Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, January 19 - Page 2

by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

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.

We reserve the right to edit your question for the sake of brevity or clarity.

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Oscar (Lisbon, Portugal): Would you consider any team that lands a top-five pick in the upcoming draft a sure draft winner? Considering the Pistons’ play of late, I’d say we are likely to land one.

Langlois: Too early to start projecting where the Pistons will finish, Oscar, but the overwhelming view of people plugged in to the draft is that it’s going to be a good crop. In star quality, at least, it’s considered a better draft than either of the last two. Given that the Pistons plucked Greg Monroe at No. 7 and Brandon Knight at No. 8, if they wind up picking in that range again, it bodes well for picking up another impact player. And if you look around the league at the teams that have made significant strides in recent years without landing a certifiable star in free agency, then it’s teams that have made multiple successful trips to the lottery (Oklahoma City, Chicago, the LA Clippers, for example).

Richard (Las Vegas): I’m looking at 15-point differentials between us and most everybody else. That’s about eight possessions each way – four steals, four rebounds, four made shots, two charges, two tip-ins. I hate to say it, but our guys look soft.

Langlois: The Pistons went into Wednesday night’s game at Minnesota with a differential of minus-9.8 through 14 games, Richard. That’s more than 10 percent of their points per game average of 85 per game, so it’s not quite as simple as you make it sound. But, yeah, if you plug in those stats to their per-game averages, they’d win a lot more games. I don’t know that it’s a question of toughness, but of depth and star talent. The Pistons could use another high-level big man and a perimeter scorer who gets his points consistently and efficiently. Or they need across-the-board incremental improvement from some of their young players. Adding one more dynamic player could change the equation for them in a hurry.

Dawson (Three Rivers, Mich.): I have been listening to some people saying the Celtics need young legs. Do you think we would make a deal that includes Austin Daye and get something in return?

Langlois: If Danny Ainge concludes that the Celtics need an infusion of young talent immediately in order to capitalize on a roster built to win in the short term, I’m not sure what he really has to offer in return, Dawson. The Celtics just don’t have much of what the Pistons would want – which is young talent. Check out what Joe Dumars had to say about it just this week. The best bet is that the Celtics start racking up some wins and still end up as a top-four seed in the East. But if it continues to run off the rails in Boston, then it’s conceivable Ainge starts dangling his vets in an attempt to clear cap space and go for an instant summer rebuild that could attract two high-end free agents.

Paul (Essexville, Mich.): Monroe reminds me somewhat of two other players – Tim Duncan with his fundamentals, smarts and skill set and LaMarcus Aldridge, though he’s not yet as good from the perimeter. Knight has looked good this year except for the number of turnovers. I have to wonder sometimes if it’s good to push young players into action or hold them back?

Langlois: Pretty good role models for Monroe, Paul. He’s not exactly like anybody, but if he can approach the levels Duncan and Aldridge have achieved in the things they do best, he’ll rank among the NBA’s elite for the next decade-plus. Playing time for young players must be determined on a case-by-case basis, and you have to trust that the coaches who see them every day – not just the tip-of-the-iceberg stuff fans get to see in limited game exposure – know better than anyone how much they’re prepared to handle. Given that there just isn’t all that much practice time available this year, however, the balancing act between giving young players a chance to learn on the job and putting the team in the best position to win is more delicate than ever. This year, the games are more than the tip of the iceberg; they’re the majority of it. That said, I don’t think there’s much debate that Knight has merited a significant role in Detroit’s rotation, whether that eventually is starting or as the first guard off the bench.

Greg (North Branch, Mich.): I haven’t watched every minute of every game, but I think I’ve seen Charlie Villanueva play all of 15 minutes this season. What gives?

Langlois: He suffered an ankle injury during training camp, Greg, and it’s dogged him ever since. Some days, he says, it feels good, and others it feels like it’s broken. X-rays were taken but revealed no fracture. He didn’t make the trip with the team to Houston and Minnesota this week on the direction of strength coach Arnie Kander, who felt the two long flights would cause additional inflammation to the joint. The Pistons could use his shooting range and scoring punch, that’s for sure.

Omid (East Lansing, Mich.): Is there any way the Pistons can snag Bismack Biyombo from Charlotte? Does the front office even like him any more or are they more focused on getting a stopper from the upcoming draft?

Langlois: At this point, Omid, it’s not even worth the phone call. The Bobcats, remember, traded up – and one spot ahead of the Pistons – and used the No. 7 pick to grab Biyombo. There is widespread belief Charlotte made the trade with the expectation that Tristan Thompson, and not Biyombo, would be available, so no one outside of Michael Jordan’s inner circle is sure if the Bobcats were enamored with Biyombo. But the only way the Bobcats could save face by trading him to the Pistons, of all teams, would be to get Brandon Knight – the player they passed up – and something else. And that’s a non-starter. The Bobcats have to know the Pistons wouldn’t discuss Greg Monroe. The only other consideration would be their 2012 No. 1 pick, but given the commonly held belief in the strength of that draft, it’s unlikely the Pistons would consider that trade chip, either.

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