NBA 2016-17 Team Preview – Detroit Pistons: Drummond’s Bad Boys

Oct 19, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) takes a free throw during the third quarter against the Toronto Raptors at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Raptors won 103-92. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 19, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) takes a free throw during the third quarter against the Toronto Raptors at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Raptors won 103-92. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

NBA 2016-17 Team Preview – Detroit Pistons

To prepare our readers for the regular season SCS  offers a series entitled NBA 2016-17 Team Preview for each of the Houston Rockets’ 29 opponents. Who will return to the playoffs? Which team will fall from grace and who will be the Cinderella team?

Included in each profile:

  • Where the team finished 2015-16
  • Key 2015-16 stats
  • Future draft pick status
  • Current and future salary rank
  • Off Season Moves
  • 2017 Free Agents
  • Schedule, NBA League Pass and Win Projection Ranking
  • Team Overview entering season (Starting 5, reserves and notable injuries)
  • When each team will play the Houston Rockets
  • Strengths, Weaknesses and Prediction

NBA 2016-17 Team Previews now looks at the Detroit Pistons of the Central Conference. With the experience of a hard fought playoff round versus the eventual champs the Pistons enter the season with their core intact looking to take a step up the ladder.

NBA 2016-17 Team Preview: Detroit Pistons:

2015-16 Record: 44-38

Playoffs:

Lost NBA Eastern Conference First Round (0-4) versus Cleveland Cavaliers

Points Per Game: 102.0 (19th )

Opponent Points Per Game:  101.4 (12th)

Pace: 95.1 (21st )

Offensive Rank: 106.1 (13th)

Defensive Rank:  105.5 (12th)

Three Point Rank:  34.5% (22nd)

Rebounds: 46.3  (2nd)

Assists: 19.4 (27th)

Steals: 7.0 ( 24th)

Blocks: 3.7 (30th)

Turnovers: 13.5 (9th)

Oct 30, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) reacts to a referee during the first quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Pistons won 98-83. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

2017 Free Agents

Restricted:

Unrestricted:

  • Beno Udrih
  • Aron Baynes (P)

All free agent updates confirmed via Basketball Reference and Sportrak

Future Draft Picks

See Real GM for full details:

Incoming:

  • No incoming picks

Outgoing:

  • 2017 second round draft pick to Utah or Philadelphia
    Utah will receive the second and third most favorable of Detroit’s 2017 2nd round pick, Golden State’s 2017 2nd round pick, New York’s 2017 2nd round pick (via Toronto) and Utah’s 2017 2nd round pick and Philadelphia will receive the most and least favorable of these four picks (via Utah) [Denver-Golden State-Utah, 7/10/2013; New York-Toronto, 7/10/2013; Toronto-Utah, 7/10/2014; Detroit-Oklahoma City-Utah, 2/19/2015; Philadelphia-Utah, 8/26/2016]
  • 2019 second round draft pick to Boston
  • 2020 second round draft pick to Sacramento

Average Age of Team: 25.8 years (as per Real GM)

Nov 7, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Ish Smith (14) handles the ball against Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) during the second quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Picks

Round 1: Henry Ellenson (18)

Round 2: Michael Gbinije (49)

2016 Free Agents

Unrestricted: Steve Blake, Anthony Tolliver,

RestrictedAndre Drummond

Moves made post July 1

Incoming:

Exiting: 

Re-upping:

Nov 2, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris (13) drives the ball during the first quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Vegas over-under for wins: 45.5

Schedule strength:

As ranked by ESPN: 23rd with 2.49 extra wins

The Pistons rank 26th in estimated air miles and fifth in games with a rest advantage.

Games versus Rockets:

  • Monday November 21 at Palace of Auburn Hills, in Detroit, MI, at 6:30PM CT/ 7:30 PM ET
  • Friday April  07 at Toyota Center, in Houston, TX at 7PM CT/8PM ET

Zach Lowe NBA League Pass Rank: 11th

Now that they’re decent, they check every box: solid team that should grow together; fun centerpiece player (Andre Drummond); top-notch broadcasters; uniforms that pop; and a candid, foul-mouthed coach who radiates rumpled anguish at all times. They originally finished No. 8, but we docked them a few points once it became clear Wednesday that Reggie Jackson will miss significant time.

