DEEEEEEE-TROOOOIIIIIIT BAAAAAASKETBAAAAAALLLLL. This should be an exciting year for Detroit Pistons fans (yes, it is my hometown team but absolutely no bias will be put into this evaluation of them). LeBron James recently said Detroit is a pretty talented team on paper and he sees it getting back to it’s winning ways. Everyone knows when Detroit has talent, they cannot be overlooked. They made seven straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances and that streak ended about five years ago (give or take). Will they start climbing back up the ladder this year? Here’s my take:
Guards (B+): Brandon Jennings, Rodney Stuckey, Chauncey Billups, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Will Bynum, Peyton Siva
Many question not just Brandon Jennings’ decision-making and shot selection, but also him as a point guard in this league. He had an impressive rookie year in Milwaukee and from there, his production didn’t get much better. I think a fresh start is exactly what he needed. It’s not completely fair to judge him in Milwaukee, where there usually isn’t the greatest amount of talent around you. Let’s not single out Jennings, though. He’ll have his occasional off-night, but Detroit has many other guards or replacements. Chauncey is back…and he still plays like he wants to win another championship. WIll Bynum is one of the ultimate energizers off the bench. Not to mention, he can be tough to stop if he’s in a groove. Then there’s also Stuckey and K.C.P, so Detroit’s backcourt is very deep.
Forwards (A-): Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Kyle Singler, Jonas Jerebko, Charlie Villanueva
The same thing I said for Brandon Jennings goes for “J-Smoove.” But Smith has a better case of defense as he is one of the most complete players in the NBA. Smith was a great addition for the Pistons. He gives them a really mean defensive identity, being on the court with Andre Drummond. He also gives Detroit a player capable of guarding the other team’s star player (contingent upon what position that player plays). Monroe has steadily developed his game and I think he’ll be much more comfortable playing the four and having two big bodies beside him. Singler is a trustworthy player off the bench. He knocks down shots and he is a very good decision-maker on offense. Jerebko earns his playing time by working extremely hard on both ends of the floor.
Centers (B+): Andre Drummond, Tony Mitchell, Josh Harrellson
First of all, keep in mind Greg Monroe will likely play a handful of minutes per game at center. But Drummond is clearly Detroit’s center, and perhaps player, of the future. There is nothing to not like about Drummond (except maybe his horrid free throw shooting). But I think Detroit will be able to tolerate that just as they did with Ben Wallace. The fans show Drummond a ton of support and that only motivates him to become better. Tony Mitchell was a good second-round snag in the draft. He’s one of many Piston players who will be committed to attacking the offensive glass.
Defense (B+): Detroit has the potential to be the best defensive team in the league as early as next season. I don’t give them an “A” on defense just yet. They’re still learning to play together. Plus, Greg Monroe has a lot of room to improve on defense, which could hurt them just a bit. Jennings doesn’t quite have the urge to play great defense as he’s very offensive-minded. Overall, Detroit should be great at protecting the paint and holding it’s ground.
Shooting (B-): Something funny is that Detroit had struggled to find a player who enjoyed shooting the ball 15-20 times a night in the past few years. But with the simple addition of Jennings and Smith, that problem is solved. Although the percentages may say Jennings isn’t a very good shooter, I believe otherwise. I think it’s a matter of him working on his shot selection because he definitely can shoot. Billups and Caldwell-Pope give Detroit two more hot shooters. Singler should contribute to Detroit’s improved shooting game as well.
Experience (B-): No need to panic, Detroit. Joe Dumars put together a nice, balanced team. There’s promising youth in Drummond. There’s veteran leadership in Billups. Josh Smith is something in between: an experienced player who still has young legs. Finally, both Jennings and Monroe have their primes ahead of them.
Standing – 6th East: I’m interested in seeing how consistent this team can be. It might be fair to expect an up-and-down season as the team is new and will take time to gel together. However, I don’t see why it’s talent shouldn’t capture a playoff spot for the first time since 2009.
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