OT-In defense of Joe D

Submitted by ijohnb on June 28th, 2013 at 10:28 AM

It was meant to be.  It was the right move.  It was the only move.  The stars had alligned perfectly.  We were not going to have to let go of Trey.  He was still going to be able to be our guy.  And then David Stern read the name of some guy named Pope and anger, disbelief, and frustration all came together to produce such declarations as "I am never going to watch the Pistons again."  These reactions were natural.  Visions of Trey nailing a 3 to cement a win with the crowd going crazy as the Palace were strong visions in deed, strong enough to turn a pick that was questionable at best into a pick that made perfect sense.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The problem is that the pick never really made sense.  Professional sports is a business, investments are made.  Brandon Knight was an investment.  Perhaps he is not a point guard in the John Stockton sense, but he is quite a hike from two guard, and while Brandon Knight has certainly been up and down, frequently down, through his second year, I can't say that there is enough of a sample size at this point to simply cash in those chips and start from scratch at a position that Joe checked off his list of needs when he drafted Knight just two season ago.  Reports of Knight being "terrible" and other such descriptions are overblown.  Softomore slumps are not the exception but the norm in the NBA, Knights was a little more perceptible than most, but to label Knight as one of the primary problems with the Pistons roster is absurd.  In fact, to the contrary, the Pistons roster is littered with players that have proven that they are servicable at the point.  True, at the moment, both Calderon and Bynum are unsigned at this point (I believe), but there is no reason to believe that they won't resign if presented with offers.                                                                                                                                                                                                  Trey Burke is a special talent, but the Pistons are trying to build something.  I don't think a log jam at the point when other needs could easily be filled makes a whole lot of sense.  And while the product on the court is far from optimal at this point, there are the peices to make this team into something formidable in the short term, and like it or not, a wing/two with the ability to create his own shot is the glaring defeciency in the Pistons roster at this point.  Pope looks like he has this in spades, and if a talented two guard on the floor only means that I have to look at Rodney Stucky any less than I currently do it cannot be that bad of a thing.   Nobody wanted to let go of Trey Burke yet, and the sudden possibility that we would not have to made a bad fit look like a perfect fit, and lead many of us to a conclusion that anything else but Burke was objectively the wrong decision.  It may have been, only time will tell.  However, let's see how this kid looks before we write off the Pistons for ever.  There is the chance that the Pistons got the steal of the draft.  His very presence will certainly not stir up the images of glory to us as Trey would have, and the Palace will not enjoy the month of (articifical) sell-outs like Trey Burke would have.  But I am both a Pistons fan and a Michigan fan.  I am mostly a Michigan fan.  The Michigan fan in me hated the pick, but after considering the fact that the Pistons are not the extension of my favorite college team, it may just be that my maize colored glasses convincted me of something that was not in the cards from the get-go. 



June 28th, 2013 at 10:42 AM ^

I want my Trey Burke memories to say at Michigan, honestly it would have been almost impossible for him to exceed expectations in Detroit. I won't sat go jazz but I'll root hard for Trey and THJ
Go Blue


June 28th, 2013 at 10:43 AM ^

I was disappointed in the move, but then I realized that if Burke played for any other team in college, I wouldn't give a shit that we drafted a solid SG, that we also need badly, instead. 

Maize.Blue Wagner

June 28th, 2013 at 11:19 AM ^

Wow this is the best logic I've seen yet, and sums up my feeling exactly. Sure I would have loved to see Trey come to the Pistons. However, while I realize Knight is the end all of PGs, I believe he's at least servicable. I think the Pistons' biggest need is scoring, and therefore their target should have been a 2 or a 3. I don't know if KCP will fill that need, but to me Singler, Jerebko, Stuckey, etc not filling the scoring need is a greater certainity than Knight not being a serviceable PG. 

Colin M

June 28th, 2013 at 11:41 AM ^

People keep saying that PG was our biggest need, when we actually had tons of glaring holes in our roster. We don't have a quality PG, SG or SF. We also need a solid back up big, but it doesn't make sense to use a lottery pick on a back up. This was a solid pick, end of story.


