Here is my Pistons Preview for Jeff Clark’s NBA Preview Project.
The Detroit Pistons
Last Years Record: 53-29
Key Losses: Chris Webber, Dale Davis, Carlos Delfino
Key Additions: Rodney Stuckey, Jarvis Hayes, Arron Afflalo, Sammy Mejia
1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?
Joe Dumars didn’t do what most people thought he would after the Pistons Easter Conference Finals meltdown against Cleveland. Most thought he would move some key players, namely Rasheed Wallace and Rip Hamilton in a package to change things up. Coach Saunders was also under fire for not advancing to the NBA Finals, but Dumars instead is giving his coach and key players another shot to go all the way this season.
The Pistons signed free agent Jarvis Hayes to a one year deal to be the primary backup for Tayshaun Prince. Hayes, who was a lottery pick for The Wizards, never really lived up to expectations in Washington because of injuries. He’s got a shooters mentality and should fill in nicely for Prince who logged the most minutes of any Piston last season.
Detroit drafted Rodney Stuckey, a combo guard out of Eastern Washington as their #15 pick in this years draft to be the primary backup for Chauncey Billups although be may be more suited for the two spot. Stuckey may just turn out to be the steal of the 2007 draft and so far looks like a solid pick. Dumars also drafted UCLA’s Arron Afflalo late in the first round. Afflalo, a solid player may not get as much time on the floor this season, but his attitude and willingness to play defense fits right in with the Pistons team concept.
The Pistons also decided to bring seven foot Cheikh Samb, whom they received in last years draft when they sent Maurice Evans to the Lakers, from overseas to work on his game. He most likely will play in the D League all season.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
The Pistons core is sill in tack and ready to make another run. With a solid foundation of Billups, Hamilton, Prince, Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess their experience, chemistry and hunger is what puts them ahead of any other team in the Eastern conference. They have been to the Eastern Conference Finals the past five seasons and are arguably the most consistent team right now in the NBA.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
The lack of a true center in the starting five may be hard for the Pistons to get used to. Narz Mohammed lost his starting spot last season when Chris Webber joined the team. Webber is no longer with Detroit and instead of inserting Nazr back in the starting lineup The Pistons are moving Rasheed Wallace over to the center spot and moving sixth man Antonio McDyess into the starting lineup. The Pistons won’t know how the new lineup is going to work until they start the season and if it doesn’t they may be scrambling for a change.
The Pistons also need to deal with their problem of losing big leads and having to play from behind. There were too many times in the past couple of season that The Pistons went though droughts when they had a hard time scoring and needed to play catch up to get back in the game. And each season it’s getting harder and harder for them to regain their leads. This is one of the biggest things that Detroit needs to correct.
4. What are the goals for this team?
The one and only goal for this team in the past few years is winning The NBA Championship. They have the tools and players to do it and have come close every season even before they wont the Championship in 2004.
Detroit is also building for the future and has a solid foundation with their hardworking young players like Jason Maxiell, Amir Johnson, Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo. The Pistons youth still have plenty to learn, and they have All Star core to teach them. Getting the youth ready for playing time is something Detroit is looking to do.
5. Will the Pistons youth have an impact on the team?
Jason Maxiell came into this season 25 pounds lighter and with an attitude to wreak havoc. Amir Johnson, after being the last player in the NBA to be drafted out of high school would like to get some time on the floor and prove to the rest of the league that he’s worth the big contract extension the Pistons gave him.
Stuckey, who has turned heads all summer, has a great game that translates well in the NBA. He should make an impact with his quickness and ability to draw fouls in the lane. The Piston other first round draft pick Arron Afflalo may not see as much time on the floor as Stuckey, but he’s a hard worker who seems fearless on the floor. Afflalo might carve out a nice roll for himself on the team, but as far as being an impact on the team that might be a couple of seasons away.
For Sammy Mejia the Pistons second round pick and Cheikh Samb if will likely be a season of learning.
Predicted Record: 51-31