Let’s recap the four-year Stan Van Gundy era in Detroit. One season above .500 (44-38). Three seasons with win totals of 39, 37, and 32 games. Acquired Blake Griffin and his five-year, $171 million contract for essentially a first-round draft pick and Tobias Harris, who put up 19.3 points, 6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 2.2 threeecolas last season. Ricky Lake Griffin contributed 19.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 1.9 threeecolas. In the 2017 NBA Draft, SVG selected Luke Kennard ahead of Donovan Mitchell. Shaking my head vociferously. His previous draft picks were Henry Ellenson, Michael Gbinije, Stanley Johnson, Darrun Hilliard, and Spencer Dinwiddie, who has turned out to be the best of the group but, of course, was traded for Cameron Bairstow back in 2016. Re-reading what I just wrote makes me think of a part from my favorite movie. There’s hope, though, as the Wicked Witch of the East….urrr….I mean SVG is dead. Not literally of course.
2017 record: 39-43
- Dwane Casey
- Jose Calderon
- Glen Robinson III
- Zaza Pachulia
- Khyri Thomas via draft
- Bruce Brown via draft
Vegas has the over/under win total at 37.5. Remember, that the SVG era is dead. The new sheriff in town is Dwane Casey. His first season in Toronto back in 2011, the team won 23 games. The next season they improved to 34 wins. Then came a five-year run of 48, 49, 56, 51, and 59 win seasons. By the time he got the machine humming along, the Raptors were consistently top five in offensive rating and finished 5th, 11th, and 11th in defensive rating the last three seasons. In regards to offensive pace, the Raptors finished 14th last season, but that may be an outlier as that number was routinely near the bottom of the league. In addition, with Griffin and Andre Drummond as the foundational pieces, an uptempo gameplan may not be the best for this Pistons squad.
PG – Reggie Jackson is atop the depth chart for now, but he had minor ankle surgery in the offseason and is still rounding into form. He’s expected to be ready for the opener, though. Ish Smith is the backup and I have the minutes split evenly between the two, around 25-26 minutes each. I do think they will play alongside each other for brief periods of time. RJax provides threeecolas, good free throw percentage, double-digit points, a couple rebounds, and a tick over 5 dimes per game. Ish is not a good free throw shooter, doesn’t shoot from downtown often, and should provide around 4 dimes per game. Both will contribute a shade under 1 steals per game without much contribution in the blocks department. Ish takes care of the ball a little better than RJax, but the turnover number is still only 2.2 per game for him. Jose Calderon was signed to a one-year deal. Why? I’m not too sure. For depth in case of injury and he did play for Casey back in 2011 and 2012.
SG – Reggie Bullock, Luke Kennard, Langston Galloway, and Bruce Brown fill out the depth chart at shooting guard. Bullock should get the bulk of the minutes here and should be a fantasy asset for those that are threeecola hunting. 1.8 per game on 4.5 attempts is what I have him down for. Just don’t expect much outside of that. Kennard is….the player picked one spot ahead of Donovan Mitchell in the 2017 NBA Draft. Galloway is….Didn’t he play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Brown is the second-round pick of the Pistons in this year’s draft. Probably won’t make the rotation.
SF – Stanley Johnson, Glenn Robinson III, and Khyri Thomas are the small forwards. SVG sure loved him some Johnson. What a pervert. The shooting percentage from the field will be bad with SJ, but he will provide some threeecolas, boards, and be a maven on D. Projected for 1.6 steals per game. That ain’t bad, yo. I also have him soaking up most of the minutes here with 30 minutes. Robinson is a new addition to the squad, after spending three years in Indiana and splitting time his rookie season in Minnesota and Philadelphia. Can shoot from downtown but not much else. Thomas is a rookie who the Pistons traded up for in the second round of the draft. From what I saw in the Summer League, he plays good D, hustles, can knock down the perimeter shot, operates well in transition, and is a willing facilitator. Don’t think he cracks the rotation, though.
PF – Blake Griffin and Henry Ellenson will be the power forwards. I had fun last season tracking the blocks and assists for Serge Ibaka because there wasn’t much to track. There’s a reason why I call him Ricky Lake Griffin. Anyways, for how much shit I give him, he is still a focal point of this team and garners a 28-29% usage rate. The field goal percentage isn’t great, but he does shoot well from the charity stripe. 19/6/6 is nice and there’s no denying the raw points upside and ability to mess around on any night. And as Brent and Craig like to point out, the assists from the big man position is B. U. T. ful. As for the D stats?
There’s also the fact that he’s played 58, 58, 61, 35, and 67 games the past five seasons. Ellenson is a 6′ 11″ forward from Marquette who the Pistons selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Not the most athletic player, Ellenson can shoot from downtown and handle the ball on the perimeter. He’s able to grab a rebound and lead a transition break, while also initiating offense from the top of the key. Should get some minutes due to the lack of depth in the front court, so possibly someone to keep an eye on.
C – Andre Drummond, Zaza Pachulia, and Jon Leuer are the centers. Everyday is Dre Day in Detroit, as Drummond is the man. Elite in rebounds and field goal percentage, will rack up around 1.5 steals and blocks each, and dish out a few dimes. It’s all about the free throws for Dre. A career 42% shooter from the line, he posted a 60% rate last season. I’ve seen his stroke from downtown and it’s nice, so I’m not completely dismissing the huge improvement. I have him down for 57% this season. If he does continue to improve from the charity stripe, Top 20 player. Pachulia is the goon squad. Here to provide toughness, sets some hard screens, and make sure everything is kosher. Leuer is still recovering from surgery on his right knee.