Over the next couple of months, I will be a writing a series of articles exploring the depth charts of NBA teams, and more specifically, where the rookies from the 2011 draft fit into those depth charts. Thanks to MTD for the idea. Also, for the sake of my sanity, I will be writing as if there will actually be a season this year.
Previous Installments: Cleveland, Minnesota, Utah, Washington, Charlotte
Just a few short years ago, the Detroit Pistons were amongst the NBA's elite, perennial playoff contenders. Now they find themselves in the midst of a massive rebuild. Saddled with a couple of bad contracts, the only way to get back to where they were is to have patience and build through the draft. And that is exactly what they are doing.
#8 - Brandon Knight
- Position: Guard
- Measurables: 6'3" 177 lbs
- 2010-2011 Statistics: 17.3 ppg, 42.3 fg%, 37.7 3fg%, 79.5 ft%, 4.2 apg, 4 rpg, 3.2 topg, 35.9 mpg
After taking a big man early in the 2010 NBA Draft (Greg Monroe), Joe Dumars and the Detroit front office decided to add talent to their backcourt with their 2011 lottery pick. Brandon Knight is a talented player, but like most of the guards already on the roster, he is more of a combo-guard than a true point.
Strengths/Weaknesses breakdown via Draft Express.
Three years ago, Detroit had to decide whether they were going to keep the veteran Chauncey Billups or move forward with the young Rodney Stuckey. They chose youth over experience and Stuckeybecame the man at point guard. After a less-than-stellar three years, Detroit again faces a similar decision as Stuckey is a restricted free agent. Stuckey's potential could lure in a couple teams, and if a team offers him a long-term contract worth starter money, Detroit would be wise to let him go.
Will Bynum is an offensive spark of the bench who always seems to make something happen when he's on the court. He's a solid back-up point guard.
Tracy McGrady signed a one-year deal with the Pistons in order to show that he still had something to offer teams. He played well enough to earn a look from playoff teams in need of guard depth.
Ben Gordon is one of those bad contracts mentioned in the intro. He is, however, a proven scorer and because of that he will get his playing time.
Rip Hamilton is a long-time Piston, but after some conflicts with the organization this past season, it's time for him to move on. Detroit should be looking hard as soon as the lockout ends to find an interested team, and a trade should be made either before the season or by the deadline.
Terrico White is a young combo-guard that will likely be retained as a developmental prospect to fill out the roster.
Knight's place on the roster: The Stuckey decision could mean a twenty minute per game swing in Knight's playing time as a rookie. If Stuckey returns, Knight will be slotted as his back-up getting perhaps ten to fifteen minutes per game. A small backcourt with the two playing together is a possibility as well, as Stuckey is 6'5" and Knight's shooting ability would compliment Stuckey's penetration well.
Knight still has a long way to go as a point guard. His ball-handling, shot-selection, and ability to draw fouls all need serious improvement. He is probably best served to play a back-up role as a rookie while he learns to play the position from an experienced veteran. The issue here is that Stuckey is far from an ideal mentor for a young player in Knight's situation.
In this situation, it might be for the best to let someone else over-pay for Stuckey and give Knight a chance to prove himself. Although he still has a long way to go in order to shake the combo-guard label, he did improve his point skills at Kentucky as the season played out. Give Knight the starting role and allow him to learn on the job.
Expectation: My expectation is that Stuckey departs and Knight is named the opening-day starter. However, he will be splitting time with Will Bynum as he grows into his role. 12-14 ppg, 3-5 apg, and 2-3 topg in 28-30 mpg. Having said this, Joe Dumars is sure to re-sign Stuckey to a big deal and bury Knight on the bench.
#33 - Kyle Singler
- Position: Small Forward
- Measurables: 6'9" 228 lbs
- 2010-2011 Statistics: 16.9 ppg, 43 fg%, 32.1 3fg%, 80.6 ft%, 6.8 rpg, 34.8 mpg
Detroit used the first of their two second round draft picks on Kyle Singler. Singler is one of the most experienced players taken in the draft after staying at Duke for all four years and helping to lead his team to a 2010 NCAA title and two Sweet Sixteen appearances.
Video by DukeBluePlanet
Tayshaun Prince is another hold-over from the 2005 title team, and just like his teammate Hamilton, it is time for him to move on. He is a free agent and every contender with a hole on the wing should come calling.
Jonas Jerebko was a pleasant surprise for Detroit as a rookie in 2009-2010 before missing last season with an achilles injury. He split his court time between the two forward spots in his first season, but he has reportedly put on twenty pounds of muscle. That added weight should help him to hold his ground in the post, but it may slow him down and limit his ability to defend on the perimeter. If he has managed to maintain his mobility he will likely get a chance to earn the starting small forward spot.
Austin Daye is the other player that figures to get a shot at Prince's vacated spot in the starting line-up. The sharp-shooting wing from Gonzaga will be moving into his third year in the league, and the Pistons are hoping the enigmatic young man can take a big step forward.
DaJuan Summers has signed with a team overseas and will not be back.
Singler's place on the roster: Singler will not play a big role in his rookie season. However, if he can consistently knock down shots he could get some back-up minutes at the three.
Expectation: Singler will replace Summers and fill basically the same role. He could see a few more minutes if he is able to impress, however. 3-5 ppg and 1-3 rpg in 7-9 mpg.
#52 - Vernon Macklin
- Position: Forward/Center
- Measurables: 6'10" 243 lbs
- 2010-2011 Statistics: 11.6 ppg, 59.3 fg%, 45.1 ft%, 5.4 rpg, 24.5 mpg
The Pistons rounded out their draft by using the third and final pick on the 24-year-old big man from Florida, Vernon Macklin. Despite his age, Macklin still has some potential due to his athleticism and length and could very easily make the roster.
Greg Monroe is the team's lottery pick from 2010 who played very well despite not getting consistent playing time nor being featured on offense as much as he could have been. Detroit will be looking for him step up and take on a bigger role as a sophomore.
Jonas Jerebko, as has been discussed above, has put on some muscle and could be playing more at the four this year.
Charlie Villanueva is the other bad contract anchoring the Pistons. He has been very disappointing during his first two seasons in Detroit, but he will continue to get some playing time at power forward.
Jason Maxiell is an energy big off the bench, and will be Macklin's primary competition.
Ben Wallace is still manning the middle for Detroit, but his minutes will likely continue to decrease this season.
Chris Wilcox is a free agent who likely won't get much attention from other teams. But Wilcox was a serviceable big for the Pistons and a return to Detroit is likely.
Macklin's place on the roster: Macklin was somewhat of an underachiever during his time in college. But he has NBA-level physical tools and a fairly reliable right handed hook shot, which should be enough to get him on the roster so the Pistons can take a look at him.
Expectation: Macklin makes the roster but does not suit up on most game days. An injury could give him a chance to impress, however. 2-4 ppg and 1-3 rpg in 6-8 mpg.