Prior to the first preseason game against the Miami Heat, I had a rundown of things that were important to watch for. With six games down and two to go, it’s time to take a look at where the Pistons stand, and if we can get any clues of what is likely to happen in the regular season.
The Pistons are 2-4, but wins and losses are pretty inconsequential in the preseason. While some of the advanced metrics aren’t available, we can look as some basic stats and learn some things.
First, the Pistons rank 15th in the league in scoring with 89 points per game, while giving up 99.5, good for 20th in the league while seeming to play at the same sluggish pace as they did last season. They are also grabbing less and giving up more rebounds, and are once again near the bottom of the league in opponent’s field goal percentage. On the bright side, it looks as if the spread the love approach to initiating the offense might work better this year, as they have averaged more than 21 assists per game this preseason, while only averaging 19 apg last season.
The team has three key rotation players averaging more than 3 assists per game, led by Will Bynum (5.0), and followed by Rodney Stuckey (4.0) and Richard Hamilton. And that comes with both Stuckey(25.0) and Hamilton (20.0) playing limited minutes. Rookie Greg Monroe has looked very much like a rookie so far this preseason but he has contributed in the passing department, netting 2.5 apg.
Other good news includes the emergence of Austin Daye, who I singled out in my pre-preseason post as a player that could take a big step forward in his development. And with the injury to Jonas Jerebko it looks like he will be relied on even more than I had anticipated. But the good news is — so far he has delivered.
Daye has definitely looked like he belongs on the court, leading the team with 15.3 points per game, including a sparkling 52 percent mark from the 3-point line. He is also rebounding the ball at a healthy clip, leading the team with 5.8 boards in 27 minutes of action. He is still too small to play power forward, and while his length can somewhat make up for that fact, I’d hate to see him exposed and exploited at the four too much this season. I think he belongs as the primary backup small forward and would rather see him slide into the 2 spot than the 4 spot if coach John Keuster is having trouble getting T-mac or Tayshaun Prince into the game.
Speaking of Prince, I think one of the more important things the Pistons could show in the early parts of the season is that veterans Prince and Hamilton are not, in fact, washed up. It seems the news is mixed. Hamilton is still struggling to find his shot, now sitting at 41 percent, and the fact that he has shown absolutely nothing in the rebound department, grabbing less than one per game, sends up a red flag for me. On the other hand, Prince looks as strong as ever, shooting confidently and showing no lingering effects from last seasons year-long struggle with back problems. If Prince continues to shine and Austin Daye continues to demand more playing time, it should be no trouble to package Tayshaun for that elusive big man Detroit has been searching for.
As the preseason winds down, I’m sure that the team will play a more traditional lineup, with starters logging heavier minutes. It will be interesting to see how much rope Keuster is willing to give Monroe when it’s time to ramp up Ben Wallace’s workload, and likewise, I’m wondering if Bynum really does have any chance to win that starting point guard role. It would also be nice to see the team cut down on their turnover problem. The Pistons play Tuesday against the Washington Wizards and then wrap up the preseason with the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.
Then it begins.