Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - Page 2

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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Joel (Marquette, Mich.): I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the 2004 draft lately and it bugs me that so many Pistons fans still bring it up and so many are naïve enough to think the Pistons today would have been better if they’d drafted Anthony instead of Darko. How do you think today’s Pistons would look if they had?

Langlois: That’s an ever greater unknown, Joel. Drafting Anthony would have spawned so many other moves. Tayshaun Prince possibly would have been traded. Do the Pistons win the 2004 title without Prince’s great defense against Kobe Bryant, or before that against Indiana? Or do they win multiple titles over the next four or five years? If they’d won titles with Anthony at the center of it, would they have locked him up long term or would Anthony still have had wanderlust and wanted to get to New York? It’s tough to argue the Pistons wouldn’t have been better for taking Anthony over Milicic – Anthony has quite clearly been the better player – but it’s not so cut and dried to project how that decision would have affected the Pistons. Let’s also not forget that Milicic was the overwhelming consensus No. 2 prospect in that draft, that we don’t know of any GM who would have taken Anthony No. 2, that Denver would have taken Milicic No. 2 (the Nuggets contacted the Pistons to see what it would take to move from No. 3 to No. 2 in that draft) and that some GMs might have taken Milicic No. 1.

Chris (Fremont, Ohio): How does the NBA D-League work? Is it the same as baseball farm teams where certain teams are associated with certain NBA teams? Can the Pistons look at any other team other than Fort Wayne for possible help?

Langlois: Each team has one D-League team with which it is affiliated. Fort Wayne also is affiliated with Milwaukee and Indiana. But that doesn’t mean the Pistons have priority over any other NBA team for the rights to Fort Wayne players, or that the Pistons can’t sign players from any other D-League team – except for players under NBA contract who are assigned to the D-League affiliate, as Vernon Macklin recently was by the Pistons. No other NBA team can sign Macklin; his rights belong to the Pistons. But far more D-League players are not under NBA contract than the few who are. The Pistons could sign any one of them, if they chose.

Paul (Essexville, Mich.): The Pistons currently have the No. 7 pick and Perry Jones of Baylor, Cody Zeller of Indiana and Jared Sullinger of Ohio State would all be available on Chad Ford’s ESPN.com rankings. Which one would fit the Pistons best?

Langlois: Tough question, Paul. First, let’s acknowledge that all three are underclassmen – as is North Carolina’s John Henson from an earlier question – and it’s not certain that any of them will be in the draft. They are three very different players, but all bring something to the table the Pistons could use. Jones is the biggest wild card, in my estimation. He was terrific in the Big 12 conference tournament after a disappointing sophomore season. If he keeps up his strong play for Baylor in the NCAA tournament, he could be considered a top-five possibility again. There is a long way to go until draft day and he’ll be one of the most intriguing lottery prospects. Zeller, from most best guesses, will return to Indiana for his sophomore season.

Kyle (Detroit): I love the development of Monroe. While sometimes he’s inconsistent, he is a 20-point, 10-rebound guy in the near future, I believe. My one concern is he doesn’t have much of a back-to-the-basket game and I was wondering if the Pistons were helping him develop one. I know it sounds far out, but maybe we could bring Rasheed in to teach him a thing or two.

Langlois: Wait … you want the guy that Pistons fans castigated for years for taking too many 3-pointers and not playing close to the rim to teach Monroe the fine points of post play? I kid. Actually, if Rasheed decided that’s what he wanted to do, I think he’d probably be a pretty good big man coach. But the Pistons love Roy Rogers, the assistant coach Lawrence Frank hired to work with big men, among other things. Jason Maxiell gives Rogers a great deal of credit for his dramatically improved play. Monroe, as well, is very fond of Rogers and they’ve developed a terrific rapport. Monroe, for a second-year player who is still just 21, has a well-rounded low post game already. We saw that Wednesday night at Sacramento when he dropped 32 on DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings. It will get better as he continues to familiarize himself with league personnel and the various tactics individual players use against him and the strategies coaches devise to neutralize him, too.

Bruno (Sao Paulo, Brazil): With Wilcox’s heart problems, would Boston consider a trade involving Wilcox and JaJuan Johnson plus its first-round pick for Jason Maxiell?

Langlois: Tough to say, Bruno. It really depends on what Danny Ainge wants to do with the Celtics. Based on the persistent speculation involving Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and even Paul Pierce, my guess is Ainge doesn’t truly believe the Celtics can threaten Chicago and Miami in the East this year. It that’s truly his belief, then a deal like the one you outline would be unlikely. But if he thinks another key piece or two might be enough to pull Boston even with the NBA’s top teams, then … maybe. Throwing in this year’s No. 1 might be a little too rich for him given that the Celtics might be picking around 20 in a strong draft.

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