2015-16 Record: 44-38
Additions: Ish Smith (Philadephia 76ers), Boban Marjanovic (San Antonio Spurs), Jon Leuer (Phoenix Suns), Henry Ellenson (draft), Cameron Bairstow (traded from Chicago Bulls)
Subtractions: Jodie Meeks (traded to Orlando Magic), Spencer Dinwiddie (traded to Chicago Bulls), Anthony Tolliver (Sacramento Kings)
Projected Starting Line-up:
PG – Reggie Jackson
SG – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF – Marcus Morris
PF – Tobias Harris
C – Andre Drummond
Ten years ago, the Detroit Pistons were on top of the Eastern Conference. Since then, they’ve had to endure coaching re-shuffles and bad free agent signings. But last year under Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons showed promise. Although they got swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Cavaliers, they have a roster that could reach the heights of their mid-2000s Pistons era. They locked up franchise big man Andre Drummond and went out and signed veterans Ish Smith, Boban Marjanovic and Jon Leuer. Stan Van Gundy, one of the smartest coaches in the NBA, is instilling a winning culture in Detroit and is the perfect coach to develop this young core.
The offseason allowed for Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson to grow as a tandem, while it gave Tobias Harris time to find his feet since he got traded to the side mid-season. Jackson was one of the best backup point guards in the league when he was at the Thunder, but has stepped up to become one of the most underrated guards in the NBA, as well as the Piston’s best offensive player. He’s become better each year and looks to average 20+ points this season. Andre Drummond is the league’s best rebounder, leading in that category with 14.1 rebounds a game last season. Drummond isn’t a strong defender, but he ensures that no one can grab offensive rebounds against this side. Tobias Harris played 27 games in Detroit after he was traded and averaged 16.6 points on 48% shooting. With more games this season, expect Harris to be in for a bigger role. Marcus Morris is the glue that holds Detroit together, as he averaged 36 minutes a game last season – 5th in the entire league. Morris also had career-highs in points (14.1), rebounds (5.1) and assists (2.5). Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Stanley Johnson continue to grow and Johnson especially will look to bite into Marcus Morris’ minutes this year with his slashing ability and lockdown defense. New additions Ish Smith, who is a solid playmaker, and Boban Marjanovic, the 7’3 giant who can provide a spark off the bench, are strong signings that gives this young team depth. Rookie Henry Ellenson was a double-double talent at Marquette and his range from three gives coach Van Gundy an intriguing option off the bench.
Detroit is a young side with strong rebounders in Drummond, Harris and Morris, but struggle with shooting and playmaking. Ish Smith will tally assists, but Reggie Jackson will look to become an All-Star this year as the team’s floor general. The Pistons tasted the playoffs this year, but will the young core be able to handle the success. Expectations are high for this team and in a strong Central Division, I think Detroit can make the playoffs again this year.
Prediction: 3rd in Central Division