Culture of Hoops

2013-14 NBA Season Preview: Detroit Pistons

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Most Important Player: Josh Smith
The centerpiece of the Detroit Pistons’ offseason haul, Smith’s role is not to be a savior and it’s not to be a shooter—it’s to ignite the Pistons with passion and energy. As a spark plug, Smith needs to be careful not to lose his cool or act immature. The Pistons will depend on him to join Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond in creating one of the strongest frontcourts in the NBA.

X-Factor: Mo Cheeks
With all the new roster changes made by the Pistons brass this offseason, they needed a new coach who could interact with temperamental players. Newcomers Brandon Jennings and Smith aren’t known for being team players or coach-friendly, so it will be interesting to see how Cheeks will attempt to change not only the players’ attitudes but the culture and attitude of the whole team.

Rotations: Detroit’s strength lies in the frontcourt. Players like Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond will give the Pistons a strong presence in the paint. While the fear is that the Pistons have no shooters, they really have no proven shooters. Rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and import Luigi Datome both have the ability to become dangerous sharpshooters in the NBA.

What Needs to Go Right: Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith need to play as part of the team. If the Pistons have plans of becoming a contender, Datome or Caldwell-Pope will also need to break out as expert marksmen. For both of these things to happen, Mo Cheeks will need to have complete control over his team and perform beyond the abilities he has shown to have with the Philadelphia 76ers.

It’s Really Bad If: Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith tune out Mo Cheeks. Their prior performances have shown that both players  prefer to have the ball in their hands, even at the cost of taking terrible shots from just inside the three-point line.

Bold Prediction: Both Jennings and Smith embrace Cheeks’ system and the Pistons earn the eighth seed in the East. If J-Smooth can play up to his potential without any hiccups or maturity issues, he and Monroe can form a premier frontcourt.


Chauncey Billups, PG
Strengths: Basketball IQ, veteran leadership.
Weaknesses: Father Time.
Season Prediction: While he won’t be playing many minutes, I expect Chauncey to play in dire situations.

Will Bynum, PG
Strengths: Provides instant offense, penetrates.
Weaknesses: Poor defense, not a great creator.
Season Prediction: Expect Bynum to come off the bench when the Pistons need an offensive injection.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF/SG
Strengths: Dangerous shooter.
Weaknesses: Settles for the jumper too often, inexperience.
Season Prediction: Caldwell-Pope has some room to expand his role because of the lack of shooters on the team. If he can solidify himself as the Pistons’ best shooter, he may end up starting.

Luigi Datome, SF
Strengths: Shooter, pro experience (Italian Lega Basket Serie A).
Weaknesses: Not heavy enough to log serious minutes.
Season Prediction: Datome is another player who will have the chance to prove himself thanks to the lack of shooters on the Pistons. Expect him to get plenty of time with J-Smooth and Brandon Jennings so he can work off screens.

Andre Drummond, C
Strengths: Size, defensive presence.
Weaknesses: Still raw offensively.
Season Prediction: Drummond will have another great year. As the 6’10” center gets more frontcourt experience, expect his offensive game to improve.

Josh Harrellson, PF/C
Strengths: Strength, decent range for his position.
Weaknesses: Can’t get his own shot, limited athleticism.
Season Prediction: Expect Harrellson to provide a positive surprise for the Pistons. A good team player, Harrellson will consistently get minutes with the reserve unit.

Brandon Jennings, PG
Strengths: Speed, defensive ability, creating.
Weaknesses: Too many difficult shots, lacks focus on defensive end sometimes.
Season Prediction: While he already has top talent, Jennings needs to be the point guard his team needs, not the one he wants himself to be. Expect him to play big minutes and touch the ball on almost every play.

Jonas Jerebko, PF/SF
Strengths: Energy, tenacious on defense.
Weaknesses: Lacks creativity on offense, not assertive enough.
Season Prediction: As always, Jonas will be an important force on defense, but don’t expect his individual offensive game to improve much.

Tony Mitchell, PF

Strengths: A threat from inside and outside.
Weaknesses: Questionable motor, inexperience.
Season Prediction: Tony Mitchell will have a lackluster season, unable to gain much game experience behind Drummond, Smith and Monroe.

Greg Monroe, PF
Strengths: Very polished offensively, strong passer.
Weaknesses: Poor defender.
Season Prediction: This will be Monroe’s breakout year as a top center in the NBA. Monroe has been improving consistently every year, and I expect this season’s big strides to come on the defensive end.

Kyle Singler, SF/SG
Strengths: Good size at his position, high basketball IQ.
Weaknesses: Limited athleticism.
Season Prediction: Expect Singler to work in a very limited role this season. Don’t expect him to be a lights-out shooter, but he will save a game or two for the Pistons with his shot.

Peyton Siva, PG
Strengths: Athleticism, deadly first step.
Weaknesses: Undersized, poor shooter off the dribble.
Season Prediction: Expect Siva to spend a lot of time at the end of the Pistons bench. While he can dribble and drive past defenders, he doesn’t shoot the ball consistently.

Josh Smith, SF/PF
Strengths: Great two-way player, a high-flyer.
Weaknesses: Shot selection, attitude.
Season Prediction: Josh Smith can provide exactly what the Pistons need at the wing—athleticism and talent. Expect him to play most of his minutes at power forward and expect the usual production from him.

Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG
Strengths: Good slasher, perimeter defense.
Weaknesses: No range, needs the ball to be effective.
Season Prediction: Expect Stuckey to be traded by the All-Star break. He’s a leftover from a previous rebuild attempt that obviously went wrong. Expect him to keep slashing and keep missing shots.

Charlie Villanueva, SF/PF
Strengths: Stretch 4.
Weaknesses: Tweener, not particularly strong at anything.
Season Prediction: Charlie Villanueva will need to prove himself this season if he wants a position in the rotation. He has proven himself as an asset to the Pistons in the past but he may not fit in this current rebuild. Only time will tell.

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