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Category → Playoff Push

Playoff Push: Will Bynum

What is the No. 1 thing Will Bynum can step up to do to help the Pistons make the playoffs?

Provide a spark from outside the rotation

Bynum will likely begin the season in the rotation with Rodney Stuckey out, but if every guard hits his upside, Bynum should be pushed out. It’s far from guaranteed that will happen, but it would bode well for the Pistons’ playoff chances. Besides, Bynum can best serve the team as a non-rotation player. Bynum plays the same way all the time: full throttle. Deploy him when the Pistons trail big late, and he at least increases variance. If he’s driving to score and set up teammates, perhaps a comeback is possible. If he’s turning the ball over and missing jumpers, oh well. A loss was likely, anyway.

-Dan Feldman

Keep playing like he’s fighting for a contract

I’m admittedly the self-appointed president of the Will Bynum fan club. The draw of Bynum, for me, has always been how he often plays like he’s trying to prove himself on a 10-day contract rather than enjoying his third NBA contract. I find that fascinating – it’s probably a byproduct of how hard he’s had to fight just to have a NBA career in the first place. But now? The team wanted him back, even with other guard options, and re-signed him, which was a mild surprise. His coach, Maurice Cheeks, is a fellow Chicagoan who seems to connect with him. And the player he complements most on the team just so happens to be Andre Drummond, one of the most exciting young players in the league and, the Pistons hope, their franchise center for the next decade or more. I’m very curious how Bynum performs with, seemingly, a secure role for the first time in his Pistons career.

-Patrick Hayes

Perform consistently

Last year, Bynum played like a superstar one game, and a D-Leaguer the next game. This season, he’ll see his minutes cut a little bit due to Stuckey and Billups getting time with starter Brandon Jennings. The key for Bynum this season is to just make sure that he plays like a serviceable bench player in his time on the floor. He doesn’t have to play like he did last year when he dropped 31 points against the Hawks in December, but he also shouldn’t play as poorly as his 2-for-9, five-point performance against Charlotte in January. He must find a happy medium.

-Jameson Draper

Wait for his opportunity

There really isn’t a defined role for Bynum right now, but as the season progresses he’ll emerge. There are plenty of reasons why he’s not the perfect player, but if he’s used correctly as a change-of-pace guard, he’s a valuable piece. Plus, let’s just get this out of the way now: As great as it is that Chauncey Billups is back in Detroit, he’s not going to stay healthy for all 82 games this season.

- Brady Fredericksen

Playoff Push: Charlie Villanueva

What is the No. 1 thing Charlie Villanueva can step up to do to help the Pistons make the playoffs?

Shoot better from the free-throw line

I hope Villanueva plays a minor role on this team, but there will likely by a point in the season he joins the rotation. When that happens, I hope he’s a little more focused than last season, when he shot 55 percent from the free-throw line. That’s an inexcusable number for such a good shooter. An improvement would show he at least cares.

-Dan Feldman

Let’s just get through this

One more year and the Pistons are done with the summer of 2009 forever. We can all forget it ever happened. That’s all there is to say.

-Patrick Hayes

Act like a veteran

With so many young players (and Josh Smith) getting minutes in the front court this season, Villanueva will not get much play time time – probably even less time than last season. The Pistons can’t have him be a bug in the locker room. He’s 29 and has been in the NBA for eight years now. He’s a veteran and needs to use that to the Pistons advantage, mentoring the young and budding players – or at least not disrupting them.

-Jameson Draper

Play like he wants to get paid this summer

Villanueva isn’t the Pistons’ best frontcourt player, but he might have the best jumper of the bunch. He’s probably going to be in and out of the rotation, but as long as he’s making 3-pointers, he’s going to play. That’s a necessity the way this group is constructed. Plus, he’s going into a contract season, and the last (only?) time Villanueva has been motivated was a contract year.

- Brady Fredericksen

Playoff Push: Luigi Datome

What is the No. 1 thing Luigi Datome can step up to do to help the Pistons make the playoffs?

