Currently sitting at 10-3, good for second best in the thin Eastern Conference, the Pistons are off to a better start then anybody expected. Coming into the season there were questions surrounding Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, and even Head Coach Stan Van Gundy. What has gotten into this group?
First off, credit must be given where credit is due. Van Gundy made the off-season move for the criminally underrated Avery Bradley, and from the start that was a move that was guaranteed to make them a better team then last year.
The increased success has also come from within, as Reggie Jackson seems to have a new energy about him, and it came at the perfect time. Rumors had swirled about possible trades involving him since the off-season, but with his current commitment to playing team Basketball, that seems highly unlikely.
Andre Drummond is full on beasting to this point, and has accepted less post ups and focused on other parts of his game. He has begun using his size and athleticism to beat players off the dribble when necessary. He could of been doing this for years, but why would a team allow him to if he can’t hit a free throw? That has been another turn-around (quite frankly one of the biggest shocks so far this season)- He is sitting at 63% from the line, which sounds uninspiring unless you compare it to his career mark of 39%.
The third player to have a huge impact on the Pistons early is Tobias Harris, who was a sneaky move a few years ago that seems to be paying off huge now. He likely won’t be a 20 PPG scorer by the seasons end, but his 3 point shot seems to be much improved, which gives Drummond more room inside.
Sneaky players like Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard, Anthony Tolliver, and Ish Smith fill the gaps for this team. While they are solid enough to work when healthy, this team is one injury away from having major issues.
Expect them to drop below teams like the Raptors and Wizards as the season continues on, but not much further. The Bucks will pick it up and likely leap frog them eventually, but a mid seed in the playoffs would be greatly appreciated by the loyal Detroit fan base. They could very well end up slightly higher, ahead of a few of those teams, if they find a way to add a bench scorer who can make sure the offense doesn’t grow stagnant.
As long as Detroit’s players continue to buy in, I am too. This start may be unsustainable, but by no means is it a fluke. Detroit will be in the playoffs this year.