A Look At The Detroit Pistons At The Turn
Friday night's game (January 14th) against the Toronto Raptors at Little Caesars Arena will mark the exact halfway point of the regular season (game 41 of 82) for the Detroit Pistons.
The Pistons are 9-31 after 40 games. That's second-worst in the NBA, only the Orlando Magic at 7-35 are worse.
Two of Detroit's wins are against the Magic (both wins at home). They also have a win over the playoff-bound Miami Heat. And incredibly, they have a road win at the NBA World Champion Milwaukee Bucks (who they beat on January 3rd, 115-106). That has to be the most surprising win of the season in all of the NBA.
There are several reasons why the Pistons continue to be bad this season. But there are some positives to this season.
Here's a few that I thought of:
The number one overall pick (pictured above) has been very good, nearly as good as advertised. He's averaging 15.4 points per game despite missing ten games due to injuries and then a bout with COVID-19. He's also averaging 5.4 assists per game. So he is willing to pass the ball, that can only be good in the long run.
LACK OF EFFORT ISN'T A PROBLEM
In the games I have seen (and I've seen portions of most of the games this season), they have played hard most of the time. Head Coach Dwane Casey doesn't have to coach effort. If he does, then the problems are even worse with this team.
BLAKE GRIFFIN'S MONEY RUNS OUT
This is big. This season marks the last year of the buyout money being paid to former player Blake Griffin. According to hoopshype.com, Griffin is being paid just shy of $30 million by the Pistons. But no more after this coming July 1st. This gives Detroit some much-needed salary cap relief for this coming off-season.
Now the negatives:
4TH QUARTER WOES
The Pistons are the worst fourth quarter team I have ever seen at the NBA level. They have blown countless fourth quarter leads in the Dwane Casey era. It has hindered this team's development. The Oklahoma City loss at home on December 6th, where they blew a 22-point lead and lost 114-103, is the one that sticks out the most.
Even though they play hard, they give up over 111 points per game as opposed to scoring just over 101 per game. That point differential must improve if they want to be taken seriously.
INJURIES AND COVID-19
They were without numerous players due to COVID-19 in December and early January. Eight players were signed to 10-day contracts (all from the team's G-League affiliate Motor City Cruise) because of all the players that were out. All of the COVID-9 guys are finally back.
As for injuries? Jerami Grant, their best offensive player, is out due to torn ligaments in his thumb. Last year's free agent acquisition, Kelly Olynyk, is out due to a knee injury. And second-round pick Isaiah Livers has been out most of the season with a foot injury (the same one that bothered him last year as a senior at Michigan).
Some of the young players show promise. But they have yet to put it together for a long period of time. Until they do, they won't even sniff the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
But like I always ask, these are the Detroit Pistons. Do you even care?