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A standard was set for the Detroit Pistons organization yesterday when they hired Jeff Bower as their new general manager. Now the ball gets rolling on the front-office trust group’s plans for the immediate and long term future. Bowers was introduced to the local media on Wednesday. Pistons Palace brought you the audio highlights yesterday in case you missed it.
We also examined Bower’s time in New Orleans as the General Manager. Today we take a look at the media’s perception of the hire, the latest in mock drafts and whether or not Brandon Jennings is a championship point guard.
First, Detroit Sports 105.1′s Matt Dery had Bower on his afternoon radio show after the conference. Dery asked the new executive about Greg Monroe, working with Stan Van Gundy, and finding three point shooting to compliment who is on the roster already.
The Detroit News’ Vincent Goodwill responds this morning by writing about the thick skinned Bower and Van Gundy.
“I’ve always had a tremendous respect for people who worked their way up the ladder,” Van Gundy said. “He’s driving in cars thousands of miles on recruiting trips.”
Sitting side by side on a dais Wednesday, wearing Pistons gear, it was a long road from those days. Van Gundy and Bower are now charged with the task of molding a talented but ill-fitting Pistons roster — with the unconventional setup of Bower having to ultimately answer to Van Gundy, the team’s president and head coach.
Also responding to the press conference from The Detroit News is columnist Bob Wojnowski, who says the Pistons must determine their winning model and run with it.
The Pistons made a lot of messes last season, and no one’s kidding anyone here. They’re a long way from serious contention, although not that far from the playoffs in the weak East. Van Gundy is a very good coach, but he can’t automatically turn Smith and Brandon Jennings into effective all-around players. He can’t even pluck a prize with a first-round pick, surrendered to Charlotte as the price for a past mistake.
This isn’t about past mistakes anymore, and in fact, it’s better to study Joe Dumars’ successes. You watch the Pacers implode in the playoffs and you gain more appreciation for the six consecutive trips the Pistons made to the Eastern Conference finals.
In a star-driven league, the Pistons are one of the few to buck the trend, with defense, cohesiveness and smarts. Since 1980, only nine franchises have won a championship, and only seven — Pistons, Spurs, Bulls, Lakers, Celtics, Heat and Rockets — have multiple titles. In the NBA, you either get lucky and land a superstar, or you collect good pieces and bind them with a strong leader.
Mlive.com’s David Mayo outlined what is happening in the front office as we speak after yesterday’s introduction of Jeff Bower. One of the questions that were asked had to do with hiring a white general manager and lacking diversity in the organization.
Van Gundy hired a white general manager. He welcomed a question about diversity in hiring.
“It’s a fair question and you should question us on it all the time,” Van Gundy said, adding that the Pistons contacted five general-manager candidates, three of them minorities. They were denied permission to talk to one potential candidate, he said.
The Pistons are known to have interviewed one minority candidate, Stu Jackson, and Van Gundy said he wants people “with different backgrounds, different perspectives.”
“I would just say wait until our staff is filled out and then we can really have a good discussion on where you think we landed on this whole issue,” Van Gundy said. “I’ve made one hire, so I think that’s a fairly small sample size.”
We shift from Bower reaction to one of the many questions surrounding this Pistons team as the new regime looks to build a championship contender. Pistons.com’s Keith Langlois released his latest mailbag yesterday. One of the many questions asked by readers was, “Is Brandon Jennings a championship point guard?”
That’s a question that’s probably not fair to Jennings at this point. The Pistons have a few hurdles to clear before they can ask about their readiness at any position or in any single facet of the game to win a championship. But it’s worthwhile to note that the 2008-09 Orlando Magic that went to the NBA Finals did so with Jameer Nelson as the starting point guard, a nice player but never an elite point guard, and got to the Finals with Nelson hurt and replaced in the lineup by journeyman Rafer Alston. Van Gundy told me a few weeks ago that Jennings has impressed him already with his eagerness to get going and his passion for competing. He said he’s seen Jennings have many games where he plays very well for most of the night, then makes a few plays that are head-scratchers. As his coach, he feels it’s his charge to help Jennings eliminate those plays. He’s obviously a gifted scorer – that’s been his calling card since entering the league – and an underrated playmaker, averaging nearly eight assists a game last year. He’s still only 24. He doesn’t have to be a great defender to elevate himself into top-10 point guard status, but his ability to improve on that end – and the system Van Gundy will put in place should help all of the Pistons contribute to better team defense, as his record suggests – will surely further his and his team’s cause.
And we leave you with the latest in the effervescent mock draft. The gang at Basketball Insiders puts together a great 60 pick mock with their staff. The mockers selected point guard Deonte Burton of Nevada, forward Johnny O’Bryant of LSU, forward Dwight Powell of Stanford and Serbian shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Tags: Detroit Pistons