The Pistons had a rough year last year, finishing with a .379 winning percentage, while falling to make the Playoffs by a good margin (10 games behind the 8th seeded 76ers in a 66 game season).
It will take a lot of work to make things change.
The impressive 18-15 record at home helps, as the Palace must develop back into the kind of place opponents fear playing in, and not just because in crowd brawls have erupted. And, I think the Pistons are developing the kind of cast that could make that happen.
Greg Monroe at this point is very Tim Duncan-esque. He doesn’t block as many shots as young Duncan, but his fundamental skill set and style is very comparable to Duncan’s, and I realize what praise that actually is. Pairing the Georgetown product with the 19 year old Andre Drummond of UCONN should pay big dividends eventually for the Pistons, and make fans begin to forget the disappointment that has been Charlie Villanueva. Greg Monroe called Drummond a “beast on the boards” following a summer camp in Vegas that he attended along with Brandon Knight.
The younger Pistons must begin to replace the old. Drummond must share time at power forward with Jonas Jerebko to maximize his potential (and to keep Villanueva immersed on the bench). Austin Daye must push Tayshaun Prince out of the lineup, and Kyle Singler has to find a way to get minutes away from the aged journeyman, Corey Maggette. Singler was an impressive swingman at Duke and should be able to play both forward slots this year. His versatility and shooting ability will help the Pistons mid range game.
The backcourt could develop into something special now that Rodney Stuckey is back at his natural position of shooting guard. Brandon Knight’s speed and penetration will open things up for all of his teammates and should help Monroe get some easier looks.
Another player to keep an eye on is Kim English from Missouri. He was drafted 44th overall and impressed his fellow rookies. 5.9% of his fellow rookies voted him to be rookie of the year, actually and 8.1% of them said hew as the best shooter in the class. 5.7% voted him as the best defender. The figures are hardly majority shares, but it shows what his cohorts think of his skills.
English could be the standout of the second round of the NBA Draft. At age 23, he should be about as NBA ready as anyone in the draft, and his age may have been a part of what caused teams to pass on him for so long.
Really, though, we must be honest: The Pistons are still going to be a pretty bad team this year. Ideally, they strive to win 40-45% of their games, or even try to scratch at a .500 record. The 8th seed in the East still seems like a huge stretch though with the improvement of so many of the East’s middle to lower tier teams.
The Pistons could make waves in a few years, after Brandon Knight really adapts to life as an NBA point guard and learns how to play well with Monroe. Beyond that, Drummond must fulfill his Garnett-like potential and become the starting power forward of the future. That young trio, along with a Stuckey that will be entering his prime, could make the Pistons a playoff team by 2015-2016. That might not be much consolation to languishing Pistons fans, but realism must be kept in all sports, and being realistic, this year’s Pistons team likely won’t sniff a .500 record.