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3-on-3: Pistons’ remaining schedule

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic.Please add your responses in the comments.

1. What is the hardest part of the Pistons’ remaining schedule?

Dan Feldman: Feb. 22 – March 22: at Pacers, vs. Pacers, vs. Hawks, at Wizards, at Hornets, at Spurs, vs. Knicks, vs. Mavericks, at Clippers, at Jazz, at Warriors, at Trail Blazers, vs. Nets and at Heat. That 14-game stretch, getting past the nine road contests for a moment, includes 10 games against teams with winning records. And it’s not like those other four will be easy. The Wizards have been playing much better since John Wall returned. The Mavericks already beat the Pistons by 15 without Dirk Nowitzki, and by March 8, he should be hitting his stride. The Trail Blazers are only one game under .500 in the tough Western Conference. And the Hornets… well, 14 of 15 games being very tough is still a lot.

Patrick Hayes: The rest of January is not particularly easy – Milwaukee and road games against Miami, Indiana and Orlando – and they have a tough road trip in late March/early April with games at Chicago, Toronto, Boston and Minnesota, but I think the toughest part of the remaining schedule will be a four-game stretch in February against the Lakers, Spurs, Knicks and Nets. Let’s face it, by April, the Pistons could be eliminated from contention. So doing well in those tough stretches in January and February are much more important if the team is still holding onto some faint playoff aspirations (or some would say delusions).

Jameson Draper: Between March 3rd and March 22nd, the Pistons play: at San Antonio, home against the Knicks, home against Dallas, at the Clippers, at Utah, at Golden State, at Portland, home against Brooklyn and at Miami. All those teams are playoff-caliber teams, with the exception of maybe Dallas. Add the fact that most of these games are on the road, and this part of the schedule is very daunting. Overall, the second half of the season seems harder everywhere. The Pistons don’t have one stretch with a lot of easy games for the remainder of the year.

2. What will the Pistons’ final record be?

Dan Feldman: 36-46. That would have the Pistons going 20-20 the rest of the season, which given their recent 9-4 stretch, seems fairly reasonable. To Lawrence Frank’s Andre Drummond’s credit, Detroit has really improved during the season. Most encouraging: several players look better than they did in the fall.

Patrick Hayes: I picked them to be in the 34-36 win range before the season started. To get to 34 wins, they’d need to go 18-22 the rest of the way. I think that’s a reasonable expectation. Since their disastrous 0-8 start, the Pistons have gone 15-17. A 34-48 season is certainly not good, but it could’ve been much worse considering how bad this team looked to start the season. It also could’ve been much better had Lawrence Frank decided their best player was worthy of playing more than 19 minutes per game.

Jameson Draper: 34-48. It’s going to be difficult, but I’d say the Pistons will go 18-22 the rest of the season. Though not an elite road team, the Pistons can win in places like Cleveland. They can also lose home games against weak teams, because when not everything’s going to go according to plan, the Pistons often can’t adjust.

3. What must change for the Pistons to make the playoffs?

Dan Feldman: Andre Drummond playing more. That’s it. That’s everything. It’s very possible Drummond isn’t ready to play major minutes and continue on the level he has, but that’s the only chance the Pistons have. Drummond has been a game-changer on both ends of the floor, producing very efficiently and making his teammates better in the process. If the Pistons want to make the playoffs – and I’m not sure they should want that – taking a chance on giving Drummond starter-level minutes is their only chance.

Patrick Hayes: Andre Drummond needs minutes, and he needs them like yesterday. He needs to start. He needs to play 25-30 minutes per game. Putting him in the starting lineup would help Greg Monroe by providing a nice target for Monroe’s high-post passes and a defensive presence so that Monroe isn’t always guarding centers. It would help Brandon Knight by providing a rim-protector so Knight can take more chances defending the ball and hopefully come up with more steals. Drummond would also be a nice target for Knight on lobs or fast breaks and his offensive rebounding would help create additional open looks for Knight. The Pistons’ future depends on the development of Drummond, Knight and Monroe. Not playing Drummond heavy minutes with those guys is slowing down the progress of all three.

