Pistons slotted into Top 10 of latest power rankings by ESPN

Nov 9, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0), guard Ish Smith (14) and forward Tobias Harris (34) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns defeated the Pistons 107-100. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What a long road we’ve had coming to this day. We can legitimately say that the Pistons are sitting in the top 10 in the latest ESPN Power Rankings.

Nice to be top-10 when we started the season off at No. 21. We haven’t been very beloved by those over at ESPN much since we traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson and “thought” that Rodney Stuckey was the second coming of Billups, all because he played well alongside him. We’ve also been projected to win only 39 games this year. At the rate we’re going to finish with 18 more victories than those preseason projections.

They did rank Lonzo Ball over Carmelo Anthony, right?

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The Pistons currently sit in first place in the Central Division and just 1.5 games back of the Boston Celtics for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They took down their division rival Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, improving to 5-1 in the friendly confines of Little Caesars Arena.

Stan Van Gundy said last year that he trusts Tobias Harris’ decision-making when he has the ball in his hands. In my eyes, he has become the centerpiece of the offense for the Pistons. Harris leads Detroit in scoring so far, averaging 20 points per contest His ceiling is that of an All-Star, let’s hope he keeps this up.

Stanley Johnson is beginning to finally etch in a role for himself on the offensive end to go along with the intensity he brings defensively. He’s been shooting 39 percent from the arc in the last 9 games, very Impressive after struggling to be consistent in that department over the last two seasons.

The team has mentioned that having Avery Bradley, they have added a “No Quit” dimension to themselves, an attitude that seemed to be absent last year. Knowing that Bradley is the one player we do have that recently played at a high level in the playoffs, against the Cavaliers no less, can go a long way for this team. He’s bringing a lot of know-how to the team in regards to preparation, work ethic, and defensive principle as well. It also helps that he can score.

We’ve also seen good performances from key reserve contributors early on, namely rookie Luke Kennard, second-year player Henry Ellenson, and veteran Anthony Tolliver. They pitched in different spots over the last team that also contributed to the 8-3 record.

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The biggest change to this season that was missing from last year is Andre Drummond’s free throw percentage. He has been shooting a whopping 64 percent from the line this year, despite an 0 for 7 showing from the charity stripe on Wednesday vs. the Pacers. That alone would have been enough to put us over the hump last year. I think with consistency in Drummond’s free throw shooting, focus on execution, defense, team play, and ball movement, the Pistons may have a fighting chance to be in the top 10 for most of the season.

The Pistons play the fourth of a five-game homestand on Friday, November 10 against the Atlanta Hawks (7 p.m. ET), before wrapping up the stretch of games at LCA against the Miami Heat on Sunday (4 p.m. ET).