New Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks intent on shaping young roster

textNew Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks has his work cut out for him. (USATSI)

Plenty of things about the Detroit Pistons’ head coaching gig appeared unappealing, including the team’s record the past two seasons (54-94) and their tenuous relationship with recent coaches (four in the past six years). 

But former Oklahoma City assistant Maurice Cheeks, introduced Thursday as the new coach of the Pistons, wouldn’t give in to the negative perception about the position.

“If we thought like that, nobody would be coaching,” he said, according to the Associated Press. 

“This team has a lot of young talent,” Cheeks, twice a former head coach, said. “You go across the board, you’ve got players that just have to be honed. I think as you look across the team and you see the young players, we have to put our stamp on them, have them take some accountability for the things that are done on the court.”

Cheeks guided the Portland Trail Blazers and Philadelphia 76ers to a combined record of 284-286, but he’s never coached past the first round of the playoffs.

“Everything you go through is a learning experience,” he said. “I’m here to make my own way, put my own stamp on this team. It has nothing to do with Philadelphia or Portland.”

Cheeks does have some potential building blocks with these young Pistons, who sputtered to a fourth-place, 29-53 record in the Central Division this past season.

Along with past lottery picks Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond, the Pistons will add to their young nucleus with the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft. With strong post play, one option could be an upgrade in the backcourt.

Gary Parrish’s mock draft has them taking point guard Michael Carter-Williams out of Syracuse.

Either way, Detroit’s fan base will expect a return on the Pistons’ latest investment.

“We wanted to make sure we took our time and went through as many possible scenarios as we’ve come across,” team president Joe Dumars said. “We feel like we got the right guy for what we’re trying to do.” 

For more on the NBA, follow Mike Singer on Twitter @RealMikeSinger. 

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