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Are the Pistons new enough to make the playoffs?

Me at the Free Press:

In the NBA, there’s a tried-and-true method for getting significantly better quickly: get new players or a new coach. There’s no guarantee either method will work, and the former probably has a better chance than the latter, but it’s nearly impossible to leap forward without one or the other.

In the last three years, 22 teams improved by more than six games. All but one made the leap with new players and/or a new coach.

• More than 35% of total minutes going to players who didn’t play for the team the previous year: 18 teams

• Coach other than the one it started the previous season with: 15 teams

In fact, most of those 22 teams met both conditions.

The only exception to the rule — the 2010-11 San Antonio Spurs — had a brilliant coach, smart veterans and a top player who missed part of the previous year because of an injury. They went from 50 to 61 wins. I don’t think the Pistons can replicate that formula.

So the Pistons won’t have a new coach, but do they have enough new players?

Five players – Ben Gordon, Damien Wilkins, Ben Wallace, Walker Russell and Vernon Macklin – who collectively played 24% of Detroit’s minutes last season are no longer on the roster. Of course, there’s no guarantee those vacated minutes go only to new players. Returning players could see more (such as Stuckey) or less (such as Prince), but 24% is a decent estimate.

Unfortunately, 24% is well below the 35% typically required for leaping forward without a new coach.


  • Aug 31, 20124:26 pm
    by G


    The strike last year throws a little monkey wrench in this though. Frank was a new coach last year, but the Pistons didn’t get the full benefit of the new coach bump, since there was no off-season contact, a shorter preseason, and fewer in-season practices. I wonder if some of that new coach bump will be reflected this season.

  • Aug 31, 20124:56 pm
    by sop


    Great numbers. Let me make it a little more simple.
    Right now:
    1. Miami
    2. Boston
    3. Indiana
    4. Chicago
    5. Philadelphia
    6. New York
    7. Brooklyn
    These teams are all locks to make the Playoffs. Then ATL, MIL, TOR, WAS, maybe CLE, and the Pistons will battle it out for the 8th seed. Of these ATL still looks like it has the best chance. 
    BUT… hopefully the Pistons aren’t done getting new players before the season starts or at least by the trade deadline.

    • Sep 1, 20123:39 pm
      by DasMark


      How is New York any kind of lock? They had to make a push to sneak into eight, and then got swept by Miami like a joke. 

      They have an awful coach in Mike Brown, who doesn’t fit that team at all. Except that he’ll let Melo have as many iso plays as his heart desires.

      Chicago could be a playoff team, but Rose is going to be out for almost the entire season, whenever he returns he’ll still use the remainder of the season working his way into form. One injury to a player like Luol Deng and their season is likely over.

      I don’t think there’s a  lock for the 6th, 7th or 8th seed despite what some people over-state.

      Detroit could conceivably make it into the playoffs, but I wouldn’t pencil them in yet. They’re at a point that they will have to prove themselves to everyone all over again.  

      • Sep 3, 20128:42 am
        by tarsier


        I would consider Chicago a lock. Last season, when Rose was out, they were still one of the best regular season teams in the league.

      • Sep 3, 20128:43 am
        by tarsier


        NY, Brooklyn, and Philly not so much. And Boston is only a lock assuming good health, which is quite an assumption with KG and PP.

  • Aug 31, 20124:57 pm
    by Need4Rings


    The Pistons biggest issue is in the paint with their bigs and lack of height which hasnt been solidified since  the rasheed wallace days now that we have legitmate 7 footers with the goal to be dominating shoot blockers  should allow what we have in place to compete  for the 8th maybe the 7th with a good stretch. I do not believe the raptors or miluakee tho loaded with young talent are a better ball club no true experience on either club whereas the pistons have a current mix of veterans and young big men that could benefit from the professionalism. Atlanta has to compete and prove to be a playoff team as well losing in the 1st rd and losing their best player. Detroits on the right track!!

    • Aug 31, 20125:21 pm
      by Joe Dumars


      I hate to break it to you, but Drummond isn’t legitmately 7 foot. Draft Express has listed at 6’11″ with shoes. From watching the summer league games, Drummond actually looking shorter than Daye.

