

    Reply

    I wouldn’t be mad either. I’m not trying to contribute to any conspiracy theory, but lately the trend has been that the #1 usually goes to the team that the NBA wants to have it. The team with the best storyline, or has the NBA’s best interest at heart. With that being said, don’t hold your breath for the Pistons to get a top 3, let alone top 5 pick no matter what the end result may be (W-L record).
    We have no control where we’ll end up picking once we end up in the lottery. With that being said Joe D has capitalized on his lottery picks the last 3 years. Lets keep that trend going. 

    • Mar 1, 201312:35 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Well, I would say he’s capitalized in two of the last three. Monroe and Drummond were steals, guys who look like top two talents in their respective drafts.

      Knight was not a steal. If you re-did his draft right now, Walker, Leonard, Vucevic and Faried would all go before him. The only guy taken ahead of Knight who would definitely drop is Vesely, who sucks.

      But yeah, overall, Dumars has got great talent late in the lottery. It would just be nice, since the team is now a lottery team for the fourth straight year, for them to get a pick in the top half and not have to rely on a guy falling to them.

      • Mar 1, 20133:34 pm
        by oats

        Reply

        Don’t forget Klay Thompson definitely goes before Knight in a redo scenario. It doesn’t make up for the Ekpe Udoh over Monroe decision, but Klay Thompson was a heck of a pick for Golden State.

        • Mar 1, 20134:15 pm
          by G

          Reply

          Meh… I’d say Knight & Thompson are close to even, Knight may even be a little better.

        • Mar 1, 20134:26 pm
          by oats

          Reply

          Thompson is a 6’7″ SG that hits 38% of his 3s and scores 16 points a game. I’m not saying it’s right, but most every NBA team takes that guy over the combo guard who turns it over like crazy. Knight shoots a similar percentage and is the better athlete, so I think Knight could be the better SG. That said, Thompson is just the safer pick. We know he is a quality starting SG, plus he has the height to get his shots off. We hope Knight will be a decent starter. As of right now, Thompson clearly goes before Knight.

          • Mar 1, 20134:42 pm
            by G

            I’m gonna throw a little advanced stats your way & then step back, because really I think it’s a wash between the 2 at this point.

            Thompson plays 35 min/gm in a fast-paced offense, while Knight plays 31 min/gm at a slower pace. Their FG% are almost identical except with FT% ( Thompson .414/.381/.867, Knight .414/.378/.746), and they rebound at the same rate despite the difference in height. Knight is probably a slightly better defender, and while it isn’t the end-all-be-all, his PER is a shade higher (probably due to the assists).

          • Mar 1, 20136:12 pm
            by oats

            Fair enough, I just don’t think the NBA is that stat reliant yet. It definitely informs them more than before, but I still think they choose a starting SG over a relative unknown in Knight. It’s not who’s the better player, it’s that Thompson has a clearly defined role as a spot up shooter while Knight might be a point guard, a shooting guard, or maybe a bench player. Plus, what kind of SG is Knight? Is he a ball dominant guard, or can he become that spot up shooter? I actually think the spot up shooter might have more value due to the relative rarity of that type of player compared to the number of ball dominant combo guards. We also don’t know what a full season of playing SG will do to his passing numbers. Besides, how certain are NBA teams that Knight is the better defender at the 2? I mean, I am dead certain he can do it better than Thompson, but scouting types still seem to automatically raise that question with any shooting guard under 6’5″ or so.  It’s not who is the better player, which is admittedly debatable. It’s that Thompson is a known quantity while Knight is a big question mark.
             
            By the way, Thompson’s usage rate is down this year from last. Last year he actually had a 14.9 PER, better than Knight has put up yet. Plus, last year he shot better than this year, with numbers of .443/.414/.868. I’d say he is the better shooter of the two, but just by a tiny bit. I think they’re pretty similar production wise, don’t get me wrong. I just think Thompson is the one that comes off the board first in a draft redo.

  • Mar 1, 20131:45 pm
    by piston moribund

    Reply

    I seems that in years past, those back end wins were a result of either tanking lottery teams are playoff teams resting their player so its not really indicative of actual improvement.  This year, there are only 7 or 8 more games against lottery locked opponents fighting for a higher lottery spot.  Unless the teams are still fighting for a higher sees, the last few games don’t really count towards the overall progress of the team on the W L column.
    Chances are, Frank will blame injury and …blah blah blah rather then his overall incompetence.  Its ironic how a coach who is trying to sell a team on playing defense can be so bad at getting his team to???? lIs BK actually our best defender?!?
     

  • Mar 1, 20131:51 pm
    by James

    Reply

    Not the strongest draft but let’s hope we are in a spot to get Porter or Oladipo, both have been applauded for being hard workers and they have the game to back to up.

  • Mar 1, 20131:53 pm
    by I HATE FRANK

    Reply

    We got lucky with GREG because many predicted that He was going to Golden St, and we were going to draft Ekpe Udoh .

    If Knight was NOT Available… The Pistons were rumored to be looking at Vessely and Biyombo

    So Yeah … Im good with knight in that Situation although other players have been better….

    Just like if Drummond wasnt there…dumars was draft John Henson

    So lets assume the win loses stayed the same…and we ended up with the 7th,8,th and 9th picks again….

    But Greg, Knight and drummond was off the board….Potential based off Rumors! we could have had this

    C – John Henson
    PF – Upoh
    SF – Vessely

    • Mar 1, 20134:28 pm
      by G

      Reply

      The thing is, if we got Udoh instead of Monroe we’d have been picking higher than 8th in the following draft. Per John Hollinger, Monroe was worth 7.3 EWA (estimated wins added) his rookie season, Udoh was -0.9 EWA. That would take the Pistons from 30 wins to about 22, which would give them the 3rd or 4th pick that year, and Knight, Valanciunas and Biyombo were all in play at that point.

  • Mar 1, 20132:12 pm
    by I HATE FRANK

    Reply

    This draft will be sucessful if Joe keeps it SIMPLE!

    We will have our pick of at least 2 SF’s with Alot of talent…

    Oliadipo , Micheal Carter and Alex Len …stock is gonna rise by draft day…of they they suck in the tourney or have terrible workouts…

    Potter , Bennet are not considered need players at the SF/PF or G/F Positions….Mummand and Alex Poythress many dont believe they had special or stand out season, but many they they will be one and done …. 2 of those 4 will be their if we pick in the top 8 or 9

  • Mar 1, 20137:31 pm
    by david junker

    Reply

    Pistons must play their younger players. I think there is a lot of talent and potential there.

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