Category → Analysis
We asked our ESPN Forecast panel to rate every owner, basketball decision-maker and coach from 0 to 10, and we asked the panel to tell us how important each role is. In particular, we asked the voters to rate each team’s front-office management on its guidance and leadership in terms of how it affects overall on-court success, both in the short and long term.
The Pistons have endured a disastrous season, and being ranked poorly in any capacity shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. With a dysfunctional roster, dysfunctional coaching situation and (apparently) lame-duck GM, the Pistons sit comfortably in the cellar of ESPN’s ranking of the league’s best and worst run teams.
Joe Dumars was ranked dead-last at No. 30 in the front-office executive rankings, which is surprising to no one. Dumars seemed to have regained some of his magic last season when he acquired Jose Calderon and freed up a ton of cap space by moving Tayshaun Prince. But then, of course, he blew all of that dough on Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings.
The rest, as they say, is history.
What’s better is that Dumars’ former right-hand man, John Hammond, is ranked one spot ahead of him at No. 29. Currently the Bucks GM, Hammond helped Dumars build the Pistons 2004 title team and looked to have put together a roster mediocre enough to make the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference.
Instead, the Bucks are the worst team in the NBA despite Philadelphia’s recent 26 game losing streak.
While Dumars was ranked last in the GM rankings, the Pistons front office was actually ranked 27th ahead of the Bucks and, of course, the Knicks. It’s worth noting that three of the five teams in the Central Division are ranked in the bottom four here, and that the Spurs rank first in both categories because they’re the best-run franchise in all of sports.
The third and final set of rankings, coaching, will be released on Friday. It’s probably safe to assume interim head coach John Loyer will be slotted comfortably near the bottom of the rankings, too.
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 31 MIN | 6-21 FG | 5-6 FT | 16 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | +6Tonight’s game featured a lot of Monroe’s signature move: the post-shot scream. Monroe was active on the glass and active offensively, but if you take away his 3-for-5 start, he shot just TWO FOR FIFTEEN the rest of the way. He could have taken 15 jumpers and been better. I agree Greg, arghaahhh.|
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 37 MIN | 9-20 FG | 3-7 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 24 PTS | -11So, remember how Monroe was great in the first quarter and horrible the rest of the way? Josh Smith joined the party, too! Smith made 6-for-11 shots in the first quarter, and fizzled the rest of the way. His poke-away steal and subsequent diving bounce pass to Drummond was actually really great, though.|
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 39 MIN | 3-11 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +3It’s tough to watch Singler on nights when his jumper isn’t falling, but those nights are exacerbated when he’s forced to guard a guy like Lance Stephenson. Say what you will about Stephenson’s playground style, but he had his way with Singler.|
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 31 MIN | 5-9 FG | 3-6 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | -5Drummond’s as automatic a double-double as you’ll find in the NBA today. He did a good job overcoming two fouls within the first eight minutes of the game, and his defense was solid around the rim. Fourteen rebounds is nice, but he was competing for boards with the league’s worst rebounding center in Roy Hibbert.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 35 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +2This really wasn’t a bad effort from Jennings. His hailmary shots went down for the most part, and he was a big reason the Pistons had 16 fastbreak points and 17 points off turnovers. But he dribbled right into George Hill’s hands with just under two minutes to go before committing a dumb off-the-ball foul to give Indy a free throw in the final minute. Maybe that deserves an A? I dunno anymore, this all blends together.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 9 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +6He went through the motions, missed a three and his night was over by halftime.|
|Charlie Villanueva, PF Shot Chart 6 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -6Charlie was just so excited that his UCONN Huskies are playing in the Final Four that he tackled Hibbert — a former Big East great himself — while he was trying to tell him.|
|Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 13 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -9Bynum had a few good drives to the basket, but he wasn’t really on the same page as the rest of the Pistons tonight.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -5Nice alley-oop to Drummond in the second quarter. Other than that, nice job cheering from the bench.|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 32 MIN | 6-12 FG | 3-3 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | -16Stuckey was efficient offensively and passable defensively, so par for the course. However, I thought about this during the game, if you’ve got to sign either Stuckey (say, for 3-years, $20M) or Evan Turner (say, for 3-years $30M) who do you pick?|
The Pacers have been engulfed in a horrible slump recently, and tonight was the first time they scored 100 points in a game since… wait for it … the last time they played the Pistons on March 15! Also, if you’re interested in seeing the Pistons season in a nutshell, check out Loyer’s response to Paul George’s damn-near-half-court shot.