Oct 28, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Beno Udrih (19) high fives Detroit Pistons forward Stanley Johnson (7) during the third quarter against the Orlando Magic at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Committed Salary

2016: $115,060,819 – 3rd ranked

2017: $95,333,174 – 7th ranked

Team Salary Ranking as per Hoops Hype, and team salary overview also via Hoops Hype

Starting 5:

Point Guard:    Ish Smith – 12.6 points,  6.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds

*Smith subs in while Reggie Jackson is out with injury

Shooting Guard:    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – 14.5 points,  1.8 assists, 3.7 rebounds

Small Forward:   Tobias Harris – 16.6 points,  2.6 assists, 6.2rebounds

Power Forward:   Marcus Morris – 14.1 points,  2.5 assists, 5.1rebounds

Center:    Andre Drummond – 16.2 points, 14.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks

Reserves:

Guards: Beno Udrih, Darrun Hilliard

Wings: Stanley Johnson, Reggie Bullock, Michael Gbinije

Bigs: Henry Ellenson, Jon Leuer, Boban Marjanovic, Aron Baynes

Injury News:

  • Reggie Jackson – thumb and knee, underwent an injection to his knee and is expected to return late November, early December

All injury news as per rotoworld

Sep 26, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) poses for a photo with head coach Stan Van Gundy and guard Reggie Jackson (1) during media day at the Pistons Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Strengths:

Andre Drummond: the man is a beast who feasts (unintentional rhyme) on opposing front courts. If only Drummond could get his free throw average up to the 60% range he’d be an unstoppable force. He’s still growing and expanding his offensive game but the future looks bright for Piston’s fans. SVG is employing a similar style to what he used in Orlando with Dwight Howard. Drummond appears to have a higher offensive ceiling than Howard, which bodes well for Pistons fans.

Rebounding: captained by Drummond the Pistons are one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA. Last season they finished second and with the Thunder losing both Ibaka and Durant the top spot could be theirs for the taking.

Defense: As per NBA.com the Pistons lead the league (Spurs, Heat, Warriors and Blazers followed them) in the percentage of opponents shots taken at the rim and from 3 point range. Detroit allowed only 55.7% of their opponents shots to come from these areas. This bodes well for the Pistons to take another step up defensively this season.  That said, the Pistons only ranked 13th in defensive efficiency because opponents shot above the average at the rim, three point range and in the mid range.

Weaknesses:

3-Point Shooting: As per NBA.com Pistons were 22nd in  there point shooting last season with Reggie Jackson (career high 118), Caldwell-Pope (114), Morris (108) and Tobias Harris (80 between Magic and Pistons) being their main 3 point shooters.  To expect all of them to take another step is rolling the dice, so the key will be for SVG to get the ball and players moving in order to open up clear shots. That and the addition of more 3-point specialists would help.

Backcourt: Even prior to Reggie Jackson’s injury the backcourt was at issue in terms of depth. Interestingly Van Gundy chose to not offer Kentavious Caldwell-Pope a rookie extension prior to the deadline. He’s the best 2-way player on the team and a good season could drive up his asking price this summer. Sure the Pistons still retain this Bird rights and therefore the right to match, but I’m not sure this was a logical move by SVG.  Regardless a few weeks of Ish Smith ruining the Pistons defensive rank should highlight the need for SVG to add depth at the point guard.

Depth: backcourt depth isn’t the only issue facing the Pistons who need assistance in other areas of the floor. As outlined above the ideal area to add depth would be sharp shooting 3 point specialists, but if SVG can find veterans who can also offer passing and defense that would be the ideal scenario.

Prediction:

I know Jackson being out somewhat hurts my initial prediction that one of the Pistons or Hornets would be the team to grab a home court seed. That said, I’m still pretty confident the Pistons finish in the 3 – 5 seed range. Their experience in the post season pushing the Cavaliers in every game should bode well for them to ascend in the East this season. Best case the Pistons survive the early games without Jackson and then power upward gaining a top 5 defensive ranking.

Worst case Drummond continues to struggle at the line making it impossible to keep him on the floor during closing time and the team finishes near the bottom of the playoff ladder.

Though the Cavaliers will be favored to win the East again, who isn’t praying the Pistons get to face them once more this spring since the Cavs weakness is having to face strong front courts.  Tell me you wouldn’t enjoy seeing Drummond, SVG and company serve up the playoff upset!

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