Coach Lawrence Frank has tried three different starting power forwards to pair with second-year center Greg Monroe. But the long-term solution at that position probably won't come until June.
Frank tinkered with the lineup again on Wednesday, replacing Ben Wallace with Jason Maxiell. The Pistons got off to a better start, though Maxiell didn't have much of an impact offensively. They entered the second quarter tied 23-23 with the New Jersey Nets. The outcome didn't change, as the Pistons lost their seventh straight, 99-96.
Maxiell had four points, shooting 2-for-8 from the field, and four assists in 23 minutes. He'll get more chances to start this weekend when the Pistons play home games against Milwaukee on Friday and New Orleans on Saturday.
Jonas Jerebko, who missed last season with a torn Achilles tendon, won the starting job out of the abbreviated training camp. After his team started 3-10, Frank switched to Wallace to get a better defender in the lineup and boost his bench scoring with Jerebko playing on the second unit.
That backfired, as the Pistons consistently struggled to reach 20 first-quarter points and were constantly playing catch-up. They went 1-9 with Wallace as a starter before Maxiell got his chance.
Meanwhile, Charlie Villanueva, who is making $7 million, has been the invisible 6-11 man. He's by far their most talented offensive power forward but he was suspended the first three games for an altercation late last season against Cleveland's Ryan Hollins. Shortly after he became eligible to play, Villanueva developed a mysterious ankle injury that has kept him on the sidelines.
Detroit went into last year's draft planning to take the best available frontcourt player. When there was an unexpected run on big men, team president of basketball operations Joe Dumars switched gears and nabbed point guard Brandon Knight.
A pair of freshmen, Kentucky's Anthony Davis and Connecticut's Andre Drummond, are considered the top college big men this season. The Pistons could certainly use either one if they decide to leave after their freshmen seasons. There should be several other starter-quality big men in the next draft, even if the Pistons don't get one of the top two picks. Until then, Frank will have to keep juggling a bunch of role players in that spot.
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