Shoot well enough to overcome his defense

Datome projects as a poor NBA defender, though he’ll obviously get a chance to prove otherwise. But he needn’t to be a great defender. He just must be passable if his shooting is as good as advertised. There’s room for a top 3-point shooter in the Pistons rotation, maybe even if he’s bad defensively. He just can’t be a complete liability on that end.

-Dan Feldman

Shoot, shoot, shoot

Datome is already destined to be a fan favorite, whether he plays or not. The only question is whether he follows the mold of Walter Hermann, a fan-favorite whose personality, story and hair made him easy to root for even as he was glued to the bench or Jon Barry, a bench player whose personality and energy, mixed with his fearless ability to take and make three-pointers off the bench, excited the crowd every time he entered the game. The Pistons desperately need shooting. If Datome hits threes, he’s going to play. Simple as that.

-Patrick Hayes

Continue shooting well

The Italian forward will have an immediate chance to make an impact this season, as he and Kyle Singler will be the top two small forwards coming off the bench this season for the Pistons. In his last season in Italy, Datome shot 39.4 percent on 3-pointers. If he carries that shooting overseas to the Motor City, Datome will be very useful for a team that could use more scoring on the wing.

-Jameson Draper

Make 40 percent of his 3-pointers

Datome’s job is simple: Let it fly from downtown. There isn’t a ton of mystery around why the Pistons lured him from Europe — he was one of the best 3-point shooters it had to offer. The Pistons bench is a bit of a question. In theory, the Pistons already have Singler as the small forward who can space the floor. If Singler struggles and Datome proves his worth as not only a shooter, but also as a defender, he could work his way into some legitimate playing time.

- Brady Fredericksen

Playoff Push: Jonas Jerebko

What is the No. 1 thing Jonas Jerebko can step up to do to help the Pistons make the playoffs?

Take only good shots

Jerebko’s play unraveled last season for many reasons, most of which was his insistence on hunting shots. That’s not Jerebko’s game, at least in the NBA, and it sapped his energy for hustling and rebounding. Jerebko can be a very effective reserve with the right mindset, and narrowing his shot selection would go a long way, especially now that the Pistons have more competent offensive options. If he does that, then maybe he gets back to doing the little things that endeared him to the Pistons in the first place.

-Dan Feldman

Remember who you are

When Jonas Jerebko is a hustling, energetic, bundle of movement who runs the floor, finishes, plays physical defense and crashes the offensive glass, he’s a valuable rotation player who can help the Pistons significantly at multiple positions this season. When he’s a guy convinced that he has any semblance of an offensive game, he’s a negative presence on the court. I want Jerebko to be the player the Pistons thought he was when they re-signed him based on a promising rookie year, not the player who was justifiably benched last season.

-Patrick Hayes

Stay positive

Jerebko will likely buried on the bench behind Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, Josh Smith and Charlie Villanueva and will be competing for minimal playing time with new Pistons Josh Harrellson and Tony Mitchell. In tough times like these it’s hard for a player to keep up his work ethic and maintain hope, but that’s exactly what Jonas needs to do. Just keep working, and unlike last year, don’t sulk if he doesn’t get minutes immediately.

-Jameson Draper

Rebound, a lot

It’s pretty simple: if the Jerebko who shot everything he touched early last season comes back this season, so will the Jerebko who sat on the bench for a quarter of the season. The Swede needs to get back to his roots as a rebounder. There are other Pistons capable of being that energy forward off the bench, so the pressure is on Jerebko to prove himself.

- Brady Fredericksen

Playoff Push: Tony Mitchell

Each year, we do a themed preview series to ready for the season. This year’s theme is "Playoff Push."

What is the No. 1 thing Tony Mitchell can step up to do to help the Pistons make the playoffs?

Play hard all the time

The Pistons basically made Mitchell promise he’d play hard before they drafted him, and it’s imperative he his word immediately. I don’t know whether Mitchell will get any meaningful minutes this season – he’ll likely split time between the inactive list and the D-League – but there’s a good chance any substantial playing time would be given rather than earned. By that, I mean the Pistons are likely too deep at power forward for him to outplay someone into the rotation. But in the event of injury, he could play – and if he plays hard, maybe even play well. But if he’s not playing hard, I’m sure he’d be a liability, and already down multiple players in that scenario, that would be a big problem.