The Pistons will run their own D-League team in Grand Rapids next season, rather than continue sharing a squad with five other NBA teams. That will cost real money. The Pistons will have to hire a coach and a basketball-operations staff, and they’ll likely spend more on scouts to find players to fill the roster.
This season, 14 teams have their own D-League affiliate: three of the NBA’s strongest championship contenders (Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma Thunder), a few threats to advance in the playoffs (Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets), prominent franchises in the league’s power structure (Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and New York Knicks) a team with an extremely promising future (Philadelphia 76ers) and the Cavaliers and Kings.
With the exception of Cleveland and Sacramento, it’s absolutely a group you want to join.
But these teams aren’t well-positioned because they have their own D-League teams. Having their own D-League team is a signal that they’re doing whatever they can to gain an edge. A team that goes out of its way to negotiate a one-to-one affiliation usually is doing many other things right.
The Pistons put themselves one step closer toward including themselves in that reality. Though they will have to back it up with other savvy moves, Gores sincerely deserves credit for paying to alter the Pistons’ prognosis for the better.
Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.
1. USA Today’s Sam Amick reports that Tom Gores will chase Michigan State coach Tom Izzo this summer to fill the Pistons head-coaching void. What positives could Izzo bring to Detroit?
Dan Feldman: Izzo has successfully designed and implemented extremely effective offensive and defensive systems at Michigan State. Even if those schemes won’t translate directly to the NBA, I have a reasonably high amount of faith in Izzo’s basketball acuity. His challenge with the Pistons would be different, but he’s shown he can achieve positive results when faced with similar challenges. There’s nobody in the world who has done precisely what the next Pistons coach must do, but Izzo has succeeded in a similar area.
Patrick Hayes: First and foremost, his offensive and defensive systems will work in the NBA. Particularly if you look at what MSU is running on offense this year, making great use of stretch bigs Adreian Payne and Kenny Kaminski, variations of that offense are clearly similar to what NBA teams run. He’s also adaptable to sometimes strange-fitting personnel. For example, he’s had successful teams that feature solid pass-first point guards (think Mateen Cleaves era), teams that make it work with shoot-first point guards (think Kalin Lucas or Keith Appling era) and teams that basically run their offense through a forward (think Draymond Green era). There are some successful college coaches that run systems that you can see would have no chance at working at the NBA level (Rick Pitino wanting to run a full-court press for an entire game, for example), but Izzo is one of the handful of college coaches out there whose system wouldn’t be a big question if he landed with a team with decent personnel.
Brady Fredericksen: He’d bring accountability. The Pistons haven’t had a coach that commands respect and has any clue what the heck is going on since Larry Brown. The Pistons are a rudderless ship as a whole, but if they can find a coach who has a clue and vision and knows how to get the wheels rolling in the right direction,that’s all a rebuilding team needs. The best thing that’d come with Izzo coaching the Pistons is that every Josh Smith 3-pointer would lead to a benching. Every. Single. One.
2. Conversely, what are some negatives that come with Izzo if he were to be the Pistons coach?
Dan Feldman: The key traits Izzo possess — being passionate, demanding and authoritative — definitely work for a college coach. He can’t be such a hardliner in the NBA. There’s no reason to believe Izzo can’t adjust – except that so few college coaches have successfully made the transition. And that’s where the biggest negative lies: opportunity cost. Luring Izzo to the Pistons would cost a lot of money, money that might be enough to get George Karl, Lionel Hollins, Stan Van Gundy, Jeff Van Gundy or Nate McMillan. If you’re going to spend that much, where not go for a proven NBA coach? In terms of candidates below that tier, I like Izzo as much as any NBA assistant or less-successful retread. But he’d cost a lot more than those guys.
