Internal Improvement: Viacheslav Kravtsov

Tom Gores said it better happen. Jonas Jerebko guaranteed it. Rodney Stuckey agreed.

The Detroit Pistons can certainly make the playoffs this season, but given how similar the team is to last year’s, it won’t be easy. It appears the Pistons are mostly relying on internal improvement in order to exceed expectations and reach the postseason.

For our 2012 preview series, Patrick and I will each examine one area where we see realistic room for improvement from each Piston. Today, we look at Viacheslav Kravtsov.

Making fewer mistakes

Kravtsov has admitted the NBA is a bit fast for him, so for now, I’m looking for him to do less, not more. Grab some rebounds, defend the paint and maybe make a few open dunks. I’d rather he stick to that than try to overdo it.

In 53 preseason minutes, Kravtsov had nine turnovers and nine fouls. If he plays within himself, those rates should come down.

I can’t see Kravtsov being any more than a low-usage contributor at this point, and if he accepts that role, he could be a real help sooner than later. — D.F.

Sharpening those elbows

Based on his OK but underwhelming preseason showing, I don’t expect Kravtsov to make much of a contribution this season. One way he can help, though, is being prepared to give good, hard fouls when the Pistons play against teams with talented bigs. Andre Drummond is a rookie and, as all rookie bigs do, will sometimes struggle in one-on-one defensive situations. Greg Monroe will never be confused with a good defensive player. Having Kravtsov available to be physical and make opposing bigs uncomfortable for a few minutes per game will make him an asset. — P.H.


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