Detroit Pistons have been one of the teams to talk about since the off-season because after upgrading their roster by bringing in Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith and Chauncey Billups, most fans felt they skyrocketed to playoff contenders. Now the Pistons are still going through preseason along with the rest of the NBA but it’s still good time to give you all my status report on how they look so far.
Let’s discuss the newcomers first because that’s what has most fans excited anyway. Point guard Brandon Jennings had his pre-season cut short due to an injury with his teeth but he was still able to make an impact before sitting out for the rest of pre-season. In his limited time on the court, Jennings showed his ability to get others involved but not enough to necessarily convince me he is ready to be a pass first point guard. One plus about his short stint in pre-season was his shot selection he didn’t seem to force anything and also made a point to create contact and get to the free throw line. However, once again I can’t go off much since he only played a few games. Josh Smith has also played pretty solid so far. He has made a point to take good consistent shots and shooting over 45%, he’s even been hitting from three. I still look to see how consistent he will be in the regular season and where coach Mo Cheeks will play him. Overall I am still concerned about both Jennings and Smith, while they are talented, I still wonder if they will be able to fit with this team, only time will tell.
Andre Drummond has played great so far this pre-season and no one can deny it. He’s nearly a walking double-double, averaging 14 points per game along with nine rebound per game and also will shooting over 50% from the field. He’s also made a point to be a force defensively by contesting shots, just as he did last year. Another bright spot is that his free throw shooting seems to be improving. Greg Monroe on the other hand has struggled somewhat. I mainly think its due to the fact that he is adjusting to his new position at power forward which is to be expected. The main areas that worry me with Monroe is the way he has been turning the ball over which is not something he is known for. He has also struggled to get the ball in the basket seeing that he is shooting around 30% from the field in pre-season. Now, make no mistake, I still consider him to be good low post scorer but right now he is struggling. Hopefully he will be more comfortable at power forward going into the regular season.
Role Players: Guards and Forwards
If there is one thing the Pistons have plenty of, its guards and wings and most of those guards and wings are role players. Let’s start with the guards, Rodney Stuckey’s preseason was cut short by a broken thumb, so I only saw Stuckey perform in one game. In that one game Stuckey wasn’t impressive, once he gets back he needs to do what he does best which is attack the basket and limit his jump shots. At this point there’s no need to force anything, just do what you do best if your Stuckey. Chauncey Billups hasn’t played much but from what I have seen, he still definitely loves to shoot and is still able to put the ball in the basketball. Moving forward, my only concern with Billups is what kind of minutes he can handle. Will Bynum as usual is fighting for playing time and fighting for a chance, so far he has shown the ability to run the team if needed but still struggles with his jump shot. However it was nice to see him rack up 11 assists against the Brooklyn Nets. As far as the wings are concerns, I will start with Kyle Singler who has shot the ball extremely well during the pre-season, shooting around 50% from the field. However, Singler hasn’t done much more than that, while the Pistons will need him to be that consistent outsider shooter they will need him to be a contributor in other things as well. So far he hasn’t done that and I hope to see that improve. Jonas Jerebko continues to be the energy guy for the Pistons and a consistent role player. Jerebko is an example of what you see is what you get, he does whatever you need to him do and more. He’s shown the ability to score, rebound and defend. Charlie Villanueva hasn’t done much this pre-season but he needs to focus on is getting his shot going, if he does that he may have a chance to get on the court, if not he will ride the pine.
The Pistons drafted three rookies in this year’s NBA Draft and all three are expected to make some kind of impact at some point, the first one being Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Pope so far has been up and down, he was drafted for two things which is to shoot and defend. When it comes to shooting, he hasn’t had a problem shooting, he’s had an issue getting the ball in the basket. However, he is a rookie who is transitioning, so there is no reason to think he won’t find his groove soon. The great thing about Pope that some fail to notice is that he doesn’t let his shot stop him from making an impact. He continues to rebound the ball well averaging 6 rebounds a game and has shown his defensive tenacity. I also like the fact that when his shot isn’t falling, he makes a point to attack the rim and get to the foul line. Tony Mitchell was selected by the Pistons in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft. When it comes Mitchell, he can be another energy guy for the Pistons and with his athleticism he has the potential to be a nice piece of the bench. The Pistons last draft pick Peyton Siva is also making an impact, he has shown the ability to score the ball and create for others, the only red flags are his shot selection and turnovers. While I am concerned about those two red flags, it’s not a big shock considering he is a rookie and trying to prove his worth.
Detroit Pistons only have three more games left in pre-season and I don’t know about you but I plan to watch their last few games closely. If you’re a Piston fan there is plenty to be excited about, now we just have to wait and see what the Pistons do during their regular season.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
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