The Detroit Pistons seemed to be the very definition of mediocre last season. They finished the year 41-41, barely made the playoffs, then promptly got blown out of the water by a rampaging Bucks team. Cash strapped, they had a hard time making any significant moves in free agency. In the end, they did manage to get at least a couple impact players in Derrick Rose and Markieff Morris, though we’ll see how much of a difference they make. The Pistons are probably aiming to once again make the playoffs, which would be their first back to back appearance since 2009. Without much depth, their starters will have to once again carry a heavy load. Here are some important questions they need to answer.
|Point Guard PG|
|Shooting Guard SG|
|Small Forward SF|
|Power Forward PF|
|Point Guard PG|
|Shooting Guard SG||
|Small Forward SF|
|Power Forward PF||
Andre Drummond has proven to himself to be a very good starting center, but it has felt at times like his glaring weaknesses have held the team back. He does so many things well, yet his lack of consistent shooting and playmaking has been a big detriment to his career. To be fair to him, he has improved in recent years, as evidenced by his recent free throw percentages. But his seemingly lack of a consistent outside touch and inability to score on his own has often put a cap on the Detroit Pistons offense. If Drummond can become more than an elite screen setter, rim runner, and rebounder, it would make the Pistons’ offense a lot more dangerous. That probably starts with being able to space the floor with a jump shot, and his 3-point shot does appear to be something he’s working on. The Pistons already have one elite playmaking big in Blake Griffin. If Drummond can become another that’d significantly raise the Pistons’ ceiling.
A big problem for the Pistons has been a lack of consistent production from their guards. Reggie Jackson has had his moments, but he also has a lot of flaws and can’t be relied upon every game. The Pistons managed to bring in Derrick Rose in the offseason, who had somewhat of a bounce back year with the Timberwolves last season. Obviously, he’ll never be the MVP talent he once was, but the player he is now does fill a need for the Pistons. The biggest question for him will be if he can be more consistent with the 3 ball. Rose started off the season blazing hot from deep before petering off towards the end, so which extreme he gravitates more to this season will be huge for the Pistons. The Pistons are already low on shooting as it is, so if Rose can shoot as well as he did early last year for the whole season, it’d massively improve their offense.
While the Pistons appear to be set in their starting backcourt and their big man, who will start at small forward will be a bigger question. They have a couple intriguing options they roll out, each with their own benefits. Right now, it appears Luke Kennard and Markieff Morris will compete for the last starting position. They both bring their own sets of pros and cons. Kennard is the best shooter of all of them but lacks size and is probably the worst defender. Morris is probably the best creator of the three of them, able to consistently create his own looks, though he struggled on the Thunder last year. If the Pistons plan on competing now, Markieff would probably be their best option, as he’s the most experienced and would seem to currently be the best of the three. Still, Kennard is by far the youngest and is a prospect the Pistons likely plan to keep for a while. He took some encouraging steps last season, so starting him could lead to further development. The Pistons appear to be stuck in a rut as is, so having young players develop will probably be their best chance to get out of mediocrity. For that reason, starting Kennard makes the most sense.