Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated recently highlighted the best and worst case scenarios for each Eastern Conference team. Here was his take on the Pistons:
Best case: Andre Drummond shows enough flashes that he looks like the early steal of the 2012 class, Greg Monroe has enough double/doubles to be on the fringes of the All-Star discussion and Brandon Knight progresses as you would expect a second-year point guard to progress. (Charlie Villanueva deciding to retire would be great, too.)
Worst case: Drummond looks more like a project than an impact player, Knight doesn’t become a more efficient scorer and the veterans (Villanueva, Corey Maggette, Tayshaun Prince, Rodney Stuckey) take on too many responsibilities, stunting the younger group’s development in an ill-conceived playoff push.
Pistons fans might not want to hear this, but this team is better off being bad than good, as the young talent base (Monroe, Knight, Drummond) is solid but shy of excellent and the rest of the pieces are way too expensive and/or meaningless on a middle-of-the-road team. This is still talent-acquisition time. Detroit owes its 2013 first-round pick to the Bobcats if it’s not a lottery pick; keeping that pick, considering the roster landscape, would be far preferable to squeezing in as the eighth seed. The good news is that Drummond brings a watchability factor that has been absent over the last three seasons, all of which ended in the lottery. Good or bad, he will have you asking, “What will he do next?”
I actually agree with Golliver’s point in that final graph. Although as a fan I’m certainly rooting for the team to make the playoffs, it might be best for the team in the long-term if they stay in competition for that final playoff spot in the East all season but ultimately fall short so that their first round draft pick stays here.