Detroit brings one of the few true centers to the able, and also added Blake Griffin halfway through the year. Detroit ranked just 18th in rebounding despite having two of the better rebounders in the game. It ties into the Pistons’ big problem anyway, and is the fact that after those two starts, there is not much else. The wings are a bit undersized, making it tougher for them grabbing boards. This team also struggled with overall fundamentals, but that will likely change under Dwane Casey. Looking at the Raptors teams under Casey, they were in the top half in rebounding most seasons.
It was an up and down year for Detroit, and they were just edged out in the playoff race towards the end of the year. Drummond and Griffin never quite had big games together, and alternated big nights. Griffin and Drummond have a new coach, and also more time playing together. There is potential for this to be one of the better front court duos in the league, and especially in the East. They will need some help, but if these two can be more consistent together, Detroit should sneak their way into the playoffs this season. If they can’t, there will be a lot of questions in Detroit.
It has been a long time since Detroit had consistent backcourt scoring. Looking at this group it is going to be tough to expect a lot from them this year, unless we get completely surprised. Reggie Jackson was supposed to be the guy in Detroit, but has played less than 60 games and averaged less than 28 minutes over the last two seasons for Detroit. Ish Smith has been a role player and fill-in option with Jackson’s injuries, but has also struggled. Reggie Bullock and Luke Kennard both flashed upside last season, and Detroit desperately needs one of them to find form for 82 games.
It was a shocking move for Toronto to fire Dwane Casey, who also won coach of the year. Detroit gets a strong head coach, and they have some talent for Casey to work with. They have been underperforming for many years, and now an above average coach can step in. The Eastern Conference doesn’t have LeBron James in the mix, and while they have some very good teams, the back half of the East is wide open. Detroit should be favored to finish ahead of teams like Charlotte and Miami, but if they experience consistency issues again, it could be more of the same.
Small forward should be a staple position for teams, and in Detroit that has not been the case. Stanley Johnson was drafted high out of Arizona a few seasons ago, but has yet to fully emerge for where he was drafted. He is a bit undersized, but is an excellent defender which gives him the edge over other players. Reggie Bullock, Luke Kennard, and Glenn Robinson are all options to provide some depth at the three as well. Johnson won’t be asked to provide a ton offensively, but will need to keep up defensively and at least show signs of improvement on the offensive end.