While their Central Division rivals bolstered their roster (or in the Milwaukee Bucks case, signed O.J. Mayo), the Detroit Pistons made mainly lateral moves. While they were the one team to give a player a max contract (Josh Smith: four years and $54 million), it’s unclear how he exactly he fits in on the roster. He commands a starting spot due to his contract, but with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond giving the Pistons a young, dynamic frontcourt, he doesn’t have a natural position to play. He could play the three – giving the Pistons a huge lineup – but he isn’t quick enough to defend the majority of threes out there.
That considered, let’s take an overall look at the Pistons 2013 offseason.
NBA Draft: C+
Players Selected: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (8), Tony Mitchell (37), Peyton Siva (56)
Here’s the thing about the Pistons’ draft: They got good talent that with good upside, but I’m not all too confident that any three of these guys turns into a cog in the Pistons’ rotation as they continue to rebuild. Caldwell-Pope is another two-guard on a team with a fair amount of two guards and, in Brandon Knight’s case, combo guards. And to make it even more head scratching, Caldwell-Pope and Rodney Stuckey are basically the same player. Mitchell, who might have the most upside, is going to have his NBA minutes limited by Monroe and Smith. As for Siva, he could turn into a nice backup point guard, but that’s going to take a few years of development at the very least. Overall, I just don’t see what Detroit did to improve in this draft.
NBA Offseason: C
So the Pistons a) overpaid for Smith and b) brought back Chauncey Billups and cut Kim English to do so. Let’s start with Smith. To me, he’s like Monta Ellis in that he’s a good player who can put up numbers, but he just isn’t built to be a piece on a contending team. By spending money on him, the Pistons made it harder to keep Monroe after next season, while also potentially taking themselves out of the 2014 free agency extravaganza. Plus – and this is the key – he doesn’t fit the Pistons’ needs. As for Billups, it’s a nice story that he’ll be back in the city where he revived his career and will help mentor young guys like Knight. Billups, though, isn’t the same player he was in his first tour of duty in Detroit due to his age and his recent Achilles tear. What he brings to the table at this point in a pure basketball sense is unclear, but we’ll see what happens when October comes.
Projected Starting Five: Chauncey Billups (PG), Brandon Knight (SG), Josh Smith (SF), Greg Monroe (PF), Andre Drummond (C)
Overall Offseason Grade: C+
Maybe the Pistons have plan. Maybe they see this as a way to improve this year and set up bigger moves for down the road. However, I just don’t see what their offseason did to make the team better now and long term. After his magic assembling of the early 2000s (namely 2004) Pistons, Joe Dumars has lost his touch and has assembled yet another average roster in Motown.