Traditionally championship teams in most major sports primarily fell into 2 categories. The more common type of team is one that would play their own style, force it onto their opponents, and do it much better than everyone else. The less common type is the team that can play any style, including their opponents, and still beat them. This style is pretty rare, and takes elite talent across the board, so we will focus on the more common championship team that plays a particular style and does it better than everyone else.
Teams that win in this matter also tend to be successful for longer stretches as the team concept is typically much stronger with them. The 2004 Pistons team is a good example. By focusing on defense they established their identity, forcing their will on their opponents. Michigan State under Tom Izzo, the Spurs, Michigan Basketball this year, and even Phil Jackson's teams all play a specific style and have that identity. These types of championship teams all excel in certain aspects of the game, simplistically either offense or defense.
The current group of Pistons seemingly has not had an identity or played any type of winning style. This is somewhat surprising considering Joe Dumars is in charge and I would tend to believe he has a specific style in mind, a strong defensive style.
I do think that Dumars was hampered by Karen Davidson much more than we will ever know, and did what he thought was best to try to keep this team on top knowing the restrictions he would be facing from ownership. We all know what string of events that kicked off and the rash decisions that came with it.
He is now again at a crossroads and must decide what type of team this is gonna become. I think his coaching hire is gonna give us our answer as to his direction. Also the Lawrence Frank hire would lead us to believe he is still gonna stress defense first, but the case can be made that this team can either focus on offense or defense going forward.
The Monroe Drummond combination is what allows for the flexibility of either a strong offensive team or a strong defensive team. By maximizing Monroe's strengths you would focus on offense, and with Drummond you would focus on defense. With either direction these two players should help form a strong rebounding team.
Let's start with looking at building around Monroe. In order to do this the team is gonna need more efficient offensive players on the perimeter. They should probably start with resigning Calderon and bringing Knight off the bench as a high volume shooting 6th man. In the draft and free agency they should be focusing on skilled offensive talent on the wings. This might eliminate someone like Oladipo from being a good fit, where a Caldwell-Pope may be a better fit. The emphasis must be on offensive players. This may also lead to free agents like OJ Mayo for his shot making ability or Kyle Korver for his strong shooting ability. The team would need enough offensive talent to overcome Drummond's raw offensive game.
The other side is to build around Drummond and focus on becoming an elite defensive team. This probably starts with another turn as Knight as the starting PG, and letting Calderon leave in free agency. Knight is progressing defensively and his effort at that end could become contagious. As far as the draft goes getting Oladipo would be great. Most of the top picks have defensive potential, but most rookies still struggle at that end. This may bring Josh Smith into play as well, even at SF. ESPN had him as the best perimeter defender in the NBA. Knight, Smith, and Oladipo would cause some havoc on the defensive end with Drummond behind them. Another free agent possibility would be Tony Allen. The team would need enough defensive talent to overcome Monroe's marginal defense.
Whatever direction the team takes, lets hope it establishes an identity and sticks with it. I would tend to side towards building a defensive team around Drummond, as I think his defensive potential is much greater than Monroe's offensive potential. I think this is also the direction Dumars will take, but who really knows. Maybe I just miss the tough defensive teams of Piston's past.