Jameson Draper: Well, Andre Drummond needs to play more. He’s averaging 7.5 points and 7.4 rebounds while playing just 20 minutes per game. Also, his PER is 22.99. I just don’t understand what Jason Maxiell offers that Drummond doesn’t. If Greg Monroe and Drummond played a lot together, the Pistons would be a force to be reckoned with. It would also help if Austin Daye and Charlie Villanueva regain the form they showed during Detroit’s recent hot streak. Both have slumped since.


  • Jan 25, 201312:12 pm
    by vic


    #3 sounds like me in the beginning of the season. 

    Now that they have already tanked half the season by not playing their best player over 20 minutes, I think I’d rather them continue as is, not make the playoffs and draft another star player. 

    Who knows, they could win the lottery and get Ben Mclemore… draft 7-9 & go for Otto Porter.
    Worst case (best case at PG): draft 10-14 and get Trey Burke. 

    • Jan 25, 20131:33 pm
      by I HATE FRANK


      dont hold your breath

      • Jan 25, 20133:01 pm
        by vic


        i know, just hoping hard.
        but at this time last year I was hoping for Andre Drummond… it was a pipe dream that the Pistons could get the 2nd best player in the draft. 

  • Jan 25, 201312:13 pm
    by Scott Free


    Is it just me or is Lawrence Frank the only man on the face of the planet that doesn’t want to see Knight/Monroe/Drummond play significant minutes together?  

    I see this as yet another example of Frank’s achilles heel — his inability to adjust to changing circumstances.  When opposing coaches adjust to Detroit (often while Detroit has a commanding lead) Frank fails to respond quickly enough.  

    Here we see something unexpected, Drummond was ready to contribute weeks ago and continues improving — he’s no-where-near the project he was suspected to be when Frank began taking it slowly with him.  And yet, we have to watch him cram highlight ridden performances in fewer minutes than Jason Maxiel. 

    I just hope, whatever happens this season, Drummond starts on DAY 1, next season.  Otherwise, I don’t see much point in hoping for this squad. 

  • Jan 25, 201312:28 pm
    by piston moribund


    3. What must change for the Pistons to make the playoffs?
    The roster. 

  • Jan 25, 20131:34 pm
    by George


    I think JoeD’s tenure has run it’s course.  Even though he claims he has no say on Frank’s game planning, I think he does put some pressure on him to play some of the bad contracts on the team in order to (possibly) move them.  It shouldn’t be Frank’s responsibility to make up for all of JoeD’s bad decisions.  JoeD is pretty much handcuffing Frank.

    On another level, we seem to have no plan by looking at how our team is built.  Prince should have never gotten an extension and I hope he is moved because he just doesn’t mesh with our team.  I interpret his quotes as being sorta dickish toward our youth movement.  He is still living off the past (4+ years ago), during a time when he was our 5th best player.  No role player should have that kind of influence.

    Also, I am a BK hater I guess, but I do feel he could be a solid player if he was put in the position to work with a more spaced out O.  Like people were saying, having Drummond in the lineup would really build his confidence (easy assists, he can play more aggressive gambling D).

    Back to the point though, I think it is time for JoeD to go because he can’t afford to stand pat any longer…or for that, keep trading away bad contracts/picks. 

    • Jan 25, 20131:42 pm
      by I HATE FRANK


      “Also, I am a BK hater I guess, but I do feel he could be a solid player if he was put in the position to work with a more spaced out O.  Like people were saying, having Drummond in the lineup would really build his confidence (easy assists, he can play more aggressive gambling D).”

