David Mayo of MLive.com has a short snippet of an interview posted today (link here) that suggests the Pistons view Josh Smith as their number one power forward.
The clip is only forty-five seconds long, we don't know what question(s) was asked of Cheeks leading up to this answer, and Cheeks doesn't give the clearest answer. In spite of that, I think there are a few key takeaways.
First, the Pistons will try to play with two of the Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond trio at any given time. Apparently, all three will still start, but Cheeks will be trying to minimize the time that all three play together. This is what most fans have been calling for since day one, with a divided fanbase about who the better power forward would be: Greg Monroe or Josh Smith.
Second, it seems that Maurice Cheeks is leaning toward Josh Smith as the Pistons' best power forward, not Greg Monroe. He said, "It's better having Josh Smith with one of the bigs." That's pretty clear, I think, aforementioned qualifiers aside.
Third and finally, this is the clearest statement we have yet from the coaching staff about how they perceive their front court. Up until now, it was a reasonable guess that the Pistons viewed Smith as their number one guy up front. He leads the team in minutes played and shot attempts, and he's the default go-to guy in crunch time. Here, Cheeks comes out and says that he thinks the team is better with Josh Smith at power forward, and either Greg Monroe or Andre Drummond at center.
The team has won two games in a row with this strategy, and Josh Smith has had two of his stronger Piston performances in those two games. Maybe there is some secret sauce here that we fanalysts can't see from our perspective, and maybe Josh Smith is capable of sustaining his good play for the rest of the season if he spends the rest of the year at power forward.
Or, maybe he doesn't, and the franchise wastes the rest of this season where it could be further developing the Greg Monroe - Andre Drummond frontcourt that every fan in the world expected to emerge as one of the strongest frontcourts in the Eastern Conference.
Based on the historical production and age of Greg Monroe and Josh Smith, I'm inclined to think the latter is more likely, and I'm inclined to think it's nothing short of disaster for the franchise. But, I've been wrong before, and maybe I am now as well.
Either way, it seems clear that this is Josh Smith's team, and we get the rest of the season to see how it plays out.