Picking Greg Monroe was great, and taking Terrico White was OK, but together, those moves don’t add up for the Detroit Pistons

The Pistons landed a top-five player with the seventh pick in the draft.

That’s the most important thing to take from last night. Try as he did, Joe Dumars couldn’t trade up to get his ultimate prize – DeMarcus Cousins.

In five years, we might cry at the thought of not giving up Tayshaun Prince or a couple first-round picks for the game’s most dominant big man. Or we might be laughing about that time we almost gave away so much for someone who ate himself out of the game.

The point is, Cousins is far from a sure thing. I don’t know what it would’ve taken Dumars to move up, but I believe two things: Dumars really wanted to trade up, and the Kings loved Cousins after his phenomenal workout for them. So, I think the odds are high there was never a plausible deal on the table.

The Pistons were stuck with the seventh pick – likely the first pick of the second-tier big men. They would’ve had to choose between the unappealing options of Ekpe Udoh, Ed Davis and Cole Aldrich.

But Monroe fell into their laps.

Still, when Monroe becomes a good player, let’s not just say Dumars lucked into him. The Timberwolves made the wrong pick. The Warriors made the wrong pick. Dumars could’ve out-thought himself and reached for Ed Davis. But he didn’t.

It’s fair to criticize Dumars for plenty of things. But with the most important draft pick of his tenure, he got it absolutely right, given what we know on draft night.

Fits the system

A huge plus to Monroe: he fits perfectly in the Pistons’ half-court offense.

  • His passing ability should provide Detroit’s shooters, like Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, more open jumpers.
  • He’s a great defensive rebounder, which should help the Pistons control the pace.
  • He can also create his own shot.

Sure, there’s always talk of running more. But aside from Rodney Stuckey and Chris Wilcox, the Pistons have a roster full of players who fit in the half-court offense (including some who would be fine up-tempo, too).

Instead of completely changing the team’s identity, Monroe should allow the Pistons to remain a half-court team. That only speeds up the rebuilding process – especially given how NBA-ready Monroe appears. With the possible exceptions of Kevin Love and Elton Brand, Monroe is the most fundamentally-sound big man out of college since Tim Duncan.

Then, the Pistons picked Terrico White in the second round.

Obliterates the system

In all honesty, the pick probably doesn’t matter much. As much we were spoiled by Jonas Jerebko and Mehmet Okur, most second-rounders never make an impact. But it’s the logic – or lack thereof – behind the White pick that bothers me.

White might be the best athlete in the draft. He’s fast and can jump. He doesn’t draw a lot of fouls or pass extremely well. He’s built for the fastbreak.

So, how does he fit?

You obviously don’t cater your system to a second-round pick. But White obviously doesn’t fit with Detroit’s system.

Maybe the hope is Stuckey and White can play like Rondo does with the Celtics. That’s about the only way I can make sense of the pick.

I’ve never seen a player attack the rim 1-on-2, 1-on-3 or even 1-on-4 more than Rondo does. Playing with a team full of older players, he’s up the court ahead of his teammates often. Maybe the Pistons think Stuckey and White can do that.

But neither players are Rondo, and I’m not sure even Rondo does it successfully enough to justify the plan.

There are certainly other questions the White pick generates, too.

As it stands now: Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey and Austin Daye are all best at shooting guard. Where does White find minutes?

White doesn’t necessarily have the motor to compete in the NBA (and this could be a problem for Monroe, too). Is this team, especially if Ben Wallace retires, going to instill in them the proper tenacity?

The Pistons are a team struggling to find their identity. Last night, they lost a little more of it.

Grading the picks (updated with another day’s perspective)

Monroe: A-minus A

White: D-plus

Overall: B B-plus

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Tags: Greg Monroe Terrico White

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