TrueHoop Network 2009-10 Season Preview: Detroit Pistons

The TrueHoop Network has been hard at work on a season preview (more details coming), and each of us are posting our team’s portion this morning. Be sure to check out everyone’s previews on the other TrueHoop Network blogs, which are linked in a dropdown menu at the top of this page.

Crystal ball

The consensus win total prediction of the TrueHoop Network bloggers … and the best hopes of PistonPowered.

Last year’s record: 39-43

Crowd says: 36-46

I say: 44-38

Yes we can!

The sun is out. The seas have parted. The basketball gods are shining upon us! 

The Pistons were a playoff team last year that got better in the offseason. How many teams can say that? Probably about half of them. Even if you’re the eighth seed and didn’t get a ton better, it’s still a good situation to be in.

And yes, the Pistons improved. Center is the only spot that’s down, and the upgrades elsewhere more than make up for it.

Point guard: Rodney Stuckey is a year older, and hopefully a year better. He improved last year from his rookie season. A Rajon Rondo-like jump in Year 3 would be ideal. But at worst, he’s the same.

Shooting guard: Richard Hamilton will regain his starting role, and there’s no doubt he’s better than Allen Iverson. Iverson no longer has the legs to finish around the basket. Hamilton is one of the best-conditioned players in the league.

Small forward: Tayshaun Prince is back, and there’s no reason to expect much difference in production. He has basically leveled off.

Power forward: Antonio McDyess played admirably last year. But Charlie Villanueva, who might not start but will likely see the most minutes at power forward, is also a quality player. Although he’s not as good defensively, his Player Efficiency Rating (18.6) was higher than McDyess’ (16.6). And McDyess benefited from a 20-game break when the Nuggets bought him out. Villanueva, 25, will produce all season.

Center: However the minutes shake out between Chris Wilcox, Kwame Brown and Ben Wallace, they won’t be as good as Rasheed Wallace. But Sheed wasn’t that great last year. He looked old and disinterested, so the drop here won’t be too steep.

Bench: Ben Gordon will be a strong contender for sixth man of the year. He easily makes the bench better – especially given that Richard Hamilton played better as a starter last year. (Gordon’s added bonus: taking the best player away from a division rival).

Coaching: Michael Curry was terrible. John Kuester will also be in his first year as a head coach. But he spent 13 years as an NBA assistant – 12 more than Curry.

The Pistons are rebuilding while remaining a playoff team. They probably won’t appear in the conference finals, which, until last year, seemed like an annual rite. But this plan by Joe Dumars sure beats a visit to the lottery.

No you won’t

A rousing dissent from a rival blogger.

They invested a combined 10 years and $85 million in Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva this summer. Seriously. Why not just set all that money on fire like the Joker did in The Dark Knight? – Matt McHale, By the Horns

All-a-Twitter

A 140-character insight into the soul of the team.

“Want to challenge, @chrisbosh, on who will get 50,000 followers first, a friendly bet, or you want to but wager on it, lol” – CV31 (Charlie Villanueva).

Are the Pistons fun and competitive again?

On the record

Single best quote concerning the team during the last 12 months.

“I think Joe was madder than anybody else about us losing all those Sunday games, and usually that has something to do with what you were doing Saturday night.” – Michael Curry (Detroit Free Press)

The play

Down a single point with 9.2 seconds to play in a must-win game. What’s the play?

Hamilton has proven to be a capable end-of-game player, but I think Gordon will get the first look most of the time. He’s a rhythm shooter, so the goal will be to get him a couple dribbles. Depending on the opponent, look for an isolation play or Gordon coming around a few screens. Either way, the goal will be to get him a jumper – maybe even a 3-pointer.

The people’s choice

The fan favorite the crowd will be chanting for to see some action.

Will Bynum.

It’s no secret Dumars wants Stuckey to be the team’s star. Kuester obviously respects Hamilton. And with his contract, Gordon is going to get playing time. That doesn’t leave much room for Bynum, who became an offensive force at the end of last season.

If you’re watching the bottom line, you’re watching this

The single biggest spreadsheet issue hanging over the team.

With Bill Davidson’s death, will the Pistons continue to be so well-run? Dumars and Tom Wilson still have key roles, but Davidson’s widow, Karen, is an unknown. Under Davidson, the Pistons never spent exorbitantly, but they took educated risks. Davidson became the first owner to give his team its own plane, and the Palace of Auburn Hills became the league’s model arena.

The economy is down everywhere, but Detroit has been hit hardest. Will the combination of a new owner and uncertain times derail what has been one of the NBA’s top organizations?

Tags: Ben Gordon Charlie Villanueva Richard Hamilton Rodney Stuckey Tayshaun Prince Will Bynum