Detroit Pistons Post-Lockout: 5 Steps to Righting the Ship
The Pistons were an abomination last season. With memories of Chauncey draining big threes and Tayshaun blocking Reggie Miller from behind dancing through our heads, it's Ben Gordon’s bad contract and Rip Hamilton's tirades that clouds our vision.
The Pistons are a proud franchise and will rise again. There is a lot of work to be done, however. When life after the lockout begins, the Pistons will need to get to work. The roster lacks elite-level talent, but has building blocks. Here are five steps to righting the ship that is the Detroit Pistons.
1. Hire Bill Laimbeer
If there is one thing that the Piston’s were known for when they were successful, it was toughness. The Bad Boys are icons in Detroit. Guys like Rodman and Salley embodied the toughness that is the Motor City.
Bill Laimbeer would bring the toughness back to Detroit. He would demand it—he did when he was a player and when he was with the Shock.
Detroit has had a brutal lack of defense and rebounding over the past several years.
The hustle part of basketball has just been lacking entirely. It has shown in the win-loss record. Laimbeer would not tolerate this. Even though he would be a first-time NBA head coach, his history and presence would command the respect of this team.
2. Place an Emphasis on Defense
The Dallas Mavericks didn’t exactly show it, but defense is the building blocks of championship teams. Last year, Detroit was the 16th-best defensive team in the league.
For a team that is known for its defensive prowess, this is unacceptable. The Bad Boys are gone, but there is no reason for the defensive effort to be mediocre.
While this is clearly not the same team that locked teams down in the middle of the decade, it is still part of the Piston identity. Getting back to physical, grind-it-out basketball is the only way to return to the upper tier of the league.
The pieces are there, too. Stuckey and Brandon Knight are both good athletes. Under the right tutelage, they could blossom into stoppers. Gordon could also be a good defender if he wanted to, the effort just hasn’t been there.
In 2004, when the Pistons won the title, they did not have the most offensive fire power in the league, yet they were successful. To overcome the lack of game-breaking talent, the defense has to improve.
3. Improve on the Glass
The Pistons were dead last in the NBA in rebounding last year. Let that sink in for a second. Dead last in rebounding.
Gone are the days when Ben Wallace was hauling in 20 boards per game. This current Pistons team lacks any true rebounder. Greg Monroe, who started at center for a lot of the year, is a finesse player, not somebody who loves to mix it up down low. The rest of the roster is riddled with aging veterans and guys who never panned out. Nobody was willing to hit the boards last season.
This is obviously the biggest need going forward. While Tyson Chandler is the marquee name out there, there are several players that could help the Pistons out in this area.
Guys like Joel Pryzbilla, Nene, Jeff Foster, Leon Powe, Aaron Gray and Samuel Dalembert could all slide into the pivot and provide a rebounding presence. I personally think that signing Leon Powe and Samuel Dalembert to team-friendly deals could make all the difference in the world.
4. Establish Brandon Knight as the Point Guard
The Stuckey experiment needs to end. He is not a point guard. He never will be. It is time to give the keys to Brandon Knight and let him develop. There is no need to bring in a veteran point guard to mentor him; that whole idea is overrated and redundant.
By the time the lockout is over, Knight will practically be a seasoned NBA vet. He will have lived the life for a while and will have gotten over the culture shock that is the NBA.
Knight is as talented as it gets. He can stroke the three and distributes surprisingly well for a guy who is truly more of a combo guard. In due time he will be a top-flight point guard.
Having your floor general established and ready to go will be a huge load off of the rest of the team. Once you have established your leader, everyone seems to fall into line.
Let's be honest, this is going to be a long process. Last year was bad, but it could get a whole lot worse before it gets any better. There really just isn’t that much talent on the roster, and the talent that is there seems haphazard.
The roster will need a small overhaul and the team philosophy needs a complete overhaul. It's going to take patience from Joe Dumars—and even more patience from the fans of the Pistons.
This is not an impossible journey that the Pistons are on, but progress should be steady, if slow. Adding Laimbeer and toughness is the first step, piecing in the skill players will be the finishing touches.