Things could be a whole lot worse for John Kuester and company. Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince have combined to miss 16 games already, with neither set to return anytime soon. Not to mention the fact, the new head coach is trying to blend eight new players together without the two key pieces left over from last season.
So, that being said, what have we learned about this team thus far? A whole lot, actually.
One, all things considered, this team is a lot better than most of you thought it would be. No one really got too excited when Joe D. went out and signed Ben Gordon and Charlie V. on July 1. But as the young season has unfolded, you see why those were the two prizes Dumars coveted the most.
Gordon is one of the best pure scorers in the game today. If you didn’t believe it after seeing him almost single-handedly dismantle the Celtics in last years playoffs, you almost surely noticed from what you’ve seen thus far this season (Sunday’s 1-for-16 not withstanding). He wants the ball, especially in crunch time, and has proven he can deliver, providing this team another much-needed scoring option.
The same can be said for Villanueva, who has finally rounded into form after missing most of preseason with a bad hamstring. He’s always been a scorer, but is slowly but surely coming around on the defensive end as well, as he tries to take the next step in becoming a more complete player.
That brings me to point number two about this team. They are extremely well-coached. Kuester and his staff have done a remarkable job, in the face of adversity, keeping this team afloat while they wait on Rip and Tay to return. After Sunday’s loss to Dallas, Rick Carlisle couldn’t stress enough how well-coached the Pistons are, which is something NO ONE said about them last season (Sorry, M.C.). Joe D. picked the perfect coach for this young bunch, and they have responded nicely.
Lastly, we have learned they are never out of a game, which is something the GM loves to see. This team hustles night in and night out, even when they are seemingly about to get run off the court. They have staged big second-half rallies to give themselves a chance to win every game, and that hustle and drive will net them an extra five wins in the regular season, easily.
For Pistons fans, it has to be a pleasure to watch this bunch, and we’re gonna have a lot more fun watching them grow together throughout the season.