The Detroit Pistons stand at a record of 3-1 so far in the 2015-2016 NBA season. For the first time in years, the Pistons look to be playing solid basketball without coughing up late leads.
They already have quality wins against the up-and-coming Utah Jazz, Chicago Bulls, and Atlanta Hawks. Both the Bulls and Hawks have been projected to finish in the top half of the Eastern Conference.
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There’s really no denying that there’s a new feeling around these Pistons. Andre Drummond is looking like he’s in the midst of a breakout season. It seems so close until he’ll be one of the NBA’s newest superstars.
Key acquisitions this off-season in Ersan Ilyasova and Marcus Morris are looking rock solid in the starting rotation. While Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has struggled with his shot, when he makes play like these it gets the crowd on their feet.
Even Reggie Jackson has looked like a contributor playing surprisingly solid defense. While he has some trouble on that side of the ball along with far too much dribbling, he’s still been with this team less than half a season.
The Point Guard position is an interesting one in that it’s the most transparent position. Fans get an extended look at what the PG does every possession. Give Jackson some more time with his teammates and he can flourish into the star the Pistons signed him to be.
But with all the positive vibes following the Pistons, there are inevitably some issues that have plagued this team thus far. Namely, shooting woes and the bench’s lackluster play.
It’s no secret how bad the shooting has been for this team. None of their shots are falling and it’s leading to abysmal shooting lines for whole games.
As a team through four games, the Pistons are shooting 38.6%, 30.6% from 3, and 66.7% from the charity stripe. How they’ve won three games so far against quality opponents have confused some skeptics.
Quite frankly, a big part of that has been the teams’ offensive rebounds. And when you mention the o-rebound, you have to include Drummond’s name. He’s averaging an absurd 7.5 o-rebounds per game now.
While the teams’ shooting woes are troublesome, looking closely it might just be due to small sample size. Caldwell-Pope is averaging 30.0% from deep and his track record shows that he’s a better shooter than that. Anthony Tolliver is the same case with his 27.3% mark in three games this season.
The most worrisome of the shooting woes though might be back-up Point Guard Steve Blake. He’s averaging a terrible 11.8% and 9.1% from 3-point land. He just looks awkward out there and overwhelmed.
Now, that brings us to the other glaring issue for the Pistons. Their bench. It’s been average to sub-par to terrible so far this year. Consider this crazy stat.
In the game the Pistons lost against the Indiana Pacers, Drummond played a whopping 43 minutes of a possible 48. He had a +/- of +8 on the game. That means in the five minutes that Drummond was on the bench, the Pistons essentially lost the game there.
Nobody can forget the 22-0 run the Pacers slapped on the Pistons’ bench during that small stretch of time. It was a total failure on the Pistons’ collective part.
And that includes Team President/Head Coach Stan Van Gundy. He has to limit the damage there. Letting the Pacers get 22 points before subbing the starters back in was a failure on his part. Hopefully Van Gundy and the Pistons learned a lesson there during the loss.
But aside from that, the Pistons bench took a big blow when Jodie Meeks was lost to Jones fracture. He won’t be back till late in the regular season. Right now, they could use all the scoring they can get.
Blake has looked atrocious out there on some plays and looks to be overmatched in others. As mentioned earlier though, that might be because he’s at the Point Guard position and is so transparent out there.
But there’s no denying that Van Gundy had seen enough when he sent third-string Point Guard Spencer Dinwiddie out there in the second half against the Pacers.
Obviously, it’s not all on Blake though. Stanley Johnson has looked like the 19-year-old rookie he is and that’s okay, he needs time to develop and there’s no better way than live reps.
Tolliver has looked formidable at times but he is what he is. A spark plug off the bench that can hit the 3-point ball with some regularity to stretch the floor.
Aron Baynes has looked at least adequate out there on the floor, but he has struggled too. The former San Antonio Spur should start to pick things up though as he gets comfortable in the Motor City. His stats don’t show that he’s been miserable, but he certainly hasn’t been great.
Reggie Bullock has looked nervous and overmatched out there in regular season minutes. He’s missed all his shots and that’s hurting the Pistons. The thing with Bullock though is that he’s getting open, which is good, that’s almost half the battle. He just has to hit those shots with regularity or else his playing time will slowly diminish.
Overall, the Pistons bench has looked collectively bad. But they should get better as the season goes. They aren’t as bad as the game against the Pacers showed, that was just an extreme low. And hey, sometimes it’s good to get that out of the way early in the season.
Van Gundy is also looking to keep one or two starters in with the bench. There’s nothing some savvy substitutions can’t fix.
The Pistons really need the bench to play better if they plan to make the playoffs this season. They’ll get healthier though as the season goes along.
Nobody knows what a healthy Brandon Jennings can do to this team as the sixth man off the bench. He can be the x-factor to this team when he gets back on the court. And everyone knows how fun and important Jennings was to this after the release of Josh Smith.
But all in all, the season has just started. There are still 78 more games left in the regular season and who knows where this Pistons team will end up. The playoffs though, seem like a real possibility.
Now, your thoughts. What are you early thoughts on this year’s Detroit Pistons? What do you think the Pistons should do about their early season issues? Whatever the case, these Pistons look good. We should be in for a great season and years to come.