The Pistons have a ton of talent, whether they are being utilized or not. Looking back even to last season, many analyst had the pistons as 6th-8th best team in the East, little did they know they would be one of the Leagues worst. With Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings leading the team in offensive Usg, and their inefficiencies they showed, it's pretty obvious as to how they ended up this way. So what's the next move for the Pistons, what can they do to put them back in the conversation similar to the mid-2000's? Well here are five moves that in my opinion shape the Pistons into a team that can contend for a playoff spot.
1. Make a semi-blockbuster trade including Josh Smith.
The key to this off season is revolving around Josh Smith and Greg Monroe. One has to stay and one either goes or if it's Josh Smith has his role changed. In this situation we will look at what can be done with a trade including Josh Smith. There are only a few teams rumored to be interested in Josh Smith and all have variables in which they can happen. Lakers for instance, have a little bit of interest in replacing Pau if he leaves, but are eyeing Kevin Love, if Love decides he'd rather go to the Bulls or Warriors, it may leave a gap open for us to take advantage of in their desperate need. Here is a sample of us trading to the Lakers. This only happens if the Lakers sign and trade Jodie Meeks, but this is beneficial because one, the Pistons receive a Hall of Fame leader, and a true point guard, but most importantly, only one year left on contract. Also we get a solid perimeter threat we can have come in off the bench, and Stan Van Gundy loves three point shooting.
2. Make Josh Smith a sixth man
Seeing as Josh Smith is coming off his worst season ever in the NBA, exhibiting almost the worst three point shooting in history, it may become hard to trade him, in this case we must find a role where he can be useful within his own true position. Josh Smith has shown flashes of having tremendous athletic skill, looking back at his outing against the Mavericks where he went 14-20, only attempted 1 three, and had 32 points. I think Stan Van Gundy can hone his skills if needed and ween Josh Smith of his three point obsession.
3. We pursue and sign a free agent that fits
This is one of the key components Stan Van Gundy talked about that the Pistons have neglected to take into account. To be successful in the NBA you cannot attempt to only sign the talented players, they must fit your system and playing style. If you look at the Spurs, you rarely hear them going after the best free agent in the class, but rather sign a cheaper specialist such as Belinelli. The Pistons must follow in example and sign players that fit the system and utilize them as specialists. Here are only some free agents that I see that can fit the bill for the Pistons are: Jimmer Fredette, Trevor Ariza, Channing Frye, and Anthony Morrow. If the Pistons can sign one or two it may be able to push them over the edge into the playoffs.
4. Find out if you want Brandon Jennings to be your point guard
In my opinion, Brandon Jennings isn't fit to be a point guard of a playoff team. With that said, he is only 24, and with a coach that is much more knowledgeable on how to run a team, he may want to stick with what he has. If you do stick with Brandon Jennings as your PG, the back up must be a more true, pass first PG, this way, as we saw in the 4th quarter when it becomes half-court offense, we can have another point guard hop in and take over. If you decide to take him out of the PG role, as you don't think he can run the team, the options are to move him to another team via trade, or put him at SG. Since putting him at SG will further solidify his atrocious defense, let's look at trade options. The only way I see us trading Jennings is if he is coupled with Josh Smith as it will be easier to get a player with a bad contract, which is what the Pistons will most likely have to accept in order to trade him. Another team watching Josh Smith is the Knicks. If the Knicks lose Melo to free agency, they will need to replace him and Josh Smith could be that guy. Making a trade like this would be smart as it opens us up with a whole lot of cap space next year, while taking on a lot this year. Also adding Shumpert will give us some defense in which our team desperately needs. Knicks would trade for Brandon Jennings in the case that they are looking to trade Raymond Felton, if he is gone and they don't get a PG in return or at least at the skill of a starting PG they may look at other options
5. Finding Defense
This is the ultimate key to bringing a playoff team to Detroit, the Pistons defense was not only lackluster, but one of the worst in the league. Finding defense is a rare thing in the NBA, and not just rare, but expensive. A 3 and D type of player is sought after, and often overpaid due to the fact of their covetousness. The Pistons may have to rely on the draft to pick up a player that has defense, but if for some unlucky reason they fall back, let's look at the options. Players you can look at would be Luol Deng (Much too expensive), Avery Bradley, Thabo Sefolosha, and Shaun Livingston. Any player that you can see making an impact on defense in a 7th-8th player role will most likely be overpaid, so it would be wisest to draft instead of signing one. If we keep our 8th spot this is how I think we should look to use it for defensive purposes. Marcus Smart in my opinion would be the smartest pick if available at 8, he is a tank, he can't shoot well, but has a 6'8" wing span and led the Big 12 in Defensive rating. If he isn't available the rest seem bleak if you don't want to stretch to make the pick, Aaron Gordon and Tyler Ennis are two players that possess good defense, but with our situation the way it is, it would be smartest to draft Ennis as our need of PF is very limited.
If the Pistons take these five steps, there isn't a doubt in my mind they don't get at least 6th in the East. The team has sure fire talent, and is still developing. With Andre at the helm this team can be dangerous and I think will be.