- Bradford Doolittle
The Detroit Pistons entered the 2013-14 NBA season as a potential breakout team. With Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings, Chauncey Billups and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope joining Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, the talent ante in Detroit was upped considerably over the summer, and despite concerns about fit, our statistical models reacted accordingly.
The Pistons have played better than their 2-5 record. Detroit has faced one of the league's tougher schedules, with home games against Indiana and Oklahoma City plus road tests at Memphis, Portland and Golden State. The point differential suggests the Pistons should have won another game, and the road loss to the Grizzlies came in overtime. It's too early to get worked up about the Pistons' record, particularly given the degree of change in the roster and on the bench from last season. Give them time.
The intriguing thing about the Pistons' makeover was Joe Dumars' decision to add Smith to his young front line, ostensibly moving the longtime Hawks power forward to the quick forward position and creating a full-time big lineup. In doing so, Dumars was swimming upstream against NBA trends toward smaller lineups and offenses that emphasize spacing and floor balance while de-emphasizing offensive rebounding.
Bradford Doolittle writes how the Pistons have thrived offensively despite poor shooting statistics. For Detroit to be a true contender, he says, point guard Brandon Jennings must be more efficient.