Patrick Hayes: We know Izzo can coax effort out of college players, and we know largely how he does it … he’s a tad, shall we say, high strung on the sidelines. That temperament isn’t going to work with NBA players in general, but particularly for a Pistons team that has become quite good at tuning out all styles of coaches over the last five years. Izzo is smart enough to know that, and I assume he’d work to reel in some of his more micro-managing tendencies if he took the Pistons job, but until he proves he’s capable of doing that, it’s legitimate to wonder how NBA players would respond to his occasional and public ass-chewings.
Brady Fredericksen: Patrick nailed it on the head, I don’t know how Izzo’s personality works in the NBA. Can you imagine him trying to coach Smith? His head would literally turn red as a strawberry before exploding. Oh, and you thought teaching Appling to be a good point guard over the years was hard, Tom? Well, let me introduce you to Brandon Jennings. Izzo is the quintessential college coach. He makes a difference in player’s lives and that’s great in college, it’s just at the NBA level guys don’t want or need that. Izzo’s hair-on-fire style works in college, but that isn’t going to work with NBA guys. They’ll tune out the noise real quick.
3. With all of that said, if you had to put a percentage chance on this, how likely is it that Izzo actually takes the Pistons job?
Dan Feldman: 15 percent. I wouldn’t call any potential coach more likely than the field, but if I had to pick one name, it’s Izzo — only because I believe Gores likes him. If the next general manager has a strong preference, that could swing everything. I don’t know when next season’s general manager will be in place, but I know Gores will be there.
Patrick Hayes: It’s still relatively low (I’ll say 3-5 percent range), but the Pistons do have a few things working in their favor. They have a franchise player in place in Andre Drummond. They have an owner willing to aggressively spend (sometimes to his own detriment) to quickly make the team competitive. They are Izzo’s home-state team and Tom Gores is a Michigan State alum. And, perhaps most importantly, Izzo is in the midst of what has been a challenging season. The team is losing seniors Payne and Keith Appling, they are likely losing Gary Harris (a potential lottery pick if he declares) and there’s even a chance that junior Branden Dawson could bolt if he keeps up his strong late-season play and MSU’s tourney run continues. That is a ton of talent to replace and MSU doesn’t have a strong recruiting class coming in next season. I believe Izzo that he is committed to staying in East Lansing, but I also believe he’ll always be intrigued by the NBA. If there was a time to jump ship at MSU, this would be a good time, since the program could be going through a transition phase next year.
Brady Fredericksen: Zero. I honestly think his flirtation with the Cavaliers a few years ago was the last chance. That summer seemed to not only take a toll on him, but also Michigan State. The Spartans were full of veteran players, starting the season ranked second in the nation, but the team absolutely bottomed out, finished 19-15 and barely made the NCAA tournament before being bounced by UCLA. I get that he’s striking out on the one-and-done recruits, but it just doesn’t make sense. I think he’d jump at the opportunity to coach a good NBA team, but the chances he’s had with Atlanta, Cleveland and now apparently Detroit can’t be that appealing.
Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.
1. With the race for lottery balls being the only competitive race the Pistons (25-44) will be a part of over the season’s final month, what are their chances of slipping one slot down below the Sacramento Kings (25-45) for the seventh-worst record in the NBA?
Patrick Hayes: Nine of Sacramento’s last 12 games are against possible playoff teams, so I’d say there’s little chance of that happening. The Pistons have six lottery teams, including the two worst teams in the league, on their remaining schedule. I’d say it’s fairly likely that the Pistons perform their annual habit of a modest late-season winning streak rather than get bad enough to pass the Kings.
Brady Fredericksen: Likely. Maybe I’m giving the Kings too much credit, but they’re pesky enough to beat teams they shouldn’t beat. If DeMarcus Cousins puts together a huge week, they could fly right past the Pistons. The scary thing is that the Pistons tend to put together late-season runs out of prime lottery position. They’ve got winnable games against bad teams like Cleveland (twice), Boston, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, so I guess those are your “swing games” in this race.
