Detroit Pistons: Realistic Stat Projections for Each Team Member in 2012-13
Detroit Pistons' fans are finally starting to feel a sense of optimism.
They have gotten lucky with their last few drafts, and if this year's rookies can hold true to what their predecessors have done in the last couple years, there is no telling what this team can do.
That being said, expectations still should be guardedly optimistic as most of the players on this roster are relatively untested.
In fact, the bulk of the frontcourt depth is occupied by players who have yet to play a professional game in the NBA.
So, are we headed for a playoff run, or will it be back to the lottery?
Here is a look at realistic expectations for every member of this year's Detroit Pistons ball club.
Brandon Knight, PG
Brandon Knight's brief Detroit Pistons career has been marked by pleasant surprises.
First, the Pistons were delighted that Knight, a projected top-three pick, fell to them in the draft two years ago.
Second, Knight played with rare maturity and actually helped resurrect the career of shooting guard Rodney Stuckey.
Third, Knight has embraced the role of team leader, improving his strength during the offseason and working on his distribution as he led the Orlando Summer League in assists.
Knight takes a major step forward and becomes an All-Star-caliber point guard.
15 ppg, 6.5 apg, 3.0 tpg (turnovers)
Rodney Stuckey, SG
Rodney Stuckey enjoyed a pleasant career resurgence last year, and there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic for even more improvement.
First, Stuckey embraced the role of shooting guard and primary perimeter scorer, a role ideally suited to his style of play. He was not a point guard, and now, we can see what he can do when playing his proper position off the ball.
Second, Stuckey decided to seek psychological help, which led to an overall change in his demeanor and body language on the court. He is no longer the immature, petulant wanna-be star.
Third, the Pistons have improved their perimeter defense, bringing in Corey Maggette to help with more physical opponents. This will help to save Stuckey for the offensive end of the court.
Stuckey further embraces his new role and becomes a breakout scorer.
18 ppg, 45 percent from the field, 33 percent from three-point range
Tayshaun Prince, SF
Tayshaun Prince has been a loyal, hard-working player that has bridged the gap between past great Pistons teams and this year's squad.
While much of his best basketball is behind him, he still has plenty of value for a young squad that needs at least a few veterans around.
Prince still is a smart defender, but now, he mostly is known for his team defense and attention to detail.
He no longer has the athleticism or quickness to stay in front of elite small forwards.
Offensively, he still has that pretty left-handed hook in the post, and he can still hit the occasional three, but his numbers are not going to be heading in any other direction but down from here on out.
Given the Pistons' depth at small forward, they can afford to scale back Prince's minutes, which leads to more efficient play.
12 ppg, 4 rpg, 44 percent from the field, 28 mpg
Greg Monroe, PF-C
Greg Monroe is quickly becoming one of the best big men in the league.
With a game that is eerily reminiscent of Bob Lanier's, Monroe has improved in nearly every aspect of his game since his rookie year.
And now that Detroit finally has some big bodies to help protect Monroe on both sides of the court, we should only see those numbers get better.
Monroe was millimeters away from an All-Star berth last year, and with any luck, this year should be his first.
Monroe, with less of a defensive responsibility, takes a major step forward on the offensive side of the ball.
18 ppg, 11 rpg, 3 apg
Jason Maxiell, PF-C
Jason Maxiell is not your typical big man.
He is undersized, lacks a back-to-the-basket offensive game and relies heavily on his imposing upper-body strength during an era where most big men are built like swimmers.
That being said, he is certainly the big man whom coach Lawrence Frank is most comfortable with next to Monroe.
Maxiell has never been someone to fill up the box score, and with his added responsibilities as an interior defender, he has quickly become a sort of latter-day Don Reid.
Maxiell does more good than harm and is simply a big body who plays strong interior defense.
7 ppg, 6 rpg, 50 percent from the field
Corey Maggette, SF/SG
Most Pistons fans responded with outright jubilation at the news that Ben Gordon and a draft pick were traded for Corey Maggette.
The Gordon experiment went terribly wrong over the last few years, and it certainly was welcome news that the Pistons would be out from under his terrible contract.
So, how exactly does Maggette fit in Detroit?
In all honesty, he really doesn't need to do much.
The Pistons are only on the hook for one year from Maggette, so they can do one of two things.
Either they can showcase him early in the season, giving him big minutes at small forward and shooting guard in order to boost his trade value, and then deal him at midseason.
Or, they can just ride out his remaining year on his contract, filling him in behind Stuckey and Prince in spot duty, especially utilizing him against physical offensive players.
Either way, the Pistons will win with this situation.
Maggette shines in his new role with Detroit and helps take some of the burden off Stuckey and Prince.
10 ppg, 4 rpg, 45 percent shooting from the field
Jonas Jerebko, F
Jerebko is just what you want in a Detroit Piston.
He is energetic, works hard, and doesn't back down from anyone.
That being said, he is kind of a 'tweener. He isn't quite strong enough to be a power forward, and he isn't quite quick enough to be a small forward.
This makes him the ideal first forward off the bench.
Ideally, Jerebko will get most of his minutes at the three, shifting Maggette into more of a shooting guard.
