As many of you may know by now, the Detroit Pistons will be playing playoff basketball for the first time since 2016 and the second time in the last ten years. First off, suck it to the tank crowd. I hate the idea of tanking because losing sucks and I am not sold on tanking even working. An organization like the Pistons needs to take baby steps to build a winning culture. The first step is effort. Blake has embedded that with his consistent hustle despite being the best player on the team. He continually was diving for lose balls and sacrificing his body. The next step was to get into the playoffs. Its all about the little things. Secondly, the tank crowd can suck it once more.
Western Conference Preview:
Golden State (1) vs LA Clippers (8)
- I feel bad for the Clippers because they have had a great season while retooling for the future only to be promptly curb stomped by the Warriors in the first round. Should be business as usual for Steph Curry and the crew.
- GS Wins 4-0
Denver (2) vs San Antonio (7)
- A very interesting series simply because of the experience differential between the two franchises. Denver has been amazing all year but the Spurs are the Spurs and will inherently be pesky. Denver will win but it wont be easy.
- Denver Wins 4-2
Portland (3) vs Oklahoma City (6)
- Probably the series in the West that is on the highest “upset” alert. OKC has been pretty bad down the stretch but that doesn’t mean Russ, PG, and Adams aren’t going to be playing. They can turn it around at any time. I guess I just don’t trust Portland yet until they actually do something.
- OKC Wins 4-2
Houston (4) vs Jazz (5)
- I’m being completely honest here, I probably couldn’t name three players on the Jazz. For that reason, I will pick Houston. Gobert will give Harden a tough time at the rack but Harden will just end up shooting 50 free throws a game.
- Houston Wins 4-1
Eastern Conference Preview:
Milwaukee (1) vs Detroit (8)
- As pumped as I am for the Pistons and want to blindly believe they will pull off the rare 8-1 upset, the Bucks have arguably the best player in the league. Add on the fact that Griffin basically has one leg right now and there isn’t much light at the end of this tunnel. I do think the Pistons take the next step in their culture change and win a game.
- Milwaukee Wins 4-1
Toronto (2) vs Orlando (7)
- Orlando played surprisingly well this year behind Gordon and Fournier. Former Piston DJ Augustine had been absolutely cooking lately. But, much like the Bucks and Pistons, the Raptors have the best player on the floor in Kawhi Leonard. Also, Toronto provides a huge home court advantage.
- Toronto Wins 4-0
Philadelphia (3) vs Brooklyn (6)
- Philly is clearly more talented but I feel like Brooklyn is going to be a tough out. This will be the only first round series to go seven games but the higher seed will persevere. Butler, Simmons, and Embiid are just too much for the Nets.
- Philly Wins 4-3
Boston (4) vs Indiana (5)
- This will probably be the most fun series in the first round. A lot of close games and maybe a little controversy. Marcus Smart is out for the Celtics and that is a much bigger blow than people realize. The plucky Pacers are about as tough as they come for 5-seeds.
- Indy Wins 4-2
I have a question for the teams in the East that are vying for a playoff spot. Would you rather get kicked in the nuts by a bull or play the Pistons? I don’t want to say the Pistons are the best team in the East right now, buttttttttttttt only two teams have longer win streaks than them (4 in a row). The Griffin and Drummond combo is clicking ever since Andre came out of concussion protocol. Thon Maker may be a god in human form (possibly a premature exclamation). Wayne Ellington is certainly a basketball player. Reggie Jackson doesn’t stink anymore. Luke Kennard is officially NOT a bust. I could go on and on about how the Pistons should strike fear into every living basketball franchise on the planet, but if I waxed any more poetic, the rest of the East may just fold and give the Conference Crown to Detroit right now. What sort of fun would that be?
In all honesty, the Pistons making a run at the playoffs is the right move over tanking. Outside of Zion, I am not sure if there is a player more likely to change a franchise than to bust. The Pistons are so far out of the number one pick (and have too much talent to be the worst team) that tanking for the number 9 pick is so much worse than trying for a playoff spot. The Knicks have lost 17 in a row! There is no way Detroit could suck that bad. As for the draft? You just have to hope the new Pistons front office can find value in wherever they are picking. They havent had a chance yet to draft int he first round so you cant trust or distrust them, but their second round picks (Brown and Thomas) have proved worthy picks, especially Bruce Brown.
