Pistons Mailbag - March 28, 2013

Pistons.com editor Keith Langlois answers your questions about the Pistons and NBA. Click here to submit your questions - please include your name, email address and city/state on the form. Return to the Mailbag homepage.

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Editor’s note: You can now submit Pistons Mailbag questions via Twitter. Include the hashtag #pistonsmailbag and, as always, your first name, hometown and state or country. Questions submitted via Twitter will also include the questioner’s Twitter handle.

Tiba (Detroit): What are your thoughts on trading Greg Monroe for Anthony Davis? Monroe goes back to his hometown to pair with an outstanding stretch four in Ryan Anderson and Detroit gets a super-athletic and defensive frontcourt with Drummond and Davis, or Double D, as I envision it.

Langlois: I think both teams are looking at their 2012 draft gems as anchors for the middle of their defenses for years to come, Tiba. I don’t know that any GM in the league would turn down a Drummond and Davis frontcourt, but neither one is the type of player to whom you throw the ball in the post. Monroe and Anderson are the two best offensive players of the four and Drummond and Davis the two best defenders. As complementary pairs, the teams are better off standing pat.

Byron (Detroit): Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Kyle Singler to me are the mainstays of the Pistons. But what do you think of Charlie V as another dimension to go along with the young Pistons going forward as a stretch four with Rodney Stuckey off the bench, assuming the Pistons keep Calderon. If the Pistons sign an elite shooting guard, what happens if they keep Stuckey, Calderon and Knight as well?

Langlois: Villanueva hasn’t lived up to the contract he and the Pistons agreed to four years ago, Byron, but his 3-point stroke still makes him a player who draws interest around the league. There will be a decision to be made on Villanueva by the Pistons this summer as he is the only realistic candidate on whom they can exercise the amnesty clause. On the one hand, the Pistons could create another $8.5 million in cap space by exercising that option. On the other, they’d be paying Villanueva to play for another team and, no doubt, looking to sign another player who fits his description – a power forward who represents a 3-point threat. Given the importance of Andre Drummond to the future of the Pistons, they are likely to be looking for shooting at several positions to put around him. If I had to guess today which way the Pistons go with that choice, I doubt they use it. I think it’s fair to guess that right now, that’s a decision even the Pistons haven’t come close to making. Once the season is over and they start shaping a strategy for how to use their cap space, and at the same time getting a better idea of what the market might deliver, the decision will come into focus for them.

Scott (Covington, Ky.): Are the Pistons going to get on board with the SportsVU tracking cameras? If not, why not?

Simon (Melbourne, Australia): With the Grizlies and Rockets’ front-office philosophies buried deep in sabermetrics/analytics, I was wondering how much influence, if any, analytics has in our front office?

Langlois: I’ll take these together, but there’s not a lot to say because the Pistons, like most NBA organizations, keep their use of analytics a closely guarded domain. It is well known that the Pistons hired Ken Catanella immediately following the 2011 lockout’s resolution. He has an impressive background in data-driven analysis. Catanella, who put that expertise to use prior to joining the Pistons at NBA headquarters where he drove their conversion to advanced statistics collection and later was a critical part of the negotiating team with an emphasis on how player proposals would translate into dollars and cents, is very familiar with the evolution of tracking cameras and the statistical output they can provide. We talked at length about it last year and he asked me to keep the nature of the conversation private. What I can say is after talking with him, I concluded that as with all data, its effectiveness requires insightful interpretation. The Pistons collect statistical data from a multitude of sources for a variety of reasons. Catanella is the point man for the front office for the primary purpose of evaluating personnel across the NBA. Assistant coach Charles Klask is the point man on the coaching staff with an emphasis on the dual purposes of self-evaluation and scouting. They work collaboratively in certain areas, as well. In general, it’s important to keep in mind the nature of the NBA season. There are 82 games. Players often face stretches of four games in five nights or three in four or five in seven. There simply is a limit to how much information about the upcoming opponent, for instance, you can disseminate to players to keep it relevant and within their capacity to process and absorb it. I’m not trying to diminish the importance of the information made possible by innovation. But making the best use of it is still very much an inexact science. It’s best use, at this point, is probably in the area of self-analysis – subtly suggesting to players that they should seek more shots in certain areas and off of certain movements where history shows a pattern of success, for example.

Jim (Bangor, Pa.): When you look at the upcoming draft, a name that stands out is Otto Porter. He is who I believe to be the missing piece. Is this a player we should try to pursue even if that means trading picks away?

Langlois: It’s impossible to project a pecking order for the lottery this far out, Jim. There are some years where the identity of the top player, or perhaps the top three or top handful of players, is clear at this point. That’s not the case this season. I doubt it will be the case even after the identity of the players who have declared for the draft is clear or even after the lottery order has been established. I don’t think trades up or down will be consummated or even heavily discussed between GMs until the clock starts ticking on draft night. No one will want to show their cards to drive up the price beforehand. As for whether Porter is the “missing piece,” I don’t have a feel for that. I saw him have some impressive games and think he’ll be a good NBA player. Whether he’ll be more than that eventually, I have no idea.

Ken (Baton Rouge, La.): I think Tyreke Evans is the best player available to pair with Knight. He’s a bigger version of Rodney Stuckey with more upside. I say trade our first-round pick for him straight up.

Langlois: He’ll be a restricted free agent, Ken. It’s really unclear what Sacramento would do if a team signs Evans to a reasonable offer sheet, though by July 1 there might be a much better idea of the Kings’ response. The fate of the franchise is due to be decided in the days following the April 17 conclusion of the regular season when the NBA Board of Governors holds its typical season-ending meetings and will vote on the sale of the franchise to a Seattle group. Marching orders for Geoff Petrie, Kings GM, or whoever might succeed him, will follow from the decision the governors reach.