June 28th, 2013 at 3:49 PM ^

And 36 times teams passed on him for a reason. Nothing wrong with a flyer on a guy in the 2nd round; the right kind of pick there. But it's not some genius move unless he doesn't end up like every other 2nd round pick, out of the NBA in a couple of years.

Colin M

June 28th, 2013 at 4:19 PM ^

It sounds like you agree that it was a good strategy. Obviously we won't know how good Mitchell is for a couple years, but there's an argument that given his potential he would have been worth the risk in the first round. The fact that we got him in the second round (where the opportunity cost is lower) makes it an even bigger no brainer.

I think it makes sense to evaluate GM performance over a long period using outcomes, but for individual drafts and/or picks I prefer looking at the strategy because even if you use the right strategy every time a certain percentage of picks will bust. Historically, Dumars hasn't demonstrated an understanding of strategy. For instance, his logic for picking Drummond was that he was projected to go high and dropped (he said something similar for Knight). Drummond turned out to be a great pick but there were tons of red flags (his college stats were terrible) and he went in the lottery so the success of that pick feels more like luck to me. 


Michael Scarn

June 28th, 2013 at 10:46 AM ^

Been said elsewhere but taking a SF the year before a loaded SF draft is ridiculous.

Also, Darko Milicic, Chauncey Billups, Allen Iverson's shell. That's all you need to know about Joe D.

Colin M

June 28th, 2013 at 11:46 AM ^

KCP is a SG. We picked a SF (Tony Mitchell) in the second round, but second rounders don't get guaranteed contracts so it's the perfect place for a boom or bust prospect like Mitchell. I also don't think it's wise to bank on the fact that next year will be loaded with 'X' type players. You take the best player available that fits your need and go from there.

1989 UM GRAD

June 28th, 2013 at 10:47 AM ^

Been a Pistons and Michigan fan since the mid-'70's, so I've seen my share of ups and downs for both teams...and would've loved to have seen Trey in a Pistons uniform.

That being said, there isn't anyone on the roster who can shoot or create his own shot.  The Pistons desperately need scoring, and Pope appears to be have the potential to do so.  So, we've gone from the Palace Prince to the Palace Pope.

Pistons fans also need to give Knight more of a chance.  Chauncey Billups wasn't exactly lighting the league on fire during his first five years.  Conley, Lawson, Holiday and other PG's took three or four years to turn in to the stars they appear to be/becoming.

I've also tired of the Dumars bashing.  First of all, can we just put the Darko thing to rest?  He was the consensus #2 in the draft.  Denver would've selected him had we passed on him. 

Secondly, Dumars has shown an aptitude for spotting talent.  I'm not going to take the time to look it up or create a chart, but I'm guessing he's had as many late first round and second round picks become successful as any other GM over the past ten years. 

Has he made some mistakes? 

Absolutely.  His early free agent signings were strong, but Gordon and Chuckie V were certainly epic failures. 

The coaching carousel has also been an issue.  That being said, getting rid of Carlisle and Brown were Davidson's decisions, not Joe's.  And, he was hamstrung for many years after Bill Davidson's passing..in terms of how much he could spend on hiring a coach.

Finally, we need to remember that every team goes through painful years of rebuilding.  It happened to the Lakers and the Celtics over the past ten years...and now it's happening to the Pistons. The fact is, though, that the Pistons' track record of success over the past ten years is probably only equalled/exceeded by fewer than a handful of teams.  We've had it pretty good. 

I think Joe deserves a chance to show what he can do under a consistent, supportive ownership team.


June 28th, 2013 at 12:59 PM ^

Knight could not have been managed more poorly than he has been. He has been shuffled between point guard and shooting guard, had to play with a ton of tweeners and combo guards as his backcourt mates, and has thus been unable to find any sort of consistency without a clearly defined role on offense.

He's still only 21, and while I wouldn't be upset if the Pistons traded him if the right deal came along, I'm also not ready to give up on him turning into a solid player.