In past years, the Pistons were winning late with fiesty rejects and young players. Now it’s disgruntled vets and (likely) burnt out young guys from yesteryear. This team is bad, so worrying that they’ll magically get hot is, well, probably unneeded. Most of these guys probably want this failure to be over with just as bad as the fans do.
Tim Thielke: The Kings and Pistons are pretty 50-50 for who will finish with the worse record. As an eternal optimist, I’ll pick the Kings to wind up with the better record. But this is a crap shoot that could really go wither way.
2. What about passing the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers, who currently sit at 23-46 with the sixth-worst record in the NBA?
Patrick Hayes: The Lakers have eight remaining games against possible playoff teams, but they could possibly get Steve Nash and Pau Gasol back this week. And depending on your opinion of whether or not Steve Nash and Pau Gasol still have much of anything to offer this late in their careers, that might help the Lakers pick up some unexpected wins. Still though, I’d err on the side of thinking the Pistons have a better chance of closing the season strong than the Lakers do.
Brady Fredericksen: Possible. The Lakers are confusing. There are some nights where they compete with teams they have no business sharing the floor with, and other nights where they’re flailing around with Ryan Kelly leading the way. I want to say the Pistons can out-stink them, but I don’t think they can. The Pistons play seven more playoff teams, and all could easily be losses, but maybe not enough to sneak this low. If I had to bet on being bad enough to be in position to keep the pick, I’d say they’ll finish with the eighth-worst record — just like always. But, in a cruel twist, Boston and L.A. will sneak up to the No. 1 and 2 picks while the Pistons somehow drop down to No. 9 and lose the pick to Charlotte.
Tim Thielke: The Lakers are definitely a long shot. The Pistons are up two wins with just 13 games to go. The odds of the Pistons having a worse record than the Lakers are under 10%. But there’s probably another 5% chance that they end up tied. The cynic in me, though, insists on pointing out that just as the Pistons could fall behind L.A., they could also pass up the Cavs.
3. If the Pistons slip into the NBA’s bottom five, they’ll 100 percent be assured of keeping their draft pick regardless of lottery movement. What are the chances that the Pistons can pass the Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics (both 23-47) for the fourth or fifth-worst record?
Patrick Hayes: Well, here’s the positive (Or is it negative? I’m not sure if positives or negatives exist in discussions of this team and season anymore.): The Pistons have two games vs. Cleveland, one vs. Utah and one vs. Boston among their final games. Losses in all four of those games would significantly improve their chances of keeping their pick. But I’m also not convinced that the Pistons are less motivated to win than any of those other teams. They’re all pretty unmotivated as well. I would put this at close to a zero percent chance of happening if the Pistons beat Utah tonight.
Brady Fredericksen: Slightly possible. The Pistons are only 2.5 games ahead of them, and will actually face off against Utah tonight. For tanking reasons, this is good because not only are the Pistons chasing the Jazz, but Detroit hasn’t won in EnergySolutions Arena since 2002-03 when Jon Barry scored 10 points off the bench. Seriously. So, with a loss seeming likely tonight will be a step in the right (or wrong?) direction.
Tim Thielke: The odds of falling behind the Lakers, Celtics, or Jazz are virtually identical. But the Pistons won’t out-lose them all. Even if Detroit fails to win another game this season (and I’m optimistically hoping to pull out 11 losses in the last 13), one of those teams would still probably manage to stay behind or tie the Pistons. The 5th or 6th worst record is pretty much the best we can hope for.
For months, the 2013-14 Pistons could at least claim progress from the last four years, the dismal John Kuester-Lawrence Frank seasons.
Their winning percentage (.373) has slipped below Frank’s first season (.379). If the Pistons lose their next two games — the expected outcome at the Phoenix Suns and at the Los Angeles Clippers — it also will drop below Kuester’s second season (.366).
This isn’t rock bottom. It’s just more of the same.
The Pistons have turned stale. What was supposed to be an athletic and intriguing mix of talent has two defining characteristics: bad shots and scrambled defense. Even the promise of Andre Drummond has taken a back seat to all the losing.
