On February 9th the Detroit Pistons fired their coach Maurice Cheeks after getting off to a disappointing 21-29 start. This move was a bit surprising to some, but with talent that the Pistons acquired in the off-season they had playoff expectations. The Pistons are currently sitting in ninth place in the mediocre Eastern Conference but their record doesn’t match their talent. They added Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings in the off season to a core that includes Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. On paper, there is no way that this team shouldn’t be battling for the fourth or fifth seed in the East.
Since the Pistons won the championship in 2004 things have gone downhill. In the 2003 draft they selected Darko Milicic with the second overall pick in the first round. Although they still won the championship despite Darko being a bust, they passed up on franchise changing players like Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony. In one of the best drafts of all-time, GM Joe Dumars and the Pistons front office completely missed. Many picks have been missed since then too, and somehow the blame has always been put on the coaches and not the front office. Since they won the Championship in 2004 the Pistons have head five head coaches. At some point you have to wonder when GM Joe Dumars will be put on the chopping block. It’s a difficult situation because Dumars has helped bring three championships to the team (two as a player and one as GM).
The problem with the current Pistons team is that their players don’t quite fit together. Brandon Jennings is a talented player but he’s a score first point guard and only an average distributor. On a team with talented big men like the Pistons have they need a point guard who can feed the post and distribute in the pick and roll. Josh Smith is a talented player but because of the team’s young big men he’s often forced to play at the small forward position when he’d probably be better suited at power forward. Putting him at the small forward position often leaves Smith floating around the three point line where he’s only shooting 23 percent from this season. Smith’s career high for three point attempts came last season with the Atlanta Hawks when he shot 201 three pointers. In only half of a season with the Pistons this year he’s already shot 182 three pointers.
Andre Drummond is having a monster season this year averaging 13 points and 13 rebounds. He’s also been a force on the defensive end averaging 1.9 blocks per game this year. Drummond’s emergence as a force in the post has put Detroit’s other big man, Greg Monroe, in an interesting position. Monroe is talented but with with Drummond looking like the future of the organization you would have to figure that Monroe could be moved before the trade deadline. Trading Monroe would also allow Josh Smith to slide down to the power forward position where he can us his skill set better. The front office has some interesting decisions to make with the team going forward, and they should be one of the more active teams as the trade deadline approaches.