The Detroit Pistons made quite a splash this offseason, transforming from one of the Eastern Conference’s worst teams to one of the league’s most promising.
Detroit signed two of the top free agents in Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings to team up with their young, homegrown big men, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. With this current talent the Pistons certainly have serious playoff hopes for the first time in almost five years.
Despite all of the talent that the Pistons have added to their roster,there will certainly be many hurdles to overcome throughout the course of the season. The biggest obstacle being floor spacing.
When the Pistons signed Josh Smith to a 4-year, $54 million contract, many questions were raised about how he would fit with both Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond and many comparisons were made to Joe Dumars’ 2009 free agent signings, for good reason.
Josh Smith’s combination of size and athleticism allow him to guard both the three and four positions, however, his lack of outside shooting makes the four his natural position given that he shot just 33 %from 16 to 23 feet and 24% percent from 10 to 15 feet last season. But, with both Drummond and Monroe on the roster and needing big minutes to develop, Smith will see the majority of his time at small forward.
All three players are very successful when operating in the post, given the fact that last season they combined to shoot 62.9 percent, with Smith shooting over 70 percent which was one of the NBA’s best. However, things can get pretty ugly from outside that range as the three combined to hit just 31 percent outside of the post.
With these three sharing court time together, not only will Smith be forced to play the 3 position, but teams with any understanding of Smith’s career percentages will allow him to shoot and focus their attention on Monroe and Drummond in the post.
This is where newcomers Luigi Datome and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope come into play. While there will more than likely be growing pains for the rookies, their long range shooting is crucial to the Pistons success. Both players showed their ability to shoot from deep at Virtus Roma and the University of Georgia, respectively. Pope connected on 37 percent from three with Datome knocking down nearly 40 percent from deep. With Chauncey Billups being the only other above average three point shooter on the Pistons roster, both should see quality minutes to help space the floor.
If both Datome and Caldwell-Pope can consistently hit open shots as they have in the past, this will force opposing defenses out of the post so Smith, Drummond, and Monroe can all operate more efficiently.
It will be very interesting to see how Maurice Cheeks is able to use these three big men and what rotations he uses to get them open looks near the basket. But,one thing’s for certain, if both “Gigi” and KCP can effectively space the floor, it will make his job a whole lot easier.
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