It’s been a long time since Joe Dumars was revered in the city of Detroit. His days of being a “Bad Boy” are long gone and memories of the 2004 championship team he built are mostly forgotten. In today’s world, it’s “what have you done for me lately,” and the Detroit Pistons, under his watch, have been next to abysmal for the past five years.
This year is more than likely Joe D’s last go around if the Pistons do not show signs of revitalized life, and based on the splash he made in this year’s offseason, there’s no doubt Dumars knows it.
Josh Smith – SF/PF
One of the first players the Pistons targeted this offseason, Smith agreed to a four-year $54 million deal that will keep him in Detroit throughout the prime years of his career. Smith will provide added depth in the front court, an area of the team that’s been lacking in previous years.
His versatility is what enticed Dumars the most, though. The 6-foot-9 Smith has the size and strength to play power forward, but has the speed and quickness to play small forward and guard athletic wings like LeBron James and Paul George in the Eastern Conference. Look to see Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond all out on the court at the same time quite often this year. Dumars wants other teams to make adjustments when playing the Pistons, not the other way around.
Brandon Jennings – PG
Acquired in a trade that sent Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton and Viacheslav Kravtsov to the Milwaukee Bucks, Jennings will step into the starting point guard position Knight left vacant. The 23-year-old is known as a prolific scorer and is sometimes criticized for his shot selection, although his three-point field goal percentage was higher than both Jrue Holiday and JJ Redick, two guards known for their shooting ability.
Jennings has been quoted multiple times since the Pistons acquired him saying he will take fewer shots this season because of all the talent surrounding him, but it’s yet to be seen if he will follow through on his word. There’s no question that Jennings will get his shots, but his biggest challenge this season will be keeping everyone else involved.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – SG
The Pistons’ first pick in the 2013 NBA Draft was questioned by many, initially, due to the availability of former Michigan point guard Trey Burke, but Dumars made his draft agenda clear at his draft day press conference.
“The draft isn’t a popularity contest,” said Dumars. “We needed to fill a need. When you look at the game today, you have to have [wing athletes].”
Wing athlete is exactly what KCP is. At the pre-draft workout camp, Caldwell-Pope was the second fastest player behind only Shane Larkin.
First-year head coach Maurice Cheeks says it is unlikely KCP will be in the starting lineup at the beginning of the year, but the addition of his speed and athleticism should benefit the Pistons over the course of his rookie year and into the future.
The Pistons’ starting lineup, when healthy, will be one of the biggest in the Eastern Conference this year, but it’s difficult to say how that will pan out for them. The upgrade in talent should without a doubt carry them to their first playoff berth since 2009, but how far they advance will be a mystery until it’s clear whether or not the assortment of talent develops a level of chemistry.
If things go wrong, Dumars has assembled this team and their contracts so he can easily trade away pieces and bring in different kinds of talent. Don’t be surprised if Rajon Rondo trade rumors come back to the surface if the team is struggling around the All-Star break.
Photo courtesy of chiuchiu11, Wikimedia Commons