Zach Lowe: Detroit enters offseason with 'more certainty about what it needs'

The always must-read Zach Lowe at Grantland has a column today looking at — as he puts it — the dregs of the NBA, including the Pistons. Here’s Lowe’s analysis:

Joe Dumars has carved out a bunch of cap space, raising fears of a botched free agency sequel to the Charlie Villanueva–Ben Gordon spending spree of 2009 — the potential NBA equivalent of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. That kind of failure seems less likely with new ownership and an increased emphasis on analytics, but every game provides Detroit with a better understanding of what it has on the current roster — an understanding that will allow Detroit to enter the next two summers with more certainty about what it needs.

Andre Drummond’s back issues have hurt Detroit’s ability to learn more about how Drummond’s pick-and-roll game might mesh with Greg Monroe’s facilitating from the elbows — and whether Drummond really might be the explosive back-line helper who can cover up for Monroe’s slow-footed, unintuitive defense. The Pistons have allowed exactly 100 points per 100 possessions in the 248 minutes the two have played together, a number that would rank eighth overall — far above Detroit’s standing as a team. But Detroit’s (very bad) offense has been worse when the two bigs share the floor, and 248 minutes is a tiny sample size.

Then there’s Brandon Knight, fresh off two straight very good games before Sunday’s contest working as something between a point guard and a shooting guard next to Jose Calderon. There’s no shame in topping out as a hybrid guard instead of a ball-dominating lead dog, even if Knight would be small for a 2-guard; secondary ball handlers are valuable, and two very good secondary ball handlers can almost mimic the impact of one very good point guard. But where Detroit sees Knight’s game going in 2013-14 will play a role in their decision with Calderon, a free agent this summer, and with Knight after that. Regardless, Detroit needs another wing who can shoot; Kyle Singler looks like a backup, and teams are scoring like mad against smaller lineups featuring Rodney Stuckey as a nominal small forward, per NBA.com.

So there’s a nice setup for you in the comments. Your summer to-do list for the Pistons is …

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