Countdown to NBA Tip-Off: Detroit Pistons Season Preview

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 22: Basket-ball player Blake Griffin is seen, during Paris Fashion Week - Menswear Spring/Summer 2020, on June 22, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

When the Detroit Pistons shipped Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Motor City in 2018, there were high hopes that he would be the cornerstone to reestablishing Detroit Basketball.

In some ways, that did happen as the Pistons pushed through to win 41 games to clinch a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. However, they got annihilated by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. Within the last 10 NBA seasons, the Pistons only made the post-season three times, which all resulted in first-round sweeps.

The Pistons appear to be a team where their direction is uncertain. There is no telling whether they’ll rebuild or possibly re-tank between the beginning of this season and the end. Whatever that direction may be, there is a lot of internal and external improvement that must be made between the players and coaching staff to take the Pistons to the next level.

Detroit Pistons 2019 NBA Preview 

Recap of Last Season: 8th in Eastern Conference (41-41)

The beginning the season for the Pistons started out decent, as current and new players made improvements within their game. In his first season with the Pistons, Griffin averaged career-high numbers all across the board (24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists). Center Andre Drummond drastically improved his free throw percentage from 36 percent to 59 percent this season.

However, the Pistons struggled to win their last few games in order to grab a good playoff spot. In the end, Detroit managed to clinch the eighth playoff spot in the East ahead of the Charlotte Hornets. 

When competing against the Bucks in the first round, the Pistons looked lost. Although Griffin suffered a knee injury, he still gave it his all and played his heart out to keep the momentum going for the team. The surrounding players failed to step up when the Pistons needed it the most, and as a result, the Pistons once again faced a first-round sweep.

Off-Season Changes 

Despite having limited cap space, the Pistons addressed their depth issue by signing free agents to feasible contracts and deals.

The Pistons signed 30-year-old point guard Derrick Rose to a two-year, $15 million contract to fulfill the point guard depth. Detroit also signed Micheal Beasley to a veterans’ minimum contract.

During the 2019 NBA Draft, the Pistons selected Sekou Doumbouya 15th overall. In addition, they traded Jon Lueur to the Milwaukee Bucks for Tony Snell and the 30th pick in the draft. Acquiring Snell helps fulfill the wing position, as he can shoot threes and lock up on defense.

Other notable additions the Pistons acquired thus offseason include power forward Markieff Morris and center Christian Wood. In the last games of the season with the New Orleans Pelicans, Wood averaged 18.3 points and 8.9 rebounds while shooting 52.9% from the field; these are great numbers that make Wood a strong back-up center candidate to Drummond.

Of course, the Pistons did have some notable exits like Ish Smith, Wayne Ellington, and Glenn Robinson III. Still, getting rid of these players helped clear up cap space to be able to have options in the off-season. Detroit achieved their goal this off-season by upgrading the roster; every position is filled well enough for Dwayne Casey to start creating consistent lineups for the upcoming season.

Season Expectations 

The last time the Detroit Pistons went past the first round in the playoffs was back in the 2007-08 season. For several years, the Pistons as a team represents a seesaw: One moment they’re at the top and a contender, the next moment they’re down at rock bottom at the league; there is no balance.

The Pistons are completely capable of achieving that balance. Detroit has enough talent and depth now to get to that upper echelon. Achieving that patience will require a lot of patience and hard work.

Even though point guard Reggie Jackson played in all 82 games last season for the first time in his career, he is still not elite in scoring or defense. Jackson needs to be more of a playmaker and help out his teammates; he doesn’t have to solely rely on his athleticism a whole lot because he’s playing alongside Drummond Griffin, who will help him out in the paint.

The young players will still need to show more development. Luke Kennard is starting to become an elite three-pointer shooter as a third-year player; as long as he improves his defense, he has the potential to be a breakout star for the Pistons.

If free-agent role players like Rose and Snell can contribute consistently to the team, then the Pistons can achieve over 41 wins.

The bottom line is that Griffin is the foundation of the Pistons’ success. If he remains healthy long-term, it will be much easier for Detroit to keep up in the East.

Detroit Pistons 2019 Season Prediction

This season is the time to Pistons to break out being stagnant in the league. As the Eastern Conference gradually gets stronger, it seems that Detroit is still remaining on the seesaw, more so at the bottom than at the top. As far as assembling a team, the Pistons have done well; they managed to land a superstar in Griffin who they can build around; they managed to get rid of unnecessary contracts and sign players that actually add value to the team. The Pistons have a coach in Casey that developed some of the top offenses in the league. Detroit Basketball ball can come out on top this year if they play their cards right.

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