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USA Today calls Pistons No. 6 most-watchable team

Sean Highkin at USA Today wrote earlier this week:

Outside of the Houston Rockets, no team made a bigger splash in free agency than the Pistons. They signed Smith to a four-year, $56 million contract and acquired former Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings in a sign-and-trade. Jennings says his new teammates will allow him to be more of a passer than he was with the Bucks, which will hopefully cut down on his inefficiency. The addition of Smith complicates the Pistons’ frontcourt rotation, which already included talented young bigs Monroe and Andre Drummond. Smith can play small forward, but that could negatively affect their floor spacing. If this team can put it together, though, this is a roster that’s talented and athletic, and could make a strong playoff run for the first time since 2009.

It’s quite possible the Pistons could be one of the most entertaining teams in the league. Considering they were quite possibly one of the least entertaining teams to watch in past seasons, that’s a good step.

There are plenty of questions surrounding this team, but when it comes down to entertainment, they should be fun to watch. Fans in Detroit have always been endeared to a team that can be gritty and get the job done on defense — on paper, that’s this team’s strength.

Fans are also drawn to dunks and all that jazz, which is about the only thing you can expect to consistently see from this offense.

That’s all good, but there’s a distinct chance that this team is just a train wreck. Josh Smith‘s missed 17-footers could replace Jason Maxiell‘s misses. Brandon Jennings could be just as careless with the ball as Brandon Knight was. Andre Drummond could just be a big, large manchild who can dunk and do nothing else offensively.

It’s possible, but is it likely? I’d venture to say no. Many of the concerns that follow this Pistons’ roster are overblown. The floor-spacing issues are real, but not as crazy as they’re made out to be. In reality, this team is probably a better shooting team than last season.

But hey, Jennings said he wants to bring “Lob City” to Detroit, so let’s just leave it at that and see where this goes.


  • Oct 3, 201312:28 pm
    by RyanK


    I think it all comes down to Monroe being able to hit a 15 footer at a rate that makes his defender guard it.  If he is the same shooter as last year, spacing is going to be a problem.  I don’t expect Drummond or Smith to ever be reliable scorers away from the basket, so it’s up to Monroe to get there.  If he can’t, I can see him being traded before season’s end.  It doesn’t work having your three best big men all in the paint at the same time.

    Jennings, it sounds like Joe D laid the ground work with him…he’s not going to be allowed to jack up bad shots.  Joe D said something like “not going to happen, not here.”  If he doesn’t expect him to be traded quickly.  There’s no way he’s going to be an instant turnover like Brandon Knight was.  Knight doesn’t have ballhandling skills…Jennings does.

    Drummond has great hands for a big man.  Unless he’s not willing to work at it, he’ll be more than just a manchild who can jump higher than the rest and dunk it.   


    • Oct 3, 20131:41 pm
      by The Guru


      Good players make it work…Spacing won’t be an issue…
      @Brady: Good read

      • Oct 3, 20134:29 pm
        by tarsier


        Good players usually make it work. But see the 2012-13 Lakers for a fantastic counter-example.

        • Oct 3, 20138:52 pm
          by Max


          They were old and injured. 

          • Oct 6, 20136:32 pm
            by tarsier

            those are among the reasons they didn’t make it work. if the pistons don’t make it work, they’ll have reasons too. they may be different reasons, but if you want to use that excuse, the statement must be amended to:
            “good players make it work, unless there is a problem they can use as an excuse” 

          • Oct 6, 20138:35 pm
            by Max

            You could say that about any team.   The difference with old and injured or injury prone is that those factors are the easiest to mark as red flags.   Take the Heat and the Nets.   Either could possibly come out of the east this year but when we look at the Heat, they look incredibly strong and when we look at the Nets, they look like they could go either way because they are so old and injury prone.   Of course the Heat could lose a season to massive injuries but we don’t think about it when we look at them until it happens.  The Nets on the other hand look like they could be this years Lakers even before they get injured and the Pistons don’t really seem to compare.   Even if the Pistons have a poor year, they likely wouldn’t draw comparison to last year’s Lakers but other young teams that needed another year to put it together.   

          • Oct 7, 20138:59 am
            by tarsier

            I don’t mean to say that this year’s Pistons are anything like last year’s Lakers. In fact, they have both a much lower floor and ceiling. My point was simply that “good players make it work” is overly simplified to the point of being false.