      • Aug 31, 20125:23 pm
        by Joe Dumars


        has him*


      • Aug 31, 20125:29 pm
        by Vic


        Yeah he actually looks about a quarter inch shorter than Monroe if not the same height. It’s ok because he’s got the strength wingspan and hops. Dwight Howard is only about 6’9

      • Sep 1, 20121:30 pm
        by Bugsygod


        ALL player heights in the nba are listed with their shoes on.  So lasts not nitpick at one inch. EVERYONE who sees Drummond up close say he’s huge!  He’s also only 18 so he may not be done growing. 

  • Aug 31, 20125:00 pm
    by Max


    Is 3 years including a lockout year much of a sample size to go by?  And Monroe and Knight may not be new players but they should certainly be looked at as growing players.   If Sacramento for instance makes a 6 game improvement due to Cousins. Evans, Thornton, Thomas, Jimmer and the crew improving, it wouldn’t be all that surprising even though they may not have any truly new players assuming much playing time this season.

  • Aug 31, 20125:53 pm
    by Vic


    I think that Lawrence Frank is already proved that he’s a much better coach, just from the defense improvement alone. Keep in mind that he was going with rookie point guard as well on offense.

    As far as new players are concerned, I think it’s all on Slava Kim English and Andre Drummond. The minutes will definitely be there for Kim at shooting guard if he can produce. The minutes will definitely be there for Slava and Andre if they can produce at center.

    If those three players can add up to 35% of the minutes I think your formula is doubly satisfied. Plus if the centers get minutes that can possibly push Jonas to take minutes from tayshaun. That can be a big deal for offensive efficiency. Whatever minutes Singler can earn would be icing on the cake. 

    • Aug 31, 20126:15 pm
      by Vic


      35% = 84 mins

      Slava 20-24 
      Kimmie 20-25
      Drummond 15-24
      Singler 10
      65- 85
      Best case scenario if they all dominate practice.

      Whos minutes are available?
      Maxiells because they went bigger on purpose – 30?
      Ben’s because he’s not on team – 10?
      BG ditto- 25?
      Hopefully about 10 of Tayshauns 

      Maybe 55-75 new mins available for the rookies for the taking, right now. I think that’s part of why Kim and Andre were genuinely ecstatic to be Pistons. They’ve literally got a path cleared for them.

      • Sep 1, 20128:59 am
        by tarsier


        It would be astounding if both Kravstov and English saw 20+ mpg.

    • Aug 31, 20126:18 pm
      by Vic


      Oh and I completely forgot Maggette. 85 mins should be new easy.

  • Aug 31, 20127:55 pm
    by Vic


    By the way this is a really good discovery. I don’t know if it’s common knowledge yet, but you may want to nudge it onto truehoop. if I were a coach I would figure out a way to adjust the minutes by 35% on purpose and then see what happens. 

    • Aug 31, 20127:57 pm
      by Vic


      Or just text Lawrence Frank, keep it inside info

  • Aug 31, 20129:23 pm
    by Mark


    lol @ Greg Popovich being a brilliant coach based on that 2011 season. They got beat in the 1st round by an 8th seed.

    • Aug 31, 201210:53 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      So … what’s your point? Are you saying that Popovich is not a great coach?

      • Sep 1, 20129:57 pm
        by Mark


        Just saying not the best example of his brilliance.

  • Aug 31, 201211:49 pm
    by Venice


    I just hope AD1 can ATLEAST average aroung 8-10 ppg 6-7 rpg and around 1-2 bpg.

    • Sep 1, 20128:50 pm
      by OKJ


      My AD1 is Adrian Dantley.
      just okpinion

  • Sep 1, 20125:34 am
    by RussellC


    I think they can surprise some people. Drummond and Slava are going to change a lot of shots which should reduce the fg% against by a couple of points at least. Get Monroe and Stuckey to consistently get 20+ and get someone else to give them the same.  Out of Maggette, Knight, Prince, Jerebko, or Daye one of those guys should be on in each game, especially with the extra shots created by the bigs.

    • Sep 3, 20128:47 am
      by tarsier


      It’s a stretch to assume Drummoond or Slava will get big minutes this year, much less have a major impact. But here’s hoping that happens–especially with Drummond. I just don’t understand the Kravstov excitement. At best, he looks to be a Jason Collins/Gustavo Ayon type.

      • Sep 3, 201212:58 pm
        by Crispus


        I like to think of Kravtsov as our Turbo-Mozgov.

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