I have a confession to make: I am a recovering Josh Smith apologist.
I’m a sucker for raw athleticism, and wanted Smith to be the guy at PF over the cement-footed Greg Monroe, who is appropriately nick-named “Moose.”The turning point for me was when I watched him play in person in Denver in the 2014 season opener. Monroe was suspended for the opener, and Smith took it upon himself to fill the antlered fellas’ void. What I saw was nothing short of remarkable. Smith single-handedly shot Detroit out of the game. 14-footers, 18-footers, long balls, the delusional Smith said “You’re gonna give me this?” Denver didn’t even attempt to guard Smith and he proceeded to build a brick house even The Commodores would envy. It became clear: I was dead wrong about Smith.
Then, finally some good news: December 22, the Pistons cut Smith! Owner Tom Gores eats $27M in dead money to send the much-maligned Smith packing. The Pistons used the stretch provision on Smith, so he will count a little over $5M/year against the Stones’ cap for the next 5 years. Not an ideal situation, but rumors were that teams wanted a Pistons 1st round pick to take on Smith’s bloated contract. Given that there was almost zero interest in Smith, I think we made the best of a terrible situation.
So, what now?
In Stan Van Gundy’s official press release, he stated that the move was to focus and develop the Pistons’ younger players. Translation: SVG has no interest in winning right now, he wants to build a team for the future. Contrary to popular belief in the Pistons community, Smith was not the only issue plaguing the Pistons. We were not a dynasty before he came on board. Here are a few burning questions that SVG hopes to answer this season:
1) Can Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond play together?
Sadly, we still don’t have an answer even though Drummond is entering his 3rd season with the team. Everyone likes to blame Josh Smith for Monroe’s efficiency numbers sliding, but Monroe’s decline began when Drummond arrived, not Smith. Monroe’s win shares/48 minutes are as follows (.10 is average score):
2012: .105 (Drummond’s first year)
2013: .106 (Smith’s first year)
In Monroe’s first two season’s he posted the best win shares/48 when he was playing almost exclusively as a 5. When Drummond arrived in 2012, Monroe was pushed over to the 4 spot, where he was forced to guard more athletic bigs in space, which proved difficult for Moose. Now that the distraction of Smith is gone, we will see a year-long audition of Drummond/Monroe or “Drumroe,” making it unlikely that Monroe gets moved before the deadline in my opinion.
2) Who is the answer at PG?
Honestly, I don’t think he’s on our roster. Brandon Jennings, is still the hot-and-cold, wildly inefficient chucker who can’t defend. I would love to see him traded for two cans of chunky soup and an XFL football autographed by “He Hate Me.” Augustin has some impressive efficiency numbers and solid 3 point shooter at 37% through his career. He’s a solid bench contributor, but unlikely to suddenly set the league on fire any time soon. The true wild card here is Spencer Dinwiddie. He’s an intriguing prospect at 6’6 out of CU Boulder, who would have went higher if not for injuries. Unfortunately, he’s received limited playing time due to being buried on the depth chart. If SVG is truly focused on building long-term, he should trade Jennings and see what Dinwiddie has to offer.
3) Who’s the answer at SF?
Yeah the SF spot is a dumpster fire, even with Smith gone. It’s my homerism showing, but I’m hoping for Draymond Green in the off-season, who has had a coming out party in his third NBA season. If not Green, maybe Stanley Johnson out of Arizona in the draft.
So there you have it, that’s my take on the state of the Pistons. It truly is an exciting time to be a Pistons fan, and expect more moves in the near future. Attached below are some pics from the home opener in Denver.