Quick, can you name the team that has the 5th most championship appearances? How about name the team that is tied for the 6th most championships in history? That’s right, the Detroit Pistons. With the Pistons recent slide (6th straight seasons without a playoff appearance), it’s hard to remember this franchises rich history. During the early to late 2000’s, this is a organization that had been the ultimate example of consistency, collaboration and smart decisions; rivaled only by the impending Spurs dynasty.
However, for every Richard Hamilton straight up for Stackhouse trade, or the Chauncey Billups resurrection, or fleecing Orlando into “throwing in” Ben Wallace in the Grant Hill sign/trade or the shrewd move to acquire Rasheed Wallace at the deadline, there are the Ben Gordon, Charlie Villeneuve signings. The coaching carousel. The Allen Iverson trade. The Josh Smith mistake. Trying to make pieces fit that don’t fit. The list of blunders goes on and on. Most hardcore Pistons fans will point to the Darko Milic pick of 2003 as the beginning of the end of its dynasty (IMHO it was the death of longtime owner Bill Davidson). A more comprehensive look goes beyond Darko or for that matter Davidson. It’s been a myriad of bad personnel decisions that have changed the course of this franchise. That’s why this draft is so important. It will take more good trades and smart free agent signings. Detroit, not the ideal destination for most free agents, needs great drafts to be among the upper echelon again. And Stan Van Gundy is hoping to put his mark on this franchise tonight and change the course of Detroit basketball.
There’s no secret that today’s NBA is all about shooting. In some respects, it always has. But there is more emphasis on “stretch 4’s” and “3 and D” players. Stan himself utilizes this philosophy when implementing his offensive system. He did it in Orlando. He is trying to do it in Detroit. But Detroit (much like Orlando and Miami), also has what is a rare commodity, a really good, athletic center. Which is why flooring spacing and shooting are so necessary. Fans shouldn’t get too discouraged and think that the team is going to transition from the Bad Boys, hard noised style that we love about the Pistons. SVG recognizes that, “you’ve got to be able to respond to the way people play. I think as the game has spread out more, people talk about the offensive part of it, but there’s also a defensive part” (Van Gundy to Detroit Freepress writers earlier this week).
But in order to fully recognize Drummond and to a lesser extent Reggie Jackson’s full potential, they need to be surrounded with a different type of athlete. So with the 8th pick tonight, Detroit is sure to look for outside shooting while also employing the “best player available approach.” Will it be Justice? Will it be the mysterious Croation Hezonja; he who has ties to the franchise? Will it be Johnson or Grand Rapids native Booker? Detroit has a great young core to accelerate the rebuild. Whoever is ultimately picked, tonight is the beginning of restoring glory a franchise that desperately needs it.