Farewell to the Palace
This season, the Pistons will be playing at the Little Caesars Arena in midtown Detroit. It’s a sad day in Detroit; fans have cherished the Palace of Auburn Hills for years. The franchise won two out of their three championships in the Palace.
At the end of 2016-17 season, owner Tom Gores decided that it was best for coach Stan Van Gundy to focus solely on coaching. Van Gundy’s demotion from president of basketball operations was not a surprise to some.
Focus on coaching
The former Orlando Magic head coach took the Pistons to the playoffs during the 2015-16 season. After making the playoffs for the first time in six years, Pistons fans want more. With a depleted Eastern Conference, the franchise should be able to slide into the eighth or seventh seed.
Management has done a good job of trying to build around the former All-Star Andre Drummond. However, the team’s morale might be shot due to Van Gundy informing the whole league that his entire roster was on the market.
In order for the Pistons to make the playoffs, they need to have a serious sit down with Reggie Jackson. The former Oklahoma City Thunder guard can ball, but loses sight of the rest of the team at times.
Last year, the rotation featured just about everyone on the roster because of the lack of defense. During the summer, Detroit’s management added a few pieces to the roster. The organization acquired Avery Bradley and a 2019 second-round draft pick in exchange for forward Marcus Morris.
This summer, management made the call to draft Duke guard Luke Kennard, who impressed during the NBA Summer League, averaging 17 points, and two assists. In addition to Kennard, the team signed Langston Galloway who has proven to be a reliable pass-first guard.
The Motor City franchise signed center Eric Moreland and Anthony Tolliver. The franchise also parted ways with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and center Aron Baynes.
The current roster consists of 16 players, and one could be cut or sent to the G-League due to the two-way player rule.
If the Pistons want to return to the playoffs, they need to improve on defense and find ways to get easy buckets. Van Gundy is normally great with surrounding his big men with shooters and the addition of Bradley will help space the floor. Bradley can guard a team’s best player and still score around 15 points per game.
Now that Van Gundy is just the coach, he can work on building relationships with his players instead of trying to shop them off via conference call.
Playoffs are Possible
The Pistons will sneak into the playoffs because of their young core, lack of competition in the east and their head coach can finally focus on coaching. Last year forward Tobias Harris led the team in scoring with 16 points per game.
Throughout last season Harris spent a lot of time adapting to new roles and playing time. Van Gundy tried to find a balance by having him play off the bench. With the departure of Caldwell-Pope, who only averaged 13.8points per game, Harris should move up as the number two scoring option if not one.
Before being stripped of his role as president of basketball operations Van Gundy constructed a nice core in Jackson, Harris, and Drummond.
In addition to the young core, the roster features great role players like Avery Bradley, Reggie Bullock, Langston Galloway, Henry Ellenson, Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard, Jon Leuer, Ish Smith and Anthony Tolliver.
Other players like Dwight Buycks, Boban Marjanovic, Luis Montero, Eric Moreland, Landry Nnoko, Derek Willis and Beno Udrih will probably have to compete for playing time and a spot on the final roster. (16 spots)
Last season the team averaged 101 points per game, which is great considering past years where the team struggled to score. If you are Detroit you don’t have to worry about any team in the east challenging you on defense unless it’s the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Boston Celtics. (granted anything can happen)
Drummond has to have a big year both offensively and defensively. Unlike most teams, the Pistons can adapt to any style of play whether it’s small ball, pick and roll or a big line-up. Drummond has to be able to hit free throws in order to stay in the game.
Last season Detroit allowed teams to climb back into games because of their inability to make free throws. Well, actually it was mostly the seven-foot center who couldn’t stop the bleeding. Intentional fouling can ruin the rhythm for both teams, but it seemed to affect the Pistons in the end.
The starting line-up this year could consist of Jackson, Bradley, Harris, Leuer, and Drummond. As a whole, the projected starting lineup averaged 70.3 points per game from their individual scoring last season.
Bold prediction: Detroit will make the playoffs if Jackson averages more than 5 assists per game. At the end of the season, the Pistons will face the 2nd seed in the playoffs.
Featured image taken by KAB SPORT
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