The NBA, and their fans, are in a waiting pattern now with all the major events out of the way. The draft, free agency, summer league, they’re all wrapped up. Even Team USA Basketball has wavering interest as big name after big name drops out for the upcoming FIBA World Cup.
But as we know, the NBA never really stops. The anticipation for this upcoming season is seemingly at an all-time high with the newfound parity in the league. Ok, maybe the Eastern Conference is not quite as interesting as the West. And the Pistons are not getting the love they should be given considering the playoff team of last year is largely improved. But who cares? We at Palace of Pistons want to bring out some bold takes for both the East and the Pistons. So here we go.
*You may notice some new writers in this roundtable (good eye, you). Give them a warm #NBATwitter welcome, as they’ll be providing fresh content all season.
Jacob Rogers (@JRogersNBA), Palace of Pistons Staff Writer
- Derrick Rose has healthy and productive season
As far as things go for the Pistons, I expect Derrick Rose to contribute for the Pistons off the bench immediately. Rose is coming off a season where he averaged 18 points and 4.3 assists on 48.2 percent shooting from the floor and 37 percent from the floor in 27.3 minutes. Rose did only play 51 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves due to knee, ankle and elbow injuries. However, I do not expect Rose to play 27 minutes a night for Detroit as Reggie Jackson is the starting point guard and played 28 minutes per game last season. Say Rose plays those other 20 minutes that Jackson isn’t on the floor, that’s 357 less minutes than he played last season which gives him a much greater chance if being healthy. In those 20 minutes per game, I would expect D-Rose to put up averages of around 13 points and 4 assists per game.
2. Milwaukee Bucks will make NBA Finals
With the Eastern Conference looking totally different than it did last season, I’m still favoring the Bucks to come out of the East. Yes Brooklyn just added Kyrie Irving, Deandre Jordan, and Kevin Durant, but KD won’t play all year due to a Torn Achilles. Even with the additions of Irving and Jordan into the starting lineup, I still expect Brooklyn to only be a three seed and be eliminated in either the second round or conference finals. The Bucks let former Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdan sign elsewhere this offseason, but that didn’t stop them from having a solid free agency. Milwaukee resigned Khris Middleton and added Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, and Kyle Korver. Adding shooting around Giannis had to be one of Milwaukee’s goals this offseason, and they did exactly that. I fully expect the Bucks to win 55+ games and take home the conference title.
Dylan Edenfield (@EdenfieldNBA), Palace of Pistons/Def Pen Hoops Staff Writer
- The Pistons will win 50 games next season
With the way the roster was improved over the last season, I see the Pistons as a candidate to win 50 games this year. The starters will remain mostly the same, with Tony Snell sliding in where Reggie Bullock and Wayne Ellington held it down last season, and is a massive defensive improvement on his own without losing any shooting. Derrick Rose, a 6MOY candidate last year, will be a massive upgrade for Ish Smith if he can replicate last season. The front court was bolstered with the additions of Markieff Morris and Christian Wood, giving Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond more of an opportunity to rest and not be overplayed throughout the season, something that cannot be undervalued.
The key to this team will be health, as the talent is there. Reggie Jackson, Rose, and Blake all have extensive injury history, and losing any one of them for a significant portion of the season would be a huge blow. If we can see Blake and Reggie play a similar amount of games as last season along with Rose getting at least 60+, the Pistons will be in good shape. The Eastern Conference is wide open, and the Pistons should be much more competitive than their current 37.5 win projection suggests.
2. The Miami Heat will not improve, despite having Jimmy Butler
Even with the addition of Jimmy Butler, I don’t see the Miami Heat improving much from 2018. I don’t think Orlando will return to the postseason, opening a spot for the Heat who just missed out last season. However, I don’t see much improvement in the win column, if any, barring another blockbuster trade from Pat Riley. Josh Richardson was the team’s best player, but is now the fifth banana on a contending Philadelphia roster. Justise Winslow will continue to succeed, especially if the team wisely keeps him at point guard, while Bam Adebayo will now control the center spot with Whiteside gone. However, the overpaid vets remain, and I don’t see any of them making the impact that their contracts may fool you into thinking they are capable of.
