|An opposing team's scout sizes up the Pistons|
The problem last year was that Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince were injured so they couldn't get off to a decent start, and then it snowballed. Now there are so many questions, and they're probably going to have to move Rip or Tayshaun -- or both.
Hamilton's value is not very high. When they were winning, he was their go-to guy, but he wasn't a LeBron James or Dwyane Wade or Kobe Bryant go-to guy. When they needed a basket, they called on him or Chauncey Billups. Hamilton fit into their team. But he was missing shots last year that he didn't used to miss. Maybe he was pressing because he felt like he needed to carry them.
He'd be a great fit for a team like Utah, which runs all of that action on the weak side. The problem is he makes so much money [three years and $38 million left on his contract], and you can't just plug him into any team. He wasn't doing it so well last year, but in previous years he was a great guy coming off the screen to catch and shoot, or take one or two dribbles. There are some teams that want their shooter standing still to space the floor. Hamilton would need to go to a team that uses screens, the way Boston does with Ray Allen.
Prince wasn't very good last year. I'm guessing he needs a change of scenery. He only has one year left on his deal, so the Pistons could trade his expiring contract and get someone who could put them over the hump. He's a fantastic defender and a point forward. He's so versatile that he can guard every position but center -- and I guess he can guard a few of those as well now. He's a terrific one-on-one defender, a great team defender and, offensively, he can do a lot. You can't leave him alone at the three-point line, and he has the ability to put the ball on the floor, he's a great passer and he can post up. In the playoffs, they used to go to him for mismatches in clutch situations.
Was trading Billups in 2008 a mistake? Yes. They needed to move somebody, but they picked the wrong guy. Then Chauncey was moved to Denver and that rejuvenated him, so maybe they can tell teams the same thing will happen to Prince or Hamilton or both.
Their perfect scenario is to start Hamilton and Prince, and then hope Ben Gordon is able to play some minutes with Rip. I think they want Gordon to be what he was in Chicago, and then to eventually become their starting 2-guard if Rip doesn't get it going or if they're able to move him. They can live with Gordon's size because they can play him with Rodney Stuckey, a big point guard who can guard the bigger 2s. I like Gordon as an instant-offense guy who is always going to be your go-to guy at the end of the game. Even if he doesn't become a starter, he can be valuable because you're always going to need somebody to carry your second unit.
Stuckey's already had a lot of experiences from being on a good team as a rookie and a bad team last year. The difference between him and Chauncey is that Chauncey was a terrific three-point shooter, but Stuckey is not able to make a jump shot with any consistency. He's like Chauncey in that he's strong and he uses that strength extremely well, but Chauncey needs to become his role model as a shooter. His shot looks ugly, though a lot of guys become better shooters in the NBA over time. He has the other tools: He can get into the paint, and he's strong enough to turn the corner on a pick-and-roll and get by a big guy to finish inside. But Detroit has to hope it doesn't take him as many years and teams to develop his shot as it took for Chauncey.
If they're able to move Rip or Tayshaun, then Tracy McGrady will get more minutes. I wouldn't give up on McGrady yet; plenty of guys have been able to recreate themselves over the years.
This is a huge year for Austin Daye. The Pistons will be hoping he can become a versatile shooter like Prince. Daye can shoot it, he handles it pretty well, he can pass and he can block a shot for you too.
Will Bynum is a good, hard-playing backup. He's good in the pick-and-roll as more of a shoot-first guy.
I don't see much of a difference between Jason Maxiell and Leon Powe except that Maxiell has been much healthier and has been paid a lot more money.
I'm not a Charlie Villanueva fan. He's on the soft side and he's a streaky shooter -- not what you think of as a Pistons power forward.
They'll miss Jonas Jerebko now that he could miss the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. He's an effort guy with strength and a nose for the ball. Any contender would be happy to bring him off the bench.
Ben Wallace remains a strong defensive pick-and-roll guy, rebounder and team defender. In the pick-and-roll, he is still able to help and stop the ball and then get back; if he has to switch, he can stay in front of the point guard.
Will they be able to run some offense through rookie Greg Monroe? It will be interesting to see how he does. The most important thing the Pistons can do is start to transition toward their young guys and begin to develop them. If they get off to a decent start, they might even have some playoff aspirations.