What I Love About the 2014 Pistons
Stalking the various Detroit Pistons online forums, it is easy to slip into a rut about what is wrong with the current Pistons team. They discuss who is to blame for each loss, who is being selfish, what the coach did or did not do properly, and how many days Joe Dumars has before he is fired. Unfortunately, these are the same Monday morning quarterbacks, who at the start of the year, believed 110% that this Pistons team would easily be in the playoffs at the end of the year. The biggest debate is whether the Pistons will be making the playoffs (for the first time in quite a while) or tanking to keep their top-8 protected draft pick in what most are saying is the best draft since the Lebron (or Darko, if you are a Piston fan) draft of 2003.
Earlier, an article was shared (12 Things I Hate About the Pistons) that listed what got my stomach juices going north in a hurry. This article will share some of the many good things the Pistons have going for them.
Great Defensive Plays:
Yes, you noticed how this was stated. The Pistons have a tendency of not playing well defensively… consistently. They give up almost 3 points more per game than what they score. They have their moments, however! You know the plays where it begins with a steal by a Piston and it leads to a slam? What about a block that turns into a fast break slam? Yeah, those are high percentage shots. It allows them to win games. The Pistons are ranked 3rd in fastbreak points per game and 2nd in points off turnovers.
Reduction in Turn Overs (TO):
The Pistons averaged 15.8 TO/game during Mo Cheeks’ tenure of 50 games. The NBA average is 14.8 TO/game. Since John Loyer came on the scene, despite just a small sample size of games, the Pistons have averaged 11 TO/game. If they had this average over the full season they would be ranked first in the league! Why does this matter? If they average only 3.8 points less than their opponent each game, if they can convert those four less TOs into 8 points, the Pistons end up winning games instead of losing games.
With Andre Drummond leading the pack in the NBA (5.41 per game), the Detroit Pistons are ranked 1st in offensive rebounding. Why is this important? It allows for easy put-back opportunities. How many times have you seen Drummond get an offensive rebound and slam it back in? Easy points and also adds to him being ranked 2nd in field goal percentage.
On a side note, the Pistons rank 24th in defensive rebounding, but only 5 defensive rebounds per game away from the Indiana Pacers who are ranked 1st. Since the Pistons are so good with the offensive rebounding, it shows there is a lot of potential with defensive rebounding. The Pistons are ranked 9th in total rebounding.
For those who are interested, Greg Monroe (12th) Josh Smith (54th), Kyle Singler (61st), and Brandon Jennings (86th) are in the top 100 ranked for offensive rebounding this season. Since the 2001-02 season, nobody has averaged 5 offensive rebounds per game, but in order to find someone who has more offensive rebounds per game, you would need to go all the way back to the 1997-98 season with Jayson Williams (NJ Nets) with 6.8.
If you would like a comparison to Ben Wallace, while Ben was with the Pistons 2000 to 2007, he was in the top 5 in offensive rebounding each year, and lead the league twice (2003, 2006). Those two years (and two others – 2002, 2005) he won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He averaged around 3.8-4.0 offensive rebounds per game.
(queue the Jane’s Addiction or Uriah Heep)
As mentioned above, a steal can lead to some easy points. Detroit is ranked 3rd in the league in steals per game. A year ago, we were ranked 25th and only Greg Monroe was in the top 40. Josh Smith (15th), Brandon Jennings (18th), and Drummond (25th) all rank this year. Jennings and Smith are new to the team, while Drummond is playing about 12 minutes more per game. This is one category that has turned around drastically this year, and has made for some very fun basketball to watch.
Alley-oops & Slam Dunks:
Nothing excites the home crowd more than a nice, in-yo-face slam dunk or alley-oop. For this season, it appears Drummond is ranked 4th in dunks with 133, behind DeAndre Jordan (171), Dwight Howard (154), and Blake Griffin (134). The more steals and fast-paced offense, the more opportunity for slams and jams! A special mention should be made for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s slam dunks. They are full of energy and does he ever get some height!
Early last year, it was figured out when Will Bynum and Andre Drummond were in the second unit that they worked quite well together with the alley-opp. It is a nice, and unfortunately the only, play that is run for Andre.
Similar to a slam dunk, a good block can also bring down the house and get the crowd going. We have had a nice recent history with blocks from Ben Wallace and others over the years. The current Pistons team is ranked 9th in blocks with Drummond individually ranked 9th also. Josh Smith is ranked 13th. Improving his block rate is on Drummond’s list to improve in the coming seasons. He is going to be unstoppable in the near future.
For those interested, Greg Monroe is ranked 69th with less than ½ a block per game. This magnifies his lack of a vertical leap and athleticism. An athletic power forward with a mid-range and 3-point shot would do wonders for our team.
(queue up some P.O.D.)
The average age on the Pistons this year is 25.7, which is the 10th youngest. That would reduce significantly if Chauncey Billups (37) was not included. Earlier in the season when Caldwell-Pope (21) started, it was in the top 5 for youngest starting lineup. Now that Singler appears to have the nod at shooting guard, his 25 years increases the average a bit. With a potential top 8 draft pick (most are 19 or 20), Billups potentially heading to the front office and Villanueva (29) becoming a free agent (that the Pistons won’t be interested in), even next year would be even lower.
Youth shows a lot of promise and potential. It also can bring some serious energy and athleticism. The cheaper rookie contracts don’t hurt either. After the 2004 Championship Pistons team won with a slow methodical defense, the rules were changed to allow for a faster paced game. It took Dumars too long (potentially 5 years for choosing in the top 9 picks in drafts) to establish and adjust a team to the new rules. The defense of steals, blocks and rebounds really assists in producing a fast-paced offense fed by our nimble youth.
Miles to Go Before We Sleep…
The above individual categories are very key in present excitement for the Pistons. Many other stats do not show them in a positive light. They are 5th worst in opponent offense (103.5 points allowed), last (30th) in FG% allowed (46.9%) and 7th worst in 3-point % with 37.3%. No coach can walk in and have everything running perfectly right away, but it appears interim coach John Loyer is doing a fine job by chipping away at turnovers. If only we can get Monroe a vertical and some better complimentary players around Andre Drummond. Was it that obvious that Andre in his second year was gushed over so much in the above categories (except TOs)? As Dre goes, so will the Pistons. Now, when are we going to have some set plays for the man, besides the alley-oop?
What specific thing gets you excited about the Pistons?