Detroit Pistons

Maurice Cheeks Needs Pistons to Draft Shabazz Muhammad to Turn Franchise Around

Maurice Cheeks needs Shabazz Muhammad on his roster.
Maurice Cheeks needs Shabazz Muhammad on his roster.Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Benjamin KleinContributor IIIJune 11, 2013

The hiring of Maurice Cheeks solves one of two major problems that face the Detroit Pistons. The other is the lack of future star power, which is expected to be taken care of at the 2013 NBA draft, where Detroit has the eighth overall pick.

The Pistons announced the decision to hire Cheeks on Monday, according to the team’s official Twitter account:

Cheeks is the former head coach of the Portland Trailblazers and Philadelphia 76ers, most recently serving as an assistant on the Oklahoma City Thunder staff for the last four seasons. Now, Cheeks, who is two games under .500 in his coaching career, will have a third try at running a team.

But the only way that Cheeks is going to be able to turn the francise around is if the organization lands a star at the draft. With the No. 8 pick, the Pistons are bound to have a couple of options as to whom to select. Various mock drafts have Detroit landing Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. McCollum, Anthony Bennett and Shabazz Muhammad.

While there are likely to be other options for the Pistons, those four college stars make the most sense, taking into consideration what Detroit needs. The Pistons don’t have a point guard for the future and could also use a perimeter shooter.

Rodney Stuckey might not be in Detroit after this season, and unless Brandon Knight starts to play better, he isn’t going to be the starter at the point for much longer. Tayshaun Prince was the team’s top forward, but Detroit traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies. Jose Calderon was the team’s best guard who can shoot and now he’s a free agent.

The Pistons desperately need a star that can shoot. It doesn’t matter which of the three positions—point guard, shooting guard or small forward—he ends up playing. Detroit just needs him on the floor as soon as possible and hopefully producing like a top 10 pick is expected to.

Of the aforementioned prospects, Muhammad is the one that fits what the Pistons need the most. The only way the Pistons are going to be able to turn the franchise around is if Cheeks has Muhammad playing alongside of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond for the next couple of years.

Here is what Muhammad did for UCLA in his one and only season with the Bruins:

G MPG FG% 3PT% FT% RPG APG PPG
32 30.8 44.3% 37.7% 71.1% 5.2 0.8 17.9

Impressive, right?

Muhammad still has a few things to work on—such as shooting off the bounce as well as improving his jump shot, which seem to be the two biggest concerns—but Cheeks shouldn’t have any trouble assisting the future face of the franchise. It’s not like Cheeks doesn’t know how to coach, he just hasn’t had the best players—or luck.

With Muhammad on the roster, the Pistons have the opportunity to go from one of the worst teams in the NBA to a team that could fight for one of the last spots in the playoffs. Just nine games separated Detroit from a postseason berth. Adding Muhammad might be enough to win those additional nine games next season.

While getting Cheeks to coach the Pistons is a good move for Detroit, he isn’t going to win many games with the current roster. This draft might be one of the most important for the Pistons in a very long time. If Cheeks can’t get Muhammad, it might not be the end of the world, but the difference will be noticeable.

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