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bulldogg

Piston future looking bright

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I like what I’m seeing. I really do.

Last year the Pistons had .500 talent, overachieved, and ended up winning 50 games. The Pistons now have the talent to win 50 games as long as they play up to their potential. What if they overachieve? Let’s not get too excited -- it’s only July. There’s a long way to go and we don’t need to start dreaming just yet.

The three big developments this off-season have been:

1. The signing of Chauncey Billups. Chauncey is going to help the team a lot. His ability to run the offense and hit the outside shot will fill a big hole. Some around the NBA have questioned the Pistons’ signing of Billups for various reasons. I disagree with them. Billups is a very good player who has yet to reach his full potential. He makes the Pistons better -- plain and simple. In addition, his signing was huge symbolically for the organization. In past years the Pistons lost players to free agency, and no one, I mean no one, wanted to play for Detroit. Being able to attract one of this summer’s most sought after free agents means the Pistons are back on the map and quality players are ready to play here.

2. The addition of Mehmet Okur. This 23 year-old, 6’11” power forward from Turkey was the Pistons second round draft pick in 2001. He remained in Europe last season, but will definitely be on the Pistons’ roster this fall. Dumars has said that if Okur had been in the 2002 draft he would have likely been a top ten pick. Okur can hit the three and will certainly help on the boards. If you watched any Pistons games last season, you know that the players would probably have had more success flying a Boeing 747 from Detroit to Hawaii than they did out-rebounding their opponents.

3. The selection of 6’9” Tayshaun Prince in the June draft. According to reporters and team officials, Tayshaun played very well in the Orlando summer league in early July. Prince played four full seasons of college ball at Kentucky, he’s fundamentally sound, plays tough defense, and can fill it up from the outside. It sounds as if Tayshaun just may work himself into the rotation at SG and SF this season. His versatility will be a big plus.

If Billups, Okur, and Prince are able to make contributions this season, the Pistons will be much improved. Right now, I don't expect Rodney White to play on a regular basis. He’s still lacking the fundamentals and court-sense to play in the NBA, but I’d love for him to prove me wrong.

What about the immediate future? Consider these two facts:

1. Next season the Pistons will receive Memphis’ first round draft pick (as long as it isn’t the #1 pick overall). If this pick somehow turns out to be #3, #4, or #5 overall, look out. A potential star could be added to the roster.

2. Next summer the contracts of Mikki Moore, Cliff Robinson, and Jon Barry will expire (although I do expect the Pistons to resign Barry). The cash freed up from those contracts will allow the Pistons to pursue a high-level free agent. If the team has another strong regular season and performs well in the playoffs next spring, Detroit just may be a very attractive destination for a player looking to win an NBA title.

For a team that looked to be in complete disarray one year ago, you have to like what you see happening here. No, the Pistons are not a championship contender right now, but who in the East really is?

This year’s team will be the most talented squad since 1991. There's reason to be hopeful in Detroit.

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I think we all think the future is bright. I am excited about adding Billups to the lineup and while Okur could help the team (especially since they are lacking bulk) I have more of a wait and see attitude about rookies regardless who they are.

I thought last year Rebraca played very strong at the season's start but faded as the year went on (with his starting stint late in the season being the abberation from that pattern). I'm hoping a year under his belt helps improve his game.

I don't know what number to put on this team in terms of win totals for the upcoming season. I clearly thought last year's team was no better than a .500 team (and at season's start I thought much lower than that) but they did overachieve. Teams that return with an overachieveing cast that did it through hard work and/or strong chemistry rarely duplicate the feat two years in a row so I'm not going to go out and say a 50-win season is automatic by any stretch of the imagination.

However, I do agree that the Pistons seem to have a plan and they are following through with it. Dumars seems to make smart move after smart move the last few years. I can see this as being a place players want to play once again.

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Dumars is a smart guy. I like every move he has made. He turned the Grant Hill situation into a positive with the sign and trade of Atkins and Wallace. Made small, but very significant moves. I dont think the pistons "overachieved" I think they just improved greatly from the past season. Unlike other teams in the East the past few years(76ers) the pistons are keeping their core together and only adding and tweaking a little bit. This plan will keep them playing at the rate they did last year. Dumars is creating an environment that will attract free agents, and the pistons may soon be able to acquire the likes of a Tim Duncan which would put them into the finals, at the least.

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