Earlier in the season, I wrote that you could not trust these Pistons.
They’re trying to change my mind.
The Detroit Pistons are coming off a one-point victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder, in Oklahoma City, after Russell Westbrook missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Pistons are now 12-6 on the season and 6-1 versus Western Conference teams, and 4-0(!) against teams in the top 8, record-wise.
The 12 wins include a sweep of the Minnesota Timberwolves, a win at(!) Golden State, a win versus the Milwaukee Bucks, a win against a Los Angelas Clippers team that was the last undefeated team in the NBA at the time, and the most recent win against the Thunder.
In each game you see improvement that makes you smile if you’re a Pistons fan. Whether it’s Andre Drummond rotating over and blocking Karl Anthony Towns at the rim late in the fourth quarter of a close game, showing his improved rim protection; or if it’s Stanley Johnson putting stars like Anthony Wiggins and Paul George on clamps, the Pistons have been better than anyone could’ve projected before the season.
Remember crying in your living room, begging the Pistons to improve their three-point shooting over the years? Okay, maybe that was only me, but the Pistons have struggled from the 3-point arc for many years. They are currently shooting 38.4 percent from beyond the arc which ranks, wait for it, 4th in the league! Not only are they making a high percentage of their three-point attempts, they’re making 11.3 threes a game which is 8th in the NBA.
Remember when fouling was a major issue earlier in the year? The Pistons have fixed that issue, now fouling the 6th lowest amount at 19.1 fouls per game.
Remember the noise of “We have to trade Andre! He can’t play in the fourth quarter!”? Well, Drummond has been playing in the fourth quarter. What’s the difference you may ask. Well, Drummond went from shooting 38 percent from the free throw line last year, to shooting 60.5 percent this year. 60.5 percent isn’t a great percentage for most, but teams wont be pulling the Hack-A-Dre strategy at that percentage, unless they want to give the Pistons free points.
Not only has Drummond drastically improved his free throw shooting, but Drummond has asserted himself in the offense. He isn’t just setting picks, he’s orchestrater of the Pistons offense. Everything has ran through him, he’s accepted that challenge and it’s paid off for the Pistons. Drummond went from barely averaging one assist a game, to averaging almost 4(!) a game this year. What’s even better is the fact that Drummond is doing this with his lowest usage rate since his sophomore year, at 20.8%.
Take a look at the above tweet and who do you at the very top Pistons fans!? Drummond has shown the people of Detroit h is a new and vastly improved player this year, and that he is deserving of being the Pistons’ franchise cornerstone.
Drummond has been at the center of this Pistons success. Just take a look at the Thunder game. In the first half, Drummond only had 4 points and 2 rebounds. In the second half, Drummond dominated with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks. He finished the game with 17 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks.
Tobias Harris, Reggie Jackson, Stanley Johnson, and Avery Bradley are all playing very well. Having Bradley’s and Johnson’s defense on the wings has paid dividends for the Pistons. Jackson has moved the ball and has destroyed his “Ball Hog” reputation this year. You especially could’ve seen this down the stretch against Minnesota. He had nine points and three assists in the fourth quarter. Over and over Jackson made the perfect play, kicking out when he needed to and scoring when it was there.(Click the link to see thread of his play down the stretch).
Tobias Harris has played like an All-Star this year, and has fit perfectly as the Pistons go-to scorer. Harris is averaging 18.4 points a game, shooting 45 percent from three, and 90 percent from free throw line; all of which being career highs.
The Pistons bench play is just as important, if not more important than how well Bradley, Harris, Jackson and Johnson are playing. The bench is only averaging 32.2 points per game, which is 19th in the league. However, the bench has been just as important to this teams success. The bench has the third highest +/- in the league at +2.8, which explains why the Pistons are able to come back from so many ten-point deficits. The bench takes care of the ball and doesn’t give the other team easy baskets. They average only 4.8 turnovers game, which 3rd best in the league. The bench comes in, and either gets the team back into the game or keeps the lead that the starters created.
This is the most complete Detroit Pistons team since I was in elementary school almost 10 years ago. This team is playing great basketball and it deserves the city of Detroit’s trust and support. What’s even better for this team is the fact that they’re not getting national recognition. They’re 2nd in the East, and they have no pressure from outside sources. The Pistons are playing great low-key and there’s no other way Piston fans would want it.
Tell your friends, tell your family, #DetroitBasketball is back.
Featured Image: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images