By Jacob Rogers
The Detroit Pistons have been stuck in mediocrity since the ‘Going to Work’ era Pistons disbanded in the late 2000s. With only one playoff appearance since 2009 coming in the 2014-15 season, it’s easy to say that fans will not expect much from the Pistons this season. However, there are a few things that we can expect to see out of the Pistons this year.
1. A healthy season out of Reggie Jackson.
After finishing the 2015 season with a 44-38 record and a trip to the playoffs, fans thought that the Pistons were finally making the turn and leaving the state of mediocrity that they had been stuck in for years. However, the Pistons returned to their losing ways just a year later, finishing at 37-45 in 2017 and 39-43 in 2018. A huge reason why the Pistons struggled is because they were without their starting point guard Reggie Jackson. Jackson missed 37 games last season, leading to a 12-25 record without Jackson and a 27-18 record with him on the floor. The Pistons brought back legendary strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander, who has already been working with Jackson on a new workout regimen to help keep him on the court for the 2019 season.
2. An offensive rounded Andre Drummond
There is no question that Andre Drummond’s offensive game has been limited to inside 10 feet since he enter the league six years ago. As a career 55 percent shooter and 42 percent free throw shooter, there is no question that the big man does not have a refined offensive game for the modern day NBA. New head coach, Dwane Casey, has already said that he plans on using Drummond as more of an offensive weapon, like he did with Jonas Valanciunas last year. Going into last season, Valanciunas had only attempted four three pointers in five seasons; last year that number went up to 74 where he converted 30 of them. I expect to see Drummond attempt at least 70 three’s and convert at least 20 of them.
3. Stanley Johnson to have a breakout year
After being drafted eighth overall in 2015, Stanley Johnson has yet to show that he truly belongs in the NBA. With career averages of seven points, three rebounds and one and a half assists per game on 37 percent shooting, there is no question that Stanley Johnson has under performed since entering the league. I expect that to change this year under new head coach Dwane Casey. Casey had a very similar player in Toronto last year in OG Anunoby. Anunoby came into the league as a defensive minded wing who could only score by attacking the basket. However, Casey helped develop Anunoby’s game and had him averaging six points a game and shooting at a 47 percent clip and 37 percent from beyond the arc in only 20 minutes per game. I expect Casey and his staff to work with Johnson this year, and have him producing similar percentages and more points per game, as Johnson should see extended minutes this year.
4. A season with a .500 record or better
The Pistons have only one season of .500 or better since 2008, which was in 2015 when they made the playoffs and were eventually swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers. I expect the Pistons to finish with a record of 41-41 or better in the 2018-19 season. With the roster that Detroit has compiled, there is no reason for Detroit to not be somewhat successful this season, barring injury.
The Pistons have a nice roster of veterans and young guys who all play a perimeter oriented game, which is crucial in the modern day NBA. The Pistons shot a franchise record 2,373 three pointers last year, converting on 886 of them. I expect Detroit to shatter that record this year, which will translate into more wins.
5. Another all-star season out of Andre Drummond
Andre Drummond is only 24 years old and has already made two all-star teams. I expect to see Drummond return to the all-star game this season, as he could have a career year. After averaging 15 points, 16 rebounds and one and a half blocks a game in 2018-19, I can see Drummond having another year with similar numbers, if not better ones. During the off-season, Drummond worked with future hall of famer, Kevin Garnett, and a personal coach to help him improve on his defense and shooting. If Drummond can become a better rim protector and shooter, I can see Drummond finishing this season with averages of 16 points, 18 rebounds, and two blocks a game which will translate into more wins, and a return to the all-star game.
6. A return to the playoffs
There is no doubt in my mind that the Pistons are ready to finally turn the corner and return to the playoffs consistently, and that starts this season. With a “big three” of Reggie Jackson, Blake Griffin, and Andre Drummond, there should be no question that Detroit returns to the playoffs this season. If all of the things I stated earlier in this article happen, or come close to happening, I fully expect the Pistons to finish the 2018-19 season with a record of 44-38 and a six seed in the playoffs.