Detroit basketball has fallen by the wayside the last few seasons. After a resurgence and an NBA title in 2004, the Pistons have hit hard times. Theyve gone without a winning record since 2008, including a 21-45 record last season.
The reason for the slide? Simply, horrific free-agent signings including the huge busts in forward Charlie Villanueva and shooting guard Ben Gordon who both were given huge contracts three seasons ago but provided little in return. Gordon is no longer on the team as he was shipped to Charlotte this off-season, while Villanueva has languished on the bench and will continue to do so next season unless he can get into much better shape.
With free agency not working, Detroit is now clearly rebuilding through the draft. Two years ago the Pistons took left-handed center Greg Monroe out of Georgetown and followed it up with the selection of point guard Brandon Knight in 2011. Monroe is a rising star after improving dramatically, averaging 15 points and nearly 10 rebounds in his second NBA season. Monroe scored over 30 points and grabbed 10 plus rebounds in three games last season, showing his ability to dominate down low.
Knight started 60 of a possible 66 games and averaged 13 points and 4 assists.
A lot of the Pistons success will ride on these two players and how they progress in what will be their second year together this upcoming season.
With the point guard and center spot solidified for years to come, the Pistons took power forward Andre Drummond in the 2012 NBA draft. The Pistons hope Drummond can shed that project label and be a solid contributor up front. Drummond, a ballyhooed prep player, left UConn after just one season in which he averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds. Not overwhelming numbers for a 6'-10", 270 -pound big man who expected to do a lot more in his freshman season.
Veteran players forward Tayshaun Prince, guard Rodney Stuckey and forward Jason Maxiell all return and will get major minutes for Detroit. Stuckey likely will be the starting shooting guard but his numbers have gone down each of the last three seasons, including 14 points a game in 2011-12. Prince is steady as he goes and he will be the starting small forward. The lanky swingman averaged 12 point a game and is the lone holdover from the 04 title team.
Detroit could get back in the playoff mix if Monroe continues to improve but the team is still a work in progress.