          • Oct 7, 20132:33 pm
            by Max

            Well, we would have to define making it work.   If I may be permitted to interpret what I think The Guru is saying, I think he means the team will at least be decent as in a playoff team.   I know you, Tarsier, are more dubious about their chances than some and maybe I’m a homer, which colors my evaluation of the Pistons’ talent, but I honestly am having trouble recalling any healthy roster that was as talented as this Pistons roster that missed the playoffs—other than a couple of years in the west when teams won close to 50 games and still missed out but those were evidently good teams with players that were making it work.  

          • Oct 7, 20132:58 pm
            by tarsier

            “any healthy roster”

            What qualifies as healthy? Almost every team has some significant injury every season. I think anything short of losing 45-60 combined games from your top 3-4 players would have to qualify as “healthy”.

            And would you really be that surprised if Monroe missed half the season (but the rest of the starting lineup lost virtually none) and the Pistons missed the playoffs.

          • Oct 7, 201310:03 pm
            by Max

            I would be surprised if Monroe missed half the season period–he’s averaging missing less than a game a season for his career so far so even missing 20 games would be a 2000 percent break from the logical projection.    

            I would tie health for a team to only its top few players and it’s something of a case by case basis for each team.  With the current Pistons roster, the top four is all that really matters and the team is pretty well set up to survive any single player going down for a long stretch.  That said, you said anything short of 40 to 65 games for a team combined would have to qualify as having a healthy season; while I pretty much agree with that I would tie it to the lower 40 number and point out that if Monroe missed half a season, his missed games alone would bust that 40 number and push the Pistons into a season that would rate as unhealthy.  

            Also, I don’t think it’s true that just about every team has a season altering injury every year and the teams that survive to the end are disproportionately tied to the teams that have the healthiest seasons in the league.   If you remember the Pistons six straight trips to the conference you’ll recall that their starting five never approached anything like 40 or even 30 missed games combined during any year of that run.  I’d also say that in my thirty odd years of being a die hard Pistons fan, I can only think of 2-4 years when their starting lineup missed or approached missing 40 games combined so forty isn’t a small number even though one single player can miss more.      

          • Oct 8, 201312:03 pm
            by tarsier

            That was a total hypothetical. I don’t expect Monroe to miss significant time either. My point is that, if the Pistons have a normal season, they will have significant injury issues with someone on the roster.

            Also, I said 45-60 not 40-65 (my reasoning being that most teams have about 3-4 really important players and averaging less than 15 games out each wouldn’t qualify as a season of disastrous injuries). If Jennings ends up being vital, I’ll lean toward the 60 figure. If Jennings ends up being meh, I’ll lean toward the 45. Either way, half a lost season won’t bust the number in itself.

            And yes, the Pistons have been extraordinarily healthy over the past decade plus. I don’t think that makes them due for a rash of injuries. but I also don’t think it means they will continue to be so fortunate.

            It is absolutely true that most teams lose a very important player for extended time most seasons. Last year, Drummond alone missed 22. And the Pistons were healthier than most teams. So there’s no reason to assume that they won’t have it worse than that next year.

          • Oct 8, 20131:38 pm
            by Max

            I know how you love stats.  If you have the time, go figure out how many teams made the playoffs last year or the last few years with their best 3-4 players missing 45-60 games combined.   I don’t know the answer to this but my guess is that in any given year, only a couple of teams can pull it off.    Obviously, the Bulls and probably Lakers did last year.  

          • Oct 9, 201311:21 am
            by tarsier

            12-13, 7 teams:
            Bulls (Rose), Lakers (Gasol+Nash; 65 games), Pacers (Granger; 77 games), Knicks (Stoudemire+Anthony+Felton+Chandler; 98 games), Celtics (Rondo+Garnett+Pierce; 63 games), Warriors (Bogut; 50 games), Spurs (Parker+Duncan+Ginobili+Leonard; 75 games)

            11-12 (prorating for lockout means 45-60 becomes 36-48), 7 teams:
            Celtics (Pierce+Garnett+Allen+Rondo; 48 games), Hawks (Horford, 55 games), Knicks (Anthony+Stoudemire+Smith; 61 games), Bulls (Rose+Deng, 39 games), Clippers (Randolph; 38 games), Nuggets (Gallinari+Nene; 61 games), Spurs (Ginobili+Duncan+Parker; 46 games)

