At the end of this season, it will have been ten years since the Detroit Pistons last won the NBA Finals and five years since they last appeared in the playoff in general. When Chauncey Billups was traded from the Pistons for Allen Iverson, the downward spiral began and the Pistons have found themselves at the bottom of the NBA in each the past few seasons. However, coincidentally Chauncey Billups is back in Detroit and the Pistons seem to look like a team that has a good chance to appear in the playoffs this year. They made a huge splash in the off season and look to be a much stronger team this time around which is why they have made #2 on my list of emerging NBA teams arriving this season.
In the previous NBA season, the Piston went 29-53 and were in the bottom half of the NBA in almost every team statistic. The only stat that they did decent in is rebounding. They ranked 13th in the NBA in boards per game putting up a total of 42.1 every night which is not horrible at all. The biggest issue Detroit had was consistency and that issue really hurt this team in the second half of games. The Pistons had plenty of performances where they would start out really strong, and then suddenly forget how to play basketball in the second half. Their head coach, Lawrence Frank, cleary had no strong hold on his team and it was no surprise when they let him go at the end of the year.Overall, Detroit was just an incredibly incomplete team and had no true direction. They had no true point guard, a bad coach, and seemed to working through chemistry issues through the entire season.
The first reason this season will be different though, is because they now have the presence of an actual point guard. Brandon Jennings brings both the scoring ability of a striker and the point guard abilities that the Pistons have missed since they shipped off Billups in 09'. With Jennings and Chauncey now in Detroit, the point guard position will be filled and will in turn hopefully cause the offense to move very smoothly. Brandon Knight was never a true fit at the PG position and now that he is gone, Detroit has legitimate guards at the point and can finally have someone running the offense on the court. To add on to these player additions, new head coach Mo Cheeks specializes in point guard development. He played a big role in the growth of OKC star Russell Westbrook when he was an assistant there. With Billups and Cheeks on the team, Jennings will have great people around him to help him grow and help him lead this Piston team to the next level.
The second reason is the promising front court combo that consists of Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond. Josh Smith, who the Pistons acquired this off season, has the ability to play both the 3 and 4 position for Detroit. He is much more fit for the power forward role, but with Greg Monroe he will probably be pushed to the small forward more than he would like and he will have to adjust his game to make it work. For Greg Monroe, who has already been noticed as an uprising NBA talent, he will more than likely play the power forward position mainly with Drummond being around. This is good though because I think it will better show off his true skill set at a higher level than at the center position. Finally for Andre Drummond, who has emerged this summer as one of the brightest upcoming stars in the league, he will be posted at the center position where he will anchor this defense and grow into one of the league's most explosive big men. This trio has the potential to be a major force in this league and if they can learn to work well together will probably do just that.
In the end, this team without a doubt in my mind can clinch a playoff spot in the East. Chemistry is an issue with the mix of talent that they hold, but in time that will work itself out. They have the pieces to make a run for the post season and unless something horrible happens will probably do just that. Josh Smith will have to learn to dial down his bad shooting habit, but even if that problem remains I think this team will be able to pull through. Last season Detroit just seemed like a mash of players that had talent as individuals, but were never organized in a way where those talents could be used at an efficient level. Now that this team has a complete roster, I am really interested to see what they can accomplish. Like I said, chemistry will be their biggest issue but if they can work through that, do not be surprised if the NBA playoffs to come back to the Motor City and the Pistons make their way back onto the map in 2013.