      That and when Knight pentrates or uses the pick and roll… how about Monroe shoot that 15-17 footer?

      if Monroe takes at makes 40% of those shots…Knight Assist goes up..Knight Turnover go Down…Monroe Points Go up and his Turnovers go down…

      And the 60% of the Shots Monroe misses…Drummond will be there to get offensive boards…

      This is not rocket science

  • Jan 25, 20131:35 pm


    so we all agree Drummond should have been starting or playing 30 plus minutes 20 games ago…which in return…The Pistons would either currently have the 8th seed or they’d be much closer to thr 8th seed..

    We agree we have a coach that is clueless…

    ok good

  • Jan 25, 20131:48 pm
    by Big Rick


    Patrick glad you came over to the other side. Because I recall for most of the season you were saying Monroe was our best player. Thanks for giving Awesome Dre that recognition.

  • Jan 25, 20131:56 pm
    by Big Rick


    I also agree that Drummond has to play more with Monroe, and he would probably make the game easier for Knight, and that is crucial for short term and future growth.

    Maybe there is a reason for Frank’s madness though. Maybe Moose and Drummond really don’t play too well together for long stretches. Maybe he is trying to keep them from being exposed. Maybe its more on Monroe’s shoulders than Drummonds because he hasn’t developed a reliable jumpshot, and more often then no he passes up awide ope 17 footer and chooses to drive into his man. That’s his signature move. Driving to the basket and trowing up an unorthodox shot. Maybe playing both of them together would take away from Greg’s comfort zone. Maybe he’s the one that isn’t developing at the rate we all expected. My point being there has to be something besides Frank’s supreme stubbornness that’s leading to both our best big men not plying much together. Besides loyalty to Maxiell in his contract year. The last few games he’s been playing like a homeless man’s Ben Wallace in spurts.

    • Jan 25, 20132:36 pm
      by tarsier


      Apparently Drummond isn’t that great in practice. But he’s awesome in games.

      So how could Frank have any idea how good Monroe and Drummond are playing together for long stretches. in limited minutes, they’ve played very well together. And while practice gives you a starting point for expectations, you need to try out the real thing to actually experience how good they could be together.

      • Jan 25, 20133:05 pm
        by Big Rick


        I agree they should play more together, but maybe in practice something is being shown that gives Frank pause in playing them together for big minutes. It could be as simple as Greg improving his jumpshot just a little bit. Did anyone notice in that Chicago game WED that Noah didn’t hesitate to raise up and shoot that broke looking jumper. But defenders usually give Greg a cushion to shoot it, which he often either hesitates or elects to drive instead. He could add significantly to the floor spacing if he worked on a mid-range jumper FT line range and in. Or it may be that he doesn’t trust Greg to defend players at the 4 position. I don’t know, but he seems to tend to overhtink things and instead of trying to impos our will on other teams we try to matchup or do what they allow us to do instead of exploiting other teams’ weaknesses.

        • Jan 25, 20133:14 pm
          by Brigs


          rick if its what your suggesting and that drummond and moose don’t mesh well together then like I’ve been suggesting since I saw moose couldn’t hit his jump shot then we need to trade for a pf who can

  • Jan 25, 20131:57 pm
    by Big Rick


    My bad, didn’t do a spell check. Sorry

  • Jan 25, 20132:21 pm
    by Otis


    Dan Feldman: Did you look at the schedule before you made your prediction, or did you just guess it’s probably a .500 team, because it sounds pretty optimistic to me. I think a generous estimate is closing out the last 40 at 16-24… so another 50 loss season like I expected and like we can probably expect until…

    Significant roster change. Which should have been everyone’s answer to the last question. They’d need to win 25 out of 40 to hit .500, so… right. Priority one should be trading anyone and everyone who can get you a real playmaker to pair with Andre Drummond, then fill in the pieces from there.

