Detroit Piston Season Preview

9 10 2008

My NBA Central Division preview continues with the Detroit Pistons:

Detroit Pistons

2007-08 Standings 59 – 23, 2nd Eastern Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 51 – 31, 2nd Central Division, 3rd Eastern Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess, Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups

Sixth Man:  Rodney Stuckey

Rasheed Wallace is the emotional heart of the Pistons. Can he summon the fire once again?

Rasheed Wallace is the emotional heart of the Pistons. Can he summon the fire once again?

While the San Antonio Spurs have been the best team in the West for the past decade the Detroit Pistons have been the East’s Beast for the same time. Seven consecutive seasons of 50 wins, two trips to the Finals, one NBA title, numerous All Stars – a resume of success. Yet there is a sense that the best has come and gone for the Pistons.

They were beaten in six games in the Eastern Finals last year by the Boston Celtics, the eventual champions. The year before LeBron James hammered them. It feels like its time to retune the roster so what did the Pistons do? They signed Kwame Brown, the poster boy for underachievers. A decidedly underwhelming offseason.

Still, the Pistons do possess close to the best starting five in the NBA and if you add rising star Rodney Stuckey to that, the best first six players in the league. Yet there is a sense that the Pistons have become almost blasé with success. They know they’re good but the jeopardy isn’t there, or rather they don’t feel it. Personally I think they should have traded Billups and/or Rasheed Wallace this past offseason and brought some new urgency to the team. 

Despite this the Pistons are still one of the contenders for a title. They have superb defence, a solid frontcourt, an All Star backcourt and in Stuckey a young stud.  Their bench has an imposing look about it with bruisers such as Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson which makes it so puzzling that they signed Brown. Why bring a chemistry killer into the mix?

The Pistons will win 50 games again this season but I have a feeling this will be the last time this lineup will be together. Will they leave with a ring?

Coach:

Michael Curry takes over the team from Flip Saunders. An assistant coach in Detroit last season, this is his first head coaching gig. Hopefully he won’t find himself in over his head.

Bench:

The Pistons bench is one of the best in basketball. Rodney Stuckey will be the eventual starter for the Pistons but for now he leads the bench crew.

Star Player:

It could be argued that the Pistons have four stars in Wallace, Billups, Prince and Hamilton but I’m putting my money on Richard Hamilton. The masked one is an effective (if dirty) defender while being the closest thing in the NBA to the retired Reggie Miller.

Team MVP:

For the Pistons to contend at the highest level they need Rasheed Wallace playing effective basketball. Too often he settles for the outside shot. That’s not even counting his hotheadedness.

Final Prognosis:

It’s time for the Pistons to trade one or two of their stalwarts while they still have value. They’ll win 50 games but will struggle to make another Eastern Conference Final.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.

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