The Detroit Pistons
Last Years Record: 59-23
Key Losses: Jarvis Hayes (Free Agent – Nets), Juan Dixon (Free Agent – Wizards), Theo Ratliff (Free Agent – 76ers), Lindsey Hunter (Free Agent – Unsigned)
Key Additions: Rookie Head Coach Michael Curry, Kwame Brown, Walter Sharpe, Will Bynum, and Alex Acker
1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?
Can you say Kwame Brown, yes Kwame Brown, not PJ Brown, or Shannon Brown. Forget Devin Brown or Larry Brown for that matter, the Detroit Pistons signed former number one draft pick Kwame Brown.
Forget Kwame’s past, Detroit isn’t looking for him to be the go to guy. If Brown can give the Pistons what they need when he’s called upon off the bench his (minimal) salary will be well worth it. No one is expecting this to be Kwames’ breakthrough, if he can grab a few boards and block a shot or two he’s done his job.
The other big move The Pistons made in the offseason was firing Flip Saunders and bringing in Michael Curry as head coach. Will this team buy into Curry’s system? And can he lead this mix of veterans and youth back to the Finals?
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
Detroit brings back a core that is arguably one of the best starting five in the league. Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace have been there before and know how to get things done. With the addition of Amir Johnson to the starting lineup they now add youth and athleticism to mix with the veteran core. And let’s not forget Antonio McDyess who will reprise his sixth man role and then there is terror that is Jason Maxiell. Even with all that we still haven’t mentioned the one player to keep your eye on…Rodney Stuckey, who is looking to call even more attention to himself than he did during Detroit’s playoff run last season.
Detroit knows how to play defense and Curry has made it clear that The Pistons will be going to the way back machine looking to reprise the “Bad Boys” style of lock down D. With Amir and Rasheed playing together with Tayshaun on the on floor the starting five will certainly cause some damage on the defensive end. And no I didn’t forget to mention the what Jason Maxiell brings to the table off the bench.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
Will Michael Curry be able to get this team over the hump? Larry Brown was the last coach in Detroit to get this group to the Finals and asking a Rookie Head Coach to take them there when established Flip Saunders could not is a tall order. Detroit is bringing back their All Star talent and Curry has to infuse the youth with this core to make them an even bigger threat.
4. What are the goals for this team?
An NBA Championship, nothing else will do.
With Detroit a perennial fixture in the Eastern Conference Finals and just one NBA title to show for it, the goal for this season is the Larry O’Brien or bust. And I literally mean bust, this is likely the last time Chauncey, Rip, Sheed, Tayshaun, and Antonio McDyess will have their chance to pull it off together . All or nothing, and this team has had their share of nothing.
5. Will this team look the same come playoff time?
If Joe Dumars doesn’t like the way things are going early in the season you can bet that he will move whoever he can to take this team to the Finals again. Rasheed’s contract (just about 14 million) comes off the books at the end of the year, which makes him an attractive trading piece. And let’s not forget his game. Bundling him up with another major player on the team could give Dumars just what he was looking for when he vowed to do whatever it took to get the right deal done this summer.
Come trade deadline, you could see a drastically different Pistons team take the floor, but that all depends on what they do coming out of the gate.
Predicted Record: 53-29