By Dan Leach …. Follow Dan on twitter @dtmleach
All the talk, hype, hyperbole and court storming that transpired during the preseason is over.
It is finally time for the Pistons to do their talking on the court and for a playoff starved franchise to start the journey to get back to relevance and most important of all, the postseason for the first time since 2009.
As Detroit gets ready to break the seal on the 2013-14 season Wednesday night at the Palace against the Wizards; Here are my top three reasons why the Pistons will get back to the playoffs this year.
3-REINVIGORATION – Many forget that this was a franchise that went to six straight Eastern Conference Finals from 2002-2008 and won a title in 2004.
Since that time the Pistons have wallowed away in the NBA wasteland, waiting for their chance to get back to relevance.
That time came over the summer when the Pistons brought in eight new pieces including a new coach in Mo Cheeks, who wants this team to play up-tempo ball and get after it on both ends. The new pieces and old have seemed to really buy into what Cheeks is selling and with the raw talent of a Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings to go with the always solid Greg Monroe and the fast rising Andre Drummond, the core is there for this team to make a move.
Chauncey Billups might be at the end of his illustrious career, but aside from his career spanning propensity to hit absurdly clutch shots, he brings a wisdom to teach and help the youth on this team get the most out of their ability. Chemistry will be key and not having Jennings till at least the fifth game of the regular season will hurt a little, but the energy and attitude around the team since the start of training camp is one of confidence and belief to get back to the postseason.
Mo Cheeks wants his team to fight till the bitter end in any and every situation and that was shown often this preseason with an often undermanned squad. That is a much different feel then this team has had over the past several years.
2-DEFENSE -The Pistons have had tremendous issues since their fall from the top of the East defending the ball. I will admit that Brandon Jennings defensive ability is a huge question mark, but with Drummond clogging the middle, Greg Monroe’s steady improvement as an on-ball defender, and Josh Smith who can give opposing players fits -the D will be vastly improved from the past several years.
The key is going to be the ability of the Pistons to keep teams from getting comfortable in their offensive sets which has killed them over the past few seasons. They now have the personnel to not only be a good defensive team, but for it to no longer be a liability which is what it takes to be a playoff team.
1-ANDRE DRUMMOND – Drum Drum has been a double-double machine during the preseason and at just 20 years old already seems ready to take a stranglehold on the center position in the NBA.
He bulked up during the offseason and in an Eastern Conference where there are some good centers in the Pacers Roy Hibbert, the Nets Brook Lopez, and the Knicks Tyson Chandler. Drummond has the skill and ceiling to make the leap this year to be considered the best. He needs to continue to work on his mid-range game, but has already shown signs of that in the preseason and it is not crazy to think Drummond could average a double-double most of the season.
I have made it no secret that I feel that within three years Drummond will be the best center in the game and it will start with a 2013-14 campaign that will loudly announce his arrival into the upper echelon of NBA big men.
SEASON RECORD PREDICTION 50-32 (6TH SEED IN THE EAST)
UNSUNG HERO (ONE OF MY FAVE AWARDS FROM MY YOUTH) KYLE SINGLER
BIGGEST ROOKIE IMPACT– KCP
FUN NUMBERS FROM THE DESERT
OVER/UNDER WINS 40.5 OVER
ODDS TO WIN NBA TITLE 75-1 (DOWN FROM 200-1 BEFORE JENNINGS SIGNING)
ODDS TO WIN EASTERN CONFERENCE 40-1
TOTAL POINTS PER GAME BRANDON JENNINGS 17.5 OVER GREG MONROE 15 UNDER ANDRE DRUMMOND 12 OVER
TOTAL REBOUNDS PER GAME ANDRE DRUMMOND 10.5 (TAKE THE OVER HUGE:) GREG MONROE 8.5 UNDER
TOTAL ASSISTS PER GAME BRANDON JENNINGS 7.5 UNDER
REBOUNDING TITLE ODDS
DWIGHT HOWARD +$125
KEVIN LOVE +$195
ANDREE DRUMMOND +$900