Colin M

June 28th, 2013 at 1:26 PM ^

I think the Pistons should move on. He's gotten a ton of minutes and has been pretty consistently awful. He's shot 41% from the floor in the NBA and shot 42% at Kentucky. He's also been turnover prone, with low assist number in college and the NBA. And he's not a very good defender either. So, basically, there's no evidence to support the idea that he's good enough to be a productive NBA player.


June 28th, 2013 at 1:45 PM ^

He's not a total lost cause when you dig deeper into the stats. If you go by zones, IIRC, if Brandon could just improve his percentage on shots in the paint to league average for a guard, he would average around 18ppg, making him an extremely viable guard.

And before people say he can't, he did average that his rookie year, but had a drop off his Sophomore season. 

He also just needs to abandon the mid range game altogether, because in addition to being horrible at them, mid range jumpers are the worst shots in basketball, particularly for a guard, even more so for a guard who is a solid 3 point shooter.

BK's shooting zones for 2011-12:

BK's shooting zones for 2012-13:

Colin M

June 28th, 2013 at 1:53 PM ^

That's somewhat convincing, but his overall shooting percentages have been stable I hope that the Pistons' staff uses data like this to develop their players.

I don't think the Pistons' should just try to dump him, but I think they should definitely entertain trade proposals and pull the trigger if they can get a productive player or 1st round pick.


June 28th, 2013 at 10:48 AM ^

Dumars is a joke.  The Pistons and Lions are embarrassing franchises.  They're both dead to me.

Burke was in Dumars' backyard and he had the opportunity to take the longest, most thorough look at a future pro player.  When Burke excels in the league, Dumars will have had no excuse.

I have no idea who's on Utah or what path Burke needs to take to be successful, but I know that he will be a great pro player.  He has the drive to be better and not settle for mediocrity.  He proved this by playing on a great team, against great teams, on the highest stage available to him.  If Dumars wants to "build something" by bringing in guys used to mediocrity, let him do it with another team.

TMS-Mr. Ace

June 28th, 2013 at 10:48 AM ^

As an expert in liking the best franchise in professional sports, I don't think KCP is a great fit. He is a finesse 6'6" wing who doesn't handle the ball well or pass well. He NEEDS a PG who can distribute to be successful, which Knight is not. If I am a Pistons fan I would have rather them taken a chance with Muhammad because he can score all over the court, finishes at the rim, rebounds and has good strength for the position. Character issues apply obviously, but if you wanted a wing that would have been my guy.

The Pistons could have drafted Burke, been bad for one more year(which is going to happen anyways), then dumped Knight, and pick up a 2/3 in next years loaded draft.

Can't believe the Spurs drafted Deshaun Thomas. I assume Pop was just trolling him.


June 28th, 2013 at 10:51 AM ^

Calderon is.  Look I am not penciling in Knight as the point guard of the future.  But there are options there.  They can take their lemons and possibly make some good lemonade.  However, there was nothing but crickets and tumbleweeds at the two and three spot.  It is more than clear that nobody not coming off of full body surgery is coming our way in free agency.  They had to shore up the position somehow.

TMS-Mr. Ace

June 28th, 2013 at 11:03 AM ^

Calderon is getting up there and there is a reason Joe D is trying to push Knight into the PG position. The Pistons aren't going anywhere this year. KCP isn't a 3 and doesn't have the handles to make his own shots as a 2. He could develop, sure. But that pick would have me frustrated if I were a Pistons fan.

Colin M

June 28th, 2013 at 12:13 PM ^

Knight was moved to SG last year after struggling at PG and then continued to struggle. I'm not sure where you're getting evidence to support that Joe D is still trying to push him into the PG position. IF he gets moved back that would be really dumb.

As for Calderon, he is an extremely efficient offensive player and since he doesn't rely on athleticism his game is likely to age well. He's a terrible defender and will only get worse, but KCP was a quality defender in college and has the athleticism to continue to improve. I'm really hoping we resign Calderon (assuming it's for a reasonable price).


June 28th, 2013 at 4:11 PM ^

The fact that we just drafted a 2 guard?

