Detroit Pistons Draft: Ty Lawson Should Be Selected At No. 15
Detroit’s disappointing 2008-2009 season will surely lead to a roster overhaul.
General manager Joe Dumars promised changes last summer, and delivered by shipping NBA Finals MVP and team leader Chauncey Billups to the Denver Nuggets for former league MVP and prolific scorer Allen Iverson.
The Billups-Iverson deal backfired, with Denver making a deep playoff run and Detroit exiting the playoff early for the first time since 2000.
The move did show Dumars’ determination to make daring roster modifications. He is armed with four draft picks (one first-rounder and three second-round selections) and roughly $17 million in cap space this year.
The front court is severely lacking a star player, with only Kwame Brown, Amir Johnson and Jason Maxiell as the remaining big men. Detroit has been rumored to be in the market for Utah forwards Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap, as well as other players like Knicks forward David Lee.
With a lack of ready big men in the upcoming draft, free agency will be the easiest and surest way to alleviate Detroit’s front court problems. A possible first-round target is 7’ Ohio State freshman center B.J. Mullens, though he is nowhere near a finished product and would take years to develop.
The selection of Mullens would also indicate the Pistons are in a comprehensive rebuilding mode, and might get rid of Richard Hamilton.
Hamilton is 31 years old and signed a three-year, $34 million dollar contract last summer. His contract and age could possibly force him out of the city if he doesn't request a trade.
A rebuilding of the team doesn’t have much need for a 31-year old making $10 plus million, especially when free agent Ben Gordon—a reported Pistons target—is 26 years old, and could be looking for his Chicago exit after turning down over $50 million in each of the last two offseasons.
While the draft seems to be lacking in talented big men, it is stocked with an absurd amount of quality point guards.
The player that Detroit ought to draft at No. 15 is former North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson.
Lawson was at the helm of a very talented North Carolina championship team, and set a record for eight steals in the final against Michigan State. He is a true point guard with tremendous speed, though he is a little undersized (which is why he’ll probably be around at pick 15).
Detroit lacks a true point guard after the Billups trade, and attempted to make young stud Rodney Stuckey the team’s long-term point guard.
It was a rocky season for the Pistons, who handed the reins of a veteran team to a sophomore in training (Stuckey) after losing their leader (Billups).
Lawson’s selection can solidify the position for Detroit, allowing Stuckey to move over to a more natural position: shooting guard.
North Carolina teammate Wayne Ellington had this to say about him:
“I feel like he's become more of a leader for us," Ellington said. "He's always been our quarterback out on the court, but I feel like he's doing a great job by leading by example, and just showing a lot of toughness. I think that kind of gets us going. When Ty gets going out there and he's making plays defensively and beating guys offensively, I feel like it gets the rest of us going."
Dumars stated last offseason that any Piston could be dealt for the right price, excluding Stuckey.
This offseason, Dumars doesn’t feel Stuckey can be a full-time point guard and may need to be relieved at times by backup Will Bynum. This was confirmed by Dumars statement, “The thing with Stuckey, I don't think he's a 48-minute-a-game point guard.”
Bynum scored double-digit points in 11 games during the last month of the NBA season, giving the Pistons a valuable weapon off the bench.
His success late in the season gives Detroit options at the point, though it seems unlikely Bynum would take over full time, leaving room for the selection of Lawson.
Lawson’s arrival would give Detroit a few different options at guard, and possibly give Detroit cover if they dealt Hamilton and moved Stuckey to shooting guard.
If Hamilton stays with Detroit, he would form a solid group of guards with Stuckey and Lawson, adding quality depth with Bynum and Arron Afflalo.
Lawson could prove to add leadership to a team sorely lacking in the department, and could be another piece to help restore Detroit’s former dominance of the Eastern Conference.
His selection would give the Pistons a solid point guard instead of another project. Whether that project turns out to be on the endless list of busts like Kwame Brown, Rodney White, and Darko Milicic, or turns out to be a superstar, remains to be seen.
Detroit will know they’ve acquired a solid performer in Lawson, who led his team to a college championship.
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