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 41 MIN | 9-12 FG | 4-9 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 22 PTS | +2It’s not a coincidence that Monroe does well when he’s got room down low, and tonight he had all the space he could handle down low. He was efficient on offense (and 2-for-2 on jumpers), but it’s the four steals and one block that boost his grade up. I have to deduct points for just five rebounds — especially without Andre Drummond.|
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 23 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -6Well, first he got posterized by Timofey Mozgov, and then he got himself tossed. Normally, like if this were a game the Pistons NEEDED to win, a night like that gets you a big, fat F. But when losing ain’t that bad, and posterizations are just kind of cool, it gets you an A.|
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 26 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | -10Have I ever mentioned that Good Kyle Singler Nights are the best? With the Pistons using a more traditional lineup, Singler looked pretty solid as the main small forward. He rebounded well and scored 10 points in the third quarter.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 30 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 7 PTS | -5I thought these were the kind of games that Jennings thrived in? Apparently not. The up-and-down tempo of this one played right into the kind of quick-thinking play Jennings loves, but he was pretty blah on offense and, along with Will Bynum, absolutely horrendous in attempting to defend Aaron Brooks.|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 37 MIN | 8-17 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | -418 points… on 17 shots. Stuckey shoots, Stuckey scores, rinse and repeat.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 16 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -1This was a prime opportunity for Jerebko to really put together a strong night. Instead, he just kind of floated around. He had some nice rim-runs, but he couldn’t finish once he got there, and his rebounding — like the rest of the Pistons — was underwhelming.|
|Charlie Villanueva, PF Shot Chart 17 MIN | 5-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | -13If the Pistons really wanted to tank, they be letting Villanueva shoot 19 3-pointers per night.|
|Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 22 MIN | 4-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 10 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -7It feels like Bynum has consistently out-played Jennings for about a month now. Unfortunately, while his offensive numbers were superior, his defense was equally bad.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 28 MIN | 2-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -1He looked totally out of sorts offensively, but I like that the recent Fresh Prince of Trillions put together a well-rounded game. Those 10 rebounds were a career high, and he didn’t just settle for all jumpers, shown by the 4-for-4 showing at the line.|
Did you know the Pistons are now a comical 1-32 when they trail entering the fourth quarter? That’s not Loyer’s fault, I just felt like we all needed a good laugh. Loyer wasn’t bad tonight. The Pistons looked decent offensively without 10,000 power forwards on the floor at once, and the team hung around even after Smith made his way to the locker room early. Of course, the team’s defense was bad all around, but it’s been consistently bad under Loyer. A loss is a loss; I think that’s how the saying goes?
- Measurables: 6-foot-6, 190 pounds, sophomore guard from Michigan
- Key Stats: 17.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists while shooting 48 percent and 45 percent from three
- Projected: Mid-first round
Matters to No One But Me …
Stauskas attends Michigan. I attended Michigan.
There’s no question I have a stronger allegiance to Stauskas than other draft prospects because of that, though doesn’t mean I want the Pistons to pass over better prospects to draft him. I just wouldn’t mind him being the best prospect available when Detroit picks. See: Burke, Trey.
I also said Stauskas should have turned pro last season, because screw the NCAA, and I believed his skills would get him drafted, maybe even late in the first-round. Patrick gets full credit for seeing Draymond Green’s NBA potential before anyone else did, and I want one of those on my record. Patrick nails something like that at least once per year, though. I’ll gladly take just getting Stauskas correct for bragging rights.
Also, so much swag. I smile a lot while watching Stauskas play. Actually, that should matter to you, too. See more in the next section.
Fits with the Pistons because …
Shooter, shooter, shooter.
The Pistons are one of the NBA’s 3-point shooting teams, and Stauskas is one of the best shooters in college basketball. His range definitely extends to the NBA arc, so he should translate fairly well.
He has also increased his athleticism since last season, working out hard over the summer and then taking advantage of his newly chiseled form during the season. He can run the pick-and-roll and attack off the dribble, and he’s an underrated passer. Without Trey Burke, he’s really blossomed into an all-around player.
Stauskas is most definitely not just a shooter at the college level, which should help him in the NBA.
