Silver Linings from Detroit Pistons' Disappointing Season

Jay WierengaCorrespondent IApril 15, 2013

Silver Linings from Detroit Pistons' Disappointing Season

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    Without question, this has been a disappointing season for the Detroit Pistons.

    Many of their players took a step back this year and the team never came close to challenging for a playoff spot.

    That being said, this season hasn't been completely without worth. There have been numerous silver linings.

    The rookies mainly played much better than expected, the team was able to trim plenty of salary and they head into the offseason poised to reload.

    So before we wrap a bow on this abysmal Detroit Pistons season, let's take a look at some of the year's silver linings.

The Emergence of Andre Drummond

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    Without question, the greatest thing to happen to the Detroit Pistons in the last five years has been the emergence of Andre Drummond.

    When he was drafted, many pundits saw it as a high risk/high reward endeavor. Many pointed to his sometimes lackadaisical play at Connecticut and wondered whether he would be a bust at the next level.

    But Drummond has far exceeded anyone's hopes or dreams. He has shown tremendous athleticism, terrific defensive instincts and the ability to finish with flair around the hoop.

    Obviously he still has a lot to work on. His offensive game is exceptionally raw and he might be the worst free-throw shooter in the league.

    But Drummond has a lot of folks excited and is drawing comparisons to everyone from Shawn Kemp to Shaquille O'Neal.

Kyle Singler's Solid Play

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    Kyle Singler, in a lot of ways, has been a bit of a controversy.

    Since seizing the starting shooting guard role early on, he has received some venom from the local fans. Sure, he is not a natural shooting guard and he will always be at a disadvantage against more athletic wing players.

    But Singler was a second-round pick two years ago and those players rarely pan out. Singler has already proven that he has a very good career ahead of him.

    He may never be an All-Star or an All-NBA defender, but he can shoot the ball and play incredibly smart basketball.

    He also looks very good when paired with Greg Monroe, using the big man's excellent passing ability to his advantage.

    At the end of the day, Singler has proven that he is destined to have a long, steady NBA career.

The Reappearance of Jonas Jerebko

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    It is hard to believe, but just a few years ago Jonas Jerebko was perhaps the most popular Detroit Piston.

    Fans loved his energy, toughness and willingness to get his hands dirty.

    He played the game with such zeal and determination that fans saw him as a potential starter for this team.

    But a couple things happened. One, he got hurt. When players have severe leg injuries like Jerebko had, it takes a while to regain the trust and full range of motion needed to play the game effectively.

    And secondly, the Pistons changed coaches.

    Now it isn't Lawrence Frank's fault that Jerebko wasn't nearly the same player this year or last that he was as a rookie.

    But it certainly didn't help Jerebko's confidence when he was put on the bench and essentially sent off to pasture.

    However, in the past five games, Jerebko has re-emerged as a player on this team.

    Pairing very well with Andre Drummond as a stretch 4, Jerebko is knocking down three-pointers and grabbing boards.

    He's averaging almost 14 points to go along with five boards and 1.4 steals per game over the last five contests.

    Most importantly, he looks happy out there again.

Brandon Knight and His War with Adversity

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    Okay, so before anyone starts yelling at me for including Brandon Knight in a slideshow describing silver linings, let's take a look at what we learned about the young guard this year.

    He can score. It isn't always consistent and it isn't always pretty, but he can score from deep, get to the hoop and impact a game.

    He is also tough as nails. He has played through injuries, stepped up and been absolutely beaten up by guards that are much bigger and has even managed to live through one of the sickest dunks in recent memory.

    But through it all he just keeps on fighting. He refuses to give up or even give up an inch.

    Sure, he doesn't seem to be an ideal point guard or shooting guard. But he can shoot and score and players like him stick around this league.

    The key will be for whomever coaches this team next year to find the right role for him. will that be as a combo guard coming off the bench; who knows? But I know that I won't bet against Knight.

Huge Cap Space This Summer

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    In the past year, team president Joe Dumars made two moves that have put the Pistons into a great spot this summer.

    First, he dealt Ben Gordon to the Charlotte Bobcats for Corey Maggette and his expiring contract.

    Second, he dealt Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye in a three-team deal that resulted in Jose Calderon's expiring deal.

    Both of these players are unlikely to return, but that is besides the point.

    Those moves have cleared roughly $20 million from the Pistons' salary cap figure.

    Now here is where things get tricky. Fans are going to want the Pistons to make a move for players like Josh Smith, O.J. Mayo or Monta Ellis.

    This just isn't going to happen and with good reason. Those players are going to command a king's ransom. This isn't an overly great free-agent class and those players are going to get rewarded for it.

    But the Pistons learned their lesson from a few years ago when they last had this much cap space. They swung and badly missed on Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

    This summer, they would be wise to set their aim lower and grab one or two strong players that could fit in their system.

    A player like Corey Brewer would be a great option. He is athletic and plays fantastic defense on the wings.

    He also will be had for a lot less than what Ellis or Mayo will command.

    The wisest move would be for the Pistons to add one or two reasonably priced free agents this summer and then concentrate on drafting another stud and saving their money for next year's much deeper free agent class.