There’s no sugar-coating it. This season was a brutal one for the Detroit Pistons. After winning 44 games and earning a playoff spot last year, the seemingly up and coming squad took a major step back in all areas in 2017. Just how much worse were the Pistons in just a year’s time? Both the eyeball test and advanced statistics will tell you the Pistons were significantly worse in 2017.
Pistons advanced stats 2015-2016:
Pistons advanced stats 2016-2017:
Ask any Pistons fan and they will tell you the biggest reason for the drop off in play was the lack of production from the team’s biggest stars Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson. While the production for both players did take a dip in 2017, the numbers were not the issue. What became increasingly frustrating throughout the season was that neither player seemed to care whether the team won or lost.
It is that nonchalance for the game that has many fans clamoring to ship Drummond and Jackson out of town so that the team can undergo a complete rebuild. However, it seems that while the organization is taking note of the fans frustration, the conclusion they are drawing is not the same.
Pistons coach and President of Basketball Operations Stan Van Gundy thinks Drummond is still a work in progress rather than a finished product.
“He needs to have a sense of urgency to elevate his game,” Van Gundy said. “He’s been in the league five years and he’s still young — he hasn’t turned 24 — so he has time. He’s a very talented guy and he’s been one of the elite rebounders in the league.
“He’s got some great things to work with but there’s more there; the sky’s the limit for him. He’s got a chance to be really good to great, but he needs to do some work to get there.”
I actually agree with Van Gundy there. Drummond still has massive potential, and it would almost be absurd to assume a guy that has averaged a double for his career has capped out his talent at only 23 years old.
Where I think Van Gundy is off-base is his assessment that Reggie Jackson can still be the point guard of the team moving forward.
“We’ve built a pretty good roster and obviously we were really built around Reggie’s pick-and-roll abilities. We had 30 games he didn’t play in — and I don’t think he was ever at full strength.” Van Gundy said.
“He can get back there — in fact I’m really confident he can get back there. The roster was put together with one group in mind and we really didn’t have that.”
#Pistons SVG on why RJax can improve: Our medical people are confident he's back now physically. What he didn't get back to was confidence..
— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) April 14, 2017
Was Jackson’s season hampered by injuries? Of Course. The bigger issue is that the team just does not seem to like him. Jackson is probably closer to the payer we saw in 2015-2016, but the toxicity he brought to the team this season might be irreversible. The team currently constructed plays better with a point guard whose main focus is on distributing rather than scoring.
That’s where Van Gundy says the bulk of the offseason’s focus will be. Improving the situation at point guard. Once that falls in line, a lot of the team’s other issues (chemistry, lack of three-point shooting, sharing the ball, etc.) will all be corrected.
“There are some moves that we can make that can benefit us — maybe a big move, but maybe not. I would never come out and say we’re going to make a major move because those are harder to make,” Van Gundy said. “Realistically, you just always think you have a better chance at tweaking some things than some bombshell move. I also don’t think we need a bombshell move.
“There’s a couple things we’d like to do and make us a little bit better but I don’t think we’re broken. Getting our point guard situation back to where it was or even better is more than feasible and corrects a great deal of the problems we’re talking about. Our roster is pretty good from there.”
Outside of re-singing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, that will be the biggest mystery of the offseason. What will the Pistons do at point guard? Do they roll the dice with Reggie and hope 2016 was a better barometer of what the team actually is than 2017? Do they take their chance in the draft and hand a rookie the reigns to the team in hopes of changing the course for the future? Do they trade one of their main pieces and do a complete overhaul and try to win a different way? There is a lot of pressure on the Pistons to make the right moves, and give the city a team worth watching in the first year of their glorious return to downtown.
What do you think is the best course of action for the Pistons moving forward?