So the Detroit Pistons added Brandon Jennings in a sign and trade that gave up the somewhat disappointing Brandon Knight. They've used their cap room this off-season to add Josh Smith at 14 million per year and Jennings at eight. Probably better talent than Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva at a bit more of a cost.
The problem of course comes in with the probably. Ben Gordon, while disappointing in a Pistons uniform, was certainly coming off a much better year than Brandon Jennings. He scored more points on greater efficiency, and while his assist numbers were about two and a half lower per game, he was a SG not a PG. Jennings isn't exactly a great ball distributor.
With Jennings the Pistons simply hope to capture the good side. At times, he looks like an amazing player with potential to be an elite PG, most often he's kind of an out of control chucker.
Meanwhile, Josh Smith is the SF equivalent to Jennings. A guy with tantalizing talent that falls into patterns of chucking shots, unintelligent play, and shooting his teams out of games. His primary strength, theoretically, is scoring, yet he holds a career TS% of 51.6%. I know someone will say he's a rebounder and shot-blocker as well, but he doesn't do so in a way which really makes a consistent impact for his team defensively.
Now maybe Detroit has a solid core going with Monroe and Drummond. Those are a couple guys everyone is awfully high on, but neither looks like a future superstar, and future star is still a question mark in my mind for either guy. For all the hype about Monroe, his scoring efficiency dropped considerably last season which wasn't exactly a step forward.
Drummond shows plenty of signs, but it doesn't make him more than the next JaVale McGee or DeAndre Jordan at this point.
Either way, even if you believe in the young big man duo, surrounding them by three perimeter players who want to jack up as many shots as possible doesn't necessarily seem like the best development path for anyone.
Maybe Brandon Jennings can reinvent his game from playground superstar to pure passer, but this is a team that probably legitimately needs a Kirk Hinrich running the show a lot more than a Brandon Jennings. Does anyone trust Jennings to get the ball in to the big men consistently, tone down his shooting? Does anyone trust Josh Smith to do the same?
Detroit may have upgraded on talent, but the same was said with the BG/CV signings. It was noted by many that the fit was lousy, but the talent was better so surely it'd work out. Well it didn't. The same thing applies here. Maybe in this case the talent around the incoming players is better, maybe that talent can improve and take them to the next level.
Maybe Detroit can slip into the playoffs at the bottom of the East before getting destroyed in the first round. It's not out of the realm of possibility. After the Heat, Bulls, Nets, Pacers, and Knicks it looks fairly wide open as the drop off in talent seems pretty significant. There are probably five or so teams left legitimately aiming for the playoffs and probably five legitimately planning on how to best add the most ping pong balls for next year's super draft.
The lack of competition for those bottom three seeds means they'll have a realistic shot at grabbing one if they want, but they're not an up and coming team. This team maxes out as first round playoff loser. I've heard Atlanta Hawks 2.0 used to describe them, they wish the upside was that high.