Last season, the Detroit Pistons went 29-53 for the second year in a row. It cost two coaches their job, not that John Loyer had any chance of keeping his job. It also cost Joe Dumars, who once helped guide this team to an NBA title, his job. To replace both Loyer and Dumars in came Stan Van Gundy to be the hopeful savior of this team. At the very least, the hope is that the team can win more than 29 games for once. So, what sort of things are in store for the Pistons this year? Here are some predictions.
For starters, the team should simply be better due to coaching. Van Gundy hasn’t coached in a couple of years, but his track record is excellent. He has lost two jobs, sure, but in Miami he was ousted by Pat Riley wanting to take over a team with a chance to win a title, and in Orlando he was sacrificed to try and keep Dwight Howard around. He is highly thought of, and rightfully so. His presence alone could lead to a couple more wins. In particular, he should help Andre Drummond.
Not that Drummond needs help. He’s already one of the best centers in the league, despite his relative youth. He’s a great rebounder, and he can complete and alley oop and throw down a dunk or two. He needs to improve on defense, or at least he should, and Van Gundy can help. SVG helped hone Howard’s tremendous potential, and he then surrounded him with three-point shooters to space the floor. He’ll probably try and do that again, but he probably won’t be able to do that this year.
Greg Monroe and Josh Smith are still around too, and neither of them should be shooting from outside the paint. Monroe is also perhaps in his last year with the team, but he still has talent that should be used. Smith, Monroe, and Drummond can’t play together. That’s been proven. Smith at small forward is a disaster. It leads to him shooting threes, which he has no acumen for. It was a disaster last year. The three will have to be staggered, with Monroe likely coming off the bench. Playing against backups could be helpful to him. He can stuff stat sheets that way.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope did well in the Summer League, but it was only Summer League, and Orlando Summer League at that, the lesser of the two Summer Leagues. It remains to be seen what he can do when the regular season begins. Jodie Meeks can shoot threes and space the floor, but he’s hurt right now. Caron Butler and Kyle Singler seem like the small forwards, and that doesn’t bode well. One is old, the other mediocre. Well, they are both mediocre, but one is also creaky.
Brandon Jennings is around. That may not jive well with Van Gundy, but he’ll try and get the best of him. Or he will replace him with D.J. Augustin, who is decent. Jennings has more talent, but he can also shoot excessively, and his defense is not great. The defense of this team, in general, looks problematic. Van Gundy will scheme the best he can, but he can only do so much with this talent.
Detroit will be better, and they will be more exciting and funner to watch too. The Pistons should win another five or six games, meaning they will win about 35 games in total. In the East, that could get them a playoff spot. Granted, it would mean likely being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round, but that’s something. That’s progress. That’s a nice start to the Stan Van Gundy Era. Potentially.