In: Derrick Rose, Markieff Morris, Tony Snell, Tim Frazier, Joe Johnson
Out: Jon Leuer, Ish Smith, Glen Robinson III, Zaza Pachulia, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington,
For the Pistons the 2018-19 season was a step in the right direction, even if it was a small step. Even though first year coach Dwane Casey was able to take Detroit to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, and to their second 40 win season since 2009, it still left a lot to be desired. The main problem is owner Tom Gores has consistently refused to accept this team needs a rebuild and has forced them into NBA purgatory. While it seemed like the team had an abundance of talent with Blake Griffin playing at an elite level and Andre Drummond leading the league in rebounds and finishing fifth in steals and sixth in blocks, they were still nowhere near a complete team that could compete.
They have the potential to be a 5-6 seed, but the team completely lacks an identity, and despite Griffin being a terrific leader their best players outside of him have had some issues with their attitude towards winning. Reggie Jackson who has consistently averaged fewer and fewer assists each year since joining the Pistons refuses to accept he isn’t the star of this team with his constant hero ball and poor shot selection in clutch moments. Drummond has sexy stats, but when faced against a tough opponent he always seems to shut down and gets down on himself way too easily. Casey’s lineup choices are also a bit questionable when you have a young shooter like Luke Kennard coming into his own, and he is constantly getting fewer minutes than defensive specialist Bruce Brown. For a fanbase that went from one of the best teams in NBA history to constantly spend top dollar for less than top talent, it says a lot when an eight seed and getting curb stomped by the Bucks is way less exciting than a complete tank and rebuild. Going into the 2019-20 season it seems the Pistons still want to compete and given the moves they made they should be a better team than last year.
With the 15th pick in the NBA draft the Pistons got a steal in forward Sekou Doumbouya out of France. He gives the Pistons some extreme athleticism that they desperately needed. The big thing is he has some serious length and an already nice jump shot. He should help take some pressure off Griffin on defense, as well as supply another shooting option next to Kennard. His athleticism will also compliment Griffin forcing defenses to take some attention off Griffin. He has some serious defensive potential and has legit potential to be one of the strongest defenders in the NBA sooner than later.
Lastly, he has some great vision which given the fact the Pistons starting point guard can barely muster four assists a game, he could create some extra scoring opportunities for Drummond and Griffin. Overall this was an outstanding pick for the Pistons given the potential value, and he could easily become one of the best players in this draft. He won’t be starting to begin the season, but she should see his minutes increase more and more as the season progresses.
The Pistons continued their streak of being buyers in free agency and added some quality pieces. The biggest signing and most exciting is Derrick Rose. Rose had a bounce back year in 2019 having one of his best seasons since his ACL injury in 2013. Despite Ish Smith being a fan favorite, Derrick Rose is an unquestioned upgrade, and after last season has shown he has the potential to be one of the best players off the bench in the NBA. With the number of weapons he has in Drummond, Griffin, and Kennard, he should be able to rack up assists and points and be in contention for the sixth man of the year award. The Pistons also signed Markieff Morris coming off the worst season of his career since 2013, but he should still provide some value for Detroit.
He will back up Griffin, and provide a solid big man scoring option off the bench, and also grab a good amount of boards. The Piston’s being weakest at small forward went out and got Tony Snell who should start the season as their starting small forward. Snell will have the biggest role of his career, and despite not being statically exciting he’s a reliable player that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He should be able to hit a good amount of threes, play solid defense, and all-around balances out this team. Tim Frazier was added to add a little depth at point guard with Reggie Jackson and Derrick Rose both being injury risks. He’ll get more minutes than a normal third point guard to keep some weight off Jackson and Rose, but he’s not much more than a veteran safety net. Finally, they signed BIG3 MVP Joe Johnson to add more depth at shooting guard. After earning his way back into the NBA, 4th quarter Joe will provide a ton of veteran leadership for Kennard and Brown.
To begin the season the Pistons’ starting five will most likely be Reggie Jackson, Bruce Brown, Tony Snell, Blake Griffin, and Andre Drummond. Most fans would probably prefer Kennard to be starting over Brown, but Casey seems to prefer Kennard coming off the bench. Jackson will hopefully be able to pick up where he ended last season because once he got one hundred percent healthy he played much better basketball. Brown provides very little on the offensive end and he’s mostly there because he’s quietly one of the strongest defenders in the league. Snell is a consistent player that will provide some scoring, but should be strong on the defensive end as well.
The main focal point of the offense and team will be Griffin and Drummond. Griffin should have the ball in his hands every possession, and if he could stay healthy should be able to repeat his third team All-NBA play of last season. Drummond is the main X-factor as he’s great against bad and mediocre teams, but against tough opponents, he struggles. Statically he should be a monster again, but if he can stay focused the Pistons could easily have a top three front-court in the NBA. The main plan should be to play around Griffin, but there’s no doubt Jackson and Drummond will both be trying to get theirs especially with Jackson going into a contract season.
The Pistons finally have a solid bench this year with a ton of depth. They have Rose and Frazier that are both veteran guards with solid BBIQ, and can both be counted on when Jackson is out. Luke Kennard will get equal or more minutes than Brown, and is easily the teams most consistent shooter. If Kennard continues progressing he should see himself implemented into the starting lineup because he’s near the point where he’s too good not to start.
Langston Galloway and Svi Mykhailiuk are both solid scoring options and give the Pistons more three-point threats. Doumbouya, Morris, and Thon Maker will be the forwards off the bench and all provide value in their own way. Doumbouya will get as many opportunities as possible and given his potential could be a valuable two-way player early on. Morris and Maker are both good scoring options, but neither are strong defensively. Both will have to play off position at the center to back up Drummond as the Pistons don’t have a true center on their bench. All in all the Pistons are extremely deep at the guard position, but their big men, while being able to score, don’t contribute a ton of defensive value and the Pistons could get exposed for it.
The 2019-20 season for the Pistons could go in many different directions given the amount of talent they have, but their talent also has a ton of injury concerns. Griffin is a physical player, and his knees have always nagged him, but if he can stay healthy he could lead this team back to the playoffs. Jackson has something to prove in his contract year, but could likely not finish this season as a Pistons might trade him to a contender. There’s a lot of things to be excited for as a Piston fan, Blake Griffin is a superstar, Derrick Rose could be the sixth man of the year, Sekou Doumbouya has limitless potential, and Luke Kennard is poised for a breakout year. There is also a lot to be worried about with injury concerns, Drummond and Jackson’s attitude, Sekou Doumbouya could be another in a long line of Piston draft busts, you just never know when it comes to a team like the Pistons. This team has the potential to be a 5-6 seed in the East, and I could easily see them winning 50 games on Blake Griffin’s will power alone, but whether they compete in the playoffs is all dependent on players like Jackson and Drummond staying focused. NBA purgatory is a tough place to crawl out of, but the Pistons seemed determined to come out the other end a contending team.