2018-2019 Off the Glass Team Preview Series: Detroit Pistons
Detroit Free Press.
The 2018-2019 NBA season starts October 16th and to get you ready for tip-off, Off the Glass is previewing all 30 teams. Today we look at the Detroit Pistons.
39-43, 4th in the Central Division.
The Detroit Pistons appeared to be poised for a playoff spot coming out hot with a 14-6 start. The fire went out quickly with them losing both their next seven games and starting point guard Reggie Jackson for 37 games to a severe ankle sprain. The Pistons changed course midseason with a trade centered around sending Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris to the Clippers for Blake Griffin. Returning to full strength for a late push, the Pistons threatened for the 8th seed with a five game winning streak before fizzling out after losing Griffin for their last eight games.
James Ennis III, F; Anthony Tolliver, F.
Glenn Robinson III, F; Zaza Pachulia, C; Dwane Casey, Head Coach.
Player to Watch:
Reggie Jackson, G.
Dwane Casey will extract as much production possible out of the talent available on this roster as he did with the Toronto Raptors. After an extremely poor showing at Summer League for Henry Ellenson, it will be interesting to see how long Casey sticks with him after letting OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam play through their mistakes last season in Toronto. His other options with the big rotation are bleak with only Pachulia and Jon Leuer available off the bench to shore up the back line. Which inspires less faith? A team other than the Warriors scoring efficiently despite Pachulia on the floor or long stretches with Griffin as your primary rim protector?
On the other hand, it might not matter with the types of lineups that Griffin can unlock at point center. Pairing him with Ish Smith and wings in between should instantly kick start the offense. Gritty players that are able to defend their position such as Robinson III, Stanley Johnson and Langston Galloway would benefit from having two above average distributors in transition and out of the pick and roll.
A healthy Jackson could be Detroit’s answer to its struggles in the half court with his ability to attack the rim and break his man down off the dribble. His chemistry with Drummond in the pick and roll means they should try to stagger his minutes to play alongside the center while flanked by shooters as often as possible. Reggie Bullock (.445 3pt FG%) and Luke Kennard (.415 3pt FG%) provide above average floor spacing and defend just well enough to be playable together with Drummond behind them.
Worst Case Scenario:
None of the pieces fit the puzzle when they finally meet on the court, the young players all take a step back, effectively killing their on-court and trade value. Bereft of assets and locked into bloated long-term contracts, Detroit fans can only dream of a future rebuild.
Best Case Scenario:
Griffin and Drummond form a dominant pairing on the interior versus the many teams mimicking the Warriors small ball approach but without the talent and personnel to execute it. Bullock, Kennard, and Johnson each take steps forward in their development and Jackson enters his prime with Detroit securing the 5th seed.
41-41, 3rd in Central Division.