Last season was one of the more memorable ones in recent memory for the Detroit Pistons. They started out horrendously with a 5-23 start while also having one of the most hated Pistons of all time on the roster (J-“Smoove”). After releasing said hated player, the team suddenly jolted into a quality of play we Motor City fans haven’t seen in a long time. The team went on a 12-3 tear and had my personal favorite game since 2008 (see video below). During this run the team showed great potential for the future. That run gave myself and many others hope that Stan Van Gundy knew what he was doing and he would right the wrongs started by Joe Dumars.
Now with the free agency period almost out of surprises and big names, it comes to question where our beloved team is now. Are they better than the 2014-2015 Detroit team that mustered 32 wins? Or is their lack of marquee signings/trades in the off-season a sign of a step back in the upcoming season?
I would turn to the narrative that seems to pervade this team thus far: trust in SVG. The man has already turned this team around not only in attitude but also style of play. The Pistons shot more three pointers as a team last year than they have in the last 16 seasons. They averaged 24.9 3-point attempts per game; their highest mark since the 2001-2002 season with 22.6 attempts per game.
Players such as Brandon Jennings, Jodie Meeks, Anthony Tolliver, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Reggie Jackson helped this trend with skill-sets that made SVG’s 4 out-1 in offensive system work. Adding Stanley Johnson, Ersan Illyasova, Marcus Morris and letting Greg Monroe depart also help with this trend. During that fantastic run from December 26th to January 21st, the SVG system was in full force with the team shooting darts from three point land and gaining over 100 points a game ten times during that stretch.
My point is it would seem that despite any big names or surprising moves, Stan Van Gundy is cultivating this team into the image he had planned all along. The roster is taking the form of a team that is built around Andre Drummond in the post and surrounding him with dead-eye shooters and solid wing defenders to create a lethal offensive and defensive team. I am not alarmed that Detroit did not land any of the rumored players they were chasing: including Danny Green, Demarre Carroll and Tobias Harris as the main players. As long as this team is cultivated in a system that can be successful, then it doesn’t matter if Joe Shmo is our point guard. It has always been the Detroit way to win as a hard-nosed, complete team that worked well together both offensively and defensively.
In SVG we trust, hopefully all the way to the 2016 Eastern Conference Playoffs.