Once Joe Dumars traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson just a few games into the 2008 season, the Detroit Pistons franchise quickly fell apart. Trading their long-time franchise player for a massive expiring contract, they hoped to quickly rebuild, as Dumars believed their title window had closed. However, they used that cap space to overpay two role players, in Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva and it has crippled them ever since. But with excellent drafting the last three years, Dumars has redeemed himself somewhat and in 2010 first round pick, Greg Monroe and 2012 first round pick, Andre Drummond, they have created an excellent young frontcourt that is now the foundation of their franchise.
Greg Monroe is pure finesse and skill. He is an excellent post scorer and mid-range jump shooter, who should only get better. He is currently the team’s first option, scoring 15.4 points per game, but he has the potential to score 18-20 points. He is an excellent passer for a big man, but he needs to be more aggressive at times, as he is too unselfish. He should be an All-Star very soon and one of the best big men in the East for years to come, as he is so gifted on offense.
As important as Monroe is to their offense, Drummond is set to become that for their defense. He is just scratching the surface of his potential, but he is an athletic monster, gifted with incredible size. He has shown an excellent motor so far in the NBA, which was a concern when he was drafted last summer. He has been incredibly impressive in his 20 minutes per game, grabbing rebounds at a massive rate, blocking shots, playing aggressive defense and simply disrupting opponents with his athleticism and size. He could become one of the best defensive players in the NBA, with further seasoning and continued hard work. He is raw on offense, but his offensive rebounding and hustle gives him easy field goals and if he develops a few post-moves and a consistent 6-10 foot jump shot, he can become a very solid offensive player. It is safe to say that if the draft were to be held again today, he would be drafted no later than fourth overall and looks to be a steal as the ninth overall pick.
There were concerns that since both players are technically fives, they might have difficulty playing together, but Monroe’s finesse style will make the switch to power forward easy, as he actually plays like a four. On the other hand, Drummond is a pure five, with the strength and size to play the post against anyone. With their different playing styles they should become an excellent starting tandem. With Greg Monroe leading the offense and with Andre Drummond commanding the defense, they should make an excellent frontcourt duo and possibly one of the best in the NBA in a year or two, if they continue to develop as they have.
Although their two frontcourt players are the foundation of the team, 2011 first round pick, point guard Brandon Knight, is a very big part of their future. He has proven to be an excellent offensive threat, able to create his shot anywhere he wants on the court and he is a very good long distance shooter. He must become a more efficient scorer, but just as important, become a better distributor and decision maker, but he does have the talent to become a true point guard. With Knight along with Drummond and Monroe they have an incredible young core.
Besides their last three first round picks, they have several solid young role players. Rookie combo guard Kim English has good scoring potential off the bench, rookie forward Khris Middleton, could become a very good two-way performer and rookie forward Kyle Singler has the look of a fantastic role player. Singler is a solid shooter, shooter, passer and teammate and seems to do all of the little things to help his team win. Also in the mix are Jonas Jerebko and Austin Daye, however they seem lost in the frontcourt depth of the team. With Tayshaun Prince signed long-term, they have an excellent veteran leader, to help mentor the young roster.
With their foundation in place, they will also have considerable cap space coming the next two off-seasons, with Corey Maggette’s massive expiring contract up at the end of the season, along with Jason Maxiell’s overpriced contract and with Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva’s large contracts up the next off-season. They could add a big-time player on the perimeter in free agency to help complete the core. They also have the pieces to make a trade at the deadline if they choose. Regardless, they have a very promising cap situation going into the next two or three seasons.
Along with their fantastic young core, a high draft pick to come this summer and future cap space the next two off-seasons, they have a chance to get back to the playoffs in the very near future. Excellent drafting and cap management has given them a chance to become players in the East someday soon and the fans of the team should have hope for the first time in years. Joe Dumars has righted the ship and has rewarded the faith of the new owners for keeping him in town. For now, the future is brighter than it has been in 5 years for these Pistons and with improved play and further roster moves, the playoffs are not far away.