There have been some significant Amnesty Waived players recently that more than one Piston's fan has mentioned on their wish list for management to make a move on. Most recently I read about the release of Andray Blatche, and I'll admit it, I wished for a moment that maybe the Pistons might consider signing him.
The article by Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie (one of Rasheed Wallace's favorite expressions), went on to say a lot of teams are drawn to reclamation project players especially on the cheap. He explains, how at soon to be 26, it seems possible that there is still plenty of potential to harness in this player that just two years ago seemed on the verge of stardom. Yet, he goes on to say that Blatche is trigger happy, won't aggressively assert himself inside, and is a nightmare to coach. Thus, even at a much lower price than $26 million for the next 3 years, he has questionable value for any team.
Rather than blast Blatche as a failed player, or bad future investment, it really occurred to me to think about just what the Pistons are trying to do and appreciate their strategy. Since 2004 Joe Dumars has been trying to put together teams that he feels "play right." Detroit basketball became recognized as having a truly superior emphasis on assembling pieces that played better than opponents as a team, not a collection of individual stars.
Perhaps Joe D is trying to test his philosophy again as he assembles this newest version of the Pistons. He has made some pretty good draft picks the past two years and hopefully has done so again. There could be as many as five rookies on this year's team as Kyle Singler from last year's draft has been signed as well as Vyascheslav Kraztsov as a free agent, to go along with this year's three draft picks. This season's Pistons will be composed of all but four players drafted and developed by the Pistons, and there are probably more than a few Pistons' fans that believe that Ben Wallace should somehow qualify as an addition to this list. Only Will Bynum (who began his career with Golden State), Charlie Villanueva (who has played with Toronto and Milwaukee), Corey Maggette (who played on five other teams), and Ben Wallace haven't played exclusively with the Pistons in the NBA.
Obviously we've known and loved transplants. Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace, and many others have contributed to the success of the franchise, but these players didn't ever seem like cast offs that could be defined as reclamation projects. Perhaps its too harsh to depict a few of the players that could have been pursued as such. Chris Kaman, although oft injured, is a solid player. Elton Brand, although he's had to overcome serious injuries, is another solid veteran as well. There are also the aging super stars such as Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Grant Hill, and Chauncey Billups that any team would be happy to have. Yet, they aren't meant to be the fundamental building blocks of a team anymore. They're role players.
As much as Kevin Garnett has been lauded as a super star, the Celtics are built on much more. Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo are the cornerstones of the team in my opinion. Garnett, Brandon Bass, and Ray Allen were simply pieces needed to complete the puzzle that was framed by Pierce and Rondo.
Joe Dumars is creating the framework now. Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe, Rodney Stuckey, and perhaps Andre Drummond are the key players that must create a framework for the Pistons. I'm hopeful that perhaps Kyle Singler, Vyacheslav Kravtsov and maybe one or both of the other two rookies, Kim English and Khris Middleton, will prove to be important pieces in the future as well. None of these "homegrown" nurtured, developed players hopefully will ever be termed castoffs or reclamation projects.
So I applaud Joe Dumars restraint and wisdom to meticulously cultivate his garden of homegrown players. With so many young players the role veteran homegrown players have, such as Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace, and perhaps Jason Maxiell have as role models and club house leaders is vital. I also hope that the few "outside" additions to the team, Will Bynum, Corey Maggette, and Charlie Villanueva, are exceptional professionals that appreciate the development that is being undertaken with this franchise, in doing things the right way!
Bynum, Will Beginning 5th year with Pistons in 2012/13 (began his career by playing one season with Golden State)
Daye, Austin Beginning 4th year with Pistons - exclusively with the team since being drafted
Drummond, Andre Rookie year
English, Kim Rookie year
Jarebko, Jonas Beginning 4th year with Pistons - exclusively with the team since being drafted
Knight, Brandon Beginning 2nd year with Pistons - drafted last year by the Pistons
Kraztsov, Vyacheslav Rookie year
Maggette, Corey Beginning 14th season, this will be his first with Pistons
Maxiell, Jason Beginning 8th season with Pistons - exclusively with the team since being drafted
Middleton, Khris Rookie year
Monroe, Greg Beginning 3rd season with Pistons - exclusively with the team since being drafted
Prince, Tayshaun Beginning 11th season with Pistons - exclusively with the team since being drafted
Singler, Kyle Rookie year
Stuckey, Rodney Beginning 6th season with Pistons - exclusively with the team since being drafted
Villanueva, Charlie Beginning 8th season, this will be his 4th with the Pistons
Wallace, Ben Beginning his 17th season, this would be his 10th as part of the Pistons organization
How many other teams do you think there are that have only 1 veteran player under contract that has yet to play for their team? How many other teams do you think have only 1 veteran player that hasn't been on their team for at least the past 3 years? Lastly, think about how many other teams likely will have a starting lineup based on their own drafted players?
From my review only the Pistons can answer the first two questions in the affirmative. Cleveland, Charlotte, Washington, and perhaps Minnesota can possibly say they have exclusively developed their starting lineups from their own draft picks.
It might be argued that this is symptomatic of a rebuilding franchise, but I believe it makes the Pistons stand out as a unique franchise that is dedicated to developing a team that plays "Pistons Basketball." Hopefully that proves to be playoff and championship caliber basketball once again.