With the NBA season
Detroit Pistons 19-63 (5th Central)
TOP NINE PRODUCTION (numbers listed are 2011-12 WP)
|PG Brandon Knight||0.7|
|SG Rodney Stuckey||3|
|SF Tayshaun Prince||2|
|PF Jonas Jerebko||4.5|
|C Greg Monroe||8.4|
|F Corey Maggette||-0.9|
|G Will Bynum||-1.1|
|F Charlie Villanueva||0.1|
|C Andre Drummond*||0.2|
Poor Greg Monroe. According to Wins Produced, he was the 19th best player in the league last year, but it was hard to tell among the wreckage that was the Detroit Pistons. And now, the key to the Pistons having a chance of making an impact on the league and getting eyeballs on Monroe is Andre Drummond, another big who's immense physical gifts threaten to completely overshadow Monroe's steady excellence. Even if Drummond and Monroe become the 2nd coming of Duncan and Robinson, however, the Pistons will struggle to win more than they lose with a roster overloaded with mediocre combo guards and tweener forwards. And if Drummond's pre-season flash proves to be a mirage and he is as raw as he seemed coming out of UConn, then Monroe will be on an island, a tall, proud Moai head surrounded by burning piles of feces.
Things aren't that bad, I suppose. Jonas Jerbko may be the first good Joe Dumars signing since, um, Chauncey Billups? Rodney Stuckey is servicable, and Brandon Knight has an excellent chance to become Rodney Stuckey. Tayshaun Prince probably has at least half a season left as an intriguing trade chip for a contender (although Dumars's often misplaced loyalty will probably keep him from ever cashing that chip in). Will Bynum remains one of my favorite bad players in the league, while Corey Maggette will bully his way to a boring, ugly 14-16 points per game. In fact, even Monroe is boring, despite his tremendous production. There's nothing that fun about watching a near-7-footer hitting 15 footers and finding back-door cutters from the high post, which is why Drummond is the only hope anyone outside Detroit bothers glancing the Pistons' way. While I think the former Huskie will have an awesome YouTube mix by the end of the season, I don't think he's quite ready to contribute on a consistent basis. It would not surprise me to see him put up a 15 point, 16 rebound, 4 block game followed by a month where he struggles to stay on the floor for more than 10 minutes a game.
The Pistons finished strong under Lawrence Frank last season, following up a 4-19 start with a 21-22 finish. The off-season narrative would have you believe this late-season spurt toward mediocrity was based on vast defensive improvements, but Detroit's points allowed per game held steady around 95-96. The offense, however, improved by around 8 points per game over the last 43 games, boosted by Monroe becoming the focal point and Knight going from bust to alright. The problem is, beyond Monroe, Knight, Stuckey, and Jerebko (and maybe Drummond), the Pistons have a lot of terrible players. Unless Lawrence Frank is going to go with the rare six man rotation, Detroit will once again find themselves among the dregs of the league.