The Detroit Pistons enter this season hoping for a fresh start. After missing the playoffs the last two seasons, they parted ways with head coach Stan Van Gundy. Former Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey was brought in to help lead this franchise back to the postseason. The Eastern Conference will finally be won by a team that doesn’t have LeBron James starring for them, so new contenders must emerge. Teams like the Celtics, 76ers, and Raptors will be favorites to be the Eastern Conference’s new Finals representative. The Pistons will also feel like they can make a run to the postseason if they can stay healthy. Once you get to the playoffs, anything is possible. Here is a look at the Detroit Pistons season preview.
Countdown to NBA Tip-Off: Detroit Pistons Season Preview
What Worked Last Season
The Detroit Pistons made a splash last season when they traded for Blake Griffin at the end of January. The former number one pick played 25 games in the Motor City, averaging 19.8 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. The team was only 11-14 with their new star man on the court. Griffin is a legitimate number one option. For his career, he averages 22 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. He is locked into the max deal he signed last summer with the Clippers, so he will be the foundation this franchise is built around for the next few years.
Starting point guard Reggie Jackson played only 45 games a season ago, missing two and a half months with an ankle injury. He averaged 14.6 points and 5 assists per game a season ago, but more importantly, the Pistons were 27-18 when he played. His stats may not jump off the page, but as the point guard, he is the engine that makes this team go. Detroit was a pitiful 12-25 without Jackson in the lineup. He only played in four games with Griffin, and while it was a small sample size the team went 3-1. Their chemistry will need to develop quickly so the team can get off to a hot start.
What Needs Improvement
The biggest improvement for the Detroit Pistons this season is health. Griffin and Jackson have missed a lot of games the last few years. This team will only go as far as their two best players can lead them. That will not be very far if they are in the training room instead of on the court. The Pistons were 19th in the league in offensive efficiency a season ago. Having Griffin and Jackson on the court more often will help that ranking improve.
Andre Drummond will need to continue his improvement. The big man has made two of the last three All-Star games. He should get plenty of easy looks with Griffin and Jackson drawing the defense’s attention. Drummond hit a career-high 60% from the free throw line, an area in which he continues to progress in. Making free throws allows Drummond to stay on the floor late in games, where his defensive presence can continue to impact things.
Despite not having played much together, the core of this team returns from a season ago. The Detroit Pistons did add a few new names in the off-season to help build some depth. Veterans Jose Calderon and Zaza Pachulia arrive after being on opposite sides of the NBA Finals match-up a season ago. Calderon is entering his 14th season in the league and will provide good shooting and a solid back up point guard to play behind Jackson. Pachulia will add physicality and possibly more, as he is known to push the limits of what is considered dirty play. Glenn Robinson joins from Indiana, where he averaged 4 points a game off the bench a season ago. Second-year man Luke Kennard and rookie Bruce Brown‘s development on the wings could go a long way in solidifying this roster.
Health is the main concern of the Detroit Pistons heading into the season. Jackson and Griffin need to remain healthy for the duration of the season. The Pistons have a solid group to compliment their two main guys. They have to keep their stars on the court and off the training table.
Coach Casey couldn’t get past LeBron James while in Toronto and it ultimately cost him his job. Despite that, he is a very good coach, ironically winning NBA Coach of the Year in a season where he was fired. Now he has to find a balance between his three top players, Griffin, Jackson, and Drummond. That trio can match up with any team in the East. The Pistons should be in the 45-48 win range, possibly more if they can remain healthy. With James gone to the Lakers, the Eastern Conference is finally up for grabs.
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