Maurice Cheeks: Pistons are better with Josh Smith at power forward

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Pistons head coach Maurice Cheeks has finally come out and said it: Josh Smith is the team's No. 1 power forward.

Josh Smith has been a questionable fit in Detroit from the start. The Pistons already had Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, their presumed frontcourt of the future, and Atlanta's attempts to play Smith at small forward always resulted in far too many missed jumpers. All season, Detroit head coach Maurice Cheeks has started the three of them together, and it's led to the expected spacing issues on offense.

After Monday's practice, Cheeks expressed his preference for playing Smith at the power forward spot with either Drummond or Monroe manning the middle, rather than playing the three of them together or having the Drummond-Monroe duo out there at the same time, via David Mayo of

Over at Detroit Bad Boys, Ben Gulker calls this "the clearest statement we have yet from the coaching staff" about the much-discussed frontcourt. He goes on to say that he thinks this is "nothing short of disaster for the franchise," as it is wasting the opportunity to develop Monroe and Drummond together.

Gulker might be right. There's a reason Pistons fans were so excited about their two young bigs. The fully idealized version of that frontcourt is terrifying. The counter-argument is that the idealized version of the frontcourt is different than the reality and that Monroe's defensive limitations might not be worth what they have to pay him this summer in restricted free agency.

It's a frustrating time for fans in Detroit, and the frontcourt situation represents the problem: this team is stuck somewhere in between trying to compete now and trying to build for the future. Having Smith increases the Pistons' talent level, but it likely has gotten in the way of Monroe and Drummond building chemistry. Detroit is 16-22, which is good enough for seventh place in the terrible East, but not good enough to generate much excitement. Cheeks using Smith at power forward as much as he can is best for Smith and probably best for the team in the short term, but it might not take Detroit anywhere.

More from SB Nation NBA:

Sunday Shootaround: No panic moves coming for the Suns

NBA power rankings: Knicks and Nets are climbing

The Hook: There's no "right" way to win

Michael Carter-Williams has 76ers ahead of schedule

Hoosier Hysteria: How the Pacers won back the heart of Indiana

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.


You must be a member of to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at You should read them.


You must be a member of to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.