Joe Dumars and the Detroit Pistons made strides this offseason to put a better product on the court. If anything, the team will look vastly different, sporting eight new players including Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings, and legendary Piston Chauncey Billups.

Many are projecting the changes will translate to wins on the court, but ESPN’s projection gets a little generous. ESPN Insider Bradford Doolittle, a part of the team which does outlooks and rankings during the offseason, has projected the Pistons to finish fifth in the Eastern Conference behind Miami, Chicago, Brooklyn, and Indian, respectively.

Doolittle has the Pistons finishing the upcoming season with 49 wins, 20 wins more than last year’s take of 29 wins. Doolittle explains his reasoning for the high ranking:

“These Pistons are a group of highly talented players who have for various reasons been unable to reach their ceilings, and that includes Smith. Most of these players are still, in theory, on the upswing, and in that way it’s reminiscent of the group Dumars put together when Billups joined Prince, Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace.

The forecast’s baseline for Detroit was 38 wins and ninth-place finish in the East. The analytics have been dead right about Detroit the last two years, but of course this new group is a lot harder to figure.

Are there a lot of variables in this equation? Sure. The Pistons will be asking a number of frontline players to alter their games in ways they haven’t had to before. The risk of implosion is very real. However, it’s a gamble worth taking. Talent is always worth the gamble.”

What do you think about ESPN’s projections? Too generous? Let us know in the comments below.

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