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What’s wrong with the Pistons’ offense?

Not long ago, the Pistons offense functioned at least moderately effectively.

Not anymore.

Me at the Detroit Free Press:

Through Christmas, Detroit ranked No. 12 in the NBA in points per possession. The Pistons’ offense wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

Since then, the Pistons have the NBA’s 26th-most-effective offense.

It has gotten so bad, Detroit’s offense (20th in the league for the season) has nearly caught its defense (21st) in ineptitude. Since Christmas, the units are running even: 26th and 26th.

What has changed from before and after Dec. 25? Three areas stand out, one positive and two negative.

On the bright side, the Pistons have gone from above average to very good at getting to the free throw line. Unfortunately, the benefits are muted when Detroit makes a league-worst 66% of its free throws.

The negatives are much more pronounced.

To start, the Pistons have gone from making a woeful 32% of their three-pointers to an abhorrent 27%.

They’ve also started turning the ball over much more. Doing it at slightly better than the median rate before Christmas, Detroit ranks among the NBA’s worst ball protectors since.

These are the perils of building a team that is led by Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings in field goal attempts, three-point attempts, assists and turnovers. The offense is bound to be erratic — particularly in the halfcourt.

The Pistons went from a strong fifth in fast-break points and eighth in second-chance points before Christmas to first in both categories after Christmas. They’re cleaning up when it comes to those defense- and rebounding-fueled methods of scoring.

That means the set offense has become the issue.

Turnovers and three-point shooting are both the root and symptoms of the problem.

Running the offense through Jennings and Smith, the Pistons frequently get themselves into trouble. If Smith and Jennings don’t turn the ball over or force a three-pointer early in the possession, the play too often still goes nowhere. That leaves mere seconds on the shot clock and little option to do anything but force a risky pass or a long shot.

4 Comments

  • Jan 31, 20144:18 pm
    by Jerrific

    Reply

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, Oh God please, yes. Too bad Cheeks is too stupid too realize this offense should run through Monroe first, or his players are too stupid to make it happen. Hopefully whoever the guilty party is corrected soon, I’ve seen way too many games where Monroe goes 6 for 8 while Jennings and Smith combine for 15 for 40. 

  • Jan 31, 20145:42 pm
    by grizz3741

    Reply

    ..thanks for this very relevant article .. especially the 4th quarter .. IMO … we are not running offense so much as just jacking up jump shots or playing hero ball .. our opponents KNOW that Jennings will shoot  and Stuckey will drive to the hole . .and there will be NO PASSING for an open shot … so they can ratchet up the D on those 2 and who cares about the rest ..

  • Jan 31, 20145:43 pm
    by grizz3741

    Reply

    Cheeks is most of the problem in this ..

  • Jan 31, 20147:48 pm
    by picknroll

    Reply

    I love how the Free Press puts the disclaimer at the beginning of Dan’s article about the opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the Free Press nor its sports writers!!??  I come to sites like PP to get solid reporting and analysis on the Pistons team.  The writers at the FP are below average when it comes to in-depth Piston news and analysis!  Keep up the good work PP!!

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