“Form A F****** Wall”: 2015-16 Detroit Pistons Preview

The next Dwight Howard and James Harden? Ehh. (Allen Einstein/Getty Images)
The next Dwight Howard and James Harden? Ehh. (Allen Einstein/Getty Images)

Last season: 32-50, 5th, Central Division (11th, Eastern Conference), Missed Playoffs

Notable Acquisitions: F Ersan Ilyasova (trade w/ MIL), F Marcus Morris (trade w/ PHX), G/F Reggie Bullock (trade w/ PHX), C Aron Baynes (free agent, SAS), G Steve Blake (trade w/ BKN), F Danny Granger (trade w/ PHX)

Draft Picks: G/F Stanley Johnson (Arizona, 8th overall), G Darrun HIlliard II (Villanova, 38th overall)

Notable Losses: F/C Greg Monroe (MIL), F Tayshaun Prince, G/F Caron Butler (SAC). G John Lucas III (MIA), F Quincy Miller (BKN)


#DogTags:

Top DOG: Andre Drummond

Star UnderDOG: Reggie Jackson

TDIT (Top DOG In Training): Stanley Johnson

Salty DOG: Joel Anthony


Burning Question: Can Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond turn into All-Stars?

Drummond & Jackson (Raj Mehta:USA TODAY Sports)

Well, seeing how Reggie Jackson currently has a salary similar (re-singed for 5 year/$80 million in the offseason) to Wizards star John Wall, one would think a future All-Star selection is an obvious assumption. He played well after being traded to Detroit at the deadline but is still working on his overall leadership & playmaking.

Drummond, on the other hand, was a near All-Star a year ago. If he gets a couple of go-to moves on the block, which is the main goal heading into every year, Drummond can make that jump.


Storyline:

Year 1 under Stan Van Gundy was quite the journey. Detroit, predictability, struggled out of the gates with a clunky roster and too many varying personalities. The Pistons had talent but not in the right places. The trio of Greg Monroe, Josh Smith and Andre Drummond was an absolute disaster.

It got so bad that the Pistons cut ties altogether with Smith in January. Detroit showed a bit of a rebirth following Smith’s release but came crashing down once Brandon Jennings tore his achilles.

Now, with Reggie Jackson in the fold, he provides a more dynamic scoring dimension and can play a bit off ball as well. He’ll be amped up to justify his huge extension and stick it OKC GM Sam Presti.

But make no mistake…Detroit’s identity is built around Andre Drummond, just how SVG wants it.

Van Gundy is the perfect coach for Drummond, who shares a lot of the same traits as Dwight Howard. Drummond is already one of the most athletic pivots in the Association and rivals DeAndre Jordan’s rebounding ability. You almost have to face guard him to prevent him from going off on the boards (fastest to 1,000 offensive rebounds in NBA history).

In year 4, however, it’s time to develop some offense on the block. His shooting regressed to 51% in 2014-15 (down from 62% the previous year) as he tried to play through the post. So far, in preseason, Drummond is playing at a more controlled pace and has not forced the issue as frequently.

In today’s league, no one is asking him to become the next Hakeem Olajuwon in terms of offensive creativity but he could easily average 18 and 15, with solid defensive stats.

Stanley Johnson might get the nod to start at small forward. (Getty Images)
Stanley Johnson might get the nod to start at small forward. (Getty Images)

Ersan Ilyasova, Marcus Morris, and Reggie Bullock were acquired in the offseason to space the floor. Though it’s about a 2.5% chance this trio turns into Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Jason Richardson from SVG’s Orlando days, they are all semi-deadly shooters who can cash triples.

Whether SVG decides to run the offense exclusively through Drummond is the key, as well as if the big man is able to protect the paint at an elite level. Drummond is still an undisciplined defender but has all of the tools to help Detroit improve upon its 106.4 Defensive Rating (19th in the NBA) from a year ago.

Detroit’s wild cards this season are third-year guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, rookie Stanley Johnson, and Jennings, who is still on the mend following his Achilles tear in January. KCP and Johnson are the projected starters on the wing and have great two-way upside.

Johnson, drafted 8th overall, is extremely NBA-ready and has tallied nice stats (26 points in his debut v. Indiana) throughout the preseason. If he can raise his three-point percentage to around 35-36%, Johnson will be the 2015-16 Rookie of the Year…plain and simple.

Detroit appears to be a year or two away from serious playoff contention but this offseason was a tremendous step forward. The roster is no longer clunky and is beginning to resemble a true, Van Gundy roster.

Resting on the broad shoulders of 22-year old Andre Drummond, a Motor City revival is finally a real possibility.


Projected Starting 5:


Depth Chart:

PG: Jackson-Jennings (injured)-Blake-Dinwiddie

SG: Caldwell-Pope-Meeks-Hilliard II

SF: Johnson-Bullock-Granger

PF: Morris-Ilyasova-Tolliver

C: Drummond-Baynes-Anthony

-Stan Van has a lot of shooting across the roster; Meeks, Tolliver, Ilyasova, Morris, Bullock and even Danny Granger are viable options from outiside

-Morris could start (at SF) with Ilyasova (at PF) to begin the year but look for Johnson to earn the starting SF spot by December

-There aren’t many rebounders up front; besides Drummond, controlling the boards will have to be by committee


Stanimal: 

Stanley Johnson

Stanley Johnson is already earning his beast-y nickname, “Stanimal.” With an NBA frame (6’7, 245) at just age 19, Stanley is poised to hold down Detroit’s small forward spot for years to come. Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Holberg has already heaped great praise upon the rook:

“I’ve been really, really impressed with Stanley Johnson,” he said before Wednesday’s game at the United Center. “Especially the fact he’s knocking down his threes at a very high rate. He’s still a very strong driver of the basketball. I think he’s going to be up there when you look at the end of the year for the Rookie of the Year race. He’s been really, really impressive.” (via Pistons.com)

We liken him to a young Ron Artest. Here’s a quick look at his impressive game:


Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

Marcus Morris (Getty Images)

Marcus Morris is the Key UnderDOG on Detroit’s roster. After his tumultuous offseason, Marcus is now free of Markieff’s shadow, which he may or may not be prepared to tackle.

When his head is on straight, Morris is a solid, hybrid forward with nice outside shooting ability. And when he plays with confidence, Morris can face up and create devastating mismatches:


Detroit’s Best Case Scenario: Andre Drummond is the second coming of D12, Reggie Jackson is an All-Star level PG and the Pistons reach the 5th seed in the East.

SVG (Rocky Widner:NBAE:Getty Images)

Detroit’s Worst Case Scenario: Drummond is still plagued by poor foul shooting and lack of creativity on the block, Detroit can’t shoot or defend well enough to stay in games, and they have one of the worst records in the East.


Season Prediction:

5th, Central Division (11th, Eastern Conference), Will Miss Playoffs

“Form a f****** wall.” – Stan Van Gundy

#DOFGAME #DOG

-Jabari J.

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