It seems like forever since the Pistons were relevant in the NBA. It has been almost a decade since they played for an NBA Title, and the last time they had an over .500 record was the 2007-2008 season. Is this year going to be the year to return to the promise land?
The Detroit Pistons have made a couple of moves this off season, bringing in some sub superstar level, high end talent. Trading for Brandon Jennings from Milwaukee and signing Josh Smith away from Atlanta in free agency has given the Pistons some name power.
In the NBA it is very rare for a championship to be won by a complete team effort, it is usually won by star power. It has been this way forever. You can argue that the 2003/04 Pistons and some of the recent San Antonio Spurs teams have been the only exception to the rule for a very long time. The Pistons very likely won’t be able to woo the top tier star power on the open market, so they will have to win together as a team or find stars in the draft, which hasn’t been the track record of Pistons General Manager and former Motor City Bad Boy Joe Dumars.
This year’s team will be very young, with only 2 guys that are at or over the age of 30, but should have a lot of room to grow together.
Now, there is no real superstar power on the roster. If 2013 first round pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ends up in the starting lineup, the entire starting five could all be under the age of 27, and this could still be true if Rodney Stuckey starts, just not Chauncey Billups, the elder statesman of the group. This roster may not have the guys that are going to be the subject of any of the NBA studio TV shows on a daily basis, mostly because they are quiet and you don’t play in New York or Los Angeles. But this team, if it gels could be a force to be reckoned with.
Brandon Jennings will be your starter assuming he is healthy. Last season he averaged:
- 36.2 minutes per game
- 39.9 field goal percentage
- 37.5 three point percentage
- 17.5 PPG, 6.5 APG
He should continue to put up these sort of numbers, hopefully with an improved shooting percentage. Hopefully he, under the veteran tutelage of Chauncey Billups and Coach Maurice Cheeks, a former point guard himself, can improve his overall game.
Chauncey Billups will likely see more time at the 2 guard than at the point, and out of control Will “the thrill” Bynum will see spurts at the point. Both of those guys will be 15-20 minute players averaging between 5-8 points each.
My assumption is that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will share minutes with Chauncey and get himself acclimated to NBA play. He is a rookie that doesn’t really try to get to the basket much instead relying on his skills from beyond the arch. Last year in college at Georgia KCP put up:
- 33.9 minutes per game
- 43.3% field goal percentage
- 37.3% three point percentage
- 18.5 PPG, 1.8 APG, 7.1 RPG
This is a position that the will struggle a little bit at. None of these guys that will play the 2 guard will be great defenders. Rodney Stuckey is an awful defender, KCP isn’t considered to be the best athlete but its to early to brand him as a liability and Chauncey Billups is 37 years old. Lots of teams will abuse the Pistons in this match up, but you can ultimately still win the war.
Josh Smith will play the most minutes here, but will be slightly out of position as he’s played the undersized and more athletic power forward for most of his career in Atlanta. He will be able to keep up, but will it require a reduction in minutes or more wear and tear causing him to miss games during the season?
Josh Smith put up in Atlanta last year:
- 35.3 minutes per game
- 46.5% field goal percentage
- 30.3 % three point percentage
- 17.5 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.8 BPG
In most matchup’s outside of Lebron James in Miami, the Pistons will be even or have an upper hand. That is the first time you can say that about the small forward since early in Tayshawn Prince’s career or even all the way back to Grant Hill.
Greg Monroe will complete his transition from the center spot to the power froward to moving over for powerful second year player Andre Drummond. Monroe isn’t the best athlete in the NBA, (actually may be among the 10 worst) but makes up for it by being fundamentally solid and working his ass off. Monroe won’t play as much as in previous years minutes wise, but will still be a major contributor.
Last year Greg Monroe put up:
- 33.2 minutes per game
- 48.6% fielding percentage
- 16.0 PPG, 9.6 RPG, and 3.5 APG
Charlie Villaneuva will spell Monroe off the bench, and will essentially be in there to huck up three’s and not play any defense. Josh Smith will play here some too when they decide to go small as well.
Assuming he’s healthy, Andre Drummond will be playing the majority of minutes at the center position. He’s young and doesn’t really have an offensive game outside of the dunk but is the quintessential rim protector. He could be a double, double average guy very soon, but has lots of maturing on the offensive end before he becomes a force to be reckoned with.
Last Season Drummond put up:
- 20.7 minutes per game
- 60.8% field goal percentage
- 50.0% three point percentage (1/2)
- 37.1% free throw percentage
- 7.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.6 BPK
Overall, the Pistons may be a playoff team, or the could continue to struggle and flounder in obscurity. If Mo Cheeks is really a good coach, he will get the best out of his guys and this could be a 50+ win basketball team. If not, it could be another awful 50 loss season.