This season, though I haven't watched much of it, has been putrid to say the least. With the moves that happened this offseason and those that didn't happen by the trade deadline, it was known that this season was likely to be boom or bust. Us die hard Pistons fans all prayed for boom but expected bust (because advanced stats, fit, chemistry, etc.).
Depending on how you view this upcoming draft and the players who are likely to be in it would be one factor in determining if you wanted a boom or bust season. When you look at the Pistons roster, I'd assume most people would agree that everyone is expendable other than Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. We'd like to see Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Peyton Siva, and Tony Mitchell develop, and maybe even Luigi Datome. Many would like to see Will Bynum, Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva, Brandon Jennings and at least Josh Smith gone. Chauncey Billups may retire, don't really know what to think about Jonas Jerebko, Kyle Singler nor Josh Harrelson. But with there only being two guys absolutely worth keeping, getting a high pick in this draft would allow the Pistons to fill any number of needs with a potential star talent.
Due to trading Ben Gordon, we still owe Charlotte a first round pick. This year, if we're in the top 8, we get to keep it. We'll also get to keep it next year if we have the top pick. However, I pray that Charlotte gets the pick next year (1. because I don't want to be in the lottery again but 2. because it keeps us from possibly trading other first round picks for other good players). Looking at the current Top 100 of 2014 draft prospects according to Chad Ford, only 4 of the top 10 are for positions we don't really need to fill. Joel Embiid is a Center and Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, and Noah Vonleh are all Power Forwards. The other six players in the top 10 include 2 Shooting Guards, 1 Small Forward and 3 Point Guards.
I would love for KCP to be our long term answer at SG. I love his defense and I love his shot and I believe in time he'll only get better. However, I can't ignore the potential of Andrew Wiggins (who could also play SF if needed). He's likely to go first, so there's a very good chance that we won't end up with him. Also, I believe that he will definitely need some time to grow in the NBA (as will most prospects).
As for our other positions of need, anyone but Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith please. Of the PG, I think I'm more intrigued with Tyler Ennis for point guardy things and 3-point shooting. The only SF option is Jabari Parker who shoots better from everywhere on the floor than J-(not-so)-Smoove. I think being in the top 8 of this draft could really help us. Obviously though, we need to find a way to get rid of Jennings and/or Smith.
Anyways, my point of this post was to speak on a conversation I hope that Joe Dumars had before the opening of free agency. Either a conversation with Tom Gores, George David, his wife, or even himself. If this conversation happened, it would make this season a little easier to swallow (and by easier, I mean the difference between swallowing a rhino vs. an elephant). I'm going to phrase the conversation as though it's Joe talking to himself.
Alright, it's time to go shopping. But what do I have, what should I keep, and what do I need?
Well, I have Greg Monroe, a budding power forward who's only 23 and has improved every year. I have Andre Drummond whom I kind of got lucky being able to draft, but it was still kind of a risk (thank goodness he didn't turn out to be Darko numero dos). I didn't draft a PG with the 8th pick because I thought I had Calderon, but he slipped through my fingers. I'm hoping KCP will be able to spread the floor so that it'll be easier having Greg and Andre on the floor at the same time. Will can't be my starting PG and neither can Siva or Knight, that would be like me throwing away the season. But wait a minute!!! If we don't make the playoffs this year, I'm likely out of my job and we'll risk losing our pick if we're not in the top 8. Can I really make this team a playoff team in one year.
Gores just fired Frank and we went with Cheeks who isn't known as a spectacular coach, but who knows. But can I get him enough for us to make it to the playoffs? I can't make it look like we intentionally tanked, but I think in the long run it might be best if we used our pick this year. I mean, Greg is 23 and Drummond is 20. I need young guys to build around them so I can make another long run. What can I do that will either work amazingly or be a complete disaster, so much so that we keep our pick?
What if I went big while everyone else is going small? I'll need a bigger guy who's athletic though so he can run with Drummond and whatever PG we get. Hmm, maybe I can get Josh Smith to come here. He has a propensity for shooting long shots, so maybe if we can get him to shoot them from 3 and raise the chance of getting more points, we'll steamroll the league. But he's not very good at it, and he's a hot head so he likely won't listen to anything the coach has to tell him, so if he sucks at it, it'll be mostly his fault (though I'll be the one that signed him). Then, if we suck and we keep our pick, I can then trade Josh.
I'm not dumb, he's not a SF and I know the other GMs know this as well. So if he has a bad year, we'll just write it off to him playing out of position. He'll still hold value. But if Josh isn't enough, maybe I can get a point guard who has massive potential for boom or bust. Ooooooo, I'll try to get Jennings from my good ol' buddy. Him and Josh know each other, there might be chemistry there, enough to make things work. Or, they'll just be ball hogs, throw up tons of horrible shots, and then we keep our pick. I can probably get Jennings cheap enough and on a small enough deal since he wants out of Milwaukee so bad, and then if he doesn't work out I can either trade him or buy him out provided I can draft a good PG prospect.
So, this could work and I look like some kind of mastermind, get my extension and then F*** It All. Ok, but what if this doesn't work? Well, it could go two ways. The way I don't want it to go is I get kicked to the curb. But if that is the case, then they'll be left with the s*** that I signed and have to find a way out. Good luck doing that with a new GM, one who is likely unproven. But on the other hand, maybe I can convince Gores that if we stink as bad as we might, that we'll have a high pick in a really good draft, one that will keep this team young and likely able to build towards a contending team for years to come. You know, similar to how OKC did it. Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, etc. Maybe he'll let me prove myself in the draft and then sign me to a short extension to see how it works out. And if that works, then I'm good for years to come.
I'd like to know that Joe knew there was a better chance of this not working than of it actually working. I'd like to know that Joe was trying to plan for the long term rather than the short fix. Obviously, that isn't easy when your owner is telling you playoffs or bust, but I can hope for it. I'm sure he could have likely used the free agent money that he did on Brandon and Josh to get some other players who would have been a better fit and possibly younger (than Josh at least). This is a conversation I hope happened...but I fear that it didn't. :(