Players who just stand around and shoot in college generally don’t succeed at the top level. Stauskas will probably never be the center of an NBA offense like he is at Michigan, but those complementary skills should help get him on the court and do what he does best: shoot.
Stauskas also plays with tremendous swagger, blowing kisses and such. Despite all their athleticism, the Pistons have gotten stale as bad shots and mangled defense have become their defining characteristics. Rookies, even those who were exuberant in college, tend to fade into the background. But the potential for Stauskas to be really fun down the road certainly exists. That shouldn’t affect whether the Pistons draft him, but it’s a nice bonus.
Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …
The Pistons can’t pick lower than eighth – if their pick falls after that, it goes to the Bobcats – and No. 8 might be too high to take Stauskas.
This is a stacked draft, and he’s just not up to level of Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Dante Exum and Marcus Smart. That’s six players right there.
With a strong NCAA tournament and workouts, Stauskas could work his way into the next tier, but that’s a small margin for error. Tyler Ennis, Gary Harris, Aaron Gordon and Noah Vonleh already make strong cases for that range.
Also, even though he’s improved on that end, Stauskas is a questionable college defender. Those concerns only get magnified at the next level, when opponents get bigger and faster. Can Stauskas make another leap forward athletically? There have to be diminishing returns at some point.
From the Experts
- Versatile scoring guard
- Excellent shooter with deep range
- Incredible free throw shooter
- Needs to add strength
- Not an elite athlete
While his draft stock has undoubtedly increased substantially as the year has moved on, concerns still exist among scouts regarding his lack of upside defensively, due to his unappealing combination of poor length, average frame and mediocre lateral quickness.
Additionally, it remains to be seen the extent of which he will be able to create his own shot and finish around the basket against NBA caliber defenders, although he has made significant strides in dispelling those doubts this season.
Nevertheless, the premium that teams are placing on perimeter shooting in today’s NBA has put Stauskas in an enviable position as a draft prospect, should he decide to capitalize on his increased stock this upcoming fall.
Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.
1. If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 1 priority with the coaching staff?
Dan Feldman: Convince Tom Gores to increase the coaching budget. It’s not impossible to find good coaches for the money Detroit spent on its most-recent hires, but it’s more difficult when the pool of candidates is limited. Cheaper coaches are much more likely to pan out when they beat out an established coach, not just a field of other cheap options.
Brady Fredericksen: Letting go of John Loyer. It’s pretty simple, the team got worse under Loyer’s watch and I don’t think he was ever really a legit option to return as head coach next season. He was a cheap alternative after the firing of Maurice Cheeks, plain and simple. The team’s 4-12 under Loyer, and the team’s defense has completely gone off the tracks by allowing 106 points per game.
Tim Thielke: Make sure the prospects are getting as much playing time as they can handle. Put Tony Mitchell, Luigi Datome and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope out there for heavy minutes and see what happens. Hopefully the Pistons fall through the standings while also seeing some flashes of promise.
2. If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 2 priority with the coaching staff?
Dan Feldman: Pursue George Karl, Lionel Hollins, Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Van Gundy and identify an ideal candidate from that pool. He becomes my baseline. If I can’t find anyone better, I’ll happily hire him. But I’ll still look deeper first.
Brady Fredericksen: Calling up Hollins. The former Grizzlies coach has already made it known publicly that he’d be interested in the job, which is always the first step. If you glance around the NBA over the past five years, I think his Memphis teams fit the exact mold that many Pistons fans remember from the last great teams in Detroit. Defense, rebounding, some grit, it really would fit the culture of Detroit as a whole.
Tim Thielke: In the offseason, find a new head coach. His priorities, whether through personal strengths or the staff he puts around himself, should be maximizing defensive talents and creativity with meshing an unorthodox roster.
3. If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 3 priority with the coaching staff?
Dan Feldman: Scour the assistant and college ranks for up-and-coming coaches. If I find a gem — someone who impresses me more than my baseline choice (Karl, Hollins or a Van Gundy) — I’ll hire him. Otherwise, I’ll hire the baseline choice. I just don’t want to end up with someone like John Kuester only because he was more impressive than someone like Michael Curry. There must be proven talent in the mix.
