Expecting the Pistons To Thrive Isn’t A Joke

There are high expectations for the Detroit Pistons this coming season after they finally made the playoffs this year. Their roster is bustling with talent, all of the starters are younger than 27. The potential is definitely there, but will the team become Eastern Conference contenders this season? Or do they still need more time? Whether or not the Pistons are ready, the 2016-2017 season is coming soon. Here is an analysis:

Reggie Jackson: A-

Jackson is primarily known for his offensive game, averaging 18.8 points and 6.2 assists, although his defense isn’t too shabby either. For a guard, he’s impressive with rebounding, averaging 3.2 per game. He has All-Star potential and after this past season, even the skeptical Detroit fans have to swallow their critiques. His fighting energy translates into 100% effort whenever he’s on the court and he’s capable of playing through fourth quarter pressure. However, his endurance and health have been getting in the way of his minutes.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: B+

Caldwell-Pope keeps getting better and better. The highlight of his career was during the playoffs when he averaged 15.3 points and was shooting 44% from the three-point line. He is a crucial member of the Pistons lineup because of his superior perimeter defense, something the team could use more of.

Marcus Morris: B

Shooting 36.2% from the three-point arc, Marcus Morris is one of the most consistent players on the Pistons. He averaged 5.1 rebounds per game with a career high of 12 rebounds last season, though those numbers don’t do justice to his defense.

Morris is capable of guarding and defending star players when others can’t – exemplified in a Raptors game when DeMar DeRozan had 7 points. His weakness is he does not necessarily match up well against speedier players.

Tobias Harris: B-

Deja vu. Another forward who’s the same size as Morris and is also good at shooting. Tobias Harris shoots 46.4% in field goals, much of which is close-range. When he can’t get past bigger defenders for a layup, he can resort to a floater to finish the job. Harris isn’t a great defender, and is small for a power forward.  His defense can be improved, but he has a long way to go. Thankfully, Andre Drummond will be there to pick up the slack.

Andre Drummond:  A

Detroit has been looking for an organizational star and in Drummond they have found a defensive beast. Andre Drummond has a 7’6” wingspan that allows him to grab double-doubles most nights. Averaging 14.8 rebounds per game, Drummond controls the paint for the Pistons. He can also create steals and easy baskets.

The only reason Drummond is not a perfect player is his dreadful free-throw shooting. It’s such a deficiency in the team’s gameplay that there have been rumors of him trying to learn the underhanded (granny-style) free-throw. This has since been debunked by Drummond himself, but fans still think it may be the way to go.

Bench Unit: A-

The notable sixth man on the Pistons is Stanley Johnson. At 6’7”, he has no trouble getting past centers with his strength and athleticism. His height also doesn’t stop him from being able to defend in the post.

Jon Leuer has the size Detroit’s bench needs in the post without giving up shooting ability. His three-point shooting percentage is 38.2% and his field-goal percentage is 47.9%.

The question is: will the Pistons bench be able to shoot? The frontcourt players will have no problem with scoring, but Ish Smith and Darrun Hilliard aren’t very strong substitutes for the starting guards.

Coaching Unit: B-

The coaching staff does a good job working with what they have, which is a group of non-veteran players. The problem is, the Pistons don’t have a system in mind for the type of players they need. The Pistons are basically a group of misfits that don’t work as a unit. There’s a reason why the guards and power forwards have been changing every season. Stan Van Gundy is too busy focusing on countering other teams in the NBA when he should be focusing on making his own team work. He just keeps trying to obtain more and more versatile players instead of specialized ones. With Morris, Harris, Leuer, and Johnson on the court, Detroit is able to play big or small depending on their opponent for the night, which solves only a fragment of their real issues.

Final Grade: B+

The Pistons can compete against top teams, but they aren’t a top team themselves.  Following the departure of Steve Blake and Joel Anthony, the biggest concern going into the season is the lack of experience among the players. Aron Baynes is the oldest player at 29, so it’s unclear where the leadership will be on the court, if there is any.

The playoffs are definitely a reality for the Pistons next year. Becoming a top team in the Eastern Conference? Not so much.

photo via llananba