The one caveat here is that Kim English is sure to get some minutes at shooting guard, and Kyle Singler will likely become a contributor at small forward.
Jerebko beats out Singler for the primary backup small forward and eats into Prince's minutes.
8 ppg, 5 rpg, 35 percent from three-point range
Kyle Singler, SF
To me, Singler was the second-biggest surprise from the Pistons during the summer league.
He was quicker, more athletic and stronger than he appeared at Duke.
He also had better touch on his three-point shooting.
Sure, this could all be fool's gold brought on by the summer heat and a lack of elite competition. But, it also could be the start of a solid career.
Singler challenges Jerebko for minutes, and the Pistons decide to let Maggette ride the pine.
5 ppg, 3 rpg, 35 percent from three-point range
Andre Drummond, C
At one point, Andre Drummond was considered a potential No. 1 overall pick.
But, after a lackadaisical year at Connecticut that included wildly inconsistent play, he saw his name slip to the middle of the lottery.
The Pistons were waiting with open arms, hoping that they once again had struck lottery gold.
Drummond looked raw and unfocused in the summer league, which is to be expected; he really hasn't been coached in nearly his entire career.
But with a strong dose of coaching from Lawrence Frank, Drummond could develop into a big man whom the Pistons can build around.
But, expectations must be tempered at first; this man is going to be a project.
After riding the pine in the first half of the season, Drummond becomes a regular during the second half and flashes signs of brilliance.
3 ppg, 4 rpg, 1 bpg
Slava Kravtsov, C
Granted, I have only seen highlights of Kravtsov, but it is easy to get excited about Detroit's newest import.
Standing nearly seven feet tall with great athleticism and solid bulk, Kravtsov could be a handful.
He has a very raw offensive game without ideal rebounding instincts, but he looks like a good shot-blocker and an explosive finisher.
If he picks up the NBA game quickly, he could be a regular rotation player within a month of the season.
He takes to the game like a duck to water and is the first big man off the bench to spell Maxiell.
5 ppg, 6 rpg, 50 percent from the field
Kim English, SG
If Kyle Singler was the second-biggest surprise for me during the summer league in Orlando, Kim English was certainly the biggest.
English, a second-round selection this year out of Missouri, was thought of by most as a pure spot-up shooter who lacked the ideal athleticism and size to make it in the NBA.
But, English showed a willingness to hustle, play defense and even take the ball off the dribble on occasion.
He also showed why most love his jumper.
Overall, he looked like he could be the next Arron Afflalo for Detroit.
English models his game after Afflalo and becomes a good defender and continues to knock down his jumper. He becomes the primary backup to Stuckey.
4 ppg, 42 percent from the field, 35 percent from three-point range
Will Bynum, PG
Based on the number of players that Detroit has on their roster, it seems hard to figure where Bynum fits.
However, the team does not have any depth behind Knight at point guard aside from Bynum, so Will should continue to have his number called.
Typically, however, he only will be used in certain situations.
In many cases, the Pistons will simply shift Stuckey to point guard to give Knight a breather, and then use Maggette or English as the backup shooting guard.
But, Bynum should still get his fair share of minutes.
Bynum shows a knack for playing with Stuckey and sees his minutes rise.
5 ppg, 2 apg, 40 percent from the field
Khris Middleton, SF
Middleton, a long, scoring swingman, started out his college career with quite the flourish.
That being said, he had a very disappointing end, and as a result, slipped all the way to the second round of the draft.
The Pistons envision him as a poor man's Kevin Durant, using his length and scoring ability to get easy points off the bench.
But right now, the team's deepest position is small forward, so it seems unlikely he will get off the bench much this year.
Due to either trades or injuries, Middleton is able to step in and show that he is a versatile scorer.
2 ppg, 1 rpg, 10 mpg
Austin Daye, SF
Austin Daye is easily the most disappointing Pistons first-round pick since Darko Milicic.
He has regressed each season, and now, not only is he too weak to play most positions but actually saw his shot become a liability last year.
As of now, he is likely stuck behind Prince, Maggette, Jerebko and Singler on the depth chart.
It is hard to see how he can move up the chart, especially considering that everyone above him has shown much more desire and perseverance than Daye. Can you see Daye outhustling Singler or Jerebko for minutes in practice? Neither can I.
Daye gets traded.
3 ppg, 2 rpg, 12 mpg
Charlie Villanueva, F
If Daye is the most disappointing first-round pick for the Pistons in a while, then Villanueva is certainly the most disappointing free-agent pickup in over a decade.
Villanueva only manged to play in 13 games last year as a result of injuries and ineffectiveness.
Villanueva does not fit with the team's current mantra of hard work, determination and motivation.
Charlie is more of a malcontent who gets by based on his former reputation and doing the absolute least expected of him.
If he stays the entire year with Detroit, it will probably be as an undressing reserve.
Frank lights a candle under this bum, and he figures out his immense talent. He starts to rebound like a guy his size and...OK, I can't write this with a straight face. If Charlie gets through with only two dozen "DNP, Coaches Decision" it will be a miracle.
2 ppg, 1 rpg, 15 games played