We’re just past the mid-point in the NBA season and it’s time to breakdown and make some second half predictions for the Detroit Pistons. The Motor City Hoopers are sitting at a tough 17-26 record and are currently slotted in the 9-seed in the Eastern Conference. It’s difficult to fathom how this could be when the East is as down as it is this year, but nonetheless, this is where they stand and they have plenty of work to do if they plan on securing a playoff spot. With all of that said, let’s hand out a couple awards and look into the crystal ball…
Drummond has given this Pistons franchise a lot to be excited about in his short span in Detroit. So far this season he is averaging 12.8 points, 12.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. He is also shooting 60 percent from the field which puts him in the league’s upper echelon in terms of field goal percentage.
What makes Drummond so impressive is the fact that he puts these numbers up without being a focal point in the offense. Drummond has used his frame and athletic ability to get up-and-down the floor in transition and clean up on the offensive glass. It’s worrisome to think where this Pistons team would be this year without him. The fact that eight other teams passed on Drummond’s talent is utterly shocking. At a mere 20-years-old, Drummond has a shot to be a reserve for the Eastern Conference All-Star team and it would be well deserved. Big men that can cruise the floor at his size don’t come around very often and the Pistons should be giddy that they at least have a cornerstone centerpiece at the center spot for many years to come.
Drummond still needs to work on his positional defense and make better decisions in the pick-and-roll, but he has the work ethic and desire to quickly turn himself into a viable Defensive Player of the Year candidate for years to come. Let’s also not forget that he needs to sure up his stroke at the free-throw line; shooting 40 percent from the stripe will continue to keep him off the floor in crunch time situations.
Oh the curious case that is J-Smoove. I’ve said it a million times and I will say it again, Josh Smith is one talented basketball player. Smith does things as a 6-foot-9, 225 pound forward that leaves one in complete awe, but he also does things that make you think that he is absolutely uncoachable. I’m not a professional basketball coach or player, but the fact that Smith still continues to launch 18-25 footers like they’re free really blows my mind. I don’t know if you all have read but Smith is possibly on his way to the worst three-point shooting performance in NBA history.
Smith is obviously playing out of position at the three and hasn’t played all that much at his natural power forward spot. It’s hard to play the small forward when shooting and perimeter defense are your two biggest struggles, and this is the case with Smith. Smith is uber-athletic, but he’s an uber-athletic power forward; not small forward. The Pistons are going to continue to falter if they don’t make a concerted effort to keep Smith at the four spot for the majority of games and away (far away) from the perimeter. This probably means that the Pistons will have to deal Greg Monroe and although Monroe could be a franchise, borderline All-Star power forward for many years to come, the frontline experiment is a bust and it’s time to shut down.
Second Half Bold Predictions
Pistons make a deal to solve frontcourt log jam
The Pistons are going to deal Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey in some sort of package for a legitimate small forward in return. Like I aforementioned, the Pistons can no longer rely on Josh Smith to play around the perimeter and make shots–it’s a recipe for disaster. It’ll be tough to let Monroe go, but the Pistons can’t and shouldn’t sign him for the maximum contract he’ll be asking for. Not only is that an issue, the Pistons are really strapped with Smith after they gave him $54 million over the next four years.
There’s an array of teams that could use the services of Monroe. The Washington Wizards have already expressed interest in the former Georgetown Hoya, the Orlando Magic would be an interesting trade partner, the New Orleans Pelicans could want to bring back their hometown kid, and I believe the Houston Rockets could be the wildcard team in the picture because of their need for a reliable power forward.
Pistons sneak into playoffs at the buzzer as an 8-seed
It will be an absolute shame if this team can’t find a way to claw and scratch their way into the playoffs. The Pistons will make a deal at the deadline (or sometime before) that will implement a more natural starting five and one that will ultimately sure up their porous defense and nauseating outside shooting. The improvement of these two areas will help bolster the Pistons into the playoffs, albeit with a sub-.500 record as an 8-seed in the lowly East.
There’s two options: Make some moves and get into the playoffs, or tank and get your franchise another viable piece and move head on into the future. There’s no grey area here; missing the playoffs and potentially losing a top-eight lottery protected pick would be crippling and result in a front office fire sale.