Detroit Pistons unlikely to break playoff drought


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The Sports Bank will be counting down to the opening tip of the 2012-13 NBA season with team by team previews starting with the worst and working our way to the title contenders.  There is no lockout this time around so let’s get going.

The Detroit Pistons are still suffering from some recent poor financial decisions made by general manager Joe Dumars that has held back the franchise (i.e. the Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva off-season along with the fact that Richard Hamilton still accounts for $5.5 million of their cap this year.)  Like the past three seasons, Detroit figures to fall short of the playoff picture.

2011-12: 25-41, 10th in Eastern Conference
Predicted EC Finish: 10th

Projected Depth Chart:
C: Greg Monroe/Andre Drummond/Viacheslav Kravtsov
PF: Jason Maxiell/Jonas Jerebko/Charlie Villanueva
SF: Tayshaun Prince/Corey Maggette/Austin Daye/Kyle Singler/Khris Middleton
SG: Rodney Stuckey/Kim English
PG: Brandon Knight/Will Bynum

Detroit’s off-season was: fairly uneventful… and that’s okay.  Detroit unloaded the remaining two years and $25.6 million of Ben Gordon for Corey Maggette’s expiring deal.  It also cost them a future first round pick but the trade was a means to an end and creates future cap flexibility unless the Pistons turn Maggette into another veteran who can pried away from a team looking to dump a large salary.  Andre Drummond was a best available player pick with the ninth overall selection though he is a project in terms of his development as a complete, well-rounded player.  Other than that, Detroit was relatively quiet this summer which puts their talent level in a similar position as it was a year ago.

2012-2013 will be a success if: they can sneak into the playoffs.  For that to happen, somebody will have to step up alongside Monroe inside.  Drummond would be the ideal candidate but he is probably at least a year or two away from becoming a steady contributor.  Maxiell isn’t the answer inside and Villanueva will have to play himself out of the doghouse.

The backcourt depth is a concern but Brandon Knight’s showed plenty of promise during his rookie campaign and allowed Rodney Stuckey to slide over to his more natural two guard position.  Rebounding and scoring were areas of concern a year ago and that doesn’t figure to improve too much this year which makes a trip to the postseason appear unlikely.

2012-2013 will be a disappointment if: Dumars gets itchy and makes a dumb move before the trade deadline.  With several expiring contracts, the Pistons could grow impatient with their retooling effort and try to swing a deal for an experienced player.  The franchise has done a solid job of adding young talent and letting expiring deals run out.  While it might be tempting to make a postseason push, Detroit needs to remain the course.

Looking ahead to next summer: Maggette, Maxiell, and Will Bynum come off the books as does Hamilton meaning the Pistons will clear out around $24 million in cap space.  Throw in Austin Daye who in no way deserves having the qualifying offer extended, and that jumps to $27 million.  I am not sure any marquee free agent will want to come to Detroit next summer but the Pistons have the option to pursue some needed upgraded talent as long as it doesn’t go to waste like it did during the Gordon/Villanueva off-season.

#11 Atlanta Hawks
#12 Cleveland Cavaliers
#13 Orlando Magic
#14 Washington Wizards
#15 Charlotte Bobcats

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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