It's pretty much standard thinking around the league and Detroit in particular that the Detroit Pistons will build their roster for the foreseeable future around center Andre Drummond.
This is a solid thought, given that Drummond is one of the most talented centers in the league and is still years away from his prime. In a league that is trending toward undersized big men that spend their time on the perimeter, Drummond is a throwback that calls to mind athletic centers like Hakeem Olajuwon and Dwight Howard.
The Pistons still have some time before they are forced to entice Drummond with a contract extension, so they basically are on the clock. They have two years to convince their center of the future that he needs to sign his next deal with the Pistons.
So what exactly is the ideal roster to surround Drummond with?
When I think about the Pistons situation at point guard, I can't help but be slightly miffed. Like scores of Pistons fans out there, I really thought that Trey Burke was the ideal player to plug into Detroit.
Burke showed last year, especially during the NCAA Tournament, that he could really be a Godsend for offensively challenged yet athletic big men. Burke made Mitch McGary look like Patrick Ewing during March Madness, and had McGary opted for the pros, he would have likely been a borderline lottery pick.
Burke is so adept at putting his teammates in a position to succeed while still opening up the floor with his own skill set offensively.
This is exactly the type of point guard the Pistons need. They need someone that can break down his opponent and get to the rim while still understanding how to put the ball in his big's hands.
Additionally, their point guard of the future should have range on his jumpers.
There have been rumors for years that Detroit is interested in Rajon Rondo, and he certainly would be an upgrade. But ideally, they would get someone that could open up the floor with his range. Rondo just can't do that, although it would be intriguing to see Drummond with a pass-first point guard.
There aren't a lot of natural point guards available, and the Pistons still have two more years of Brandon Jennings on their books.
Given the fact that Jennings has been mostly awful this season, it seems like the Pistons are in a bind at the point position.
Again, if only they would have drafted Burke.
The Pistons are desperate for good shooting from deep. They have been so desperate over the last couple years that they have even plugged in Kyle Singler at times at the 2-guard spot. Singler honestly has no business playing guard in this league. He lacks the quickness and lateral foot speed to play the position.
But at this point, he is pretty much the only decent shooter from deep on this team.
The Pistons need a shooter at the off-guard spot, but they also need some athleticism. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could still turn into that player, but he just hasn't impressed thus far.
The ideal shooting guard in the league would be Arron Afflalo, but, of course, the Pistons already had him but let him go.
There aren't a lot of great options in free agency this year, and the draft should be challenging as well.
As far as the latter goes, there are three very intriguing options: Gary Harris from Michigan State, Rodney Hood from Duke and my favorite of the bunch, Nik Stauskas, from Michigan.
Harris is your typical athletic guard that plays with a good head on his shoulders and could develop into an excellent defender at the next level. He plays a lot like Tim Hardaway Jr. but is more athletic.
Hood is a lanky wing that probably needs to add to his frame a bit. Some Pistons fans might see a newer version of Austin Daye.
Stauskas, however, is the real deal. He is athletic, long and has perhaps the best-looking jumper in the college game. He also plays with a swagger and should be available—if the Pistons retain their No. 8 overall pick this year.
The Pistons haven't had an elite small forward since Grant Hill left town 14 years ago.
Tayshaun Prince showed flashes of brilliance but never fully realized the potential that made the Pistons pass on Carmelo Anthony in the 2003 NBA Draft.
This year, the Pistons have been an embarrassment at the 3. Trotting out Josh Smith, a natural power forward with very little range, has been a huge failure.
The Pistons have been the worst shooting squad from deep, and they have very little spacing down low. Detroit really needs a small forward with range and athleticism, but even without the latter, they need the former.
A slasher would be great, but that doesn't seem likely. Unless they win the lottery this year and have a shot at Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, that probably isn't going to happen.
There aren't a lot of great wings out there that are available via trade or free agency. Rudy Gay is always on the trading block, but his teams seem to do better once he leaves.
LeBron James obviously isn't coming to Detroit, and Anthony has turned into an offensive black hole with little interest in defense.
In all likelihood, the Pistons will probably have to make Singler their small forward of the future unless they can get lucky in the draft. But this position is going to have to be handled very creatively because there aren't a lot of obvious choices laying around.
This is the most interesting spot going forward.
That isn't because this position is the most important. But rather, because the Pistons have two players already on their roster that are very talented yet aren't perfectly suited to this team.
Greg Monroe has spent the bulk of the season as the Pistons starting 4. He has excellent size, nice post moves and is a solid rebounder.
The problem is that he isn't a power forward. Monroe is ideally suited to be a center in this league.
The Pistons need a power forward with athleticism and some range. Ideally, that would be Smith. But he hasn't been a good shooter this year, and despite his athleticism, he gives up on way too many plays.
But Smith has a very large contract that the Pistons will be hard-pressed to unload.
Monroe is going to be a restricted free agent, so the Pistons will have the right of first refusal.
But given how in-demand big men always are, it seems likely that another team will give him a max contract or something close to it. The Pistons would be foolish to match such a deal, so it seems likely that they are going to lose their big man without compensation.
The team would have been much better off dealing him at the trade deadline this year, but who knows what was going on there. Team president Joe Dumars is likely a lame duck, so maybe management put some restrictions on him.
Or perhaps the team thinks they can re-sign him.
However, this team does not have the ideal fit opposite Drummond at the 4 either way. Ryan Anderson from the New Orleans Hornets would be the ideal fit, but he is not a realistic option.
It seems likely that the Pistons will be trotting out Josh Smith at the 4 for the foreseeable future.
The Pistons lack any of the ideal parts to pair with their talented center, Andre Drummond. The only players that could fit even in a pinch are Kyle Singler and Josh Smith, and they are far from ideal.
The Pistons needs a major overhaul. They need improvement at point guard and shooting guard in particular and are woefully understaffed at the other spots as well.
This isn't going to be pretty, but the sooner the Pistons formulate an actual plan, the quicker they can maximize their talent.
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