Now that we’re officially 13% of the way through the NBA season I think it’s appropriate for a cult leading post to get all of Detroit on board with the 2017-2018 Detroit Pistons. As a 1/2 season ticket holder I believe it is my duty to support this team through thick and thin and now is a time to rally the believers and non-believers alike, to really get behind Stan Van Gundy and the Stones.
We heard it all off season, hell I said it all off season, this is a team with no star power, in a league that requires superstars to win anything significant. Enter Andre Drummond. This guy made a switch this year, he may or may not have trimmed his shoulder beard, and has played more aggressive with improved confidence. He is leading the league in rebounding by almost 2, he is, shockingly, top 30 in both steals and blocks, and has improved his overall offensive game with almost 14 ppg and over 3 assists. The biggest stat that points toward Drummond’s improvement is very simple. 63.2%. No that’s not the percentage of LCA that Pistons fans fill every game (the number is probably less). That’s Andre’s free throw percentage this year. Yes you read that right. Andre shooting over 60% from the line allows him to stay in the game down the stretch, allows him to attack the basket without worrying about getting hacked, and even forces the occasional double team which he has shown he has the vision to pass out of and lead to big 3 balls by improved shooters on the roster. While Andre has certainly been the biggest improvement since last year’s disappointing tilt, there are some other causes for optimism in the new arena.
The offense has been running flawlessly, the main reason outside of Andre’s improved free throw shooting? Tobias Harris. Tobias has taken over this offense scoring over 20 a game in an offense that flows much better than Reggie pounding out the entire shot clock until he gets into the lane and throws up some janky ass floater. When you watch this team go to work offensively you see a more well rounded approach, Tobias taking dudes 1-1, Avery using scoring cuts to get easy looks, Reggie still working the pick and roll, and role players doing their jobs (Ellenson, Ish, Galloway), this team is poised to continue to be an efficient offense that lacks the star power or wow factor of the Boston, Cleveland, Golden State, or Houston’s of the world, but puts up enough points to keep themselves in games.
Defensively this team has also made huge improvements. For starters, Andre is actually trying, which helps. All jokes aside this team has shown an aggressiveness on the defensive end we haven’t seen in a few years. Avery Bradley gets after it on the perimeter and has done a great job of neutralizing the other teams best guard (held Steph Curry to 0 points in the 4th quarter of a huge W in Oracle). We have multiple guys on the roster that can guard multiple positions, which in today’s day and age is the ultimate tool. A guy like Stanley Johnson is necessary in today’s game, and luckily we have him, Tobias, Bradley, and Reggie Bullock to switch from guard to wing back to guard on any given possession to keep offenses on their toes.
While our off-season wasn’t sexy, our team isn’t sexy, and we lack a traditional start to carry us to the promised land.. Stan Van Gundy is sexy, and his moxie as a veteran coach who has been through it all and has built a near NBA championship team with a very similar makeup (Dwight Howard anchoring the Orlando Magic) gives me confidence that we can be a top 4 seed in the east. Bold prediction? Maybe. Correct prediction? We’ll see.