The Detroit Pistons have had another underwhelming first quarter of the season. They are struggling to score, they have some under-performing parts and no real direction for the remainder of the season.
That is the bad news. The good news is that this team's lack of activity on the trade front as well as the free-agent arena are about to come to a close.
This is a team that has some big expiring contracts to play around with as well as some veteran players with value that have contracts that won't break the bank.
Time for a move
The biggest thing that Pistons fans can ask for this Christmas is a trade or two. This team has a number of veteran players that are hogging minutes that need to go to youngsters teeming with talent.
Jason Maxiell is object No. 1 on this issue. He has shown that he can rebound, block shots and hit a consistent 15-to-17-foot jump shot. He loves to absorb contact down low, and he is not showing any signs of slippage thus far.
Additionally, moving Maxiell essentially guarantees that Andre Drummond will take over the starting center spot. Drummond has been marvelous in small minutes and deserves a shot at starting.
Is there any doubt that a pairing of Drummond and Greg Monroe is the future? If not, why the suspense? Let the kid start.
Rodney Stuckey is another guy that could be moved. He is a dynamic sixth man on a team that doesn't really have a great starting lineup. This is a luxury that this team doesn't need. Plus, Stuckey's contract isn't terrible and could bring back some talent.
Tayshaun Prince is a tempting player to move as he has name-brand recognition and some skills on both sides of the ball. He also has a contract that won't destroy a team's salary cap.
Corey Maggette is yet another player that could fetch some talent given his expiring status, and he really isn't doing a whole ton to help this team.
Austin Daye has an expiring deal but little value outside of three-point potential. Additionally, Pistons fans would love to see this kid go.
Obviously, everyone wants Charlie Villanueva dealt. He has a bloated contract and only recently has become a regular rotation member. That being said, he has a long way to go before he improves his middling trade stock.
Overall, this is a team that is working with players that really have no place on their roster. This is a team that is young, athletic and needs to develop more of a character-driven environment.
The biggest wish for this team is to run into a general manager stupid enough to finally give them the benefit of the doubt in a trade situation.
The second thing to wish for is rookie development.
The Pistons are not a good team, but they have some good pieces. Greg Monroe has proven to be a very smart and skilled big man. He can pass, score and rebound better than most people his size or bigger.
But he can't do it alone; he isn't a franchise player, but he can be a part of the solution.
This brings in the rookies.
The Pistons have the luxury of having a bunch of kids that are on the cusp of being good. Andre Drummond looks like the real deal after only a quarter of the season.
Kyle Singler is a smart player that will most certainly be a big part of the future.
Kim English and Khris Middleton are both talented wing players that just need more time to develop.
The biggest wild card in this bunch is Slava Kravtsov. He is a big, athletic big man that likes to play defense and rebound. He seems like the perfect fit for this team, but he just can't get on the court.
The Pistons need to commit to playing their youth movement, and develop their young guys.
Besides, developing your rookies is the only way to instill hope for the future of a bad franchise.
An old direction
The Pistons, in my opinion, lost their way when they turned their back on what made them successful. This was a team that was built on defense and teamwork, yet they decided to double down on selfishness and finesse.
After dealing Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson, the wheels fell off of this team. They tried to play an up-tempo offense with a half-court team.
They further augmented the problem by signing Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon, two finesse players that hate defense.
Obviously, mistakes have been made, and I am not here to rehash the past. But it is worth noting that once this team decided to stray away from a defense-first mentality, they fell apart.
They really didn't do anything well, so they settled on mediocrity on both sides of the ball.
This team needs to get back to denying the ball at all costs and protecting the lane. The top Pistons teams over the last few decades have been warriors. This team needs to see that and build on it.
This team needs to become tougher and more focused. They take a ton of bad shots and rely too often on their opponents' mistakes.
This is a squad that is lucky to win games most nights.
They need to continue to improve on both sides of the ball and generate a swagger.
This team needs to ask Santa for not only a heart but a brain to develop their basketball chops.