Dan is in New York and, hopefully, is working on his annual draft post that makes 30 percent of commenters threaten to never read this site again (luckily, that 30 percent is really bad at following through on threats). The epic draft posts are my favorite Feldman posts of the year. I hope everyone is excited as I am.
Anyway, I wasn’t happy Joe Dumars passed on Trey Burke. I think in the longrun, Burke will be a better player than Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. But I still don’t think that Caldwell-Pope was a bad pick, and I loved the Tony Mitchell pick in the second round. Peyton Siva is largely irrelevant to me. Nothing against him, he was a fine college player, but he’s a longshot to make the roster, in my opinion, unless he’s willing to play overseas for a year. So anyway, back to the Burke/Caldwell-Pope debate. In today’s column for the Detroit Free Press, I discussed what will make the pick a success — it starts with bringing back Jose Calderon:
It’s unclear what the Pistons will do in free agency, but if taking Caldwell-Pope over Burke indicates the team will do whatever it can to re-sign Jose Calderon, I’m on board. Calderon will give the Pistons the steady, pass-first, perimeter-shooting point guard they need. The team then can allow Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey to battle it out to start at shooting guard until Caldwell-Pope wins that job or, if he’s ready to start from day one, battle for significant backup minutes at both guard spots. Either Knight or Stuckey also could be used as trade bait. But suddenly, the Pistons would have a competent-looking guard rotation with a steady veteran point guard, a young three-and-D shooting guard prospect with good size for the position and one or two versatile combo guards off the bench who can play big minutes depending on situations and matchups.
But what if the plan is not to sign Calderon? What if he was just viewed as an expiring contract to get out of Tayshaun Prince’s contract? What if the plan is to give Knight or, worse, Stuckey, another shot at the starting point guard job? We know how that story ends, right?
The Pistons didn’t do poorly in this draft. Tony Mitchell was a steal in the second round. Caldwell-Pope was a good pick in a vacuum, without thinking about who was on the board when they took him. If Burke hadn’t have been available, most fans would’ve been extremely happy to get a tall, athletic shooting guard who can hit the three. And if the team is able to re-sign Calderon, move either Stuckey or Knight, find a starting-caliber small forward in free agency or via trade and add some frontcourt depth behind Monroe or Drummond, it’s easy to envision them as one of the most improved teams in the Eastern Conference next season.
If the team surrounds Caldwell-Pope with adequate talent and starts winning again, fans will forgive Dumars, even if Burke becomes a star. Unfortunately, though, due to their recent history, the team’s leadership doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their ability to bring in the right mix of talent.
Caldwell-Pope wasn’t necessarily the wrong pick, but his performance alone won’t determine whether he was the right one.