Do the Pistons really need another point guard?

Rodney Stuckey is universally accepted as the Pistons’ future. And Will Bynum led the team in PER last season.

So, why are the Pistons considering drafting a point guard at 15?

The idea seemed curious to me. The Pistons have only had one pick this high in the last six years, and they used it on Stuckey. The Pistons need front-court players, not point guards.

But the rumor has legs, so here’s a look at the rationale behind drafting a point guard in the first round:

Stuckey at shooting guard

Joe Dumars told the the Detroit Free Press Stuckey will see more minutes at shooting guard next year:

"Playing the point can take your aggression away because you’re worried about the other four guys," the Pistons president of basketball operations said. "What this year confirmed is he’s a combo guard. We have to play him on the ball and off the ball."

At 6-foot-5, Stuckey has the height to be a shooting guard. And I like him next to Bynum in limited minutes. They play fast and aggressive, offensively and defensively. They really change the tempo (unless Detroit becomes a faster team next year. In that case, they’ll keep the tempo).

If Stuckey plays the two, the Pistons will also need a point guard who can make 3-pointers. Stuckey and Bynum would be too much of a liability in that department if they played regular minutes together.

In the end, I suspect Stuckey will still play a large majority of his minutes at point guard. He struggled last year to find the balance between creating for himself and his teammates. But he’s young and will improve. Taking the ball out of his hands doesn’t seem to be the best way to jumpstart his aggressiveness.

And if the Pistons go fast paced next year, the additional offensive possessions could ease any tensions. Not to mention, he won’t have to deal with the Richard Hamilton-Allen Iverson balancing act.

Importance of the point guard

The NBA is becoming a point guard’s league. The sheer amount of talent at the position is astounding:

  • Chris Paul
  • Tony Parker
  • Deron Williams
  • Chauncey Billups
  • Devin Harris
  • Jameer Nelson
  • Jason Terry
  • Rajon Rondo
  • Jason Kidd
  • Mike Bibby
  • Derrick Rose
  • Andre Miller
  • Steve Nash

The case can even be made the four teams still playing have excellent point guards, in addition to Billups. The way LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Hedo Turkoglu run their teams’ offense, they almost act as point guards.

A few years ago, it was clearly a big man’s league. I’m not convinced that has changed, but it’s not as set as stone as it used to be.

A pick-and-roll offense is en vogue, and taking a point guard increases the chances the Pistons find someone to run it as well as Chauncey Billups did.

Detroit had the league’s 19th-best production at point guard last year, according to 82 games. Only center ranked worse. It’s a position that could use upgrading.

Availability

This draft is stacked with point guards.

Chad Ford of ESPN predicts 11 point guards will be first round picks. Draft Express says 12. NBADraft.net projects nine. Tom Ziller of AOL FanHouse has 10.

Here’s Ford’s point guard-by-point guard breakdown from January.

There’s a good chance the best player available at 15 is a point guard.

My pick is Lawson. He plays fast and can shoot from the outside. When I saw him play, he just looked like he belonged in the NBA. He had the swagger and the talent.

Free agent class of 2010

The Pistons’ long-term strategy isn’t clear yet. But almost every other team in the league is shooting for the summer of 2010. It’s tough to believe Dumars won’t be in position to snag at least one free agent.

The top free agents will be looking for money (which Detroit can have available) and a winning team. Here’s a look at the players who could become unrestricted free agents next summer:

Point guard: Steve Nash

Shooting guard: Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Manu Ginobili, Joe Johnson, Michael Redd, Tracy McGrady

Small forward: LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Richard Jefferson

Power forward: Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki

Center: Yao Ming, Tyson Chandler

Doesn’t one position look light? The Pistons probably won’t be landing a top free agent point guard in 2010. Since they could get a top player at any other position, it makes sense to target a point guard now.

Conclusion

It appears very important the Pistons have a quality point guard going forward, and the draft could be a good way to make that more likely. If a good point is available at 15, the pick seems to make sense.

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