Part 2: Joe Dumars put Pistons on wrong track, but it didn’t matter in the least bit

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This is the second of a two-part series examining how we should use future projections, not his past performance, to determine whether Joe Dumars should remain the Pistons’ general manager. Part 1 examined why Dumars’ first championship as an executive doesn’t necessarily make him the best candidate to bring the Pistons their next title.

Me at the Detroit Free Press:

In the NBA, teams should be very good or very bad. Between is a failure.

About the worst place a team can be is in the lower half of the lottery, picking Nos. 6-14 or so. Those teams aren’t good enough to make the playoffs and aren’t bad enough to have a reasonable chance at drafting a player who can turn around the team. In some circumstances, when a team makes the playoffs but is completely overmatched, picking 15-18 is just as futile.

In the last five years, the Pistons have picked No. 8, No. 9, No. 8, No. 7 and No. 15.

They have been building the absolute wrong way, as I wrote last week.

But it hasn’t mattered.

Thanks to sound drafting and a little luck, the Pistons have emerged from this rut with a promising team led by Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, and maybe that should be enough to save Joe Dumars’ job.

Redo the 2012 draft, and Drummond goes No. 2, behind Anthony Davis. Redo the 2010 draft, and Monroe goes No. 3 or No. 4, behind Paul George, John Wall and maybe DeMarcus Cousins.

Drummond and Monroe are the type of players teams tank to get.

For the Pistons to get those two without tanking into the top end of the lottery took a little luck, obviously. If the Toronto Raptors took Drummond instead of Terrence Ross and/or the Golden State Warriors took Monroe instead of Ekpe Udoh, Dumars might already be gone.

But they didn’t, and Dumars deserves credit for drafting well.

A tired argument exists that anyone could have picked Drummond and Monroe where Dumars did, but the same people who make that point still would make it if the Pistons had drafted No. 8 instead of No. 9 in 2012 and No. 6 instead of No. 7 in 2010. As we know, and as obvious as it should have been to draft Drummond and Monroe, the teams that actually held those picks didn’t.

So despite his efforts to contrary (i.e., vainly relying on highly paid veterans such as Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to lead the Pistons into the playoffs), Dumars has emerged from this down spell with two great pieces to build around.

Dumars’ failure to set the correct course for the franchise is now irrelevant. The Pistons’ direction already has been established.

It can be tweaked, but they’re building around Drummond with Monroe, Josh Smith , Brandon Jennings and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as key support pieces. They have the potential to add another in free agency next summer. Otherwise, the only real opportunity to add a fundamental building block is to trade those players for another building block.

In that regard, I trust Dumars much more than a theoretical replacement general manager. Tweaking already-built teams is what he does well.

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Tags: Andre Drummond Anthony Davis Ben Gordon Brandon Jennings Charlie Villanueva Demarcus Cousins Greg Monroe Joe Dumars John Wall Josh Smith Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Paul George Richard Hamilton Tayshaun Prince

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