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2013-2014 Detroit Pistons Season Preview
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On September 12, 2013 @ 9:00 pm In NBA | No Comments
While there were plenty of teams undergoing gutsy roster shake-ups over the course of this past off-season, few teams changed their overall disposition quite as dramatically as the Detroit Pistons. New head coach Maurice Cheeks has plenty of toys to play with in Motown, including marquee free agent acquisition Josh Smith, the newly-acquired Brandon Jennings, and burgeoning youngsters Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Rookies Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tony Mitchell, Peyton Siva, and Luigi Datome look enticing, too, and even Chauncey Billups, has returned to Detroit for one more go with the Pistons. There is plenty to be excited about with this team next season, but the question is whether or not it will all come together the way Joe Dumars envisioned it. Pistons fans, who haven’t watched a playoff team in four years, are certainly more than a little optimistic.
- Joel Brigham
Additions: Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings, Chauncey Billups, Kenatvious Caldwell-Pope, Luigi Datome, Josh Harrellson, Tony Mitchell, Peyton Siva.
Subtractions: Jose Calderon, Brandon Knight, Jason Maxiell, Kim English, Viacheslav Kravtsov, Khris Middleton.
Not everybody loves what the Detroit Pistons did this offseason, but when you consider the fact that they added Josh Smith, Chauncey Billups, and Brandon Jennings while giving up only Brandon Knight, it’s hard to hate on their roster moves. They absolutely upgraded their talent level, not only through free agency and trade, but also in the draft; Detroit looks like they could have four impact rookies in Kenatvious Caldwell-Pope, Tony Mitchell, Peyton Siva, and Italian free agent Luigi Datome. New head coach Mo Cheeks has plenty of toys to play with, the shiniest of which are Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, both of whom look primed for breakout seasons on opposite ends of the floor. There are plenty of media members out there that still aren’t sure whether or not the Pistons have what it takes to make the postseason, but it’s hard to see them missing out with a roster like this.
3rd Place – Central Division
– Joel Brigham
The Pistons had an exciting summer that heightened expectations heading into the season. After adding Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings and Chauncey Billups, the Pistons went from being a projected lottery team that featured a lot of young talent to a team capable of winning now and possibly sneaking into the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Detroit will certainly be fun to watch and they could be very good, if Smith and Jennings play more under control and efficient than they have in past years. The Pistons finished with a 29-53 record last year, but every move Detroit has made this offseason suggests that the team is in win-now mode. If Smith and Jennings can mesh alongside Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, Detroit could finish as one of the top-eight teams in the East. Few teams were more active than the Pistons this past offseason, so all eyes will be on Detroit to see how this new-look roster comes together in 2013-14.
4th Place – Central Division
- Alex Kennedy
Pistons owner Tom Gores couldn’t be more clear in his message to his troops. He wants a playoff berth, this season. Period. President of basketball operations Joe Dumars spent the majority of the offseason adding the talent necessary to make a playoff run — on paper at least. The team signed forward Josh Smith, one of the most coveted free agents on the market this summer, to a lucrative four-year deal. The team also acquired talented, but inconsistent, point guard Brandon Jennings from Milwaukee. The newcomers will join promising big men Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. The team also added former NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups in free agency, hired Maurice Cheeks to take the head coaching reins and drafted talented prospect Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the lottery. Despite the influx of talent, questions remain as to where the club’s outside shooting will come from. The Pistons should be headed toward it first playoff appearance since 2009, but whether or not the effort is enough to save Dumars’ job is another matter.
3rd Place – Central Division
- Lang Greene
If this is Pistons general manager Joe Dumars last chance to save his job, at least he can rest peacefully at night knowing there’s not much more he could have done to improve the team this offseason. Adding Brandon Jennings in a sign-and-trade while signing Josh Smith and drafting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has the Pistons poised to make serious improvements next year. Not to mention, they could also have a significant amount of internal development with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Dumars tabbed Maurice Cheeks, a former player with a career coaching record of 284-286, as the best man to coach this young, but talented team. The Central Division is top heavy with two contenders in the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers. Third place should be the Pistons’ goal, but the Cavaliers look to be the safer bet for that spot due to their depth. Still, there’s no reason this team should compete for a playoff spot. If they don’t, that could spell the end for Dumars.
4th place – Central Division
- Yannis Koutroupis
Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith are quintessential talented players whose support systems have failed to maximize their talents. Now, together, they join Joe Dumar’s team along with newly installed coach Maurice Cheeks to form a somewhat volatile team that could win 45 games as easily as it can be a lottery team. Odds are, the Pistons will end up somewhere between those two extremes. Ultimately, how well the team fares will depend on the extent to which coach Cheeks builds his offense around sweet-passing Greg Monroe and whether or not the young big man builds upon his first three pro seasons. Andre Drummond is talented enough to be a starter in today’s NBA. If Cheeks realizes this, gets Jennings’ shot selection under control and harnesses his twin towers, the Pistons are easily talented enough to sneak into the Eastern Conference playoffs.
4th place — Central Division
- Moke Hamilton
Top Offensive Player – Greg Monroe – Monroe led the Pistons in scoring last season with 16 ppg while shooting an impressive .486 from the floor, though he shot over 50% his first two seasons in the league. Also, Monroe’s season scoring totals have gone up by over 250 points in each of his first three seasons, and Detroit is hoping that trend continues in 2013-2014. Jennings, though less efficient, will also impress on that end of the floor.
Top Defensive Player – Josh Smith – Andre Drummond has some awesome Per-36 minutes, but the problem is that he may only play about 20 minutes a game this season. Smith, meanwhile, has been considered one of the league’s best defenders for years and should continue to do so in a new uniform. Smith has averaged 2.1 blocks, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game over the course of his nine-year career. That isn’t likely to change now that he’s a Detroit Piston.
