Analyzing Detroit Pistons' Biggest Draft Needs

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Analyzing Detroit Pistons' Biggest Draft Needs
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press
The Detroit Pistons could take a flier on a high-scoring college guard.

The Detroit Pistons had to give up their 2014 first-round pick when the team fell to No. 9 in the lottery, but they still have a number of needs that could be addressed in the draft. 

Barring any moves they will have just the No. 38 pick on June 26. Finding a valuable player that late in the draft is far from a sure thing, but there are a few gems seemingly every year: Chandler Parsons (No. 38) and Isaiah Thomas (No. 60) in 2011, Lance Stephenson (No. 40) in 2010, Patrick Beverly (No. 42) and Danny Green (No. 46) in 2009, Goran Dragic (No. 45) in 2008 and Marc Gasol (No. 48) in 2007.

The Pistons can have as much as $20 million in cap space this offseason, so they will certainly fill some of their holes via free agency. But finding a rotation-level player in the second round would a coup from a salary-cap standpoint. Parsons, for instance, scored over 16 points per game for the Houston Rockets this season and had a salary less than $1 million, the fourth year of his rookie contract. He will cost them roughly the same in 2014-15.

Whether the Pistons move back into the first round or just draft at No. 38, new team president Stan Van Gundy will be looking to find a player who can fill a need and be part of their long-term plan.

 

Wing Depth

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Missouri's Jabari Brown shot 41 percent from three as a junior.

The Pistons had a very strong frontcourt in 2013-14 with their three big men banging down low, but they were very weak on the wings, where they lacked two-way players. Their outlook there for 2013-14 is even bleaker. 

With point guard Rodney Stuckey potentially out the door as an unrestricted free agent, the Pistons currently project to have a wing rotation of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Luigi Datome, Kyle Singler and Chauncey Billups (if he doesn't retire). The first two were disappointing as rookies in 2013-14: Singler was overmatched as a starter. and Billups has been healthy enough to play in only 63 total games over the past three years.

Josh Smith and Jonas Jerebko can take some minutes at small forward, but they're not as effective when playing out of position.

The Pistons need serious help here.

Ideally anybody they add on the wing will be a consistent threat from long range—the Pistons finished 29th in three-point percentage in 2013-14. Their big men can stand to have more space to operate in the paint, and adding some shooters will help in that regard.

Missouri's Jabari Brown, Oklahoma State's Markel Brown and Colorado's Spencer Dinwiddie could all be options here to improve the Pistons' perimeter offense.

 

Stretch 4

USA TODAY Sports
Baylor's Cory Jefferson has NBA athleticism and three-point range.

Beyond the two wing positions, the Pistons have a decent amount of depth at point guard and in the frontcourt. Brandon Jennings and Will Bynum have guaranteed contracts, and Peyton Siva and Billups may be back on the roster (Siva's contract has an early termination option).

In the post, they've got Andre Drummond, Smith and Greg Monroe, although it is highly possible that one of the latter two is gone before next season. Jerebko will be part of the rotation if he picks up his $4.5 million player option, and Tony Mitchell should see more minutes in his second season.

Of those five big men, only Jerebko is a threat from outside.

Which of these players would fit best with the Pistons?

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Van Gundy showed with the Orlando Magic and Dwight Howard that he liked to run his offense through a big man surrounded by four shooters. At power forward that typically meant playing Rashard Lewis, and with that style the Magic shot more threes than all but one team on their way to the 2009 NBA Finals.

Detroit needs to find players who can step away from the basket and hit open shots, which again will make Drummond's life in the low block easier.

Two senior power forwards in the draft, Baylor's Cory Jefferson and Stanford's Dwight Powell, may be able to fill that void and play a bit right away, should the Pistons go this direction. The 6'9", 220-pound Jefferson shot 36.8 percent from behind the arc last season. Powell made 45.5 percent of his threes as a junior (though that fell to 25.6 percent in his senior season) and stands 6'10". Either could fit in a Van Gundy offense. 

When it comes time to pick, the Pistons need to find a player with an NBA-ready skill who can compete for minutes right away. Ideally, that player will be able to knock down an open three.

They sure need someone who can.

 

All statistics from NBA.com unless otherwise noted. Salary info from ShamSports.

Jakub Rudnik covers the Detroit Pistons as a Featured Columnist for B/R. Follow him on Twitter.

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