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The Pistons growing history of talent development issues

Are Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton the next Carlos Delfino/Arron Afflalo/Amir Johnson? I doubt it … but I can’t ignore the fact that they’ve played pretty well this month for the Bucks. In today’s Detroit Free Press column, I looked at what the Pistons gave up in the Brandon Jennings trade and, specifically, the need for the team to get much, much better at developing the young players not named Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond that it drafts:

In fact, Knight is actually a perfect highlight of the confused way the organization has attempted to develop talent over the years. Knight, a player who was very raw and erratic and clearly had a lot to learnabout the point guard position in the NBA, was given heavy minutes from the start, while Drummond, a player who was insanely productive from the second he stepped onto the court, had to spend most of last season fighting for scrap minutes behind Jason Maxiell.

The point of all this isn’t to lament what a dream world roster devoid of player evaluation mistakes could have looked like. It’s also not to suggest Knight and Middleton are the next Afflalo/Delfino/Johnson in terms of having productive careers in other places. They clearly still have a lot to prove as NBA players. Those players aren’t coming back, so there’s no point in critiquing things that happened years ago.

The Pistons are going to make the playoffs, and that’s worth celebrating after four years of watching arguably the least interesting basketball team in the NBA. But the reality of the new NBA is that teams are not going to remain competitive if they can’t fill out their rotation with productive and affordable talent, which usually comes in the form of young players on rookie deals. The fact that the Pistons will achieve a goal and likely bring playoff basketball back to Michigan this summer is great. But if they’re going to sustain that success, their track record when it comes to developing their own talent has to get dramatically better.


  • Dec 27, 20135:41 pm
    by KB


    Knight is not a point guard. Middleton always showed potential but to get the best player in the deal. You have to give something up..

  • Dec 27, 20136:04 pm
    by Otis


    This was a solid article. My only beef is that in no way, shape or form is “making the playoffs in the East” an accomplishment worth celebrating. What’s going on in the East right now is basically that episode of South Park where the kids try to throw little league baseball games so they can go home and enjoy their summer. If you want to be a booster for this team no matter what, you can “celebrate” a +500 season if it happens. But making the playoffs in the East doesn’t mean a single thing this season. Somewhere between three and five sub-500 teams will make the playoffs in the East purely by default.

    • Dec 28, 20131:57 am
      by Jon


      to a lot of people, making the playoffs will mean a great deal, not that i agree with that sentiment. it would have been really great to try and keep the charlotte pick one more year for this lottery but unfortunately dumars’s contract expires next year, so moves had to be made this summer in his self preservation

  • Dec 28, 20135:07 am
    by Robb


    Who says they are even going to make the playoffs?
    I watch them play and there offence is much improved but can and I hope will get better once they start feeding Andre the ball…
    The defense on the other hand is this teams biggest fall, I don’t know how many games I’ve watched and yelled at the TV because players were not defending players with there hands up or just leaving players out at the 3 point zones to knock down killer shots to drive up there scoreboard…
    I do give Mo Cheeks some props though for using his bench more…I want to see more of Harrelson and Datome

  • Dec 28, 20132:06 pm
    by freeparty


    Trade Monroe and pieces for Afflalo.  A veteran 2 that can shoot and lead his team on defense is needed.  He clearly is a leader, which the Pistons still need, and could potentially hold BJ accountable on D.  That is something the rookie nor old man Billups, nor Stuckey can do.  Time to move Smith back to the 4.  He struggles defending his position over the course of a game.  Heck, Orlando needs to make room for baby Jordan.
    Let Monroe go, he is not worth the money he will get in the summer. 

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