*NEW* Will Anderson (@CoachAndersonNBA29), Palace of Pistons Staff Writer
- Pistons will have more playoff success
The Detroit Pistons have made the playoffs twice in the past four years. The first of those two appearances resulted in a sweep to the would-be NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers and the most recent was again, a sweep by the hands of the would-be MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Milwaukee Bucks.However, after the offseason Ed Stefanskiand Tom Gores have managed to put together, stocking up on youth through the draft, young guys coming back, as well as mixing in some veteran presences in Derrick Rose and Markieff Morris, the Detroit Pistons will not only make the playoffs yet again, but will also make it as the 5 or 6 seed and they will push whatever team they play to a game 6 or 7.
2. Despite moves made, the Eastern Conference is wide open
As for the rest of the Eastern Conference, I believe that other than the Bucks and the improved Philadelphia 76ers, I believe the rest of the East is up for the taking. The Boston Celtics did lose Kyrie Irving and Al Horford (to the 76ers; also the guy who shut down Embiid in the playoffs), but replaced them with KembaWalker and EnesKanter along with youth through the draft and the Brooklyn Nets brought in Irving as well as DeAndre Jordan, Kevin Durant (who will miss the entire season), as well as a host of other FA’s to join their already stacked roster. After these four teams, the rest of the East is who wants it more. Indiana lost some key pieces in FA and Victor Oladipo is going to miss at least half of the season, so spots 5-8 in the playoffs are up for grabs where you can see teams such as Miami, Orlando, Detroit, Charlotte, and possibly even Atlanta.
*NEW Ashley Gross (@Ash_Ketchum313, Palace of Pistons Staff Writer
- If Reggie Jackson gets off to a slow start, he could be replaced by Derrick Rose
The Pistons already have a solid starting point guard in Reggie Jackson, but with the lack of depth behind him, they signed Derrick Rose during free agency this summer. Last season Rose came off the bench for the Minnesota Timberwolves averaging 18 PPG – much better than Reggie’s 15.4 PPG. Even though one player was a starter and the other regularly came off the bench, they both average the same number of minutes played (27 minutes per game). But Rose was a bit more productive in the games he played. Rose did battle with some injuries this past season, resulting in him missing almost 30 games. But with speculations of the Pistons wanting to make a trade, perhaps involving Jackson, it’s possible that if Rose starts the season off hot the Pistons could be forced to make a change. Derrick Rose is still viewed as a starting-caliber point guard in the NBA. If he can remain healthy, it will be interesting to see if Rose will challenge Reggie Jackson for the title of starting point guard for the Detroit Pistons at some point this year. If that is the case, the Pistons might start calling teams seeking a trade for a quality star player, or a younger, more promising point guard with Reggie Jackson included in the deal.
2. The hard and fast fall of the Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors shocked the world by defeating the defending NBA champions, The Golden State Warriors in this year’s NBA Finals. But in free agency, they lost two of their most pivotal players on their team that were the catalyst for their immediate success in Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Now the team is without a bonafide star player and has two aging veteran All- Stars in Kyle Lowry (33), and Marc Gasol (34). Everyone knew that if Kawhi left Toronto in free agency that it would be hard for the team to repeat a trip back to the NBA Finals. But based on the ages of their veteran players, the Raptors run the risk of no longer being considered contenders in the eastern conference. They still have enough talent on their team to make the playoffs, but I can only see them landing anywhere between the 6-8 spot in the playoff standings. Toronto needs to decide if they are going to compete in the East for the next couple of years, or are they going to rebuild, and trade away some of their core players in order to receive draft picks or younger, more promising players to build with for the future?
(Featured image by Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports)