Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.
1. I know the list is huge, but with the Pistons season officially over after tonight, what was the biggest negative to come out of the 2013-14 season?
Dan Feldman: I made the mistake of reading Tim’s answer before writing my own, and now I don’t have an original thought. I agree wholeheartedly with him.
Brady Fredericksen: The final result. There are plenty of negatives, but the fact that this team could only muster 29 wins this season is the real joke. The Hawks lost 20 of 26 games at one point and this team couldn’t even muster a push to get back into the realistic playoff picture. They were armed with one of the least-effective offenses around and played as much defense as those of you reading this at home. The fact that this team, with as much ill-fitting talent as it has, was so putrid is the biggest downer for me.
Tim Thielke: The most likely answer is the decline of Josh Smith‘s value. I still think Smith is fairly paid for a player of his ability and he would live up to the contract with many rosters, but he could no longer be traded under that evaluation. He is now a semi-albatross.
2. Don’t list everything at once, but which negative was the most painful to see?
Dan Feldman: Joe Dumars getting forced out. It was absolutely the right move. I just wish it hadn’t come to that. Dumars is great – as a Piston and person – and I wanted to see him pull it together. Unfortunately, he never did.
Brady Fredericksen: How Joe Dumars struck out on every acquisition this summer. For most of the Pistons stretch of futility, we’ve seen the same core group of guys. This season, Dumars finally made moves and completely revamped the team by getting rid of eight guys. The resulting acquisitions were three complete flops — the "shooters" in Luigi Datome and Chauncey Billups and, of course, Josh Smith — and one enigma in Brandon Jennings. I’m not going to call Kentavious Caldwell-Pope a strike out yet, but I also wouldn’t use the word "good" to describe him, either.
Tim Thielke: The fact that the Pistons had two different coaches and neither was willing to try staggering the Smith/Greg Monroe/Andre Drummond frontcourt. Seriously, most fans could come up with that strategy within seconds of hearing who was on this team, but two different NBA head coaches couldn’t give it a shot? I’d understand if what they did was at least sort of working and they didn’t want to take a risk that may blow their playoff berth. But the game plan was clearly in shambles. It was time to experiment.
3. What was the biggest negative from the season?
Dan Feldman: Chauncey Billups not getting the sendoff I hoped to see. The Pistons might be best off in the long run with this losing season – if they keep their draft pick – but I wished Billups could have gotten the fond farewell he deserved.
Brady Fredericksen: Everything Smith had to deal with. I’m not absolving him of anything, but he was put in the crappiest situation of all — even if it was by his own cash-driven doing. I don’t think Smith actually thinks he’s a good 3-point shooter and I don’t think Smith thinks he’s a good perimeter player. I think this season has probably humbled him because, to be honest, he was terrible for most of it. He played for two coaches who had no idea what to do with him, Drummond and Monroe and he had two frontcourt mates who are either too young or too limited to play in such an odd-fitting lineup. From my interactions and from what I’ve read, Smith isn’t a bad guy. I still think he’s a good player, but I think it’s tough for any good player to go from 7-8 years of playing with good, smart teams to playing with a bad, not-so-smart one. Smith was bad, but I think the general fans’ idea that he’s like a Charlie Villanueva clone is unfair.
Tim Thielke: The fact that I had to go back to rooting for Pistons’ losses. I didn’t expect the Pistons to be anything spectacular this season. But there was enough talent on the roster that I was expecting a season in which I’d be hoping for every game to be a win. Instead, the Pistons were clearly not going to make the playoffs with almost 30 games remaining. And then they still didn’t trot out the prospects for extended minutes.