The Detroit Pistons have begun a new chapter of their franchise, buying into a total rebuild. There’s a chance that their offense could significantly improve.
After the Detroit Pistons traded away Andre Drummond at the deadline, their organizational direction became clear.
It’s forced both Thon Maker and Christian Wood into elevated roles at the center position and in result, the Pistons have seen glimpses of success. However, Detroit is 0-4 since Drummond was traded, and there are multiple factors that go into it.
Their offense hasn’t been great by any stretch of the imagination, which has included just a 76 point performance against the Charlotte Hornets, the second lowest point total in the entire NBA this season. They had also only scored 11 points in the first quarter, which is a season low for them.
In the four games Detroit has played since trading Drummond, they’ve shot 42.7% from the field (-3.4% to their season average) and 33.4% from three-point range (also -3.4% to their season average).
They’ve also scored an average of 95.2 points per game, which is down 12.8 points to their season average.
If you’ve been watching, it’s no secret that the Pistons have been struggling. Having statistics to show how much they’ve struggled is another thing.
It goes a lot deeper than not having Drummond, though. Detroit has been dealing with an assortment of injuries all season which includes (but is not limited to) Blake Griffin, Luke Kennard, Reggie Jackson and more recently, Derrick Rose.
This means that a majority of their scoring has had to come from players who aren’t natural ball handlers.
The Pistons have played a large majority of their season without their main scoring options, which has been beneficial in the regard that certain players are developing quickly, but severely crippling in that they aren’t always equipped for the moments and it shows on a nightly basis.
Without proper structure and cohesion on offense, it’s often difficult for Detroit to establish any sort of a rhythm. Players like Sekou Doumbouya and Svi Mykhailiuk have been thrown to the fire this year and while it’s been working well for Mykhailiuk, Sekou has often struggled tremendously.
After spending all this time talking about how difficult it’s been for the Pistons to succeed recently, it may not seem entirely possible that they could turn it around soon. However, there’s certainly a chance that they can.
With Wood and Maker playing a majority of the frontcourt minutes now, it allows Detroit to open up their options on offense and create a little unpredictability.
Both players are able to space the floor and play along the perimeter, something that Drummond was never able to do.
With Rose making his return to the lineup and Jackson alongside him, the Pistons are slowly but surely getting their team back to full strength. Although nothing’s official, some have speculated that Kennard will make his return to the team shortly after the All-Star break.
Even though Griffin will presumably be sidelined for the remainder of the season, having the aforementioned trio back will give Detroit a substantial scoring punch.
All three of them do a tremendous job of locating shooters, and are reliable options in pick and rolls. As it was previously mentioned, with Maker and Wood being able to play along the perimeter, they can also run pick and pops and fall back to the three-point line.
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The Pistons are able to play five-out, which is something that they haven’t been able to consistently do ever since it became such a prevalent source of generating offense.
While admittedly when they have been running it recently, it hasn’t been pretty. But again, that goes back to their severe lack of ball handlers and facilitators.
This idea of “they could see offensive success” is more a vision in longevity than it is a short term possibility.
Detroit will likely have an opportunity to make a high selection in the upcoming draft, where they’ll likely be selecting a point guard with high potential in their scoring and passing abilities.
After that, they’ll likely be using the cap space they freed up by trading Drummond to sign multiple players that can seamlessly fit in their rotation.
The Pistons could use the first offseason of their rebuild to prioritize the three-point line the way Dwane Casey generally likes to. In an NBA where traditional and non-spacious centers are growing increasingly more and more obsolete, maybe Drummond wasn’t what Detroit needed right now.
Moving away from post-play could send the Pistons to a different level of play that has not yet been unlocked.
It’s difficult to continue to go into each season saying “well, if they can stay healthy then they could perform well” but, that’s where we’re at. That isn’t going to change next season.
So with that in mind; if they can remain healthy, the Pistons could have a ton of versatility on the offensive end.