The Detroit Pistons are on the verge of a new era.
The first steps in this new direction began after the season concluded and the team decided to part ways with head coach Lawrence Frank.
Frank was eventually replaced by Maurice Cheeks. And while it is way too early to determine whether or not this move is the right one, the Pistons nonetheless are embarking on a new path.
The next step in redefining their identity as a franchise comes later this evening when the Pistons make their selection in the NBA draft.
There are plenty of different players that should be available for Detroit, and many of these players could certainly help the team moving forward.
But Detroit must find a way to draft Michigan's Trey Burke.
A Transcendant Talent
The Pistons are a team that has lacked an identity. They are trying to build themselves from the frontcourt first. Young big men Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond form one of the league's most talented duos.
And while Brandon Knight has shown glimpses of top-level talent, he has yet to put it all together. Whether or not Knight can become the point guard of the future for Detroit is perhaps the biggest debate around town.
One thing is certain: The Detroit Pistons have always been a franchise that has been defined by its point guards.
In the 1970s it was Dave Bing running the show. In the 1980s it was Isiah Thomas leading the Pistons to back-to-back titles. And just last decade Chauncey Billups was manning the point and led the team to six straight Eastern Conference Finals.
But since Detroit decided to deal Billups to the Denver Nuggets, it has been a rudderless vessel. Rodney Stuckey and Knight have both done their best, but neither is a true point guard.
The Pistons even brought in Jose Calderon last year, but that move didn't really clear things up either.
Detroit needs to find its point guard of the present and future, and the list of options is dwindling.
Calderon will likely not be brought back, and the rest of the free-agent point-guard crop is not likely to help this issue either.
Elite point guards like Chris Paul are not likely to consider bolting to Detroit; this franchise is just too far away from contention.
Trades also offer little relief, as not only are there too few good options out there, but in a point-guard-driven league, there are not going to be a ton of teams looking to deal their leaders.
For Detroit, the key to their point-guard future will come through the draft.
There are really only two elite point guards in this year's draft, Michael Carter-Williams and Trey Burke.
Carter-Williams certainly is a good player and should have a fine career, but he lacks the ability to shoot the rock from deep. Sure he could eventually develop this, but that is just too much of a gamble to take on such an important draft pick.
Burke is the most complete point-guard prospects in the draft.
He can shoot from anywhere on the court, he has elite quickness, and he has the mental makeup and leadership traits that you look for in a floor general.
Burke's draft stock has been steadily slipping this summer. After a storybook run in the NCAA tournament, Burke was at one point considered a potential top pick.
But questions about his athleticism and size have pushed Burke further down draft lists, and he now could find himself falling out of the top five.
And while the questions and concerns about Burke are valid, they are not the types of worries that the Pistons should have.
Burke's red flags are not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Sure, you would like your point guard to be a little bigger, but the Pistons have won with point guards that were his size or smaller.
The fact of the matter is that the Pistons need a true point guard. Burke is that player.
A Tough Get
Once the Pistons settle on the idea of drafting Burke, they will need to figure out just how to get him.
Sure, Burke could slip to the Pistons at No. 8 overall, but that seems unlikely. It is hard to see Burke dropping so far in the draft.
Instead, the Pistons must find a way to package their second-round picks and/or Rodney Stuckey for the shot at moving up in the draft.
If they could move into the top five, they should be able to get Burke.
Overall, this represents a pretty easy move for Detroit. It could certainly get by without two more second-round picks, especially since last year's picks are still developing.
A Move That Must Be Made
The Pistons need a leader, plain and simple. They have done a fine job of making the team better through the draft and have stocked the roster with quality players with good attitudes.
But this team doesn't have a leader on the court.
Not only would Burke get the fans excited again, but he would immediately make this team better.
Burke would make things easier for the big men and open up the flow of the game. He would also take some of the pressure off of Knight and allow him to focus on just scoring.
Sure, a starting backcourt of Burke and Knight would be woefully small. But perhaps the Pistons could develop Knight into a sixth man.
The simple truth is that the Pistons need a point guard and Burke is the best option out there. In a point-guard-driven league, Burke could finally bring the Pistons back.
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