A 3-word checklist will shape every Pistons personnel decision over a critical summer

On top of the huge whiteboard that lines the south wall of Jeff Bower's office at 6 Championship Drive is written the three-word mantra that will shape every personnel decision the Pistons make in this critical off-season: talent, character, compatibility.

"It's only three things," Bower said, "but it's three pretty big ingredients to be successful."

Finding them at necessary levels is the trick. A wildly talented player with the right intent is hard to pass, but if his strength doesn't fit the vision Stan Van Gundy formulates after a year of learning his team then resources are probably best expended elsewhere.

Van Gundy has no rigid blueprint for basketball success, but he inherited Andre Drummond and very quickly decided to build the roster out from there. He proved in Orlando – where the building block, Dwight Howard, fit a similar profile – he could play with either a conventional power forward (Tony Battie) or surround his big man with four shooters.

So, yes, Greg Monroe remains the priority acquisition for the Pistons.

But Van Gundy knows he has to have a Plan B. And if Monroe signs elsewhere, his Plan B will be funded by more than $20 million in cap space even accounting for the $5.5 million cap hold that will save Reggie Jackson's place on the roster until a new, almost certainly richer contract is formally signed to replace it – likely after the Pistons have conducted the bulk of their other business so they can go above the cap, if necessary, on Jackson.

There is a likelihood that the Pistons will draft a forward with their lottery pick, assuming that the 89 percent odds they stay in the 8-9 range holds. That fits roster need, of course, but it's really more a reflection of the way the draft board figures to take shape. After the consensus top four of Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, Emmanuel Mudiay and D'Angelo Russell – two big men, two guards – seven of the next eight prospects on both ESPN.com and DraftExpress.com are either small forwards or power forwards.

The Pistons' evaluation team – led by Bower and assistant GM in charge of college scouting, Brian Wright – will separate them through the prism of their three-word mantra: talent, character, compatibility.

By now, they have a pretty good handle on the skill set each of those players offers. They probably have a good idea on their compatibility with a roster that will feature heavy doses of the Drummond-Jackson pick and roll. They've generated a massive amount of information via regular reports from their scouting staff, each with regional responsibility but all responsible for a national perspective, and there are lively discussions ahead of them to poke and prod the minutiae of each prospect's makeup.

The character component will be explored with equal fervor, especially as the focus narrows the closer we inch toward the June 25 draft.

When Wright left Orlando, where he was director of college scouting, to join Van Gundy's front office last July, part of the appeal for him was working for a front office where there was no possibility of a disconnect with the coaching staff.

"That's the ability of knowing exactly what he likes and what he doesn't like, even down to each position," Wright said. "You know the things that he values. It's been helpful for me and our scouts who are out evaluating players. We have our own things we like about players, but I think taking it back to, OK, what is it that we do? What is it that our coach likes? It helps us evaluate in that regard."

The Pistons probably won't start individual workouts at The Palace's practice facility until after the NBA draft combine set for mid-May in Chicago. They'll use the opportunity to confirm what they already believe about prospects' talent and roster fit, but more than anything they'll use those chances to meet players individually on their turf to gauge character. The draft is 52 days away. Every one of them will be put to use.