Detroit Pistons big lineup experiment failed miserably

The Detroit Pistons fell well short of expectations this season.

The offseason resounded with hope for the Motor City’s basketball squad. After drafting sharp-shooter Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with the 8th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Pistons made serious moves in July. The athletic Josh Smith headlined the free agency acquisitions. Chauncey Billups was brought back later that month to the team he once led to a championship, and Brandon Jennings was acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks via sign and trade.

These new-look Pistons seemed like a force to be reckoned with. The team was loaded with talent- big, young and hungry for a winning season. With a weak Eastern Conference, the team seemed destined to clinch their first playoff berth since 2009.

That didn’t happen. The revamped Pistons finished a measly 29-53 in a catastrophe of a season, complete with the mid-season firing of head coach Maurice Cheeks. To top it all off, President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars resigned (more like was forced out) with one game remaining.

detroit pistons

Dumars stepped down on April 14, 2014.

The team simply never found any cohesion. They flopped and produced another dud of a season. They rarely had chemistry and the pieces clearly didn’t fit.

Sure, 6-foot-9 Josh Smith, 6-foot-11 Greg Monroe and 6-foot-10 Andre Drummond looks like a formidable frontcourt on paper. Who would be able to rebound against such height? Not many — Detroit checked in at 3rd in the league in rebounds per game. But that wasn’t the issue.

In a league where the players get quicker every year and many teams are moving toward small-ball lineups, the Pistons opted to play big. And failed.

On defense, Monroe proved to be too slow for stretch forwards, Drummond was hardly ever in the right position and Smith was forced to guard much smaller and quicker players. Detroit finished near the bottom in defensive efficiency on the year.

On offense, the paint was constantly clogged up by the three big men, and the long-range shooting was too inconsistent all season long.

It was evident that Josh Smith didn’t belong at the 3 all season. He caused spacing issues that either left the paint too congested or resulted in him jacking up a three pointer. Smith launched a career high 3.4 threes per game, sinking a mere 26 percent.

detroit pistons

Smith struggled with his shot all season long.

Something needs to change this offseason because this big lineup experiment is going nowhere fast. Fans will go berserk if they have to endure another year of Josh Smith on the wing.

Greg Monroe seems the most likely to be moved. He is a restricted free agent starting on July 1, and the Pistons will have a decision to make should another team submit an offer.

Monroe has shined at times in his four season as a pro. He’s proven to be a quality rebounder and shown some good post moves. But the Pistons may not want to pay up.

Smith is under a big-money contract for another three seasons. Drummond’s contract is up in another two years, but there is no way Detroit is going to let the ultra-talented youngster get away.

Monroe seems like the logical odd-man out, assuming Detroit doesn’t find a trade partner for Smith before.

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