• Despite the positive vibes coming out of Tuesday's win (a three-guard lineup that doesn't feature Chucky Atkins? Outstanding!), dreams of playoff berths have long been supplanted by those of lottery picks.
Unfortunately, even if the Pistons end up with a high pick, there's still a sense of dread among fans that Joe Dumars will try to outsmart everybody by taking the less obvious (and ultimately less talented) pick. But is the criticism warranted? Maybe, maybe not. But as MLive's Patrick Hayes points out, picking the right the players isn't so much a problem as actually developing the ones that are here:
The bigger question to me has not been Dumars' draft picks -- debating the high profile fails is pointless, high profile picks fail every year -- it's been the seeming lack of a system that allows picks to thrive.
[Carlos] Delfino, [Amir] Johnson and [Arron] Afflalo were dealt in similar deals -- clear a bit of cap space, get a future aspect like a second rounder back in return. All of those deals suggested the Pistons didn't think those players would materialize into much on the court. Why is that? Some of that has to relate to feedback the coaches are giving, right? What has broken down that has allowed the Pistons to trade guys who have become valuable NBA players for not much in return?
The same can be said for Milicic: after three seasons of sink-or-swim at the end of the bench, he was tossed aside for cap space and a future pick. Would Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh or Carmelo Anthony be the players they are today if they were drafted by the Pistons? I'm not so sure. Eventually talent trumps everything, but would they already be MVP and scoring champ candidates or just hitting their stride?
This goes back all the way to Prince's rookie year -- largely ignored as a rookie, he was only given a chance as a last resort when the Pistons were on the brink of elimination. Dating back to the early part of this decade, the only rookie I can recall the Pistons made a concerted effort to develop is Stuckey, and even that was likely a matter of timing than anything since his arrival coincided with the team's core looking old and broke in the playoffs.
Fortunately, if you want to call it that, the Pistons have lowered expectations so much that it should be near impossible to keep next year's rookies off the court. But still, I can't help but shake a sneaking suspicion that as good as Wall/Cousins/Favors/whomever ends up looking in a Detroit uniform, a guy like DaJuan Summers will be moved for a ball rack and a case of Gatorade only to someday burn the Pistons for 30 points. But I digress -- more links!
• Matchups, injuries and the phase of the moon will likely dictate the big man rotation, but for the time being, Jonas Jerebko has secured a starting spot.
• Apropos of nothing, this ESPN.com article from 2006 predicting what the NBA will be like in 2010 is incredibly amusing. Three of six "experts" thought Adam Morrison would be the next big superstar, which looks silly until you see the last guy picked Joel Freeman. Who? Exactly.
"We are getting bored with it some," he said, "but I think it’s a little bit of different agendas maybe creeping in. It just all depends. You know, I think if we all had the right spirit as far as one goal, one thing in common, I think we’d be a lot better."
[...] "It’s a different team this year," Rondo said then. "That’s our problem. A couple of years ago, we didn’t have the same team. We had the same main guys, but it’s still a team effort, from the first guy to the 15th guy."
(OK, fine, everyone was backtracking after Wednesday's win, but still -- the roster is showing cracks.)