Detroit Pistons: Can Joe Dumars Build Another Championship-Caliber Team?

Mike B.Correspondent IJanuary 29, 2012

The Detroit Pistons currently dwell in the NBA's basement, owning an unpleasant 4-17 record.

And as a result, there have been plenty of empty seats this season in the team's home arena, the Palace of Auburn Hills.

But the picture hasn't always been so dark and gloomy.

Just a few years ago, the Pistons were perennial title contenders. They reached the Eastern Conference Finals six consecutive seasons and won a title in 2004, defeating the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.  

Pistons president and Hall of Fame guard Joe Dumars played a huge role in the team's success.

Hired in June 2000, Dumars made his first major move two months later, sending Grant Hill to Orlando in a sign-and-trade deal for Ben Wallace. At the time, the trade appeared awful for the Pistons. Hill was one of the top players in the game, while Wallace wasn't exactly a well-known superstar.   

However, Dumars would eventually look like a genius. Hill would be sidelined by injury for a great deal of his time down in Florida, while Wallace emerged as a four-time Defensive Player of the Year and the heart and soul of the Pistons.   

Dumars would enjoy an outstanding 2002 offseason as well, drafting Tayshaun Prince late in the first round, signing future Finals MVP Chauncey Billups, and trading Jerry Stackhouse to Washington for Rip Hamilton.    

Dumars hired legendary coach Larry Brown in 2003 and then acquired the missing piece of the championship puzzle, Rasheed Wallace, at the '04 trade deadline.

Joe D did a great job at building an elite ball club in the Motor City, but can he do it again?

There's a lot of people out there who wouldn't hesitate to say no, looking at some of the bad moves that he's made over the years. Examples include passing up Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in favor of Darko Milicic in the 2003 draft, trading Billups for Allen Iverson, and overpaying Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

Okay, so Dumars has made some mistakes—nobody's perfect—but he does have the ability to turn this current rebuilding team into something special. 

Superstar free agents like Dwight Howard and Deron Williams aren't going to go to Detroit anytime soon, so it's imperative that Dumars builds through the draft. His last two lottery picks, Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe, appear to be future stars, and 2009 second-rounder Jonas Jerebko is a solid ball player as well.

The Pistons will more than likely land a top five pick in this June's draft, which is expected to be the best since 2003.

There will be a plethora of talented youngsters available such as Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis, Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger and Thomas Robinson. With that said, Dumars will have a great chance to draft someone who can form a terrific trio with Monroe and Knight for years to come.

Many fans in Detroit believe Dumars has lost his touch and should be fired. No one can deny that his rebuilding project hasn't looked pretty. But he can get the Palace packed out like it used to be. Just be patient.