            10-11, 4 teams:
            Bulls (Boozer+Noah; 57 games), Mavericks (Butler+Nowitzki; 62 games), Trail Blazers (Oden+Roy; 117 games), Magic (take your pick from Richardson/Turkoglu/Anderson/Carter/Lewis/Arenas/Redick who missed, on average, 35 games)

            09-10, 6 teams:
            Cavaliers (James+Williams+O’Neal; 48 games), Lakers (Kobe+Gasol+Bynum; 46 games), Spurs (Parker+Ginobili+Duncan; 45 games), Mavericks (Butler; 55 games), Trail Blazers (Oden+Roy; 78 games), Bucks (Bogut+Redd; 77 games)

            Too much work to keep doing this much further back (it starts to get hard remembering some players that were or weren’t a big deal even just four years ago). But suffice it to say that over the past four seasons, at least 6 playoff teams per year could be considered majorly hit by injuries.

  • Oct 3, 20131:49 pm
    by MIKEYDE248


    I think a lot of these issues will come down to coaching.  If Mo has a good game plan that the players all buy into, good things will happen.  If he can’t figure out how to space the floor, with the players available or the players aren’t buying into his system, they may end up being another lottery team.

    • Oct 3, 20133:32 pm
      by CNA5


      I think floor spacing can be overcome- but only if they defend, rebound, and get out in transition.

      Cheeks will have to get this team to be a top 10 team defensively if they are going to make some noise.

  • Oct 3, 20132:44 pm
    by Mikeyahoosports


    As a journalio sports I am very treated by this team however due to the egos Josh Smith Brandon Jennings and potentially Andre Drummond I have to countess team as a know if further entices me to say that this team will go down in history as being the worst ever basketball team known to man. Furthermore this doesn’t entice me to say that they will not win the NBA championship this year it is possible or they could go down as a leagues worst history known to man ever ever ever known to man but don’t count them out as a beating LeBron James in the finals

    • Oct 3, 20133:05 pm
      by Some Dude


      Worst team ever known to man? what are you smoking?

      Even if things don’t pan out (not likely) they have too much talent to be a lottery team. For your information the worst team in NBA history was the 2011-12 Bobcats (7-59). No way in hell the Pistons could ever be that bad even if they tried. The fact that you say this, either means you know absolutely nothing, or you are just trolling.

    • Oct 3, 20139:47 pm
      by Desolation Row


      “As a journalio sports” “worst ever basketball team known to man”

      … troll fosho 

    • Oct 4, 20133:08 am
      by HGB


      Sports/Jounalio: Where did you go to school?  did you go to school? First post and then hit the booze.
      Worst ever to beat LeBron.  Geez!!!!!!

    • Oct 5, 20131:49 am
      by Schwein


      As a journalio of whatever, I am very treated by post made by MikeyDon’tKnowNothingBoutBasketball man.  If million of dollars I had, ego I would not (unlike superstar hot shot baskeball player)!  This team will go down in history as worst team ever! Remember Bobcats last two years? This team much worst! Lucky for bad team, first draft pick they win and Andrew Wiggins picked make them formidable for future that makes bright all peoples who watch the game and good.  My writing, though, still a shit.

  • Oct 3, 20133:53 pm
    by Nick N


    I don’t think spacing will be a real issue because of how good Drummond, Smith, and Monroe are at passing. Each will demand a double team they just have to pass to the cutter. But it will help if Monroe develops a consistent 15 footer.

    • Oct 3, 20134:00 pm
      by Danny


      I think the passing is what sets this team apart and will shift the defense from side to side.  Plus having two-three ppl on the floor that can create will help.  Spacing will be an issue at times but its not going to be the all end for us.  Don’t think anyone on the team demands a double but there are ppl that left alone can make moves.  If help comes we all see that drummond and smith are able to pass, look at their assists. 

  • Oct 4, 20133:14 am
    by HGB


    If Mo is a good coach there won’t be a problem with the Pistons. Wouldn’t other teams love to have spacing issues.  Imagine LeBron, Howard, and a younger Gasol on the same floor and on the same team. Would there be a spacing issue?

  • Oct 5, 20131:43 am
    by Schwein


    Hey Mikeyahoosports, journalio sports man.  Google translate doesn’t always work the way we wished it would.  You obviously know nothing about basketball or simply can’t articulate yourself well enough to show you do, so the burden of proof is on you to prove your not a complete basketball idiot or incompetent writer.  If you’re going to say something, make a point or real observation.  In the meantime, I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR NEXT CONTRIBUTION!

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