-Dan Feldman

Be the new Amir Johnson

Realistically, as entertainingly athletic as Mitchell is, he’s not likely to contribute this year. One of my favorite Pistons of all-time is D-League Amir Johnson. Johnson barely played his first two seasons as a Piston, but put up absolutely dominant numbers in D-League stints that had me convinced he was a future rotation player. That didn’t really work out for the Pistons because of an unwillingness by coaches to play anyone younger than like 31-years-old in those days, but Johnson ultimately became an energetic, productive NBA player, and I have similar hopes for Mitchell.

-Patrick Hayes

Make the most of floor time

Mitchell, a second round pick out of North Texas, is a really interesting player. He was a top prospect who was forced to go to North Texas because of grades, had a great freshman year but fell off tremendously in his sophomore campaign. He had a great Summer League in Orlando, where Pistons coaches raved about him. Considering the expectations for him, Mitchell must showcase all of his skills in the limited time he’ll see this season. He has been a good shooter, scorer and shot blocker in college, and he will have a chance to show that this season. He won’t get a lot of playing time this year, but it’s going to be exciting how he plays at the next level.

-Jameson Draper

Always be ready

There isn’t a whole lot to Tony Mitchell as a player. He’s going to rebound, he’s going to block some shots, and he’s going to provide an athletic presence on both sides of the court. The dilemma is that the Pistons already have a bigger, better version of that in Andre Drummond. Mitchell’s going to be a situational guy this season, but if he can focus on being an energy guy/rebounder/defender in limited minutes — basically, Jason Maxiell — he’ll be just fine.

- Brady Fredericksen

Playoff Push: Josh Harrellson

Each year, we do a themed preview series to ready for the season. This year’s theme is "Playoff Push."

What is the No. 1 thing Josh Harrellson can step up to do to help the Pistons make the playoffs?

Be a viable rotation player

The Pistons have three players capable of regularly playing center, and two, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, start. It’s possible Detroit might want to trade one of Drummond, Monroe and Josh Smith – likely Monroe – to create a more balanced starting lineup. If Harrellson is a viable backup center, that makes a Monroe-for-wing trade much more palpable. If Drummond, Monroe and Smith work well together, great. But if not, Harrellson being a rotation-caliber player gives the Pistons more options.

-Dan Feldman

Make Charlie Villanueva irrelevant

You can toss Jonas Jerebko in there too, while we’re at it. Harrellson was signed to the team’s final roster spot, but he’s played reasonably well in very limited NBA opportunities. I would assume the incumbents – the perennially under-performing Villanueva and under-performing newcomer Jerebko – will get the first crack at spot minutes as the first bigs off the bench, but Harrellson is physical, a decent defender and a good bet to quickly snatch up minutes from one or the other if they start slow this season.

-Patrick Hayes

Wear jorts and be physical in practice

Harrellson is in a similar situation to Siva this season. If he’s playing big minutes in games, something has gone horribly wrong with the Pistons. He brings some interesting attributes to the Pistons — specifically being a 3-point threat at center — but his job will be in practice. Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, whoever, these guys need big bodies to bang with in practice. That’s where Jorts comes in to play. If he does that, and screams his brains off from the bench during games, he’s doing his job.

-Brady Fredericksen

Stay healthy

Harrellson won’t be seeing that much playing time this year (hopefully), due to a stacked Pistons front court, but he will see time in case of injuries to Drummond or Monroe. Basically, he’s taking the place of Viacheslav Kravtsov. He’s a better shooter than Kravtsov, but is of a similar a age and will play a similar role.

-Jameson Draper

Playoff Push: Peyton Siva

Each year, we do a themed preview series to ready for the season. This year’s theme is "Playoff Push."

What is the No. 1 thing Peyton Siva can step up to do to help the Pistons make the playoffs?

