Detroit Pistons Season Marked by Highs and Lows

Photograph: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Photograph: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

At 27-27, the Detroit Pistons season has been a mixed bag. Here’s a look at their strengths and weaknesses, and what the rest of the season might look like.


Andre Drummond:  The Detroit Pistons future is likely tied to Andre Drummond’s progress, and Drummond has taken another step in his maturation process this year. He is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, steals, and assists with 17, 14.9, 1.6, and .8 respectively. He also made his first all-star game. Drummond’s offensive game has evolved, showing improved footwork and a more diverse back-to-the-basket arsenal.

Reggie Jackson:  Jackson has held up his end of the bargain, having a productive season, since signing a large contract with Detroit this offseason. Jackson is averaging a career high in points per game at 19.1, and he is shooting a career high on three pointers at 37%. Jackson’s assist and rebound averages are down a bit from last year, but his turnovers are down as well. Most importantly, Jackson doesn’t shy away from the big moment, and has hit several clutch shots in late-game situations.

Small forwards:  The Pistons needed to improve their situation at small forward this offseason, so they added Marcus Morris via trade, and drafted Stanley Johnson. Morris has maintained the starting job, and has averaged career highs in points, rebounds, and assists. His shooting percentages have room for improvement, but Morris brings a versatile skill-set and toughness that the Pistons desperately needed at the position.

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Meanwhile, Johnson has been a solid contributor off the bench, displaying an equally versatile skill-set, as well as a physical maturity and poise not often seen in such young players.


Shooting: In order to fully succeed in coach Stan Van Gundy’s system the Pistons need to shoot much better. Currently they rank 26th in the league in field goal percentage, and 25th in three-point field goal percentage. If they can’t find a way to improve on that, they shouldn’t expect to make it very far in the postseason, if they even make the playoffs at all.

Drummond’s free throw shooting:  That’s right. Drummond has had a great year, but his free throw shooting is horrible. It’s an issue. Hack-a-Drummond has become a common technique employed by teams trying to limit Drummond’s effectiveness. Sometimes teams are successful with this approach, and sometimes they’re not, but it’s a problem that it’s even gotten to this point.

By all accounts, Drummond works hard on his free throws, but he has nothing to show for it. He is shooting an abominable 35% on free throws, and he set an NBA record for the most free throws missed in a game, going 13-36 against the Houston Rockets on January 21st.

Inconsistency:  The Pistons have shown promise this year. They have shown they are ready to compete for a playoff spot, and they have shown that their future is most likely bright. They have also shown themselves to be a young team with much to learn. They are just as likely to stumble through a long losing streak as they are to put together an impressive winning streak. Ultimately their 27-27 record reflects the team they are – a young, promising team, still learning how to win consistently.

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The Pistons are in the thick of the playoff race, though that’s not saying all that much in the Eastern Conference. Still, with a little better shooting, more consistency, and perhaps an injection of veteran leadership, and skill, at the trade deadline, they could make the second half of the season a very successful one.