The Detroit Pistons were a team that was down and out after the 2012-2013 season. The team that was expected to at least be a little bit better this past year continued to slump. But the bright light heading into this offseason was the money the Pistons had available. The only question was who the Pistons would go get. Well, after adding point guard Chauncey Billups, forward Josh Smith along with re-signing backup point guard Will Bynum and bringing in Italian sharpshooter Luigi Datome, plenty thought the Pistons were done trying to add to their team. But little did we know that another trade was about to go down to shake this team up just a little bit more. The Pistons agreed to a sign-and-trade with the Milwaukee Bucks that will bring point guard Brandon Jennings to Detroit for Brandon Knight, forward Khris Middleton and center Slava Kravtsov. Immediately, the Pistons made yet another addition that has some folks even more excited than when Josh Smith signed. But before the Pistons are crowned the darkhorse in the East, there are a couple things, or should I say players, that really concern me about this team.
Some view Jennings, who signed a three-year, $24 million-dollar deal in his trade to Detroit, as an upgrade from Brandon Knight and talent-wise, that is true. Jennings is definitely an explosive player and he can carry a team offensively at times with his scoring. But he is also shoots a lot to get those points. And while there are a few point guards that shoot the ball a lot in today’s NBA, they all shoot a better percentage than Jennings (career 39.4% shooter). Along with that, he isn’t exactly known as a distributor of the basketball. Heading to Detroit, he must find the balance of getting his points and making his teammates lives easier on the court. Hopefully under the tutelage of veteran Chauncey Billups and head coach Mo Cheeks they can finally get Brandon to understand the balance that’s needed to make this team better under his leadership at point guard. This is certainly going to be something to watch next season.
Another big player to watch is the aforementioned Josh Smith. The former Atlanta Hawks big man was looking for a big deal this offseason and ended up landing that big contract in Detroit. He, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond combine to make a really physically gifted frontcourt. But beyond the athletic gifts, how do these three fit on the basketball court together presuming all three start this year? Defensively, Smith will have to guard small forwards in the NBA. Some matchups will be better for him than others, but for the most part, he has been guarding power forwards all his career. Will he be able to make the adjustments to guarding small forwards more? It should be interesting to see how the first matchup with LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony goes head-to-head. Heck, in his own division it will be interesting to see if he can keep up with Luol Deng of the Bulls and Paul George of the Pacers. Offensively, Smith is more of a mid-range shooter. But with this team and the pieces at power forward and center, Smith has to shoot more to spread the floor. And after seeing Smith shoot three after three in Atlanta, it’s very scary to think about him potentially shooting three’s more. And it is a downright mortifying thought when you think about the 28% career clip that he shoots from three. How the Pistons use these three talented big men is definitely going to be something to watch.
With what the Pistons have, the best option would be to run because I can see their halfcourt offense being interestingly bad with the new pieces. Even with the new additions, the best that I can see this team doing is 7th or 8th in the East. And with that finish, that means an early exit again for the Pistons. For Joe Dumars’ sake, he better hope this works out. He has made blunder after blunder starting with the trade of Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson and the signing of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. Only time will tell if the signing of Smith and the trade for Jennings will resurrect the reputation he once had as one of the best front office guys in the NBA. If it doesn’t he may be getting his pink slip pretty soon.