Basketball

Piston Power: Detroit Pistons are NBA’s early surprise team

Piston Power: Detroit Pistons are NBA’s early surprise team

Through the early going of the NBA season, the Detroit Pistons are a surprising 5-1, with impressive victories over the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, and Portland Trailblazers. It’s too early to tell if they are legitimate as the sample size is rather small, but in an Eastern Conference that is top-heavy, the Pistons could force themselves into the playoff conversation.  Here’s a look at the reasons behind their early season success:

Andre Drummond

Is having a positively monster start to the year. Through six games, he’s averaging over 20 points and 20 rebounds, which puts him in historic company. He has also vastly improved as a defender, protecting the rim and staying in front of driving guards. It’s early, but at the moment, Drummond is arguably the best big man in basketball — better than MVP candidates Blake Griffin and Anthony Davis, or this off-season’s biggest free agent, LaMarcus Aldridge.

Spacing

It looks like losing center Greg Monroe to the Milwaukee Bucks in free agency had a silver lining. Off-season pickups Ersan Ilyasova and Marcus Morris have allowed Drummond to flourish by with steady if not spectacular shooting to start the season, without a defensive drop off. They’re actual power forwards, as opposed to centers masquerading as power forwards, which was often the case with Drummond and Monroe playing together last year.

Improved Guard Play:

Reggie Jackson is finally a starter, and it suits him. He dropped 40 points in the Pistons’ game against the Trailblazers, and has scored 20 or more points in his last four games. Third year guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has made great strides, scoring in double figures in five of six games to start the season. If the back court tandem can provide that kind of scoring night-in and night-out, the Pistons will be a force in the relatively weak Eastern Conference.

 

This new found success will be put to the test in the coming upcoming days as they depart on a west coast road trip with games at the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers, before returning for a home tilt with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The next week should go a long way to revealing if the Pistons are contenders this season or if their fast start was merely fool’s gold.


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