Cheer enthusiastically

Obviously, there are more important things for Siva’s NBA career, but because this preview is focused on the Pistons making the playoffs this year, and I doubt Siva sees many minutes with Brandon Jennings, Chauncey Billups, Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey ahead of him at point guard. But Siva, clearly a passionate player, can still have a positive impact if he shows the same enthusiasm while cheering from the bench. Too many times the last few years, the Pistons looked disinterested in a game. That wasn’t a huge problem when improving the team’s lottery odds was actually more beneficial than chasing an unrealistic playoff berth. Now that the postseason is in reach, every game matters much more, and Siva could help the playing Pistons get geared up.

-Dan Feldman

Practice like a beast

If Siva plays meaningful minutes this season, it will likely mean the Pistons stated goal of making the playoffs was derailed somewhere. Any expectation that Siva contributes or even plays during games is misguided. Instead, he can help the team simply be being the defensive terror in practice that he was at Louisville. Harass and pressure the Detroit guards, particularly Jennings and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in practice, so much that any pressure they feel in games from other guards will be minimal. Then, perhaps by next season, he’ll be ready to challenge for the backup point guard position.

-Patrick Hayes

Be competent on offense

Siva was drafted to be the Pistons’ last guard off the bench late in the second round for this reason and this reason only: his defense. He has a small frame, but he was one of the best defensive guards in the country at Louisville. Siva will only see playing time on the Pistons this year when they’re in dire need of some defense, because he’s useless on offense. He’s not a great facilitator, and when you combine that with the fact that in his last season at Louisville he was a 40% shooter from the field, there really isn’t that much there on the offensive side of the ball. If he can work on his shot this year and become at least a competent offensive player, he could possibly see a lot of playing time.

-Jameson Draper

Constantly bring energy

Chances are Siva won’t be seeing the court a whole lot for the Pistons this season. That’s probably a a good thing at this point, but Siva still has value to this team. He’s a shifty, quick point guard who can get to the rim and set up others. During practice, a guy who can slice up your defense is valuable, and that’s where he needs to bring that energy. Be valuable even if you’re not in games.

-Brady Fredericksen

Playoff Push: Kyle Singler

Each year, we do a themed preview series to ready for the season. This year’s theme is "Playoff Push."

What is the No. 1 thing Kyle Singler can step up to do to help the Pistons make the playoffs?

Shoot 3-pointers better

It’s no secret the Pistons’ starting lineup lacks shooting, so reserves who stretch the floor will get priority. Singler shot just below the league average from beyond the arc last season, a mark that could very well keep him in the rotation this year. But if he raises that percentage just a bit, it would go a long way on team in need of shooters.

-Dan Feldman

Play fewer minutes.

Nothing against Singler – as a second-round rookie last season, he played well and earned a rotation spot. But the fact that he played 28 minutes per game with serviceable-but-pedestrian production just speaks to how little talent the Pistons had last season. On an upgraded roster, there is still a role for Singler and the many positives he brings as a reserve – shooting, finishing around the basket, craftiness, intelligence, etc. But if he’s once again in a prominent role on this team, something has gone very wrong. The No. 2 thing he can do is to keep having amazing hairstyles.

-Patrick Hayes

Help off the bench

Singler started a lot of games last year at small forward and underplayed expectations for a starting wing player. This season, the squad has two more small forwards, Luigi Datome and Josh Smith. Although he might play over Datome, Singler definitely won’t start over Smith, who will be a key piece to the team this year. Singler’s main job this season will be to contribute as a shooter off the bench, taking a much lighter load than he has in the past.

-Jameson Draper

Shoot from 3-point range, consistently.

Singler wasn’t a bad shooter during his rookie season, but consistent probably isn’t the right way to describe that shooting, either. Despite playing a solid 30 minutes a night, Singler went on month stretches of being capable from… and then not. In December, February, March and April he shot 39 percent from deep — excellent, right? Well, during April and January, that percentage dipped to 27 percent. If Singler keeps that percentage closer to 40 than 30, he’ll force his way into the rotation – and stay there.

-Brady Fredericksen