The Detroit Pistons are in a position that is not exactly unique to them. They are a team that has a lot of young talent, but not enough to make the team a contender.
They are overall a bad team, but not bad enough to potentially be rewarded with the top overall pick in the draft.
They have some potential trading chips, but nobody that they are overly giddy to deal that has strong value to other teams.
For better or worse, this team is stuck in a holding pattern.
However, some of the players have taken this challenge to heart and are still working hard to improve the team and their own stock.
After the first trimester of the season, here are the players whose stocks are rising and falling.
Early in December, it appeared that Brandon Knight was starting to figure things out. He was scoring with panache and was even beginning to show some improved abilities as a distributor.
But that run of successful games is over.
Since scoring over 20 points in five straight games during early/mid December, Knight has noticeably cooled off, only touching 20 points once since. Mixed in are some single-digit performances.
This team is far from a finished product, but a lot of their future depends on the development of Knight, and right now he looks somewhat lost.
Isn't it funny that Will Bynum was in basketball purgatory just a couple weeks ago.
He was relegated to the bench with little chance of re-emerging in the lineup. But as Bynum has always done, he seized the opportunity to step up when it presented itself.
Over the last couple weeks, Bynum is averaging nearly 17 points per game to go along with five assists.
He isn't turning the ball over and he is providing a needed shot in the arm for this team.
Jason Maxiell started December with a bang, providing the Detroit Pistons with a valuable interior defensive presence and popping the occasional top of the key jumper.
But since his inspired play, he has come back to Earth and has only scored in double-digits twice in the past five games. His blocks are also down and his energy level is clearly flagging right now.
For Detroit as well as Maxiell's sake, he had best figure out this funk in a hurry as his upcoming free agency beckons after the season.
On a relative basis, it is safe to say that Andre Drummond is not just seeing his stock rise but rather surge.
He is averaging nine points and 10 boards over his past five games. Drummond is also providing much needed energy to go along with his athleticism.
Drummond has been compared to a number of players both past and present, but in my opinion his game at this point is the spitting image of Shawn Kemp.
He plays above the rim, has endless energy and tremendous shot-blocking instincts.
Charlie Villanueva, like Will Bynum, was an afterthought for this team just a few weeks ago.
Saddled with a nearly unmoveable contract, Villanueva was destined to ride the bench until after next season when his contract runs out, but coach Lawrence Frank decided to give the disappointing big man another shot.
Villanueva has not disappointed.
Gone are the notions that Villanueva will ever become a serviceable rebounder or defender. What he can do, however, is knock down three-point shots. As a prototypical stretch four, he creates space and allows big men like Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond space to operate.
In his last five games, Villanueva is averaging over 14 points per game and nailing over 53 percent of three-pointers.
Rodney Stuckey may have finally figured out his role in the NBA. Oddly, it takes him back to where he began, coming off of the bench to provide a change of pace to go along with energy and scoring.
The Detroit Pistons have abandoned plans to turn Stuckey into a shooting guard, just like they abandoned plans to make him a point guard.
Stuckey is a combo guard, capable of minutes at either guard spot. Coming off of the bench allows Stuckey to showcase his talents without any pressure to perform.
In his last two games, Stuckey scored 17 points per contest to go along with nearly 10 assists. He recently has been battling back issues, but once he returns he should pick up right where he left off at.
It was a lot of fun to watch rookie Kyle Singler get a chance to start early in the season. He provided the team with a nice perimeter threat on offense and it allowed Rodney Stuckey to return to his more natural spot coming off of the bench.
And while Singler still predominantly plays the right way, his numbers have torpedoed of late. Of his last 11 three-point attempts, he has hit only one of them.
Could he be just hitting the rookie wall a little bit ahead of schedule? Perhaps. A more scary possibility for Detroit Pistons' fans is that the league has figured out that Singler is fairly one-dimensional on offense, and as long as they chase him off of the three-point line he is not a threat.
I hope he gets it together, as he is a smart player that could help this team for years to come.
Tayshaun Prince has seemingly been with this team for its entire existence. And while the fans maintain a somewhat strained relationship with the "Prince of the Palace", Tayshaun has really come on of late.
And while Prince's numbers are basically the same right now as they have been for over a year, his contribution has been much more evident lately. Prince has become this team's go-to guy in the fourth quarter, providing veteran leadership to a team that is comprised mainly of youngsters.
That being said, it wouldn't shock the world if Prince was eventually moved to a contender. But for now, Prince is right where he belongs.
I will admit it, I am biased when it comes to Austin Daye. I really don't like his court demeanor and the way that he seems to skulk around. He lacks strength to play the big forward spot, and he lacks quickness to play on the wing.
He doesn't have good defensive instincts and his rebounding is a joke.
But when he is feeling it, he can really knock down a three-point shot.
Over the course of his last five games, Daye is hitting an astounding 75 percent of his three-point shots.
Now is this sudden playing time an audition for next year's squad or to play up his trade value? Either way, he seems to be peaking at just the right time.
Greg Monroe doesn't have a lot of peaks and valleys. Overall, he pretty much plays at the same level for weeks at a time.
Sure, he will have the occasional low point, but it really is just relative.
Most nights you can count on about 15 points and about nine boards. He sometimes goes for more, he sometimes goes for less. Take the last five games. The first three of those five saw Monroe struggle to score more than 10 points and grab eight boards.
Over the last two games, he is averaging 16 points and 10.5 rebounds.
Look for Monroe to stay right about the same all year long.
Corey Maggette might be the league's most expensive cheerleader.
Sure, he has been a nice mentor to the young guys and can be seen often counseling one of his proteges.
But he no longer provides any value on the court.
He can't hit a perimeter jumper to save his life, and his once great quickness, athleticism and strength have all taken a step back. Maggette does little now to help this team that will show up in the box score.
At least his contract comes off the books after the season.
This may seem like a cop-out, but how exactly do you devote whole slides to players that never get off the bench?
Each of these guys has a gripe for why he should be given more minutes. Kim English might be the most natural shooter on the team, and this team doesn't always shoot so well. Why not give the young man a chance?
Khris Middleton is a lanky wing player that provides some athleticism and hustle. For a team lacking both, it seems like a nice fit.
Slava Kravtsov, some have mentioned, seems to be having difficulty mastering the American game as well as the English language. But he is big and athletic, two traits that would be nice to have on this and most teams.
Jonas Jerebko might be the most curious of this bunch. The darling of the home crowd over the past few years, Jerebko started the season slow and was yanked right around the time that Lawrence Frank initially shook up his roster.
Since then, he rarely gets off the bench. Why exactly is it that Jerebko doesn't get any minutes? He is a long energy guy that provides athleticism and toughness. And even if he can't hit an open three-pointer, wouldn't he benefit from minutes ahead of a guy like Austin Daye?