I firmly believe the Pistons have a playoff team on their roster. The trick will be finding it.
On a team so deep, there are a lot of possibilities for playing time. Many of those combinations will result in a bad team. But I think there’s a quality rotation to be found.
If the Pistons can find it, that would solve a world of problems.
Players would be in the best position to succeed, and their trade values would be maximized. Plus, there would be a clear indicator the players not in the rotation (unless youth is the only reason) don’t fit with the team.
The team would also win, which is the end goal, right?
DF Now: No
With all his lineup tinkering, John Kuester never found a rotation capable of getting the Pistons to the playoffs. But I still think a playoff-caliber rotation existed on the roster.
Take the following nine players, who would’ve made a reasonable rotation:
- Rodney Stuckey
- Tracy McGrady
- Ben Gordon
- Austin Daye
- Tayshaun Prince
- Greg Monroe
- Chris Wilcox
- Ben Wallace
- Charlie Villanueva
When five of them were on the court together, using a Pythagorean model, Detroit played like a 40-win team.* The Pacers made the playoffs with 37 wins.
*That doesn’t account for whom those players played against, and teams must play lesser players at some point during the season. So, the 40-win figure isn’t completely reliable, but it should give you an idea.
Had the Pistons played closer to their potential this year, many of their problems would have been reduced. Instead, this was a wasted season – at best.
Pistons fans have grown accustomed to a “brand” of basketball. You play hard, you assert your will on the other team through toughness and you make up for talent deficiencies by out-working your opponent. It was the trademark of the Laimbeer/Thomas/Dumars/Rodman/Mahorn/Salley teams of the late 1980s, and it was a trademark of the beloved Wallace/Wallace/Hamilton/Prince/Billups crew in the 2000s.
The Pistons have a roster of guys who are currently viewed as overpaid, underachieving, finesse players or some combination of the three. I’m not saying all of those characterizations are fair, but unless the Pistons come out of the gate with consistent effort and passion, fans are going to ignore this team.
The Pistons are skilled and could be fun to watch, regardless of how many games they win. But last season, the team had no spirit and often no effort, and that has resulted in a very ornery fan base that is skeptical heading into the season.
PH Now: No
The Pistons often listless play, the hopelessness that came as a result of a paralyzed front office, the public player-coach feuds and divided locker room and the injury to fan-favorite Jonas Jerebko conspired to make this another season where many fans lost interest.
But with the sale of the team to Tom Gores and Greg Monroe’s fantastic rookie season, there are perhaps a couple more reasons for hope than there were at the end of last season.