By: Matt Dery
I have never seen anything like it. People who say the Pistons are dead in this town are wrong. My twitter timeline last night looked like a warzone after Joe Dumars passed up the local hero, Trey Burke, to take Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Georgia. I was stunned. Not that the team didn’t take Trey, but at the angry mob reaction. It was unreal. Detroit is the best sports city in the world. It is. The fans here are so passionate and the teams here have either all won or all have your attention. I love it here. But I am still a little bit stunned at the reaction from last night.
Terry Foster jokes all of the time that Detroit is “not a College Basketball” town. Yet, today Michigan’s Trey Burke is the most popular athlete in this area. Today. And it is because the Pistons did not draft him. I have covered this team as its Radio Host for the last 12 years and for the last 2-3 years I have started to see a major change. The Pistons were the cool team to talk about and the fans were so taken with many of the players. Chauncey and Sheed were gods and the regulars at the Palace felt like they were family. Now that the team is rebuilding, many of the regulars are either gone or now very angry. Some are even a little spoiled to be honest. This team had a great run. Rewind to last night and the draft.
You all know the story by now. Trey is a member of the Utah Jazz. Joe D is on the defensive. He said that the team is desolate on the wings and lacks scoring and athleticism in that area. You know what? Joe is right. I’ve been saying for the last two years that this team has needed more help on the wing. Rodney Stuckey has not been and is not the answer there. Neither was Austin Daye. KCP can play and I actually like the selection, but, fans need to remember that he is not going to be the savior. This was a very weak draft and if Burke was the savior, he would not have dropped to #9. Do the Pistons need a point guard? Yes. Do they need wing players too? Uh yeah. Who will be the better pro? I don’t know. But I do know that drafting Burke would have really pumped up the interest in this team. KCP better be able to play, or you the fans will really go into exile. Joe D is banking on that he can.
KCP is a pure scorer. I talked to numerous scouts and management types around the league and there are varying opinions on him. “He’s a ball hog”, one NBA front office official texted me. “Dude can shoot it and is unafraid”, says one unnamed college assistant coach. “Minnesota was dying to team him up with Rubio because he doesn’t miss from the outside”, added another NBA official to me via text last night. Caldwell-Pope definitely fills a need. I will disagree with Dumars on one thing: KCP is not as good as Ben McLemore. Sorry. He isn’t in my opinion. I know they went just one pick apart, but the Kansas swingman is who I coveted for the Pistons because not only can he knock down shots, but he jumps out of the gym. KCP does not.
The Pistons need to address the point guard spot in either free agency or in a trade. Dumars needs to hit a home run and I think they could take a long look at Jarrett Jack. That is just a guess, but the combo guard can run the point and had a big postseason for Golden State. Maybe Joe envisions a three guard look of Jack, KCP, and Brandon Knight. Isn’t that better than what they have now? It could be shades of Zeke, Joe, and Vinnie (Okay now I am having some fun). There need to be more bold moves and they need to add talent around Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe and the culture has to change.
Trey Burke would have added a lot of excitement around here again. I understand the fans’ anger and I am not going to thumb my nose at it at all. They want to love this team again. He was there and the Pistons passed. Burke is actually going to a great spot in Utah, with a ton of young talent and some pick and roll big men that fit with him. The Pistons are not done and they do need to address the 1 spot, maybe even to just quiet the angry Burke fan mob.