Owner Tom Gores raised expectations when he stated his goal for next season during a press conference before the team's home finale.
"I think we better make the playoffs," he said.
Gores added that he didn't see the need to make any significant changes to reach that goal. Fortunately, his president of basketball operations, Joe Dumars, realizes that he's only in the middle of the rebuilding process.
"What I say to (coach) Lawrence (Frank) is, 'I've got to get more guys that you like -- their style of play, what fits you, and what you want to do,' " he said. "So it's a hand-in-hand thing. He knows he's got to get the guys better; I know I've got to give him more guys."
Dumars has two building blocks in Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight, and it's generally assumed the Pistons will draft a frontcourt player to pair with Monroe with the No. 9 overall selection on June 28. They will likely choose from a group that includes North Carolina's duo of Tyler Zeller and John Henson, Baylor's Perry Jones, Mississippi State's Arnett Moultrie, Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Illinois' Meyers Leonard.
That's just the start of what could be a busy offseason for the Pistons, particularly if they want to live up to Gores' proclamation. In fact, there are question marks at every position.
Here are the issues Dumars must confront at each spot:
Center -- Frank believes Monroe has just scratched the surface of his potential, but there's no guarantee he'll remain in the middle. Monroe could move to power forward if the Pistons draft a center, such as Zeller or Leonard, or sign a free agent, such as New Orleans' Chris Kaman, whom the Pistons are expected to pursue. They also must find a backup unless Ben Wallace changes his mind about retiring.
Power forward -- Jason Maxiell started the bulk of the games last season, and while Dumars thought Maxiell had the best season of his career, the Pistons aren't going anywhere if Maxiell remains in that role. Maxiell could opt out of the final year of his contract, which would give the club more freedom to chase free agents and make trades. Jonas Jerebko will likely remain the backup, though he could see more action at small forward. Dumars also must decide whether to use the amnesty clause on Charlie Villanueva, who doesn't fit Frank's defense-oriented approach.
Small forward -- Tayshaun Prince is 32 and coming off the worst shooting season of his career. The Pistons need a younger option to at least challenge Prince for the starting job. Austin Daye, who shot just 32.2 percent last season, isn't the answer. It's conceivable Dumars could shift gears and draft North Carolina's Harrison Barnes if Barnes takes an unexpected slide on draft night.
Shooting guard -- Rodney Stuckey looked spectacular at times and disinterested at others last season. Is he the right partner for Knight? Stuckey has the best trade value of any player on the roster beyond near untouchables Monroe and Knight. Ben Gordon doesn't give enough bang for the bucks he's making. But his contract is almost unmovable, so the Pistons are stuck with him as the sixth man unless they use the amnesty clause on him.
Point guard -- Knight has star potential but the Pistons would like to bring in a more experienced backup and better mentor than Will Bynum. There have been hints that the Pistons might try to coax their former All-Star, unrestricted Los Angeles Clippers free agent Chauncey Billups, into accepting that role.
The Pistons seemed destined to challenge Charlotte for the league's worst record after winning four of their first 24 games. Those fears were eased when they won seven of their next nine games, including two victories over Atlantic Division champion Boston. They remained competitive on most nights from that point.
No team needed an extended training camp more than the Pistons, who had a new coaching staff and younger players in prominent roles. Without it, they buried themselves while trying to learn the system and each other's games on the fly. They lost 17 of 19 games from Jan. 4 to Feb. 1, including 11 by double figures.
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