  • Jan 25, 20132:28 pm
    by frankie d


    any answer has to assume that the GM or coach is not going anywhere.
    just not going to happen, unfortunately.
    but there are some things that can be easily done, if joe d is willing to be aggressive.
    trade tay and maxiell and stuckey.
    all of those guys afford other teams exactly the type of mid-season tweak contending teams are dying to make.  if you listen to opposing announcing teams you understand that they all have real value on the market.  i love stuckey and think he has been horribly misused here.  he has gotten a bum rap.   but with bynum here, for half the price, he is expendable.  tay is keeping several younger players from developing.  max is nice, but very replaceable.  draft picks or cap space should be the desired compensation.
    not only do you stock up on draft choices, but you free up starting and rotation spots for players already on your roster and you open up roster spots for players you can bring in cheaply.
    sign ben wallace and scott machado to fill roster spaces.  keep one of those spaces open and use it to rotate d league players in on 10 day contracts.  maybe you’ll hit on a guy who sticks.
    ben can be play 10-12 minutes a night and you can mix and match the other guys – kratsov, CV, a d leaguer – to fill in the other 15 minutes or so at the C/F spots.  best part of bringing ben back: you have ben as drummond’s tutor for the rest of the season.  imho, an invaluable plus. 
    machado can scramble for minutes initially and because he has a skill – passing – that is scarce in this backcourt, given a chance, he may push his way into the rotation sooner than one imagines. 
    move singler to the starting SF spot, and move JJ into the backup spot at the 3.
    your backcourt can consist of knight, bynum, english, daye and machado.  and anyone from the d league who might force his way into the lineup. 
    drummond starts and plays 30 minutes a night.
    easy, very doable moves that move the team in a positive direction. the pistons are in a position where a bit of subtraction will add quite a bit to their season.

    • Jan 25, 20132:39 pm
      by tarsier


      If Gores got about a hundred hand written letters asking him to replace the Pistons’ GM, you gotta think it would at least make him strongly consider it. I think PP should make a post encouraging readers to do just that (and providing mailing address details).

  • Jan 25, 20133:07 pm
    by Scott Free


    Monroe either needs a hook shot, or to become as reliable as Maxiel is with that midrange jumper.

    Imagine this… Monroe becomes automatic with a mid-ranged hook over smaller powerforwards.  He catches a double from Knights man, kicks it out — Drummonds man, lobs it inside. 

  • Jan 25, 20133:15 pm
    by BillupsFromCro


    I give my opinion just now, although I follow PistonPowered for years and I’m Pistons fan for over twenty years, but my horrible English prevented me to actively participate in lively discussions on the PP, so I apologize in advance.
    But I am simply amazed how many people on this site knew so little about basketball. Here all think and talk like they are coaches or GMs. All you talk about how Frank should change the first unit, but none of you offers full solution, but only half of the solution. Well, I ask you to explain to me how to look your rotation with the first and second unit. Who is the back up for Drummond?
    And the three of you seem to have forgotten what it means to be a journalist. I have nothing against criticism until the full solution offering not only half of the solution. Well, I ask you to explain to me how to look your rotation with the first and second unit. Who is the back up for Drummond?

      • Jan 25, 20134:21 pm
        by BillupsFromCro


        Dan I respect your opinion but 6.6 center is not good enough. Maxiell is 4 and it is our misfortune.
        Mistake was made when they signed Kravtsov because it proved what we here in Europe have long known – SlavaK simply not good enough. Blame the Assistant GM David George and assistant coach Brian Hill.
        Poor scouting, because Hill was assistant in the Ukrainian national team, but Ukraine and former team where he played basketball are B level in European basketball. SlavaK is a good player at this level, but it is not without reason that none of the top clubs in Europe in the last five years showed no interest in him. Joe D and Frank were expecting that SlavaK can play at least 10 minutes, but trust me – he can not. On the other hand, Macklin is a player who could do it – big mistake.
        You know in Europe are playing better basketball than you think, so everyone in Europe was clear that Singler can play in the NBA and Austin Day is not a serious NBA player. Day in European basketball has labeled as the worst American player who has ever played in Europe.

