Heading into the upcoming Fantasy Basketball Season, Razzball will be interviewing local NBA beat writers for actual, real-life basketball knowledge to shed some light on our measly fantasy basketball knowledge. Keep your eye out for interviews from [hopefully!] every NBA team through the summer. This installment comes courtesy of Joe Dexter from leading Detroit Pistons blog Piston Powered (interview held on Aug. 13):

1. I’m going to start a little off the rails, but Slim and I both have an infatuation with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.  That roaring finale last year against OKC showed some big upside, and he tore apart Summer League.  Right now he’s on the outside looking in of having a big role – newly signed Jodie Meeks looks primed for the 2 – but do you think he could grow into being a big contributor this year?

One thing to keep in mind fantasy wise is that KCP’s defensive upside should get him more playing time in Stan Van Gundy’s scheme. If his explosion of the Summer League is any indication what type of confidence he can bring to the floor — he could be a true sleeper this year.

In a year of transition, it wouldn’t be surprising to see both Meeks and KCP on the floor at the same time. If Caldwell-Pope proves he belongs out there early, this could really be a breakout year for him. Fantasy-wise, he might not be a player that brings you efficiency and I wouldn’t bank on his three point production. Yet, he is a player that could go off at any moment offensively. For fantasy fans, this year might not be the year where he grows into a big contributor, but it’s definitely is the season that will determine just how good he could be in the future.

2. A new regime is coming into town as we move into Stan Van Gundy’s reign.   What kind of changes will he bring to the Pistons in 2014-15 in terms of rotations and style of play?

The bottom line is that the Pistons are going to have at least some type of improved offense — simply because they’ll have a competent coach on the bench in Van Gundy.

The number one issue will be spacing, and being able to solve that with the likes of Jodie Meeks, Caron Butler and D.J. Augustin will be huge not only shooting-wise but for the production of post players Andre Drummond, Josh Smith and Greg Monroe.

Being able to have the proper spacing will help better set them up offensively.

Van Gundy has always preferred depth over talent. The signing of Jodie Meeks and D.J. Augustin will definitely make for an interesting change in rotation. Obviously, Josh Smith will see a decrease in minutes as he moves back to power forward. Augustin could also cut into Jennings minutes and Jodie Meeks could make it hard to go all in on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as one of your main guards.

Whoever plays the best defense and makes their shots will have the best opportunity to play.

3. Josh Smith always seems to be told to take less threes, and he could stand to hear it again after attempting a career-high 3.4 attempts a game last year, while only making 26.4%.  To top it off, he had a career-low 41.9 FG%.  Is there any talk of Smith getting more selective in his offensive game to hopefully fix those ratios?

Right of the get go, Van Gundy challenged Smith not to take those errant shots and to embrace his true role in the Pistons offense next season. And you better believe that if he doesn’t — SVG will sit him on the bench.

It looks like as of now, he is going to be a sixth man off the bench. The true question if is he can accept that role. If his game and mind are right though, he is a game-changing player that can make plays on both ends of the floor.

Let’s just say that the only way to go is up for Smith’s production and efficiency.

4. A guy I was way too low on, Andre Drummond had a huge breakout in 2013-14.  An elite boarder along with over a steal and a block a game, his horrible FT% unfortunately did sink his output.  Do you see him repeating with another 13/13 season while improving his charity shooting?

I actually believe that he is going to improve his offensive production. Even with Detroit’s horrible spacing issues, Drummond finished in the top 15 in efficiency in the NBA last season. The Pistons finished second in the league in points from two point territory. They scored the most points per game from the paint.

With more shooting around him, attempts in the paint might slow down, but Drummond is going to get his touches. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ups that number to near 17 points per game.

5. On the flip side of Drummond’s breakout was Brandon Jennings’ horrific season.  Shooting an anemic 37.3% from the field, he tied his rookie season for a career-low 15.5 PPG along with over a 5% dip in FT shooting (75.1%) from his previous career-low.  Was it just a horrible slump of a season, or is Jennings going to stay a sub-40% shooter and score only 15 a game?

Brandon Jennings is always going to be Brandon Jennings. Fantasy-wise, he will always be Jekyll and Hyde.

Yet I think Jennings will improve his decision making under Stan Van Gundy. However, I don’t see him being a true scoring threat for the Pistons. Part of what makes Jennings great fantasy-wise is when he is allowed to create in isolation. One of the main reasons D.J. Augustin was brought in was to run a more efficient pick and roll offense.

Jennings will probably shoot better than 37% but it’s hard to picture him scoring more than 15 points per game in Detroit’s new system.


Joe Dexter is an expert and writer for the Detroit Pistons.  Follow him on Twitter @joedexter and check him out on the 08/14/2014 Razzball Basketball Podcast.