The Detroit Pistons have been quietly improving this offseason since hiring Stan Van Gundy as their president of basketball operations and head coach.
While their latest moves haven’t been praised as much compared to other teams in the Eastern Conference, to say that they won’t finish better than last season’s overall record of 29-53 is a bit of an understatement.
By bringing in Jodie Meeks from the Los Angeles Lakers, it immediately upgrades their outside shooting, something that was utterly embarrassing in 2013-14, in which they finished 29th from beyond the arc.
They have also added more veteran depth to the bench by acquiring free agents Caron Butler and D.J. Augustin, as well as Cartier Martin and Aaron Gray.
Despite his agent David Falk in attempting to work out sign-and-trades with multiple franchises, including the Portland Trailblazers and Oklahoma City Thunder, restricted free agent Greg Monroe will reportedly sign a one-year qualifying offer with the Pistons, guaranteeing that the big man will don the red, white and blue for another season.
But what has most Pistons fans giddy is third-year center Andre Drummond, who according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, has a probability of receiving a max contract because of his production these past two seasons.
Comparatively, Drummond isn’t nearly the sure-fire bet that Davis and Lillard are, but given the growth of Drummond over the last two years, there is little doubt that Drummond is a special talent. The debate on whether to include him on the “franchise” list boils down to “would you start a franchise around him” and in most cases the answer is likely yes. Although, admittedly Drummond might best be suited in the next tier, the truth of the matter is Drummond likely gets a max contract, which locks him in as a franchise player for the Pistons.
The former UConn Huskie was essentially the lone bright spot for the Pistons last season during a period of hardship and setback.
Point guard Brandon Jennings couldn’t seem to find a role in Maurice Cheeks’ system and the Josh Smith experiment at small forward was a failure from the start.
Drummond, a ninth overall pick by the Pistons in the 2012 draft, averaged 13.5 points, 13.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 81 games for Detroit last season. He also shot 62.5% from the floor and had a wins shared of 9.9.
It’s hard to deny that Drummond’s future with Detroit looks bright, especially since that he’ll have an opportunity to learn under a head coach that has experience with working with big name centers.
As a former coach for the Miami Heat and Orlando magic, Van Gundy was able to instruct the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard, both of whom in which appeared in consecutive All-Star games during their tenure with the 54-year old.
Add the fact that Drummond could possibility make the 12 man roster for the U.S. men’s national basketball team this summer and you have yourself a diamond in the rough in the next few years.