The NBA’s rookies are already dealing with the ramifications of the lockout, but Ben Golliver of the CBS Sports Eye on Basketball blog is doing a team-by-team look at how each franchise could be negatively impacted by the lockout. Here’s his take on the Pistons as part of his look at Central Division teams:
The Pistons are another confounding mess, but at least it feels like they’ve turned a corner thanks to the sale of the team, the departure of reviled coach John Kuester and the drafting of point guard Brandon Knight and wing Kyle Singler. Last year was one, long, ugly grind. 2011-2012 figures to be a step in the right direction.
Knight slipped out of the top five of the 2011 NBA Draft because of questions about his position. Is he a pure point guard? Can he run an NBA offense? Will he be able to execute something besides the pick-and-roll game? His future is incredibly bright but as a one-and-done player he absolutely needs as much playing time as possible to get a feel for the NBA style and to get comfortable with the ball in his hands and a team of professionals that look to him first. There’s no other way to learn the point guard position than by on-the-job training, and recent success stories like Rose and Russell Westbrook only reinforce that idea. A year away from the game at this stage would be a critical loss for Knight and the Pistons, and that’s a major risk.
The same is true, to a lesser degree, for big man Greg Monroe, who came on strong in the second half of his rookie season and appears to be a potential core piece going forward. 2011-2012 is all about letting Knight and Monroe build up a chemistry together
A lost season would certainly be welcomed by ownership here too because Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva all failed to live up to their big-dollar contract figures last season. Hamilton and Villanueva, in particular, seem like lost causes. Weighing the savings from these deals versus the lost development of Knight, the Pistons should probably be pretty close to indifferent when it comes to losing a season. They need work, they know they need work and the rebuild can only come as these big contracts get closer to their conclusion and become more tradeable. Still, it would seem to be better to continue that journey with Knight getting more familiar and comfortable day-by-day, month-by-month than it would having him workout solo in a gym somewhere. If you’ve committed to a rebuild, start it immediately.
Although Knight certainly needs time to develop, that’s not as pressing an issue because of the abundance of Pistons guards at the moment. Not that the Pistons have long term options other than Knight, but they have guys who will get minutes, meaning there won’t be pressure on Knight to immediately come in and be a Derrick Rose-like savior. If he’s able to handle a big chunk of minutes and start immediately, great. If he needs a year or so, that’s OK too.
Monroe, on the other hand, has a year under his belt. He appears ready, based on his maturity, production as a rookie and work ethic, to take a step forward and become an even bigger part of the offense next season. The lockout, though, means the Pistons don’t have a coach or system and Monroe is at a standstill when it comes to preparation. How can he prepare to be a focal point of an offensive system that doesn’t exist yet? I’m sure he’ll still be the humble, hard-working player he was as a rookie, but minus the lockout, a summer of working closely with a new coaching staff could’ve meant even bigger things for him next season. I’m not saying he can’t still have a big year when the lockout ends, it will just be more difficult to cram new information into a short window when teams are finally able to get ready for the season.