Every season there are teams in the NBA that defy expectations for better or worse and the Detroit Pistons hope to be one of them next year.
Most national outlets have picked Detroit to improve, but not by much, which is to be expected after they had a lackluster offseason with no headline-grabbing additions.
Of course, you have Homers like me whose win predictions are on the optimistic side, but those might represent best-case scenarios.
Predicting anything at this point in the offseason is a fool’s gambit, but I do like a couple of teams to outperform their expectations and one to fall short of them.
Detroit Pistons: 3 teams that could defy expectations next season
Indiana Pacers heading up
Reasons they will defy expectations: Undervalued talent, continuity and some sneaky-good offseason additions
In their win predictions for the Eastern Conference, ESPN (SUBSCRIPTION) had the Indiana Pacers winning 38 games, which would only be a three-game improvement from last season.
But they have a nice mixture of young talent and veterans, with budding superstar Tyrese Haliburton leading the way. I think he’s going to have a big season and make the All-Star team again. Bennedict Mathurin should be more efficient in year two and rookie Jarace Walker is the type of player who can make an immediate impact defensively as long as he is fully healthy.
Haliburton, Mathurin, Buddy Hield and Myles Turner all played together last season, so there will be some continuity there and they’ve made additions to shore up their bench depth.
They signed Bruce Brown, an underrated role player who will be a glue guy for the Pacers and improve their overall defense. Obi Toppin could make an impact in a bigger role, and along with Andrew Nembhard, TJ McConnell and Jalen Smith give the Pacers a pretty good second unit for Rick Carlisle to mix and match with his starters.
Indiana doesn’t have the most exciting names on their roster, but they have a solid team that should be able to shoot the 3-ball and protect the rim, so I like them to make the playoffs next season.