After eight straight years without a playoff berth the Detroit Pistons found their way back into the playoffs last season. With Stan Van Gundy entering his 3rd season as head coach, the Pistons are looking to continue to build off their young and talented core that includes Andre Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Stanley Johnson, Tobias Harris and Reggie Jackson – all 26 or younger. With the offseason the NBA had, specifically the Eastern Conference, the Pistons remain a dark horse to contend for the conference’s best.
An article from The Detroit News describes what head coach Stan Van Gundy said about his team during media day. “What Cleveland did last year is a really good thing for our guys. The way I look at it is, here’s the team that won the championship. On one hand, we were able to play competitively with them. There’s hope there. We’re not light-years away.”
Biggest Offseason Move
The Pistons entered the offseason looking to build on their depth and the biggest position Detroit needed to fill was at PG. As a result, they signed PG Ish Smith from the Philadelphia 76ers, who is expected be the starter for the first game of the season as PG Reggie Jackson is out 6 to 8 weeks with knee tendonitis. While with the 76ers Smith averaged 15 points per game, 4 rebounds and 7 assists all while keeping his turnovers in check. Assuming Jackson’s scheduled return is correct and with the lack of PG’s on their roster, Smith will need to play an even bigger role than he had during his time spent in Philly.
PG – Ish Smith, Reggie Jackson, Ray McCallum
SG – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Darrun Hillard, Michael Gbinije
SF – Marcus Morris, Stanley Johnson
PF – Tobias Harris, Jon Leur, Henry Ellenson
C – Andre Drummond, Boban Majanovic, Aron Baynes
While Jackson is out, Smith will be the starter at PG, in which he is fully capable of being even if Jackson were out for the season. However, as it stands right now, Smith is an above-average back up that can start if needed. With second year SF Stanley Johnson still looking to find his own, Marcus Morris should continue to start at the small forward position and Johnson will come off the bench. There is no point in moving Morris to the PF position over Tobias Harris because the Pistons were 16-9 with Harris as the starting PF last season. Not to mention Harris was required in a trade during the midway point of last season.
Once Reggie Jackson returns, Detroit should be firing on all cylinders with their same five-man squad it used down the stretch last season. According to nbawowy.com, Jackson, KCP, Morris, Harris and Drummond produced an offensive rating of 112.9, trailing only the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the season-long standings. No longer is Detroit’s bench a huge liability with the offseason moves they made. Each position has legit backups that are capable of putting up big numbers on any given night. Top that with the power of their starters, the Pistons are knocking on the door as one of the dark horses to compete in the Eastern Conference.
Final Record: 50-32
Divison Standing: 2nd
Playoff Berth: Yes