For the past couple of seasons, the Detroit Pistons were terrible. After making the Eastern Conference Finals for six straight seasons from 2003-2008, the team missed the playoffs for the next six years. This past season they finally broke the drought and made the playoffs as an 8-seed. Despite getting swept in the first round by the Cleveland Cavaliers this year, I think this is the start of a bright future in the Motor City.
It all started with hiring the right guy in Stan Van Gundy. Van Gundy, in his second season as head coach and team president, made some great strides. Even thought the Pistons let go of starter Greg Monroe, Van Gundy brought it some great pieces such as acquiring Ersan Illysova, Aron Baynes, Marcus Morris and drafting Stanley Johnson. The Pistons also were able to re-sign Reggie Jackson, acquire Tobias Harris mid-season and of course Andre Drummond stepped up big time. The first-time All-Star averaged career highs in both points (16.2) and rebounds (14.8).
The team was also relatively heathy as a whole which was also another reason why the team chemistry was there in Detroit. With that, they went 44-38, their best record since 2008, which was the last time they made the playoffs before this year.
There is no question that re-siging Drummond is priority #1 for the Pistons this offseason. Like stated earlier, Drummond had a career year at only 22 years old. The only flaw he has is his free-throw shooting. It is no secret that he was absolutely terrible when it came to free throws (career low 35.5%). This has caused him to be on the bench of close games during the final seconds. If he wants to take the next step in being a top center in the league, free throws are his first priority. next on there list is finding key veteran role players that can come in for the second unit and make an impact.
The Pistons have a nice core to build around. Besides Drummond, they have Reggie Jackson (26 years old) who had a career year as the full-time starting point guard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (23) made some strides this year as a two-way player, Tobias Harris (23) and Marcus Morris (26) were great acquisitions to the team this year and look to have important roles moving forward. They also have Stanley Johnson (only 19) who also looks to make a big jump going forward. If Johnson can work on his game this summer, watch out for him.
It is starting to look like the rebuilding phase for the Detroit Pistons is coming to a close. The future is bright in the Motor City.