Detroit Pistons: Was The Hype Too Early?


After a red-hot 5-1 start to the 2015-2016 NBA season, the Detroit Pistons were the talk of the basketball world. Andre Drummond was deservedly getting national recognition on his way to two straight Eastern Conference Player-of-the-Week awards.

They were two games into a grueling Western Conference road trip and just outscored the Portland Trail Blazers 41-11 in the fourth quarter. It was single-handedly one of the best basketball quarters of all time.

Everything looked great. Pistons fans everywhere were rejoicing for the first time in years. Reggie Jackson looked like a star. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope played great defense on Damian Lillard, who’s known for his offense.

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New additions Ersan Ilyasova and Marcus Morris were looking good. While the bench had its issues, they seemed to somewhat fix it after the dismal Indiana Pacers game.

Even after facing off against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena, things weren’t looking bad. They played the defending champs close. The team looked like they had just turned an important corner. On the second night of a back-to-back, that’s all you wanted from a young, up-and-coming team.

But en route to losing four straight games, nearly all the good vibes of this team are gone. The team dropped games to some terrible teams.

First, it was the one-win Sacramento Kings with rumors of their coach George Karl on the verge of losing his job. While losing to the Los Angeles Clippers is understandable, the Los Angeles Lakers are a whole different story.

Even against the Clippers, they held a 17-point lead only to have it disappear. Offensive ineptitude then plagued them down the stretch to their fourth loss of the season.

But the lowlight of the road trip has to be losing to the Lakers. The Lakers this year are terrible. They went into the game with one win in nine tries and Kobe Bryant is Josh Smithlevels of inefficient. But that same Bryant nearly went for a triple-double as the Pistons played selfish and lifeless all game.

Granted, they were on a six-game road trip on the west coast. But how much can you blame that for the Pistons’ uninspiring play? Excuses can last you only so long in the Association.

Now that begs the question, was the early hype for the Pistons unwarranted? Was it too early for this young team to making that next big step? It was fair to question the Pistons’ hot start after years of losing.

The answer is yes and no. The Pistons deserved all the credit they got when they beat some quality teams during the hot stretch. They didn’t collapse in the fourth quarter like so many Pistons have done in the past six years.

A big reason why the Pistons were even winning those games was due to their talented defense. Their offense struggled, but the defense consistently kept them in games.

But that defense has all but disappeared during their four-game losing streak. They gave up at least 100 points every game except for the Lakers who scored 97. Sadly, the Lakers were playing almost as bad as the Pistons were and had no business scoring that many points.

Their offense has also failed them in every sense of the word. Their 3-point shooting is at a terrible 30.6% and their overall percentage is just 41.8%. They’re ranked 26th in offensive efficiency at a miserable 97.3 and it doesn’t look like it’s getting any better.

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  • The Pistons are just too selfish with the ball. Jackson over-dribbles too often killing the shot clock. While Drummond getting post touches are good for his development, don’t expect him to kick it out ever to the open man after getting double-teamed down low.

    And during Morris’ iso-plays to bail out the offense, the flow of the Pistons completely stops. Even Caldwell-Pope has struggled with his shot after making small strides last season. Ilyasova can’t create his own shot and is too passive sometimes, looking off wide open looks.

    That doesn’t even include the problems with the bench. The good news is that Spencer Dinwiddie looked great against the Lakers and Stanley Johnson looks to slowly be figuring out the league.

    But still, this team is really missing Brandon Jennings now. While he wouldn’t fix all the Pistons’ offensive problems and we don’t even know if he’ll be ready, he could spell Jackson when he’s struggling.

    Another big issue with the Pistons has to be the effort level. Drummond looked plain uninterested in the game against the Lakers, not playing defense like he did when the Pistons were red-hot. The team as a whole just looked slow and sluggish all game.

    Like Drummond says, the stats don’t matter when you aren’t winning. And at the end of the day, the fans want to see a playoff spot, though Drummond making the All-Star team would be great.

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    All in all, the Pistons are struggling much more than expected after their start. But there’s still tons of potential and talent on this team. Fans are complaining a lot, but this is still the same team that looked like a legitimate playoff team just a week ago.

    And the biggest kicker of all is that this team is young. Their core is still learning the game and how to play with each other. Struggles with inconsistency and effort will plague them due to their youth, it’s all a learning process.

    For now, Pistons fans should stick it out with this team. This team is still 5-5, a .500 record. And before the season, if you told me that the Pistons would finish 41-41, I would’ve been ecstatic. That’s major strides from the aimless 30-ish games the Pistons have won for the last six years.