What is the No. 1 thing the Detroit Pistons can do to step up and make the playoffs?
For the members of last season’s team who want to show losing was Lawrence Frank’s fault, not their own: Play hard every night. For Brandon Jennings, who wants to show the Bucks’ bad offensive options limited him: Play unselfishly. For Josh Smith, who wants to show the burden playing for his hometown Hawks put on him: Use your energy to highlight your best skills rather than your worst.
I’m not convinced any current Piston is looking at the above situations objectively, and the other sides of each dispute could at least make a case on their own behalf.
But if the returning Pistons play harder than they did last season, the competing case won’t matter. Frank will retroactively look bad.
If Jennings passes well and often, the competing case won’t matter. The Bucks will retroactively look bad.
If Smith plays just as hard as usual but even smart, the competing case won’t matter. The Hawks will retroactively look bad.
These Pistons have a chance to control the narrative, and if they take advantage of it, the team will be better for it.
Just win (within reason)
Pistons fans (the ones who have stuck it out through these lean years of boring, mostly unwatchable basketball) are desperately searching for a reason to stay invested in this franchise. There are glimmers of hope”
Josh Smith, a top-five free agent, willfully came to Detroit (contrary to the many voices who claim that star players wouldn’t sign in a market like Detroit).
Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace, two beloved stars of the past, are back in the fold, which should give a small reason for some of those fans who lost interest back around a bit more.
The rest of the roster is full of players who, even with their flaws, should have interesting enough motivations to compete hard for rotation spots.
No one is expecting a miracle season from this bunch, but if the Pistons play hard, finish above .500 and make the playoffs, it would be hard to argue the season was not a success. If they fail to reach those very reasonable goals, well … the next few years could look familiar to the last few years.
Play with a chip on their shoulders.
It sounds cliché, but it’s true. This is a franchise that’s really been an NBA nothing during the last five seasons. There’s buzz now. This is one of the "League Pass darlings" people want to see. Two of the most important players — Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings — were hailed as bad apples, poor signings and bad fits.
They can use that disrespect. Prove you can play right. Prove you are a good fit. Prove that this team is bound for success and not failure. That mentality is big for a franchise that’s been stuck in the gutter for years.