2017-18 Record: 39-43, 9th in the Eastern Conference
The Pistons were one of the quieter teams in the off-season this year as they made their big franchise changing move during last season by acquiring Blake Griffin from the Clippers. Griffin will get his first full pre-season with the Pistons this year and will look to lead the Pistons back into the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
Not only will they get their first full season out of Blake Griffin, their starting point guard Reggie Jackson, who missed a bunch of games through injuries should be right to go by the season opener giving the Pistons one of the most improved line-ups in the Eastern Conference.
With the departure of DeMarcus Cousins from New Orleans, the Pistons climb one step higher in the big man duo rankings with Griffin and defensive and rebounding juggernaut Andre Drummond. The blend of offence and defence at both the big man positions and the guard positions with Jackson and Bradley should give the Pistons a well-rounded team that is capable of competing on a nightly basis in the East.
The Pistons are a little thin at the shooting guard and small forward positions though. Reggie Bullock could take up the starting SF position but doesn’t really have much experience behind him. Look for Blake to possibly play some minutes at the three this season while the likes of Luke Kennard, Stanley Johnson and Glen Robinson III should all share time on the wings.
Offseason Arrivals: Jose Calderon, Zaza Pachulia, Glenn Robinson (free agents), Khyri Thomas, Bruce Brown (draft)
Offseason Departures: Dwight Buycks, Eric Moreland (waived), Anthony Tolliver (Timberwolves), James Ennis III (Rockets)
What to Expect?
There’s no way the Pistons don’t improve this year in our opinion barring a massive Blake Griffin injury of course, which unfortunately is always on the table. A full pre-season into the legs of Griffin and a rejuvenised Reggie Jackson give the Pistons real tools on offence and with an anchor like Drummond on defence they should be competitive night to night.
Drummond is extremely durable for a big man and extremely reliable. Over the last six seasons he has played 81, 82, 81, 81 and 78 games and should be almost a lock for one of the forward spots in the Eastern Conference all star team this season.
The Pistons also will have a new coach at the helm in the form of the reigning coach of the year, Dwane Casey. The Stan van Gundy era was too centralised on a game style similar to the one that he imployed in Orlando with Dwight Howard, which just didn’t work in this age of basketball. We think Casey adds more structure to the team and is a master of racking up wins throughout a tough regular season (the playoffs are a different story).
Key Player: Blake Griffin
The biggest question mark heading into the 2018-19 season for the Pistons is ‘can they stay healthy?’. Injuries have plagued their star players over the last few seasons with Blake and Reggie Jackson missing a bunch of games. Reggie Jackson adds lethal pick and roll potential with Andre Drummond which is super important but Blake is the big one in our opinion.
Griffin has the ability to go get a basket when his team needs it the most, having added a reliable outside shot over the last few years. He’ll be relied upon to be the lynchpin in the Pistons offence this season while Drummond holds down the defensive responsibilities.
Last season was the first season since 2012-13 that Blake failed to average over 20 points per game but with a new Dwane Casey system that promotes giving the ball to your best player at the high post (see DeMar DeRozan), we think Blake will be back up around 25ppg this season.
Vegas 2018-19 Win Total
The Pistons line opened up at 37.5 which we think is really low. The bookies are obviously banking on a few injuries here, which is smart of them given Blake/Jackson’s history. However, we aren’t banking our predictions on injuries, and even if one of the two is missing, you still have an defensive player of the year candidate at centre in Drummond who has missed single figure games over the last six years in a row.
With Dwane Casey at the helm who has led the Raptors to at least 48 wins the last five seasons in a row, we think the Pistons clear this line comfortably.