As a site, we ranked all the NBA teams from worst to best for our release of season previews. Day eleven’s release of a season preview ends up being the overlooked Detroit Pistons. I will provide a recap of their past season, an offseason recap, and then finally the season preview all of us fans are eager for.
Last Season’s Record: 32-50
Playoff Status: Missed playoffs
The Detroit Pistons had the most up-and-down season for any NBA team. They started off the year as one of the worst teams in the entire league. A lineup consisting of Brandon Jennings-Jodie Meeks/KCP-Josh Smith-Greg Monroe-Andre Drummond failed to produce expected results. This was predicted by most analysts; there simply is no spacing and not enough ball to go around. In a surprise move, they waived Josh Smith and their season turned around big time. They got off to a hot streak after the trade, but disaster struck when their star and leader, Brandon Jennings went down with a horrific Achilles injury. The Pistons countered with an unexpected deadline move, acquiring Reggie Jackson. Furthermore, they just missed the playoffs, but they were not far off.
The Pistons kicked off their summer in the 2015 NBA draft when they drafted Stanley Johnson, the defensive stud out of Arizona. They needed a capable wing player who can impact both sides on the court and man the three position. That’s what they got with the Stanimal. Johnson was linked with Detroit from day one after the lottery, and as predicted he fell right into their laps. There was questions of whether or not Detroit should have selected Justise Winslow, but after a dominant summer league, Johnson looks to have been the better selection for now. In the second round, Detroit added Darrun Hillard, who does not look like he will be making many contributions this season. Overall, the draft was a success with Detroit, who know have a potential two-way star in Johnson to build around.
Going into the offseason, Detroit was seen to only have one priority, and that was resigning Reggie Jackson. Detroit gave Jackson a max contract, which many people were surprised about, but his style of play fits perfectly with the offense Detroit currently runs, so this deal should work out. Detroit also traded for former Milwaukee Buck, Ersan Ilyasova. Ilyasova provides Detroit with the stretch four they were desperately needing. We all know how Stan Van Gundy likes to surround his center with shooters, so here is another piece to the puzzle. They followed this up by allowing talented big man Greg Monroe to head off to the Bucks in Milwaukee; this move was the right move for both sides, as he did not fit in Detroit’s long-term vision. Nonetheless, with the help of the Suns who were trying to land LaMarcus Aldridge, the Pistons landed talented big man Marcus Morris. He provides the Pistons with some depth at the 3 and 4. He can space the floor and guard his position well. Detroit also made some other depth signing moves in the form of, Steve Blake, Aron Baynes, Danny Granger, and Reggie Bullock. With the questions surrounding whether or not Detroit will trade Brandon Jennings, Blake offers consistency off the bench, as well as a good veteran leader with playoff experience. Baynes may have been overpaid coming from San Antonio, but his skill set coming off the bench should improve the offensive flow and energy for the second unit. Granger may not have much left in the tank anymore, after battling so many injuries the past few years, but his leadership will be key to keeping the Pistons on track for a hopeful playoff berth. The offseason was pretty successful for Detroit, as they improved their depth, and kept Jackson around, making a statement they are ready to try and compete for a playoff spot.
Heading into the season, Detroit is looked at as a dark horse playoff contender. I think they have a great shot of making the playoffs as an eighth seed, due to their depth, good sixth man (Jennings), and plethora of shooters. Andre Drummond will need to step-up and become the superstar most of us are waiting for him to consistently be. With a full offseason under his belt, and time to build chemistry, Jackson should be looked at as a potentially candidate for most improved, as he should flourish in Detroit’s offensive system. A big X-Factor/question mark surrounds Brandon Jennings. Jennings was having a tremendous season after Josh Smith was let go, until the Achilles injury, and although he has stated he is comfortable coming off the bench, Detroit could look to capitalize off of Jennings, who is scheduled to be a free agent this upcoming offseason. If they do keep him, Detroit possess an elite scorer for their bench unit, which will be critical in the more competitive Eastern Conference. Stanley Johnson will need to also be able to make immediate contributions, not necessarily on the offensive side, but defensively, Johnson will be leaned upon to take the opposing best perimeter player. Jodie Meeks and Kentavious Cardwell-Pope will need to find their stride early on, and be able to consistently bombard opposing defenses from three. The bench should have more consistency this year, due to Jennings and Blake leading them. With all of this put together, Detroit could be looking at a playoff year, in which many other playoff teams would not want to play a team with such good depth and shooters. Although Detroit will not likely be a top seed, they will see a great amount of improvement this upcoming season.
By: Hamed Qashmar, @Hamed Qashmar and Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17