The Pistons have essentially four starters locked: Brandon Jennings at point guard, Josh Smith at small forward, Greg Monroe at power forward and Andre Drummond at center.
That leaves shooting guard, where there seemed to be several contenders.
- Chauncey Billups
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
- Kyle Singler
- Rodney Stuckey
Now, halve that list, Detroit coach Maurice Cheeks indicates.
Cheeks, one day after saying he would use multiple starters at shooting guard during preseason, said the ultimate decision probably comes down to Caldwell-Pope or seventh-year veteran Rodney Stuckey.
I didn’t consider Singler a strong contender, even though he started a large portion of last season at shooting guard.
But I’m surprised Billups isn’t more firmly in the mix. Really, I thought he’d initially win the job before eventually being replaced by Caldwell-Pope, the No. 9 pick in the 2013 Draft.
The Pistons aren’t afraid to start a rookie. Singler, Brandon Knight, Monroe and Jonas Jerebko have started in each of the last four seasons. I just figured it could shake Caldwell-Pope if he was thrust into the starting lineup and it turned out he wasn’t ready. Better to wait until he clearly deserves the job, because it’s much more palatable to go old to young rather than young to old.
Why Billups and Caldwell-Pope ahead of the other Singler and Stuckey? Billups and Caldwell-Pope both shoot well from beyond the arc, a skill the Pistons need, because they have no quality outside threats in their starting frontcourt. Smith, Monroe and Drummond all excel near the basket, and a good shooting off guard could help them get space in the paint.
That’s not Stuckey, who made 30.2 percent of his 3-pointers last season and is shooting 28.8 percent from beyond the arc for his career.
In a vacuum, Stuckey might be the best shooting guard Detroit has, but he wouldn’t be starting in a vacuum – and it’s still questionable whether he’s the best, anyway. He seems to be a poor fit, which should give the edge to Caldwell-Pope.
Then again, I never thought Stuckey would have gotten this far in the competition, so who knows?