Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pistons Drafting No. 9, Targeting Big Man

Pistons Drafting No. 9, Targeting Big Man
By Steve St-Pierre | @Steve_Courtside

The 2012 NBA Draft Lottery has come and gone, and the Pistons wound up staying where they were at and have the No. 9 pick in the first round of next month’s draft. Once again, they will be looking to acquire a big man.

This year’s draft class features a number of power forwards and centers, with Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, Kansas’ Thomas Robinson and Connecticut’s Andre Drummond expected to go well before Detroit’s on the clock. Instead, the Pistons will target several second-tier post players, including forwards John Henson of North Carolina, Perry Jones III of Baylor, Terrence Jones of Kentucky, Jared Sullinger of Ohio State and center Tyler Zeller of North Carolina.

The Pistons’ greatest need heading into the draft is a defensive-minded power forward to plug alongside center Greg Monroe. Jason Maxiell, a long-time Pistons reserve who wound up starting last season, has the option of opting out of the final year of his contract and becoming a free agent. While both sides are hoping for a return, the team knows it must find a legitimate long-term starter at power forward.

Henson would appear to be the best fit amongst the group of second-tier big men. Sullinger has a similar game to Maxiell but is better offensively. The Joneses are both arguably better suited for small forward, which Detroit has plenty of right now with starter Tayshaun Prince and reserves Jonas Jerebko and Austin Daye. Zeller, if drafted by the Pistons, would likely back up Monroe at center, though they could play together at times with Monroe sliding to power forward.

With the draft being held June 28, the Pistons have less than a month to work out and interview prospects. Clearly, the organization wants to get back to tough, defensive-minded, blue-collar basketball that it played when the team was most successful. The Pistons want somebody who brings that style and will embrace playing in the Motor City.

“To me, it’s the foundations on the defensive end,” says Lawrence Frank, Pistons Head Coach. “That’s when – despite everything – we have to maintain focus to get that one stop.”

“(It’s) about doing the right thing,” adds Tom Gores, Pistons Owner. “We have to represent a quality product in Detroit. We have to represent what we stand for in Detroit.”

The Pistons are already well-prepared for this summer’s offseason and have been in constant communication as a franchise.

“I’m pleased with the communication,” Gores says. “I can call Joe (Dumars, Pistons President) anytime. Joe calls me anytime, so I’m pleased…

“…In Joe and Lawrence, they’re talking every day. Part of our culture is to make sure communication is open and that you’re always speaking because when you talk and you communicate, good things happen…I can call Joe anytime. I’ll call Lawrence anytime. We have open communication.”

A year ago, the Pistons – along with the rest of the NBA – had a lockout to deal with, which cancelled both summer league and a full training camp. Once the Pistons have completed the draft, they’ll be able to participate in summer league play and have an entire offseason to finalize next season’s roster. This will also give the coaching staff the ability to make some tweaks to the playbook and integrate the new players.

“When we start next year,” Frank says, “we’re gonna have a lot of different, special situations that have happened to us both good and bad to incorporate into everything we do.”

“Hopefully, everybody this summer will work on what we need to work on and get ready for next season,” adds Prince.

What the Pistons do during the 2012 NBA Draft will set the tone for what will undoubtedly be a crucial offseason for the team’s development and overall growth. At No. 9, the Pistons know they won’t be getting a star player. However, they’ll need to make sure they get a player who fits their needs and gets them closer to returning to the postseason.

“We’ve just got to come in, and next year we’ll have a full training camp,” says guard Rodney Stuckey. “That’s gonna help out a lot. We’ll see what changes and stuff happen.”