The Pistons were once one of the toughest teams in the NBA, as the winners of the 2004 NBA Finals join the Heat, Mavericks, Celtics, Spurs, and Lakers as the only teams to win the Finals in the 21st century. Things however do change always, but change hasn’t been kind to the Pistons, as the Pistons haven’t been a sub 500 team since the 2007-2008 season. However, things could be starting to change in the Motor City for the better.
When the Pistons cut forward Josh Smith, it seemed like the team had given up on the season. The move actually made the Pistons better, as the Pistons went on a tear after Josh Smith’s release, and it sky rocketed them back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture for the time being. They may have still been there today, if it wasn’t for Brandon Jennings’ injury that basically shot their playoff hopes in the face and heart repeatedly, as it would become another year without NBA basketball in late April for the Pistons.
Facing his former team the Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee on January 24th, Jennings suffered one of the most painful injuries ever. He tore his left Achilles tendon, leaving the Pistons without their starting point guard for the rest of the season. It was devastating to here for Pistons fans, especially since how well they were playing when the injury happened to Jennings.
The Pistons made a trade for a point guard at the NBA Trading Deadline in mid-February, as the team went out to get Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Reggie Jackson, who previously requested to be traded from the Thunder prior to the deadline. Jackson had showcased what we he could do in Oklahoma City when Russell Westbrook was injured, but once Westbrook came back, Jackson was very unhappy with the lack of playing time Jackson ended up getting, signally the trade to the Pistons for him.
Since coming to Detroit, Jackson has continued the excellent play, as he is averaging 17.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 9 assists per game with the Pistons, which has also included two triple-doubles, the only two of his career. Jackson has one-year remaining on his rookie contract, meaning when he becomes a free agent he will be a restricted free agent, meaning any team that offers Jackson a contract and gets Jackson to sign it, won’t get him until the Pistons decide to match the offer or not. If they don’t he goes to the team, if they do, he stays a member of the Pistons. It seems as though the Pistons will sign him.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Pistons plan on doing with shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Caldwell-Pope, who is currently 22-years-old, is averaging 12.7 points, 1.3 assists, and 3 rebounds per game as the Pistons starting guard this season, which is could for a 2nd year player trying to make strides, but member, Reggie Jackson wanted out of Oklahoma City due to the fact he wasn’t starting and getting enough minutes, and you know the Pistons don’t want to lose Jackson, who has been huge for them. Caldwell-Pope is listed at 6’5, but is that tall enough to be the pistons small forward?
Speaking of small forward, the Pistons really had no one behind Josh Smith to play small forward, which made his cut from the Pistons all the more surprising. I expect the Pistons go small forward in the NBA Draft this summer, and take either Justice Winslow, Stanley Johnson, or Sam Dekker to be their small forward for the future. Maybe they could swing a trade to get a small forward, or get one in free agency, allowing the pick to be depth, but Greg Monore may leave the Pistons this Summer, leaving a vacancy at the power forward slot.
For the power forward, of course the Pistons won’t know if Monore is leaving before the NBA Draft, due to the fact that free agency doesn’t begin until July. If Monore does in fact leave the Pistons, I expect them to be aggressive on the power forward market, which could feature Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul Millsap, David West, Thaddeus Young, Draymond Green, Tristan Thompson, and Ed Davis, as there are plenty of guys on that list could do what Monore does already and maybe even more if Monore does leave.
Center is pretty much a lock for the Pistons heading into next season. Andre Drummond is already shaping into one of the NBA’s better centers at rebounding, and it’s only going to get better from there. Drummond is currently averaging a double-double, with 13.6 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game for this season. Drummond also has 47 double-doubles on the season, which is among the highest amount of double-doubles this season for Drummond, which is also very impressive.
The bench also features some nice talent. Jodie Meeks, Caron Butler, John Lucas III, Tayshaun Prince, and Shawne Williams. I expect the Pistons to also improve on the depth on their bench this season, and with Stan Van Gundy calling the shots and coaching the team, if they get all the right pieces, this team could find themselves in the playoffs next season, as the Eastern Conference is pretty weak. That’s not saying the Pistons will be an under .500 team that makes it, but we didn’t expect some teams to fall back like they did this year, as basketball is always unpredictable.
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