The Detroit Pistons seem long removed from making six straight Eastern Conference Finals. The team's success passed along with former owner Bill Davidson. Joe Dumars contributed by making many questionable moves along the way.
It was an era that came to end when they traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson. This bad move was compounded with the free agent signings of Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon. The Pistons are still stuck with Villanueva and had to trade a future first round pick to get rid of Gordon. The free agent signings can only be described as desperation at this point.
The Pistons have also had a revolving door at coach. They struggled through three of them. Fans watched painfully as Michael Curry, John Kuester and Laurence Frank led their team to losing records.
The Pistons made a big push this offseason. They signed big free agent forward Josh Smith to a four year, 54 million dollar deal. The offseason also signaled the return of fan favorite Chauncey Billups. This time, Billups is back in a mentoring role and will likely have a job in the front office when his playing career is done.
Other signings included Italian league MVP Luigi Datome. Datome brings the Pistons size and outside shot ability to the small forward position. The Pistons also resigned point guard Will Bynum.
Many fans were disgusted with the draft when the Pistons passed on Trey Burke with the 8th pick. Dumars selected Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who was mostly unknown to fans. Common sense would have told you the Pistons would have went with Burke or at least a point guard with the pick.
However, everything seemed to make sense when the Pistons traded for point guard Brandon Jennings. The move was a little surprising seeing as Billups gave the impression that he was going to start at point guard.
Jennings comes from a Milwaukee team that has struggled over the years. He was burdened with a mediocre supporting cast and was forced to take more shots than necessary. He has only shot over 40% once in his four year career which is somewhat worrisome. He was acquired in a sign and trade for Brandon Knight, Viacheslav Kravtsov and Khris Middleton.
Jennings said in his press conference that he will be a different point guard. He said he will return to his high school roots where he looked to his teammates first instead of his shot. He later went on to say that the Pistons could become the "Lob City" of the Midwest. Jennings press conference was encouraging but means nothing until we see him on the court.
The Pistons hired Coach Maurice Cheeks to help mentor their young guards like Brandon Knight. Even though the Pistons ended up trading Knight he should still play a role in the further development of the twenty three year old Jennings. Jennings needs to become a more rounded player on both sides of the court.
After a few years of dreadful seasons, the Pistons are getting back to their roots. Along with Billups, the Pistons brought in Rasheed Wallace as an assistant coach. He should have a positive impact on the team's young big man. Hopefully his impact is just the development of their post moves and not their technical foul tendencies.
If nothing else this Pistons team should be fun to watch. The team is built with athletic freaks and all star caliber talent. I would be surprised if the team didn't make the playoffs this year. The Pistons have effectively rekindled my love for the Pistons. Fans are getting excited again and they should be. Hopefully, these players will find chemistry and shot balance because if they don't Dumars will be looking for a new job.