    • Jan 25, 20133:45 pm
      by piro4pistons


      It appears to me, you are thinking like a coach or GM like the rest of us.  To answer your question;  Maxiell, CV, and Kravstov would by my answer for backup center.  The fact that Drummond is better than the three of them is the whole reason Drummond would be starting.  I challenge you to name another team in the league that doesn’t start their best/second best post player due to concerns about who the backup is going to be.  Simply put, you start your best five players.  A lot of teams will start three guards when they don’t have a good SF or a good PG.  Some teams will start two PFs because they don’t have a good center.  If you goal is to win, you put your best five players on the floor, period.

      • Jan 25, 20134:56 pm
        by BillupsFromCro


        I actually did was assistant GM for 2 years in major euroleague team but that does not mean anything and I do not pretend to know more than the rest of you about the Pistons, and that’s why I asked you about the rotation because I can not understand what is going on with my beloved Pistons. You have much more information than I do, or maybe not … At the training camp with the Pistons was the best European coach, who told me after returning from Detroit mostly bad things
        This is a man who I trust everything about basketball, so I knew we would play a bad pick and roll defense, and so on and so on …
        But sometimes irritating criticisms that are often exaggerated, and none of you talk about bad officiating
        So, I am sometimes irritated by a lack of objectivity, because objectivity is not just criticism.

        • Jan 25, 20135:54 pm
          by piston moribund


          Please watch the games so you can offer up some suggestions yourself.  Stating the obvious is not very constructive or helpful.

  • Jan 25, 20134:30 pm
    by Bryan


    Hardest part of the Pistons’ remaining schedule? Actually watching the games. duh-duh CH! (drum-drum cymbal) 

  • Jan 25, 20135:51 pm
    by gmehl


    For the pistons to make the playoffs yes Drummond has to start and play 25-30mpg. I really believe that inserting Drummond into the starting line up will kick start Monroe’s season. The only problem here is who will then step up on the 2nd unit. For arguments sake you’d think the 2nd unit will consist mainly of Bynum PG, Stuckey SG, Daye SF, Villanueva PF, Maxiell C with maybe Jerebko or English rotating in and out of it. With Drummond becoming a starter we really need 1 or 2 of those guys to play out of there skins the rest of the season which i don’t think would be impossible. The hardest part of the whole scenario would probably be Drummond’s insertion into the starting line up.

  • Jan 25, 20135:55 pm
    by piston moribund


    In order for the Pistons to make the playoffs, pigs will have to learn how to fly.

  • Jan 25, 20137:45 pm
    by Herman Neutic


    In order for the Pistons to make the playoffs, they will have to continue to make progress as a
    T-E-A-M, while allowing Drummond to be a rookie, one who plays 18 to 20 minutes a game. If–as a team–they are good enough to make the playoffs, so be it. If not, they get a good draft pick, plus Drummond obviously gets more minutes next year, which will be like the Pistons get two first round draft picks. This seems to me the strategy of Joe D and Lawrence Frank. It’s a conscious choice to build for the long term and not to barely make the playoffs, which is not the same as tanking because they try to win every game, but in a way that emphasizes teamwork with the players on the current roster making contributions that fit their skills and stage of development. I think it will add up to the Pistons being good to go for years to come.

    As a thought experiment and to visualize the strategy ask yourself, would you have preferred that the Pistons had barely made the playoffs last year and been eliminated in the first round, or would you rather have Andre Drummond on the team?

    Every kid from seventh grade on up can see that if the Pistons play Drummond more minutes (setting aside for the moment the fact that he is a rookie learning the NBA grind) they win more games this year, so unless you think Joe-D and Coach Frank know absolutely nothing about basketball–which many here apparently do– you should probably assume that they can see it, too. However, recognizing the long range strategy, and what is required to make the T-E-A-M better is not so obvious and more difficult, especially in this day and age of “win now at any cost.” Which is a shame, really, because it is fun watching this team develop and come together in–all things being equal–the early days of what should be a bright future for Detroit basketball.


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