The Pistons '13-'14 season does not begin ON Halloween. That doesn't mean I'm not still spooked by their outlook.
Thanks to the additions of Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith and even Kentavious Caldwell Pope (KCP)and Italian product Gigi Datome the Pistons definitively house more talent than they did the last few seasons. I even look forward to the gritty, grinding and winning DNA I think they'll get from Peyton Siva, and possibly, UK product Josh Harrellson.
The Lakers brought in more talent last year - Howard & Nash - and it was a calamity.
In July I talked myself into preferring Smith over Iguodala, but it was like choosing between dentists. My number one preference in free agency was Detroit pricing Atlanta out of Jeff Teague, who was a restricted free agent. Didn't care.
**Book mark this link. I referenced it numerous times during last year's NBA season. It's an 'Enemy Lines' scouting look at every NBA team. I read them ALL last night. **
I still think I was correct in targeting Teague for the Pistons, whether he was restricted or not. From the Hawks' entry in the link above. Point guard Jeff Teague was more consistent last year. His strength is pushing the ball. He is a great penetrator and has a variety of shots in the paint. He could have a breakout year under Budenholzer if Teague is open-minded. Think of Teague as Tony Parker: He will get a lot of freedom, have the ball in his hands a lot. He's coming along as a three-point shooter, but you still give him that shot and try to keep him out of the paint.
Teague won't force shots like Jennings did, and may still do, even though he says he did it because the Bucks lacked firepower, so he just shot.
The consensus on the Smith move was, 'sure, they needed talent, but he's got glaring weaknesses and what about spacing with those three big men - Smith's not a 3. Not one bit.'
PHOTO CREDIT - GETTY IMAGES
Put simply, the Pistons two main additions that Joe Dumars hopes to ride back into the playoffs, had more negatives than positives. That's about par for the course of Dumars' GM tenure the last few years.
Jennings, who'll miss the first four games because of dental work, could justify his detractors. An improvement over Brandon Knight's first two years, but not the right guy for where the Pistons are, and need to get to.
Smith may do the same. Too many big guys on the floor. Not enough minutes to rotate if they tried. Too many threes. Too many ill-advised long 2s because the lane is too clogged. Too many nights we wonder if he even showed to the arena.
None of those are too far fetched.
Oh but wait, there's more...
I never really endorsed the Maurice Cheeks hiring either. To be honest, I forget who I did suggest, but it wasn't Cheeks, who never did much during his time leading the Blazers or Sixers. I still believe in Philly, a big part of the reason he scored the job was because he was a local legend.
Since Cheeks became the Pistons coach he had a minor domestic run-in. I'm not saying he's a bad dude, and that's going to derail the rebuild, but I just feel a lot of ominous omens.
Even something minute like, uhhhhh...Lawrence Frank being named THE TOP ASSISTANT COACH IN THE NBA IN THE ANNUAL GM SURVEY. He beat out a guy many wanted as the man in charge of the Pistons! McMillan, not Gentry, again.
1. Lawrence Frank, Brooklyn -- 21.4%
2. Alvin Gentry, L.A. Clippers; Melvin Hunt, Denver -- 10.7%
4. Nate McMillan, Indiana -- 7.1%
Maybe he wasn't the right fit to bring along the bunch he was charged with coaching in Detroit. Perhaps it's accurate that the young guys that filled the roster didn't care what he'd accomplished in Jersey and they just thought without Frank having played, why listen, respect and buy in.
Off to New Jersey for Frank where it's nothing BUT veterans, legends actually, where he can tutor Jason Kidd on the nuances of coaching he unaccustomed to while Kevin Garnett essentially keeps attitudes and behavior in line.
Great, Chauncey Billups is back. But he doesn't want to coach. He wants to play, and he wants to play point where Jennings is, and Jennings can't slide to two.
OK, so the spacing issue, because there's not enough shooters that command attention, never gets unscrambled, and because he didn't sign an extension, he is what he'll be, he's not the baby faced franchise center, nor is he the shiny new free agent, Greg Monroe has to go. Dreading that Joe D HAS to make a trade, and that may provide little leverage to construct an optimal deal for Detroit.
Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva, also known as Expiring Contracts A & B, are still around for their final years in Detroit. Pout. Pout. Pout.
Let's recap my horror.
Two key additions may be problematic fits.
So, you have no choice to trade your PF/C, who may or may not be sulking for what he's being subjected to through no fault of his own.
Billups stays healthy but grows a miserable attitude because he's not playing enough.
Mo Cheeks quickly and clearly shows he's not the right coach for a THIRD team.
In the summer, I thought the Pistons had a chance to contend for the 6th spot in the Eastern Conference. Upon the dawn of the NBA regular season and seeing, but more feeling, how things have transpired since the end of last year, I've lost that confidence.
5. Knicks (maybe!)
6. Washington (Knicks, maybe!)
Detroit will have to fight for a final playoff slot.
They're not the glamorous and tumultuous Lakers, so they won't demand the same interest last year's Los Angeles team did, but the Pistons are definitely going to draw A LOT of attention because of their talent enhancing, but peculiar, summer moves and the car will swerve on the highway all year.