All previews follow the same format, I’ll be going in depth only on the players worth owning in a standard 12-team league, followed by players who you might consider as injury handcuffs/deep sleepers. As always, it starts with the most valuable player on the team:
Chauncey Billups (PG)
Helps: Assists, Points, FT%, 3-pointers, Steals
The demise of the Pistons is greatly exaggerated. They are still loaded with both NBA and fantasy potency and Billups is at the top of the list. While he does not offer the categorical dominance of a Chris Paul and is not an elite scorer or passer, Billups is a superbly solid all-around point guard that makes him a valuable asset.
Like most point guards who shoot a lot, Billups FG% (.416 career) is a drawback, but he makes up for it nearly everywhere else. He has averaged at least 1.5 3-pointers per game in seven straight seasons, at least 6.8 assists in each of the last three, more than one steal in the last two, at least 16.2 points in each of his six seasons with Detroit and is an .886 career free-throw shooter.
It is true that the Pistons’ core is getting older and Billups played just 32.3 minutes per game last season – his lowest number since 2002-03, which was his first year as a full-time starter. But even if his minutes continue to decrease slightly, Billups is in the upper echelon of point guards and the offense revolves around him.
When to take him: In the third round as one of the not-quite-elite points guards.
Rasheed Wallace (PF/C)
Helps: Blocks, Steals, 3-pointers, Rebounds
Hurts: FG%, FT%
In the same boat as Billups, Wallace’s 30.5 minutes per game last season were his lowest in his four-year stint with Detroit. Wallace is now 34 and Detroit appears to be favoring their young players more to give them experience and set the franchise up for the eventual transition away from the recent nucleus.
Wallace’s value lies in his ability to contribute 3-pointers, blocks and steals – a rare combination for someone eligible at the center position. His biggest drawback is that he wildly inconsistent, capable of giving you 30/15 one night and near nothing the next.
Wallace has never shot better than 44 percent with the Pistons. He has gradually improved his FT% to a respectable level (.767 last season, .788 the season before) but is still unpredictable at the line.
Far from a safe, consistent pick, his upside as a source of 100-plus blocks and 3-pointers still makes him desireable.
When to take him: In the sixth round.
Richard Hamilton (SG)
Helps: Points, FT%, FG%, Assists, Steals
Notice a theme here? Hamilton played his fewest minutes per game in five years last season, though his per minute numbers stayed on target with his career averages.
Hamilton is one of the league’s most efficient scorers, averaging more than 17 points per game while still displaying a solid FG% (.484). He is an outstanding free-throw shooter (.853 career) and contributes around four assists and one steal per game – both marginally valuable numbers.
It should be recognized that Hamilton is also becoming more of an outside threat as he gets older, sinking a career-best 62 3-pointers in 72 games last season. He still should not be viewed as someone who helps significantly in that category, but it helps offset the overall decline in his numbers based on his shrinking minutes.
When to take him: In the seventh round.
With the decreasing numbers of minutes for the big three noted above, it means increased minutes for the rest of the roster. There is kind of a hodge-podge of Pistons to be drafted in the last couple of rounds in most fantasy leagues and here is my take:
Rodney Stuckey (PG): He looks very much like their PG of the future, but the idea that he is going to wrestle big minutes away from Billups is laughable. He may see 25 minutes per game, but that isn’t enough to make him a lock draft pick. However, he could be huge in providing insurance if you draft Billups or a waiver wire pickup should either of Detroit’s starting guards gets hurt.
Jason Maxiell (PF): Maxiell averaged 13.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per 36 minutes last season while shooting nearly 54 percent from the floor. His minutes have jumped in each of his first three seasons and he could be seeing 30 minutes per game this season. He is a must draft in the late rounds.
Antonio McDyess (PF): A solid source of rebounds and FG% last season, it’s unlikely that he can play 29 minutes per game for 78 games again. He is worth a late-round pick, for sure, but Stuckey or Maxiell have far more potential value.
Tayshaun Prince (SF): Statistically show me one area in which he significantly helps your team. He is a borderline draft pick in ANY 12-team league.
Kwame Brown (C): Seriously, wouldn’t you rather just chew on broken glass?
The Pistons are set up well long-term with big mean Aaron Afflalo and Amir Johnson but it just doesn’t seem either will get enough minutes to warrant a draft pick. However, in an injury befalls Wallace of McDyess, everyone to the waiver wire!
Be sure to check your league rules for specific position eligibility rules.