Mar 15, 2014; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons general manager Joe Dumars during the game against the Indiana Pacers at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Pistons GM Search: Bryan Colangelo Should be a "Leading Candidate"


According to Sportsnet Canada’s Micheal Grange, former Raptors and Suns General Manager Bryan Colangelo is a “leading candidate” for Detroit’s general manager opening.

Colangelo, who might be best known for his run and gun offense he built in Phoenix over 11 years, stepped down as Raptors General Manager before the beginning of the season.  With the writing on the wall, the two time executive of the year suggested the hiring of current GM Masai Ujiri, who he brought on early in his Raptors campaign in 2007 as the director of scouting.

Colangelo has often been questioned for the vision he had for the Raptors the last few seasons. Knowing he needed some scoring help and a way to put fans in the seats, the former Toronto exec traded up and coming forward Ed Davis to Memphis and sent Jose Calderon to the Pistons for the often ridiculed Rudy Gay.

Three months later, Toronto announced they were looking for a new general manager.

Since, the Raptors have turned in what has to be deemed as the most surprising turnaround of the 2013-14 season. The Eastern Conference Atlantic Division champs find themselves in a battle with Brooklyn for a right to advance to the Eastern Conference semis.

Much of the recognition for that success has gone to Ujiri, who somehow found a way to deal Gay to the Sacramento Kings for Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes and John Salmons.

Vasquez and Patterson have had a major influence on the team as role players.

But it’s the molding and evolution of this teams starting five alongside head coach Dwane Casey that has been fun to watch.

A group that nobody believes in more than Bryan Colangelo.

He is the one that traded for Kyle Lowry and believed that he could do more than contribute to a team. He put all of his stock in DeMar DeRozan, who the Raptors drafted 9th ahead of Brandon Jennings and Jrue Holiday in the 2009 draft.  In 2011 it was Jonas Valanciunas, the euroleaguer that averaged under 20 minutes a game.  He’s now blossomed into one of the best big men in the league.

Former Piston Amir Johnson has turned into the heart and soul of the Raptors. Colangelo bought him in via trade in 2009 and he has become one of the biggest fan favorites in the organization’s history. Terrence Ross, who Colangelo drafted in 2012, is one of the best high flyers in the league.

There is no doubting that Toronto needed to make a change in the front office. It’s also premature to believe Colangelo completley flopped in his attempt to rebuild the franchise on his own mistakes.

Yes, he drafted Andrea Bargnani with the first pick of the 2006 draft. He traded away the draft rights of Roy Hibbert for absolutely nothing. He tried to fit a square block in a circular hole with the offensive patch job that is Rudy Gay.

But the Raptor team he helped architect could be a playoff contender for years to come.

Run ‘n Gun Pistons

One of the most electrifying offenses in NBA history was the Phoenix Suns’ “Run ‘N Gun” offenses through the mid 2000s. When Bryan Colangelo started the build to what would become one of the most prolific offensive threats, the notion revolved around having one of the most athletic big men ever to play the game. In 2002, Amar’e Stoudamire landed in the Suns lap.

The Pistons have a very similar piece in Andre Drummond. He might not be as overpowering as Amar’e was when he entered the league but he is every ounce as athletic.  If he can perfect the mid range game and become more of a consistent force, he could be just the keystone to run up and down the floor.

Believe it or not, Detroit has had success in transition. According to Team Rankings, the Stones scored the fifth most fast break points in the league and had the sixth most efficient fast break team in the NBA.

And that was with Josh Smith bricking jumpers from Livonia and Kwame Kilpatrick dishing more helpers from the jail cell than Brandon Jennings did on the hardwood.

According to Team Rankings, the Stones scored the fifth most fast break points in the league and had the sixth most efficient fast break team in the NBA. And that was with Josh Smith bricking jumpers from Livonia and Kwame Kilpatrick dishing more helpers from the jail cell than Brandon Jennings did on the hardwood.

If Colangelo gets the job by selling his fast break mentality he’s got some true cornerstones to work with. With improved shot selection, KCP can become the shooter you need to succeed in the “7 seconds and shoot” offense.  Kyle Singler is the perfect hustler you need off the bench to provide minutes, who can also shoot.

As Mike D’Antoni proved in Los Angeles, it’s hard to run that system with two legitimate big men on the floor. So the first move would logically be moving Greg Monroe for a distributor and putting Josh Smith in an offense that he can flourish in.

It’s a far stretch from the defensive mantra this organization has prided itself on throughout it’s history. Yet it’s a closer style of play to what the league has molded into the last five years. 

Not adjusting to it has played a major role in why the Pistons are in the predicament they are today.

History In The Draft

1995Michael FinleyWisconsin1st21st
1995Mario BennettArizona State1st27th
1995Chris CarrSouthern Illinois2nd56th
1996Steve NashSanta Clara1st15th
1996Russ MillardIowa2nd39th
1996Ben DavisArizona2nd43rd
1997Stephen JacksonButler CC (Kansas)2nd42nd
1998Pat GarrityNotre Dame1st19th
1999Shawn MarionUNLV1st9th
2000Iakovos TsakalidisGreece1st25th
2001Alton FordHouston2nd50th
2002Amar'e StoudemireCypress Creek HS1st9th
2003Zarko CabarkapaSerbia1st17th
2003Leandro BarbosaBrazil1st28th (Selected by Spurs)
2004Luol DengDuke1st7th (Traded to Chicago)
2004Jackson VromanLebanon2nd
32nd (Acquired from Chicago)
2005Nate RobinsonWashington1st
21st (Traded to NY)
2005Marcin GortatPoland2nd57th (Traded to Orlando)
2006Andrea BargnaniItaly1st 1st
2006P.J. TuckerTexas2nd35th
2006Edin BavcicBosnia2nd56th (Traded to 76ers)
2007Giorgos PrintezisGreece2nd58th (Acquired From San Antonio)
2008Roy HibbertGeorgetown1st17th (Traded to Pacers)
2008Nathan JawaiAustralia2nd 41st (Acquired from Indiana)
2009DeMar DeRozanUSC1st9th
2010Ed DavisNorth Carolina1st13th
2010Solomon AlabiNigeria2nd50th (Acquired from Dallas)
2011Jonas ValanciunasLithuania1st5th
2012Terrence RossWashington1st8th
2012Quincy AcyBaylor2nd37th
2012Tomislav ZubcicCroatia2nd56th

 Final Thoughts 

For every upstart GM looking to get their first opportunity, there is always going to be another with tons of experience and what teams hope is just a little more tread on the tires.  Though the popular pick might be a former player with ties to the organization, or an executive that has spent a lot of time in Detroit, Colangelo might bring more to the table.

Like an upstart, he brings a fresh face to the organization and promotes a clean slate. He brings a whole new philosophy to the table. He understands stability and what it takes to build a team that gets to the playoffs. The only thing he doesn’t bring to the dance is championship experience.

His time in the Motor City might not lead to championship pay dirt.

If the Pistons want to find gold, Colangelo could be just the right man to point this team in the right direction.


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