Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Heat’s Erik Spoelstra Protege Ideal Head Coach Hire For Pistons

Detroit Pistons players surround New York Knicks forward

The Detroit Pistons made a tough but necessary decision when they removed head coach Monty Williams from his post.

In leading the Pistons to 14-68 in 2023-24 and a historic 28-game losing streak, the former Coach of the Year performed far below expectations. If it was simply a matter of talent deficiency, he would likely still be in Detroit. However, Williams’s decisions undermined the roster, with his hubris knocking the Pistons off track early in the season. Now, Detroit has the opportunity to rectify the decision they made last summer.

This doesn’t mean that they go back to Kevin Ollie, whose tenure as the Brooklyn Nets head coach reeked of favoritism. Their desire to hire African-American head coaches is admirable, but neither Jerry Stackhouse or Sam Cassell are the ideal head coaches for this group. Miami Heat assistant coach Chris Quinn is though, and if they get him, they can probably keep most of their core together. With that said, although the Pistons will endeavor to normalize the spacing, they can’t deny that their roster’s strengths that of the Heat’s.

Heat’s Chris Quinn Ideal Head Coach Hire For Pistons

In terms of the intangibles, Detroit’s youngsters have demonstrated a lot of mental strength. They’ve handling adversity with maturity, keeping their heads held high. They don’t yet exude toughness like the Heat, but they could with the right leadership.

Quinn is the right man for the job.

Here’s what ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz had to say about him in 2022:

“Ask Heat insiders who most embodies the team’s culture, and Quinn is commonly the answer (one league source affectionately referred to Quinn as (Erik) Spoelstra’s “mini-me” for his temperament and organizational skills). He’s an emotionally stable leader who inspires confidence in players…”

Another luxury of hiring Quinn is that he can speak Cunningham’s language and to what he sees as a former NBA point guard, knowing that he’s being understood and vice-versa. His experience as a point guard has also lended itself to his basketball IQ, with his tactics even lauded by his players.

A Two-Way Mirror

The Pistons’ on-court product mirrors Miami’s in myriad ways.

Looking at the position groups, one can see the offensive similarities between Cade Cunningham and Jimmy Butler. Cunningham and Butler are jumbo-sized playmakers. They’re volume scorers who can get buckets all over the court but are most efficient when attacking the teeth of the defense.

There are also similarities between Jalen Duren and Bam Adebayo. Both are slightly undersized but uber athletic centers who can impact the game as finishers and facilitators. If Detroit re-signs Simone Fontecchio, he becomes a foil for Duncan Robinson, both being 3-point specialists with enough athleticism to attack hard closeouts.

The key to their ability to match Miami’s defense falls on Ausar Thompson and Quentin Grimes though. There are no guarantees that either or both will start. However, without a trade, the most feasible starting five for the Pistons entering 2024-25 may be Cunningham-Grimes-Thompson-Fontecchio-Duren.

Position Battles

As for the position battles, Jaden Ivey’s a streaky jump shooter who needs the ball and an inconsistent defender as well. As a result, he doesn’t complement Cunningham as well as Grimes —a 3-and-D wing —does. Furthermore, he does offer a lot in a sixth man role, especially with Cunningham’s injury history.

Isaiah Stewart offers better spacing than Thompson and his physical tools lend themselves to him being a solid defender. Yet, Thompson’s a defensive event creator, more of a weapon than picket on the fence, which is what Stewart is. If Thompson comes into or leaves training camp with a much improved 3-point stroke, his spot may be secured.

Given his work ethic and the Pistons’ decision to hire renowned shooting coach Fred Vinson, there’s reason to believe he will.

The No. 5 Pick

There is the chance that Detroit drafts G League Ignite forward Matas Buzelis or Colorado swingman Cody Williams with the No. 5 pick though.

Both are impactful defenders, with Buzelis demonstrating a knack for weakside blocks and Williams a multipositional defender with suffocating length. The question for Buzelis is the same for Thompson though, as he shot 26.1 percent from 3 with the Ignite after making 43.1 percent of his 3s as a high school senior. Meanwhile, Williams made 41.5 percent of his 3-point attempts.

In any case, Thompson and Grimes are undoubtedly Detroit’s best perimeter defenders. Indeed, they’re among the best in the league. As a result, they’ll spearhead the Pistons’ mission to be a serious defensive team.

If Detroit lets Fontecchio walk in free agency, bringing on Buzelis or Williams, they get that much better though. To his credit, Fontecchio is respectable at that end. However, he’s not an all-league-caliber defender like Thompson, Grimes, Buzelis, or Williams.


More Posts