21. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons were 21-21 over the final 42 games of last season, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight figure to improve with another season of NBA experience, and rookie center Andre Drummond appears to be more NBA-ready than previously expected. Knight could be the key catalyst for the Pistons possibly knocking on the door to the playoffs, since they still appear to lack offensive firepower unless he can improve as a playmaker.
Monroe showed signs of reaching All-Star level last season, but he’ll probably play a significant number of minutes at power forward next to Drummond and Slava Kravtsov so there could be an adjustment period. He frequently got torched on the defensive end at center so it could actually be a net positive for the Pistons to play him next to a superior help defender at the five. As for how minutes will be distributed at the Pistons’ wing positions among their collection of misfit guards and forwards, your guess is as good as mine.
That’s a pretty fair assessment. Although fans are certainly hoping to be better than the 21st best team in the league, it does put the Pistons right on the cusp of playoff contention. Five Eastern Conference teams were ranked behind Detroit. The rest of the rankings on the Jones haven’t been revealed yet, but if my math is correct, that makes the Pistons the 10th best team in the East according to their predictions.