Detroit stupidity strikes again
Joe Dumars has made a series of boneheaded moves since a stroke of genius led him to assembling the 2004 NBA title winning Detroit Pistons. There was the infamous “Human Victory Cigar” Darko Milicic. He never amounted to anything other than being the guy who would come into the game in the final two minutes when victory was well in hand. Not exactly befitting of the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.
There was the signings of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva for outrageous amounts and length of contract, for seemingly no other reason than, the Pistons had cap room and just had to use it up. Neither amounted to much during their time in Detroit. There was the essential swap of franchise hero Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson, whom by that point was a shell of his former self and was by all accounts, a disaster with the Pistons.
There is the revolving door of coaches, the likes of which no other franchise in professional sports (even the impatient Oakland Raiders) can match.
But Thursday night, during the 2013 NBA draft may have taken the cake.
Joe Dumars likely signed his own pink slip when he passed up Trey Burke with the No. 8 overall pick and instead drafted a shooting guard named Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Initial confusion turned quickly to anger. There were loud boos at the Barclays Center, and for good reason.
The Pistons have become virtually irrelevant. That happened before Thursday night’s treachery. The glory days of the early 2000’s are long gone. They are now replaced by half-empty arenas, befuddled coaches, players that are overvalued drama queens and potential that is never realized.
Burke was the answer, to everything plaguing the Pistons in fact.
For one, the Pistons didn’t realize the gift that inexplicably landed in their lap. Draft analysts largely agreed that Burke, the NCAA National Player of the Year, was the top point guard in the draft. He was expected to go anywhere from No. 2 to No. 8 in the draft. Orlando with the No. 2 pick and New Orleans at No. 5 were frequently mentioned as the most likely possible destinations. He was never expected to drop as far as he did.
The Pistons desperately need a point guard. Granted, I haven’t watched much Detroit basketball over the past few seasons but when i did watch a game, it was painfully obvious that this was an offense that was broken. Getting the ball upcourt and to the playmakers on the team such as Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight was a struggle. Burke’s impressive ball distribution skills would have made all the players around him better. He would have brought fluidity to the Pistons. In short, drafting Burke would have almost certainly made the team postseason bound once more.
And that attendance problem? What better to fill seats than drafting the hometown player? Burke was a bonafide star at Michigan. Who better to reinvigorate a dead franchise? Not drafting him then, may have cost the Pistons untold amounts of money. If Dumars wasn’t willing to pull the trigger there, owner Tom Gores should have demanded it. Instead we are left with little to no confidence in both of them.
Unfortunately this makes Detroit sports teams 0-for-2 in passing up no-brainer draft choices. It’s a painful reminder that the Detroit Lions passed up Denard Robinson in the fourth round of the draft, allowing Jacksonville to take him just a few spots later.
Sure, I’ve heard the arguments against drafting Burke. The Pistons have taken the hometown player in the past. Remember Mateen Cleaves? He was drafted with the 14th overall pick in the 2000 draft. Disappointment followed.
Perhaps the pressure of being the franchise saviour was too much. Cleaves was put on a pedestal, with expectations that no player, let alone the No. 14 pick in the draft, could live up to.
But Burke is not Cleaves. We’ve seen the man thrive under pressure. Was there more of a pressure situation than in that Sweet 16 game against Kansas? When Burke launched a ridiculously deep three over two defenders and a sprawled out Jayhawk?
Now it will be Dumars feeling the pressure. He’s about to become about as popular as Matt Millen.