Top Playmaker – Brandon Jennings – With 6.5 assists per game last season, Jennings was in no way among the top distributors in the league, but when one factors in his 17.5 points per game, the overall picture looks quite a bit rosier. Jennings is a craftier scorer than anybody else on the Detroit roster, which will be good not only in getting him his own points, but in finding some points for his teammates, as well.
The Clutch Player – Chauncey Billups – While Billups has only played 42 total games over the course of the last two years combined, there’s a very good chance that he starts the year in Detroit’s starting lineup. And if he’s good enough to be starting games at age 37, he’s good enough to finish them. His track record for hitting big shots once earned him the nickname “Mr. Big Shot,” and while physical skills wane with age, the flair for the moment certainly does not.
The Unheralded Player – Will Bynum – As the second-longest tenured Piston on the roster, Bynum’s leadership was valuable enough to the franchise that they gave him a new two-year deal this summer. Jennings’ backup point guard has been one of the most consistent role players on this team for half a decade, and he was the team’s fifth leading scorer and third-best assist man last season despite playing only 18.8 minute per game. Detroit is clearly glad to have him back.
Best New Addition – Josh Smith – Considering Smith was the best free agent this side of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, Detroit should feel very lucky to have landed such a big fish. He didn’t come cheap, but considering how mediocre the Pistons were last year, and that Detroit isn’t necessarily the most desirable free agency landing spot in the league, Joe Dumars should feel pretty happy to have gotten a hold of one of the league’s best defensive players. Jennings, of course, was a great get, too.
- Joel Brigham
1. Andre Drummond – After only one partial season in the NBA, 20-year-old Andre Drummond is already being compared to Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal. The body is certainly there; he came in at 6’10” and 290 pounds over the summer with only six percent body fat, but the talent is also pretty obvious here, too. Per 36 minutes, Drummond averaged 13.8 points, 13.2 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 1.7 steals per game last season, and as his actual numbers approach 30 mpg this season, he should actually get close to seeing some of those numbers in real life. He’s a historically bad free-throw shooter, but in every other way that matters, this kid is on the cusp of a breakout season.
2. Greg Monroe – This should be an interesting year for Monroe, who enters the final season of his rookie deal, mostly because he’ll see the bulk of his minutes at power forward after doing most of his work as the team’s center last year. With Drummond at the five, Monroe can be a nasty offensive mismatch for defending fours, which could be what gets his field goal percentage up over 50% again this season. He averaged 16 points and 9.6 rebounds per game last season, but as the only Detroit frontcourt player with the ability to score efficiently, there’s a good chance those numbers will trend upwards this year, especially as he attempts to prove himself worthy of a massive extension.
3. Josh Smith – All of the team’s acquisitions this summer were positives for Detroit, but this one was the best of them because of what Smith does for the team defensively. Pairing him up with Drummond gives the Pistons a nasty one-two punch on that end of the floor, and his veteran leadership and playoff experience should help boost morale in the clubhouse, too. All they had to give up to get him was money, and based on his career numbers, it looks as though that money will have been well-spent. Scoring efficiently will be a problem this year (Brandon Jennings won’t help the team’s field goal percentage, either), but it’s nice to see this much star power on Detroit’s roster. It’s been a while.
4. Chauncey Billups – Actually, it’s been since Billups was here the first time that the team looked this good on paper, and it’s nice to think that he’ll have the opportunity to finish his career with the team that helped win him his championship ring and NBA Finals MVP. At this stage of his career, Billups is the kind of guy who’s more of an assistant coach than an All-Star, but he’s still probably going to start for the Pistons this year as he helps pass the torch to the next crop of great young Detroit hoopsters.
5. Mo Cheeks – While Cheeks doesn’t exactly have a stellar record as an NBA head coach, he has done some wonderful things working with Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder over the course of the last four years. Detroit is optimistic he’ll have similar success with Jennings, and that he’ll be a more permanent solution for a team that’s had a revolving door at head coach for the last half a decade.
- Joel Brigham
Thanks in part to the emergence of Andre Drummond, the Pistons were one of the more respectable rebounding teams in the league last year. With 42.1 boards per game, they were 13th in the NBA, but that total was fewer than two rebounds per game less than the team that finished fifth in the league in that category. With slight improvement, they could be among the best in the league here. Also, with Drummond and Josh Smith, they will easily be among the league’s top shot-blocking teams. Defense, in general, should be Detroit’s strong suit this season, especially if Drummond is able to play more minutes.
- Joel Brigham
Last season, Detroit scored only 94.9 points per game, good for 9th worst in the entire NBA, and while Josh Smith brings with him 17 or 18 points per game, his inefficiency on the offensive end doesn’t exactly mean those points will translate to higher box scores for the Pistons. They were middle-of-the-pack last season in terms of field goal percentage (.449, 14th in the NBA) and three-point field goal percentage (.356, 18th in the NBA), and Smith won’t help them with either. They’re hoping Monroe gets his field goal shooting back up this year, and that Brandon Jennings, Chauncey Billups, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope improve their outside scoring.
- Joel Brigham
Have the Pistons thrust themselves into the Eastern Conference’s upper crust once again?
It’s been almost half a decade since the last time Detroit made the postseason, but once it became clear that players like Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, and Ben Wallace were no longer youthful enough to keep the team in the Conference Finals every year, the front office decided it was time to rebuild. That’s what the last four years have been, and it has admittedly netted some nice young players. The additions of Jennings and Smith, however, signal the team’s resolve to make a splash in the postseason again, but are those two middling stars enough to place them among the East’s second-tier playoff teams?
- Joel Brigham
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