The Detroit Pistons lost their lottery pick in the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft. The Cleveland Cavaliers and a 2012 trade blunder can be thanked for that. And now the Pistons find themselves sitting not-so-pretty without a pick until the 38th overall in what many believe is the deepest draft in some time.
No, Detroit could not hope to land the likes of headliners Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, or Jabari Parker at pick No. 8, but Stan Van Gundy could have had his pick of the draft’s second tier of players; a pool that happens to be rather deep this year.
Found a way to sign-and-trade Greg Monroe? A replacement big man can be found: Vonleh, Randle, Payne, Gordon. Found a way to trade away Josh Smith? His wing position can easily be replaced with better shooters: Stauskas, McDermott, Young, Harris. Able to trade Brandon Jennings? Try a point guard who will actually hustle and play defense: Smart, Ennis, Anderson, Napier, Payton.
You get it.
If your team needs it, the first round’s got it. So shouldn’t the Pistons, who have obvious roster concerns, be looking to get into the first round mix? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a lottery pick even. I think a strong argument can be made that shows Detroit needs to be a part of this first round. Here’s three reasons in support of that argument:
1. Pending free agents
Greg Monroe is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1, while Rodney Stuckey joins that pool unrestricted. It’s unlikely that both of them will be back. The void their departures will create — being Monroe’s glass-eating and Stuckey’s ability to put up points off the bench — will need to be filled if the Pistons want to bring it together and be a playoff contender. Plenty of the aforementioned draft prospects (Randle, Gordon, Stauskas, McDermott, etc.) would be able fill the void.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was selected eighth overall in last year’s draft. He will cost close to $2.8 million in cap space for this coming season. Stuckey’s final year of his contract with the Pistons cost $8.5 million. The latter is 28 and entering his eighth year in the league. The former is 6-foot-5, 21 years old, and started half of the games last season. KCP has already proven to be a quality defender, and if he can translate his three-point shooting into the NBA then the Pistons have got themselves a more-than-capable wing that will cost under $9.5 million for the next three seasons. The NBA rookie scale locks these young guys into four-year deals for a fraction of what they are worth. Having young talent from the draft really frees up cap space to operate in free agency.
3. Desperate times call for…
Desperate measures. Detroit just finished their fifth-straight “rebuilding” year. The team that once made it to six straight Eastern Conference Finals has taken too long to bounce back. Head coach Stan Van Gundy knows that. New GM Jeff Bower knows that. Tom Gores, who is entering his fourth year as owner, knows that. Detroit fans are tired of waiting for this team to return to relevancy when they clearly have the talent to do so. A pick in the first round of this year’s draft will expedite, possibly even finish, this rebuilding project.
Know that Van Gundy, Bower and Gores are going to do their research and weigh all possible options in these three weeks before the draft. The phones are going to be active and Detroit should be looking to find their way into the first round. The draft takes place on Thursday, June 26.