Brady Fredericksen: Making sure that he’s at least semi-involved in the roster-building process. As a GM, you probably never want to give a coach too much say in building the team, but he is the guy who is going to be coaching them. One of the most important aspect of the next regime is being in sync. That means from Gores to new GM to new coach — all three on the same page — because if the top is in sync, the players will buy in, too.
Tim Thielke: Have the coach start immediately yanking players (especially Josh Smith) after taking bad shots. Don’t keep him out there because of his talent. Start teaching him that any time he attempts a shot he shouldn’t, he’ll be sitting for the next five minutes — whether it goes in or not.
1. If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 1 priority with players not currently on the roster?
Dan Feldman: Acquiring a top-eight pick through tanking. The Pistons shouldn’t have another opportunity to pick this high anytime soon, and I don’t want to squander it. This is an excellent chance to add a talented and high-potential player on a cheap contract. With one more of those, I’d feel really good about the roster going forward.
Brady Fredericksen: Throw all of Tom Gores’ money at Eric Bledsoe and Lance Stephenson. Both are among the NBA’s top up-and-coming wings, Bledsoe a restricted free agent and Stephenson unrestricted. The Pistons won’t be able to sign both, but being able to get one will be a big boost for the Pistons terrible perimeter game. The argument for both of these guys is simple — they’re significantly better than any Pistons’ guard since… um… Chauncey Billups in 2008? But the argument against them is totally reasonable, too. Bledsoe has played at a max-contract level for 26 games, and Lance Stephenson has a screw or two loose and also doesn’t have to deal with the spotlight of being THE guy in Indiana. Risky, but what team builds without risk?
Tim Thielke: The first priority has to be looking into the possibility of landing a star. There’s a long-shot chance that Kevin Love or Carmelo Anthony or Rajon Rondo may be attainable; maybe even Dirk Nowitzki or Chris Bosh. If any of those guys could be acquired without giving up Andre Drummond, that needs to be done. Everything else can be sorted out later.
2. If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 2 priority with players not currently on the roster?
Dan Feldman: Draft the best prospect available, using fit as a tiebreaker only when multiple prospects fit on the same tier. Drafting is too difficult to get right, anyway. I’m not complicating it by choosing a rookie based on how he fits with a roster that could change very quickly.
Brady Fredericksen: Find shooters. If you don’t have a superstar-caliber wing scorer — which, believe it or not, are extremely hard to come by — you need shooters to succeed in the NBA. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade all fit that superstar wing bill, and all three have led their teams to the NBA Finals in the past eight seasons. The teams that won without those kind of guys were Dallas and San Antonio, two teams built around smart coaching, great big men and fantastic floor spacing. The Pistons lack all three of those aspects currently, but finding shooters is a good place to start copying the blue print.
Tim Thielke: Get some shooters. This overlaps with both of my other priorities, but it is also the roster’s biggest need. I still believe much of the defensive woes could be fixed schematically because Detroit actually has good defensive players. But shooting just requires shooters.
3. If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 3 priority with players not currently on the roster?
Dan Feldman: Use all available cap space to offer Stephenson a contract the moment free agency opens. Yes, I’d be concerned about removing Stephenson from his stable Indiana environment and paying him eight figures per year. But as current players get raises, the Pistons probably won’t have an opportunity to sign a near-All-Star anytime soon, either. By offering Stephenson a contract immediately, I’d ensure I’d act before Monroe signs and increases his cap hit. It’s all about taking advantage of an opportunity, even if the risk is high.
Brady Fredericksen: Sign-and-trade Monroe for role players and picks. If the Pistons were to successfully land a Bledsoe or Stephenson, it’d probably spell the end of Greg Monroe’s tenure in Detroit. If that’s the case, you have got to value for him, plain and simple.
Tim Thielke: Find a good wing or two. Ideally in trade for one of the big men on the roster. But if not, in free agency. Stephenson, Gordon Hayward, Trevor Ariza, Luol Deng and Paul Pierce (in order or desirability) are all viable options. Even if the Pistons draft a wing in the lottery, they should still go after another at least as insurance.