What makes everyone think Calderon is going to sign with the Pistons? He's going to either want to go to a contender for peanuts, or be overpaid. Or he'll be someone no one else wants to sign, which isn't a great endorsement for keeping him.

Colin M

June 28th, 2013 at 4:31 PM ^

I don't think there's any evidence that he's being moved to PG. He finished the year at SG last year after sucking at PG. 

I can't speak for others but I never stated that Calderon is going to sign with the Pistons. I hope he does (for a reasonable salary). You don't really provide any evidence to support your argument. You say he'll either be overpaid or go to a contender for sub-market value. And If he does sign with us for a reasonable price then that doesn't mean that we got a good deal, it just means nobody else wants him because he's not good? Come on, it's possible that the Pistons overpay or that he goes to a contender. But there's no way you could know that and once you add in your last point you're just using circular logic. 

When John Beilein sees a kid who other teams don't want he doesn't let that scare him away if his own evaluation says the kid is a quality player. No, he gets excited because the lack of interest gives him an advantage. If I heard other teams weren't interested in Calderon, I would get excited because he's clearly a great PG. Lack of interest will push his market value down and give the Pistons a shot at signing him at a bargain price. Signing undervalued assests is how the great franchises remain succesful.


June 28th, 2013 at 4:52 PM ^

A. Money.

B. To win.

C. Because no one else will pay him.

Maybe D. Becuse the family is really happy in the area and doesn't want to uproot.

A. is a bad reason to for him to come here, because he's not worth overpaying and tying up salary cap space for an old PG who isn't a scorer and plays no defense. B. would assume Jose is stupid if he thinks that's a reason to resign with the Pistons.  C. is an ok reason for the player, but doesn't say much for the team doing it. This isn't some high school kid no one has seen, this is a guy who's been playing basketball visibly for more than a decade. 

D. makes no sense because he was only here for half a year; and isn't even debating it in town right now....he's over in Spain. He's more likely to sign back with Toronto for the same price as Detroit.

Colin M

June 28th, 2013 at 5:49 PM ^

I think to really make a strong argument you'd need to do an analysis in which you looked at all the teams that A) need a starting PG and B) have the capspace to accommodate Jose. 

Here are the teams with enough cap space (from Sham Sports):

  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte
  • Cleveland
  • Dallas
  • Detroit
  • Houston
  • Milwuakee
  • N.O.
  • Portland
  • Utah

I think it's fair to eliminate the teams that have or think they have the PG position locked down: Cleveland (Irving), N.O. (Vasquez/Holliday), Portland (Lillard), Utah (Burke). That leaves:

  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte
  • Dallas
  • Detroit
  • Houston
  • Milwuakee 

That's five teams competing with Detroit, but it's not clear that all of them will be bidding for Jose Calderon's services. John Hammond is on the record saying that the Bucks plan on resigning Brandon Jennings. Houston is supposedly going after DH or CP3, drafted a PG in the second round and have Jeremy Lin on their payroll for $8M+. Dallas only has 1 PG on the roster (Shane Larkin), but are also reportedly going after DH. That leaves Charlotte and Atlanta. So yeah, I think it's reasonable to be optimistic that the Pistons will resign Calderon at a reasonable price.


UofM Die Hard …

June 28th, 2013 at 10:59 AM ^

"He is a finesse 6'6" wing who doesn't handle the ball well or pass well."


You dont want him dribbling you want him catching and shooting.  6'6 shooters shouldnt be handling the ball much anyway.   ie Ray Allen is dog crap at dribbling but shoots the lights out.  


I like the pick, yes I would want to pull for the Pistons with Trey but they needed a shooter.  

Colin M

June 28th, 2013 at 12:10 PM ^

He improve almost 8% from freshman to sophomore year, while increasing his usage to 27.4% (Burkian rate). He also shot above 50% from 2 both years and had TS%/eFG% of 54.3%/50.7%. He's also a much better rebounder and defender than Trey Burke.


