The Many “Eras” Of The 2014-2015 Detroit Pistons


The 2014-2015 NBA regular season comes to another uneventful close for the Detroit Pistons and their fans alike.

A 6th straight year with no postseason is a tough position for any franchise.  As successful as the Pistons and their storied history it’s even harder to stomach for the die-hard fans from the Bad Boys and Going To Work Eras.

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Even though these Pistons are missing the postseason there’s no doubt they were an entertaining team to watch at times. From their hot stretches to their futile cold streaks this team was as inconsistent as they get.

We take a look back on all the different Eras of these 2014-2015 Detroit Pistons team. From their 5-23 start to their hot streak rivaling Linsanity these Pistons had their moments and then some.

The Josh Smith Era

For as much hype the Pistons gathered going into the regular season this team completely flopped coming out of the gate. With the addition of Head Coach/Team President Stan Van Gundy a lot looked right for this Pistons team.

Their superstar-in-the-making Andre Drummond was going to get a legit head coach and perhaps Van Gundy could even fix the likes of Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith.

While the former would go on to play well (more on him later), the player known as Josh Smith played exactly as he did a season ago. His stats with the Pistons speak for themselves. He somehow averaged more shots (14 FGA) than points (13.1 PPG).

Detroit Pistons
Detroit Pistons /

Detroit Pistons

Along with the inefficiency he brought every game he would slack off on defense always looking for the weak side block. The amount of playing time he got to fit the rest of his players were called into question numerous times throughout the season.

He didn’t fit whatsoever with the likes of Drummond and Greg Monroe. For some reason Van Gundy kept trying to bring back the “Big 3” lineup from a season ago which proved wildly unsuccessful. The team looked like they were in shambles and unmotivated.

Home games were more like away games as fans from other teams would drive up to The Palace and cheer on their team. After all, why would local fans want to make the trip to Auburn Hills to watch this hot mess?

All the problems eventually translated to the underwhelming and infamous 5-23 record for the Pistons. A mere 28 games into the season there were calls for tanking and draft pick talks were rampant among experts and fans alike.

For all the hope Van Gundy brought to the Pistons it quickly vanished. It looked like another season of no postseason basketball to The Palace adding to the long drought.

Then on December 22nd a few days before Christmas, Pistons fans nationwide got an early Christmas present. Van Gundy and General Manager Jeff Bower controversially outright released Smith and absorbed his contract.

They were basically paying him to play for someone else. While it was viewed as somewhat dumb/unnecessary when the upcoming Era that would come after it was one of pure joy.

The Post-Smith/Brandon Jennings Era

In the aftermath of releasing Smith uncertainty among fans and the team were obvious. Releasing your highest paid player in the middle of the season led to plenty of questions on where to move forward.

The (somewhat unlikely) leader to step forward was the much-criticized Brandon Jennings. He upped his game to an All-Star level and led this Pistons team to a magical win streak.

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In their first game without Smith they dropped a season-high 119 points on one of the best defensive teams in the Indiana Pacers. They blew out Lebron James and the Cavs their very next game too.

They would string together win after win as Jennings hit game-winners over the defending champs and D.J. Augustin would catch fire in Dallas.

While it’s labeled as the Brandon Jennings Era that’s a bit misleading. Every night a different Piston would catch fire and the team would feed off that guy.

This was easily the most exciting stretch for the Pistons in a long, long time. People would jump on the bandwagon as the Pistons were once again a watchable team.

Jennings leading the way with his improved play was seen as the catalyst in this highly unlikely run. Even after the magical winning streak came to a close the Pistons were still a quality team.

In a putrid Eastern Conference they still had a chance at the playoffs only to be hampered by injuries. An Achilles injury to Jennings would unfortunately end his season. The Pistons’ team dynamic would change wildly for the 2nd time this season.

The Post-Jennings Era

The shortest Era for the Pistons in the 2014-2015 campaign showed what Van Gundy could do with point guards.

Augustin, who Van Gundy signed to a small 2 year contract was killing it with extended playing time as the starter. Just one year ago he achieved similar success against the Chicago Bulls.

Plugged into a similar role for these Pistons Augustin caught fire. With backups of rookie Spencer Dinwiddie and journeyman John Lucas III, Augustin did all he could do to keep the Pistons afloat.

He would penetrate deep within the defense consistently and 3 point percentage improved as there was an extended focus on getting Monroe and Drummond the ball.

Overall while it wasn’t the most ideal scenario for the Van Gundy and the Pistons, Augustin playing well would make the huge loss of Jennings a bit more manageable.

Ironically though Augustin’s improved play eventually led to him and Kyle Singler* being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for an entirely new player in Reggie Jackson.

The Reggie Jackson Era

The Jackson trade at the beginning was a peculiar one. Especially for a guy like Stan Van Gundy. He was a liability from 3 point range and primarily drove the ball into the defense for most of his scoring.

There were plenty of question marks surrounding Jackson and they were well justified. Could he successfully run a real offense instead of the iso-oriented mess in Oklahoma City?

Mar 29, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (1) dribbles the ball in the second half of a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 109-102. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sport

With direct quotes from Van Gundy stating he was the Point-Guard-of-the-Future many Pistons fans had to be worried. After all the last time that really happened for this franchise was Rodney Stuckey and we all know how that worked out.

Playing second fiddle to a superstar like Russell Westbrook was also a huge reason for Jackson. He didn’t like being a 6th man and wanted an opportunity to start, even turning down a long-term deal to have a chance to start.

The moment he got traded to the Pistons he immediately had that chance. He was the starting PG for the Pistons and would have to prove it to these fans.

Well the Jackson Era has generally been up and down. While the Pistons won their first game with Jackson against the Washington Wizards they soon dropped a double-digit losing streak with Jackson at the helm(their second of the season).

Recently though the Pistons and Jackson have turned it around. He looks to act more like a facilitator instead of just getting his shot and it’s showing in his style of play.

His improved play has also added increased confidence in this fan base on Jackson’s talent. If he can be more consistent with his play-making him and Drummond can be a superstar duo that wrecks havoc in the league for many years to come.

Van Gundy knew that he was getting peak value for a bench player in Augustin and a solid role player in Singler. Jackson has the potential to be a superstar and it really shows.

As the season ultimately ends against the New York Knicks, it’s another end of an “Era”. Or will it be? Jackson is a Restricted Free Agent come the off-season and decisions will have to be made for his future and the Pistons’.

As the off-season comes quickly the Pistons will have a lot of decisions to make. On Monroe, Jackson, and the holes in their roster. How they’ll deal with them will be a sight to see.

*=Side Note: this writer actually got to meet Singler the day before he got traded at Chipotle. He was super nice and I got a picture with him so that was cool. He’s over a foot taller than me so it looked a bit awkward. Overall, a nice guy and I hope he does well for the rest of his career.