The Pistons of the Motor City are currently ranked 11th in the Eastern Conference with a 21-33 record. This season has been nothing less than a roller coaster for this team – playing inconsistent basketball and simply playing to the level of their opponents. I’m sure this isn’t the season that Coach Stan Van Gundy envisioned but at the same time he must be pleased with the progress that they have made. With half of the season to go, the Pistons can still make the playoffs if they can get hot going forward.
Detroit started their first nine games with a 3-6 record and then went on to lose 13 straight games, some being to a few of the worst teams in the league, but when December 22 came, things started to change. Detroit decided to release starting forward Josh Smith due to underachievement by the team and the necessity to make change. Smith didn’t work with this team due to the fact that he simply was not a wing player. With the two big men holding down the paint in Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, it forced Josh to play on the perimeter causing him to be out of place. He often took outside shots in which he was consistently inefficient and when he decided to post, it drew either Drummond or Monroe out of the paint and that wasn’t going to win them games.
Following the release of Josh Smith, we witnessed possibly one of the greatest streaks from a team following the waiver of one player. The Pistons went on to win 7 straight games and overall go 16-10. We’ve seen an improvement from this team but they’re still missing some pieces to be the team they want to be. The injury to Brandon Jennings hurt this team big time. Having one of the most efficient seasons in his career, Jennings was averaging 15.4 points a game along with 6.6 assists before rupturing his achilles. He created a lot of offense for others but going forward, they’re looking to D.J. Augustin to fill that void.
Detroit’s biggest strengths are their post players. A lot of what they do relies on Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. They both average double digit points and double digit rebounds on the season. They bring that old school style back of dominating in the post that has been nonexistent in the NBA in the past few years. Even though they still keep up with the modern day basketball, running a lot of pick and roll, they have that element that a lot of teams lack and that’s offensive post play. They are ranked 4th in points in the paint and average the most second chance points. D.J. Augustin has stepped up into the starting point guard role since the absence of Brandon Jennings. He’s been seeing about 10-15 minutes more a night and has been producing about 20.3 points per game along with 8.2 assists per game since obtaining the #1 point guard position.
The wing is where the Pistons need the most help. They have the young guard from Georgia in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Still trying to find his way in the league, he struggles to score consistently night in and night out, but where he’s most effective is on the defensive end with his athleticism and his length. A stud from his days in the ACC, Kyle Singler hasn’t had the career that many thought he would in the NBA. Coming into the league, many thought his shooting ability and high IQ would lead him to having a good career but it seems that his game hasn’t quite transitioned to that of the professional level yet.
Going forward, the Detroit Pistons have a few holes to fill to make their team better. They need a scoring option on the wing that can create his own shot and consistently score. There’s been recent news that Gundy and management have their eye on Joe Johnson which would be a huge improvement to their offense. In the upcoming offseason, Stan Van Gundy has a dilemma to face in trying to keep Greg Monroe. He will be an unrestricted free agent and Stan’s hope is that he stays.
“It’s not gonna happen,” Van Gundy said Wednesday. “I don’t know where Greg’s head will be in the offseason, but we’re still hopeful of Greg Monroe for the long term. And with him going into free agency, you won’t get a lot, maybe a pick. I’m not gonna walk in that locker room and give up a piece like that and then tell the guys we’re trying to make the playoffs. They deserve the chance to ride this out. You never say never to anything, but I can tell you about 99.9 percent, Greg Monroe’s not going anywhere.” via detroitnews.com
Another improvement that drastically has to made is their bench. Detroit needs some players who can make a bigger impact off the bench if they desire to be a playoff contender in the future. Jodie Meeks is their only consistent bench player and when it comes to creating a championship caliber team, bench depth is very essential. The Pistons have a ways to go to get back to the glory days of the “Bad Boys” and the ’04 Pistons, but from what I’ve seen recently I believe they are just a few pieces away to making themselves contenders in the NBA again.