Perhaps the most impressive achievement for the Pistons this offseason is how they’ve managed to do great work shifting the national perception of the team. The last two seasons, they were in the worst possible place — nowhere near good enough to get national attention for positive things and nowhere near bad enough to be a legitimate contender for a top of the lottery pick. They were bad, just not interestingly or historically bad. They were the type of bad that is really easy for national media to ignore.
Things seem to be working out OK, though. The perception of the team has rapidly changed simply be shedding two onerous contracts (Rip Hamilton and Ben Gordon) in the last two seasons and adding an abundance of young players, including five rookies this season. Yahoo!’s Ball Don’t Lie is the latest national site to see the Pistons as a potential surprise team, or at the very least a team headed in the right direction. From Kelly Dwyer:
There is Greg Monroe, though. Greg Monroe, potential All-Star. Greg Monroe, Scoring Big Man Who Doesn’t Make You Cringe Every Time He Lands Hard On His Feet.
Monroe’s defensive issues have been well-established by this point, and though we’d be foolish to completely write off his abilities on that end at such an early age, NBA big men don’t tend to improve on that end in ways that resemble, say, Albert Pujols turning into a Gold Glove-level first basemen. Little of this currently matters, though, because of Monroe’s ability to carry a team at times with his efficient scoring and impressive passing. On a team still stuck in a holding pattern, that work with the ball is desperately needed, and the eventual pairing with Drummond could be a franchise-changer.
Nothing’s changed, though. All of this movement is still a while away, while Frank and Dumars figure out who sticks, and before all that 2013 cap space hits. Frank’s abilities and Monroe’s ascension could have our guess at the won/loss total looking foolish by February; but this still feels like a team that is going to lose far more than it wins in 2012-13.
The corner has been turned, though. Now it’s up to Dumars to not replicate 2009 some four frustrating years later, next offseason.
Monroe is obviously great. But let’s be honest … the reason the perception of the Pistons is changing is all because of Drummond. Their future is dependent on his success, but the exciting way he plays is paying dividends as far as generating interest in the team right now. From Eric Freeman in BDL’s preview:
Drummond is incredibly talented, an athletic dynamo with impressive skills and the chance to be a true game-changing player at both ends. He’s shown considerable flashes of that ability in the preseason, wowing fans and generally standing out as one of the rookies most worth watching. That’s not to say that he’s anything close to a finished product. But Drummond clearly has something, an ineffable star quality that helps him prove fascinating even when he’s not playing his best.
Also, all of the ‘start Drummond now’ supporters should definitely click through and read all of Freeman’s words. He’s definitely on the bandwagon and seems baffled that Lawrence Frank hasn’t committed to playing Drummond in a big role immediately.