June 28th, 2013 at 11:10 AM ^

how are the spurs the best franchise in professional sports? Wings, Lakers, Celtics, Yankees, Packers, Steelers are all better and have had success far longer than the spurs have. Spurs have been good for the last 15 years or so and have kept together a strong core which lets them develop role players like leonard into quality players but I mean come on. Canadians and Leafs have waaayyyy more chamionships too but havent been great recently and I'm sure there is a couple soccer teams that are super dominant but i dont follow soccer

TMS-Mr. Ace

June 28th, 2013 at 11:14 AM ^

I am only referring to the Pop era. There is no other professional team that has produced that type of consistency over the same amount of time, at least in the modern era.

And it was said in jest; as if being a Spurs fan makes me an NBA expert. Which I am, but not solely because of my fanhood...only slightly.

Colin M

June 28th, 2013 at 12:03 PM ^

Well we traded our 1st round pick and it's only top-8 protected. The franchise has shown an unwillingness to tank properly so I think counting on next year's draft would have been a risky move.

As for KCP, I can't really comment on his handle having not seen him play much, but his stats are excellent - he's an efficient and high usage offensive player, solid defender who forces steals and a good defensive rebounder. 

As for Knight - he's just not very good at either the 1 or 2. He got moved to the 2 last year and still struggled. I'm hoping this pick means the Pistons are moving on. To me it doesn't make sense for a team to base it's draft strategy around it's worst players. Rather, you should draft based on your best players - Drummond, Monroe and Calderon (if he resigns). Based on those players, we need perimeter defense, perimeter shooting and rebounding, to a lesser extent. KCP is a great fit in that context.



June 28th, 2013 at 1:35 PM ^

You're not making your argument very well. The Pistons aren't contending for at least 2-3 more years(if at all) and Calderon is 31. Calderon will be long gone before the Pistons are an elite team.

Build around your best players, right? Long term that is Monroe and Drummond. They need a young pure PG that can distribute, run the pick and roll and keep teams honest with his range. That is Burke. Burke was the pick. smh

Colin M

June 28th, 2013 at 2:38 PM ^

1) I agree that Monroe and Drummond are the building blocks.

2) Based on 1, the pistons have several needs: perimeter shooting, perimeter defense and point guard play (ball handling, passing, etc.).

3) Burke would have been a great pick because he brings perimeter shooting and point guardy skillz.

4) KCP was a great pick because he brings perimeter shooting, rebounding and perimeter defense.

5) The Pistons definitely need a solid PG. Since they didn't draft Burke and I really don't think Peyton Siva will be anything more than a backup, they'll need to sign a FA. Calderon is a restricted FA and as you say he is 31 years old. He's also showed no signs of decline and has a game that should age extremely well (i.e, he doesn't rely on quickness/athleticism and is a terrific outside shooter). It's reasonable to think that he'll maintain his production for the next 2-4 years. I think the Pistons should sign him.



June 28th, 2013 at 10:49 AM ^

In an alternate universe where Trey was off the board, MgoBlog is excited about KCP's name. Instead 'YOU GUYS I'M DONE WITH THE PISTONS FOREVER NO SERIOUSLY FOREVER'.

I'm not saying it was the right move for the Pistons to pass on Trey, but it's hardly the indefensible blunder people are making it out to be.


June 28th, 2013 at 10:51 AM ^

The nba draft is a crapshoot.  All things considered, he could have done worse.  seriously.  Monroe and Drummond each look like borderline all-stars.  Maxiel was a late, late first rounder.  He had a pretty solid career for where he got selected.  Knight is still really young, he has time to develop a bit.

Cleeves, White, Daye.. awful, awful, awful picks.

But can we please, understand that the Darko pick, at the time, was the right call?  We didn't have Sheed yet.  Darko was all but guarenteed to be a meaner Dirk.  Wade was unproven still (yes, i know about his triple double in the final four).  Carmelo wasn't a great fit because we had tayshaun, who the pistons thought was, at the very least, serviceable.  This pick looks way worse in hindsight than it actually was.


June 28th, 2013 at 10:59 AM ^

I remember walking into the living room right as the Pistons drafted Daye and seeing the draft analysts all do a double take. They all thought it was a terrible pick then. (too small a frame, never become more than a role player at best, questionable "mental toughness")