With the NBA free agency period more than a month underway, many teams have signed the players they’ve wanted, while many others have sat back and watched other clubs improve their rosters.
The Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations, Joe Dumars, came into this summer saying he wanted to fill the void his team had in their athleticism and perimeter size during this off season. Through the draft, free agency, and trade, Dumars did just that.
During the 2013 NBA Draft, Dumars selected shooting guard Kenatvious Caldwell-Pope out of the University of Georgia with his 8th overall pick. Pope is said to have a natural scoring ability (18.5 PPG) and effortless range (37% 3PT) in a classic shooting guard frame.
In the second round of the draft, Dumars went after 6’9″ forward Tony Mitchell out of the University of North Texas. Mitchell is an athletic combo forward with an intriguing skill-set . He runs the court extremely well and is a frequent target for lob passes in transition. He has the size to play either forward position, standing about 6’9″ with a long wingspan .
He’s also a great defender, Mitchell blocks a lot of shots and creates a lot of turnovers, and has the potential to be an even better defender with added experience.
Lastly, Mitchell is a relentless rebounder both offensively and defensively. Some teams had Mitchell as a mid-first round pick, but he fell to the Pistons early in the 2nd round.
The Pistons were one of the first teams to splash a big name player once the free agency time period began on July 1st. That big name free agent I am referring to is forward Josh Smith. The Pistons signed Josh Smith to a 4-year $54 million contact.
With Josh Smith, the Pistons get a player who is able to spread the floor, which is especially important since they have other big men such as Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond clogging up the paint area. Smith’s athleticism and ability to shoot the three ball are both attributes Dumars was searching for during this offseason.
The Pistons then added a familiar face in Mo’Town by signing guard Chauncey Billups to a 2-year, $5 million deal. Billups was the Finals MVP in 2004 for the Pistons when they beat the Lakers in 5 games to secure their 3rd ever NBA Title. Billups will bring leadership and perimeter shooting to a team that lacked both categories last season.
Last but not least, the Pistons added Luigi Datome, who is a 6’9″ forward from Italy, in which scouts say he can “shoot the lights out of the ball.” Datome agreed to a 2-year, $3.5 million deal with the Pistons.
Datome was Italians league MVP last season. He is a player who consistently shoots better than 50 percent from the field and 40 percent on 3-pointers, and a ready-made player who has played professionally since 2003. Some scouts say that his game is similar to fellow Italian Danilo Gallinari of the Denver Nuggets.
On July 30, the Pistons and Bucks agreed to a sign-and-trade deal which sent Brandon Jennings to Detroit and Brandon Knight to Milwaukee. In the deal, Jennings, a restricted free agent, would be receiving a three-year, $24 million contract with the Pistons.
Jennings, 23, averaged 17.5 points and 6.5 assists in 80 games for Milwaukee last season. People have mixed feelings about the Jennings acquisition, but I believe it will be a good move for the Pistons.
Jennings has somewhat been inefficient for the Bucks in his young career, but still is extremely talented with a solid amount of upside. But with a 55-point contest already in his back pocket, that shows you the ability Jennings has with taking over a game.
With former playoff teams like the Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks making moves during this offseason that somewhat screams “Hey, we are tanking this season for the talented 2014 NBA Draft,” that should make room for a team like the Pistons to make the playoffs in this upcoming season.
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