Pretty Much Screwed: The 2013-14 Detroit Pistons

  • Jake O'Donnell

Welcome to “Pretty Much Screwed,” our definitive guide to the upcoming NBA season. This team-by-team preview details why it’s probably not your favorite team’s year. Today we’ll talk about the Detroit Pistons, who acquired some talent in the offseason. Lipstick on a pig, dude. They still suck.

The Detroit Pistons have looked like an NBDL team for a few years now. In 2013, they won’t.

They’ll look like Oak Hill Academy, which, oddly enough, is an upgrade.

That’s because they’ve upgraded at two key positions: PG and SF. Oak Hill alums Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings will make this team a legitimate contender for the eight spot in the Eastern Conference. That’s an awful lot of playmaking ability coming to town, and it will be interesting to see if both players can gel quickly, and execute some pretty awesome pick and roll alley-oops.

Then again, they both kind of do what they want, and could sink this ship just as fast.

Smith averaged the most turnovers of any small forward in the East (3.0) and Jennings wasn’t exactly a ball security specialist, averaging 2.5 TO per game last season with Milwaukee.

Both guys have a lot of great things about their game, but consistency and basketball I.Q. are not their strong suits. This team will have flashes of greatness and knock off a few of the league’s best, but they’ll also lose to the Bobcats, Bucks, and Magic because the best players on the Pistons are unreliable.

Then there’s Smith’s tendency to shoot threes — even though he’s a mediocre/bad long range shooter (worst 3-point percentage of any small forward in the East at .303). Combining the facts that he’s careless with the ball and thinks he deserves to shoot over 200 threes in a season, it becomes clear that this team will wish it had a consistent spot up shooting threat at some point (and it’s not Brandon Jennings, sorry).

Unfortunately, they let the perfect guy for the job walk, and his name was Jose Calderon. He shot over 50% from downtown with the Pistons last season. Best in the league. Oops!

This will hold the Pistons back in 2013. That, and a clogged lane. Let’s address their monstrous front court for a second. Andre Drummond (6-10), Greg Monroe (6-11), and Josh Smith (6-10) cannot coexist in a single 19′ X 12′ area — and we’ve already addressed that Smith shouldn’t go outside.

Unless Monroe leaves at some point, there’ll be nowhere for Brandon Jennings to drive this season, and he’ll be forced to take more outside jumpers (something he will not shy away from). That is not a winning strategy.

Nor is having almost no depth. The Pistons have cobbled together a respectable starting five for the first time in more than four seasons. Here’s what the rest of the squad looks like:

Will Bynum, PG
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG
Luigi Datome, SF
Josh Harrellson, PF
Jonas Jerebko, PF
Tony Mitchell, PF
Peyton Siva, PG
Rodney Stuckey, PG
Charlie Villanueva, PF
Kyle Singler, SG

Ya. No one on there has ever averaged over 12 PPG. Better hope the starters don’t get injured (like, say, 37-year-old Chauncy Billups).

In reality, this is a young team without a bonafide star that doesn’t know how to win consistently. Not to say they won’t win the future — they’re an Andrew Wiggins away from competing for anything meaningful. But then again, so are most teams in the NBA. Too bad they won’t be drafting anywhere near Wiggins territory. Screwed.

Actual Season Prediction: 41-40. Eighth seed. Lose in the first round to the Heat much in the same way Brandon Jennings’ Bucks did in 2012-13.