For the first time since the (as it turned out) wretched trade that sent Chauncey Billups to Denver for Allen Iverson early in the 2008-09 season, the Detroit Pistons are a relevant team again in the NBA.

Yes, I know they play in the Eastern Conference, which is the worst that I have ever seen it.  But this team actually has enough pieces to win a playoff series come the spring.

Here are the positives as I see them:

Andre Drummond is a BEAST!!!!!!!  This guy should be a college junior right now, but he's simply getting better and better with every game.  His presence in the lane is what this team has sorely needed defensively.  If he becomes a better free throw shooter and develops a consistent low-post game, he'll be in the All-Star Game for the next 10-15 years.

Greg Monroe is a solid 16 points, 12 rebounds a night guy.  He was originally supposed to be in the role that Drummond has now.  But it hasn't happened for him.  Still a very good player.  He can be a restricted free agent after the season.  The concern is that some team will overpay for him and either make the Pistons match that offer, or just let him go.

Rodney Stuckey's role with this team is perfect.  The sixth man.  He has done a terrific job off the bench providing offense.  Plus, he's motivated this year.  He's an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Who would have ever thought that Josh Harrelson would become a valuable member of this team?  He is the third "big" for this squad and has done a nice job off the bench.  He's provided defense, rebounding, and garbage points off of tip-ins, and nice dump-off passes from the guards off penetration.  Plus, he's cheap!!!  Makes less than $1 million this year with an option for next year.

Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings are starting to get comfortable in their roles.  Which is to be aggressive on both ends...which leads me to the negatives.


Shot Selection:  At times, it is horrible.  And Smith and Jennings are the main culprits.  I love that they're aggressive offensively, but a lot of times they are too much.  I would get the ball inside to Drummond and Monroe a bit more.

The defense and the general effort can go away as witnessed by giving up 42 in the first quarter to Boston recently.  And the complete tank job that they had losing at home to Minnesota.  Consistent effort is needed if they want to get to the playoffs.

The Pistons have enough talent to make the second round of the playoffs (they won't get past either Indiana or Miami this year).  They just need to be more disciplined offensively, and a more consistent effort defensively.  That's where head coach Maurice Cheeks comes into play.  Wins over Miami and Indiana on the road are encouraging.  But some bad losses at home, including the one I mentioned to Minnesota, are maddening.  Nontheless, it'll be a fun winter, and maybe spring, at the Palace of Auburn Hills this season.