Motor city, baby! In case you've been living under a rock for the past decade (if so, sorry that we've been pounding on it for so long!) you should know that Detroit has been hit hard by the tough economic times. The Pistons have mirrored this failure since their last serious championship run in 2008.
After five straight seasons of disappointment, Joe Dumars and the Pistons were looking for a change of pace. With a re-tooled roster and new head coach Maurice Cheeks in the driver's seat, Detroit could be shifting in the right direction for the future.
The Detroit Pistons
Prediction: Despite their improved, young roster, the Pistons won't make it into the playoffs this season.
The Pistons were pretty darn bad last season. Aside from talented bigs Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, their roster looked, for the most part, awful. One of their best players was better known for getting dunked on and getting his ankles broken than any actual positive contributions for his team.
Dumars and his staff felt it was time to make some changes, and boy did they -- for better or for worse. Detroit used the free agency, trades, and the NBA Draft to make some serious moves.
Brandon Jennings came over in a sign-and-trade from Milwaukee, and all it cost them was Brandon Knight, a few fillers, and a bit of cap flexibility. In free agency, they picked up Josh Smith, Chauncey Billups, and Luigi Datome, three players who should each help the team improve in their own ways. Smith provides some serious athleticism, some offense, and top-notch defense. Billups is the kind of veteran leader any playoff contending team would want, no matter how few actual on-court contributions he may offer. Datome is a highly talented international player, and was key in Italy's Eurobasket run this summer.
Via the draft, Detroit found three players with a lot of future upside in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Peyton Siva, and Tony Mitchell. KCP is extremely talented, and while he likely won't start at SG to kick off the season, I would not be surprised at all to see him take it over midway through the season. Siva could provide some crucial backup point guard minutes in the future, and could be a key contributor this season if any major injury to Jennings, Billups, or Bynum were to occur. I had my doubts about Siva being able to perform in the NBA due to his size, but he did have a few standout games in summer League (as little as that may say) including this game against the Thunder:
In the preseason, Siva has been averaging five assists per game, an impressive number for a rookie who is still learning the offensive sets. Mitchell is the rawest of the three, but he also has some intangibles that could be important for his development. During the NBA.com Rookie Survey this summer, Mitchell was voted the most athletic player out of this year's rookies.
Despite these rookies, the future for the Pistons may hinge more on their two star big men: Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Monroe has proven to me time and again that he has all of the talent and skill to be a top big man in the NBA. Drummond is loaded with unteachable factors like height and athleticism, which enable him to be a beast in the paint. He is one of the top defensive big men in the NBA right now, but if the Pistons want to be a bigger force in the playoff picture, they need him to work on his offensive game.
Detroit is certainly taking steps in the right direction; they didn't really have anywhere to go but up after the last few seasons. However, unless Josh Smith can start knocking down his three-point jumpers consistently and Brandon Jennings can become a more consistent shooter in general, the Pistons aren't going to be able to qualify for an eighth seed.
Other Piston Predictions:
- Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith will combine for the worst three-point field goal percentage by any duo in NBA history (over 150 shots to qualify).
- The Pistons will bring back Mario Elie so that he and Luigi Datome can combine for a deadly combination.
- Andre Drummond will win the Most Unexpected Girlfriend as well as the Weirdest Way to Get a Girlfriend Awards.
More from Pounding The Rock:
- Stampler's NBA Predictions Part 3: The Celtics and 76ers
- 30 preseason predictions: Cleveland Cavaliers
- Stampler's NBA Predictions Part 2: The Knicks and Raptors
- 30 preseason predictions: Oklahoma City Thunder
- Spurs holding fan spirit contest for opening night tickets