On Sunday we discussed the most controversial issue facing Joe Dumars this offseason: the decision of whether to retain the services of Ben Wallace, and at what price. Today, we'll look at the offseason decisions that could have the most impact on the success of Detroit Pistons, version '07: what to do about the bench.
No matter where you stand on the debate between Maurice Evans and Carlos Delfino; no matter how hard you champion the cause of Lindsey Hunter as a primary backup at point guard; no matter how impressed you are with Antonio McDyess' spurts of energy down the stretch -- the bench let the Pistons down in the post-season, and it wasn't just the head-scratching substitution patterns of Flip that precipitated the demise.
"When (Antonio) McDyess is your only veteran proven scorer coming off the bench, that becomes an issue," Dumars said. "If he's not scoring off your bench, you really don't know where it's coming from. It may come from someone else, but you really don't know where and that has to change. We have to get more proven people that can step in and give it to us."
"Sometimes you need more help," Dumars said. "Sometimes the ability to just count on your five or six guys runs out. And you need add to that."
So what options does that leave Joe D moving forward?
Well, as Matt discussed earlier, Joe has already thrown his support Carlos Delfino's way. And according to the Free Press, Joe even went so far as to tell Delfino that he thought he should be playing more this season. That's a relief, considering all the blogspace Matt and I used to warn people of the impending Carlos Delfino breakout (we're still waiting...patiently).
And one would think that Antonio McDyess' role as the first big off the bench is semi-secure. His offense in the latter part of the season was a needed boost, but the Pistons do need a backup presence at the 5. Whereas Ben, Sheed, and Dyess are fully capable of guarding all power forwards and most centers, their offense is limited against larger opponents forcing them (Sheed and Dyess, at least) to rely upon the mid-range jumpshot and limiting opportunities for put-backs and offensive boards. Bigs that can score deep in the paint are not a dime-a-dozen, so Joe will have to do some digging.
Next, Joe must decide what to do at the backup PG position. For all he offers on the defensive end, Lindsey Hunter just cannot run the Piston offense well enough to spell Chauncey Billups. Thus, as the playoffs went on, Lindsey was increasingly paired with Chauncey on the floor. The pair made for a great offense/defense combination, but it didn't allow any rest for Chauncey, and too often when he was out of the game, the offense was in disarray. Unfortunately, while Tony Delk's scoring came on during the latter part of the season, he received very few chances in the post-season and failed to capitalize when he actually received some floor time.
I won't delve into the Darko Milicic trade discussion again -- Matt did an admirable job filling our Darko quota earlier this week -- but you wonder whether Carlos Arroyo would have helped this post-season. While Arroyo was a defensive liability, he had a knack for finding the open man and could actually pass out of the fast break, something Lindsey Hunter and Rip Hamilton are not wont to do.
And finally, allow me a pipe-dream here, for a moment. There's A rumor from earlier this season that my mind keeps recalling to the forefront: Grant Hill's return to Detroit. Hill could, in a limited capacity, provide rest for three positions, and while he's a shell of his former Piston-self, he would still be a more consistent offensive threat than any of the current Pistons reserves. As always, the knock on Grant is health. But, if after kicking the tires a bit, Joe D thinks he can get a similar resurgence from Grant that he did from Antonio McDyess, adding Hill might be a worthwhile shot in the arm for the Boys in Blue. Unfortunately, due to this being the final year of Hill's contract with the Magic, his yearly salary all but ensures that the Pistons cannot trade for his services. But, should he be able to negotiate a buyout from the Magic...
My dream scenarios aside,Grant was and will always be one of my favorite Pistons. He was a dominant force during some lean years for the franchise, and he carried himself with class and grace -- and ultimately was never accepted in Detroit as a direct result. it is refreshing to see that Joe D recognizes the need to bolster the bench. While there may not be much turnover in this team's top six (if you believe the mutual love being throw around between Joe and Ben), the changes at the back end of the roster will merit close study. 1 through 5, I still don't think there is a team that can hang with the Pistons, talent-wise. But unless they come up with the reserves to spell those starters for extended minutes, flame-outs similar to this year's can be expected.
So what do you all think this team needs to add before next season? Who stays? Who goes? Let us know in the comments.