5 Steps Detroit Pistons Need to Take to Make Playoffs Next Year
Building a Perfect Plan for the 2013-2014 Pistons
It has been 5 years since the Detroit Pistons last made the playoffs. In the years of Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace, that would have been completely unheard of. But due to some questionable moves in free agency, (namely Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, who I will get to later), less-than-well-thought-out trades (cough cough Allen Iverson), and a string of poor fits for head coaches, the Pistons have continually found themselves on the outside looking in.
With the management that is in place, it is fair to assume that the moves that have happened in the past may end up repeating themselves, such as giving another large contract to an undeserving player. But it is necessary for Pistons fans to stay optimistic. This is a team that only five years ago, was a yearly playoff contender and a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference. With only a few simple moves, I feel that the Pistons can be returned to this kind of dominance in a quick fashion. Now, I am not saying that they will be ready to compete right away with the Miami Heat's and the Oklahoma City Thunder's of the world. But with the moves that I am suggesting, they should be ready to compete for the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference right away. And if you think this is not attainable, I would recommend that you look up the record of the 2012-2013 8 seed, the Milwaukee Bucks (38-44), and you would see that the Pistons were only nine games below them. It's a perfectly attainable goal.
Hire A Proven Winner as Head Coach
The first step in my plan for the Pistons is one of the most important. It is essential that they hire a head coach that is a proven winner, rather than a first-time head coach, such as the one's they're interviewing (Brian Shaw and Mike Budenholzer). They have gone down the inexperienced-head-coach route before, and it came back with very unsuccessful results.
Nate McMillan would be a top candidate, as he had a good run with the Portland Trailblazers, and he has a system that would suit Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond well. The only question with McMillan is if he would be willing to come to a team that seems to be in a state of rebuilding, as he has been known to prefer teams with more of a veteran presence.
My ideal option for the Pistons would be "The European Phil Jackson" Zeljko Obradovic. While you may argue that he does not have experience at the NBA level, he has just as much experience as a head coach as anyone in the league, with a total of 19 championships under his belt. He is widely regarded as one of the best coaches of all time in Europe, and this choice could turn out to be the ultimate home run for the team.
Use the Amnesty Clause on Charlie Villanueva
As I mentioned previously in the article, there have been many questionable moves in free agency by Joe Dumars and the Pistons. The one that stands out in most fans minds is the signing of forward Charlie Villanueva. He has been largely ineffective ever since arriving in Detroit, coming in and out of the rotation but generally spending a majority of his time on the bench.
Now is finally the time to get rid of his obscene contract. An amnesty of Villanueva would free up a large amount of cap room for the Pistons, and would also get rid of a player who basically just takes up a spot in the rotation at this point. He has lost his ability to shoot the three ball, and he never had the ability to rebound. So his roster spot, along with the cap space, is more useful than him for the Pistons moving forward.
Trade for Kevin Love
I have discussed the possibility of trading for disgruntled forward Kevin Love. A move like this would allow the Pistons to have a superstar for the first time since the Bad Boys Era of basketball, and would help the team grow as a whole.
With the threat of Love shooting the three, there would be much more space for Andre Drummond to work down low in the post, and would, in turn, allow him to continue to develop his offensive game. Along with this, Brandon Knight would presumably get more open looks because of the presence of Love, and the assumed emergence of Drummond.
Sign Small Forward Martell Webster
So far in this plan, we have a lineup of Brandon Knight at one of the guard positions, Kevin Love at power forward and Andre Drummond at center. With that being known, it is clear that this team is in need of a small forward as it became evident that Kyle Singler should not be a starter in this league.
With the amount of cap room that the Pistons have, it would be easy to hope for them to make a play for forward Josh Smith, but there are a variety of reasons why they should not pursue him. Among them is that he doesn't utilize his talents to the best of his abilities when he shoots threes, which he does often. His game relies on athleticism, which does not bode well for him when he starts to age.
The perfect answer to the Pistons' opening at small forward is former Washington Wizard Martell Webster. Webster is coming off the best season of his career, while also averaging the most minutes per game of his career. He is a talented defender, holding SG's and SF's to PER's of 8.7 and 11.9, respectively, as well as shooting about 42% from downtown. This would help the spacing on offense, as well as the quality of defense for the Pistons.
Draft Point Guard Trey Burke
With the frontcourt all set, the final step of my plan for the Pistons will occur at the draft. The Pistons did qualify for the lottery this year, so it is hard to say where they will be picking. But for our purposes, we will just go by the final regular-season standings, which would slot the Pistons with the 7th overall pick.
With this pick, the Pistons should not hesitate to take Michigan point guard Trey Burke. He is a very capable scorer, as well as being a great ball distributer. He made it clear to every fan that watched the NCAA Tournament that he is not afraid to take a shot in the last seconds of a game. In the tournament, he also solidified himself as the best player in the country, and should be a solid player at the next level.
With my proposed plan, the Pistons would have a new head coach in either Nate McMillan or Zeljko Obradovic, as well as a starting lineup of Trey Burke, Brandon Knight, Martell Webster, Kevin Love and Andre Drummond. This team would also be free of the dead weight that was holding it down (Charlie V via amnesty, and Rodney Stuckey via trade). I feel that this team would be more than capable of competing from that elusive 8th seed that they've been shooting for the past couple of years.
What is your take on my plan? Do you have any steps that you think should be added? Let me know in the comments section below.
Thanks for reading.