If the Pistons make playoffs, I don’t expect them to win a playoff series but I would be pretty disappointed if they didnt win a game. Especially considering that a LeBron led team is out of the question for a first round match-up. Obviously, these expectations are hinged on the fact that they make the playoffs. If the Pistons dont make the playoffs this will be the most disappoint season in a while. So, lets not think about that until later in the season, ok?
In a move that shocked very few, the Detroit Pistons announced today that Dwane Casey was hired to coach the salary cap mess of Blake, Andre, and Reggie. Once John Beilein dropped out, it seemed like the no-brainer move for Tom Gores to make. Personally, I like this move by the Pistons owner. Not because its a splashy hire or a win now move, but it was the smart move. In an ownership era where smart moves have been few and far between, its nice to see a move that wont set the franchise back. It will be interesting to see what Casey can do with the current Pistons roster. Obviously the Pistons dont have the guard play the the Raptors do but when a coach wins 60+ games, he has to be decent. I think the biggest improvement we will see this year is on the defensive end. At the end of the regular season, the Pistons were a middle of the pack team defensively and the Raptors were the number 1 defensive team in the East and I dont think its that hot of a take to say that the Pistons have better defensive pieces than the Raptors. Offensively, I have no clue what to expect. It could be awesome if Reggie stays healthy and Casey finds a way to work Griffin and Drummond together, but if he cant it wont be pretty. Again. I’m not going to get my expectations up until after the summer/free agency/draft/hiring of a GM. After that, I’m sure I can convince myself of an ECF appearance but we will wait till September for that.
SHORT SYNOPSIS: Thank god the Pistons hired, at the very least, good coach. It was clear the team had tuned out SVG so a new voice will be refreshing.
By now, everyone knows that Blake Griffen has changed his number from 32 to 23 as to not infringe upon the legacy of Richard “Rip” Hamilton. Love this move from Blake. He could have said that he wanted to keep the same number as he has had his whole NBA career, but he came in and knew the importance of that number to both the fans and the franchise.
To honor the newest 23 to the franchise, here are the definitive rankings of top Pistons to wear #23
3. Mark Aguirre
Mark wore the #23 for most of his time in Detroit. Acquired in a trade from Dallas in order to help push the Pistons to a championship in the 1989 season. Obviously, it worked. He went on to help the Bad Boys win another one in the 1990 season and it is tough to see Detroit winning either of those championships with out him. In his NBA career he was a 3 time NBA all-star and he averaged 20 ppg, 5 rpg, and 3.1 apg.
2. Blake Griffin
He has yet to play a game with the Pistons but just his potential ability to turn around a franchise in despair launches him to the second spot on this list. He is a 5 time NBA all-star and is looking to add on more. Up to this point, Blake has averaged 21, 5, and 3 in his career. While he isn’t the high flyer he used to be in Lob City, he has certainly expanded the game and will make the Pistons watchable for at least the next 4 years.
1.Ersan Ilyasova (Arsen Ilyasov?????)
The greatest Piston to ever wear #23 and I feel many pundits could argue that he is the greatest player in basketball history to wear the ole two-three. During his short, but memorable stint in Detroit he had entertained the masses similar to the likes of Chauncey or Isaiah. The only word that really comes to mind is “magical”. I could give you the numbers of his time here in the D, but he is the type of player that NERDS cant comprehend. Only a true basketball galaxy brain, like myself, can understand what exactly happened during those magical nine months in Southeast Michigan.
BONUS CONSPIRICY THEORY
Big deal for Stan Van today! Just to catch everyone up, the Clippers traded Blake Griffin, Willie Reed, and Brice Johnson for Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Boban NotGonnaAttemptHisLastName, 2018 First Round Pick and 2019 Second Round Pick.
At first look, this is a lot to give up for essentially Blake Griffin. The health issues of Griffin are certainly a concern and Johnson/Reed probably wont contribute much so essentially trading for one player leaves another sour taste in my mouth. The Pistons gave up quite a bit too. Shipping out two starters (Bradley and Harris) and a fan favorite is always tough, couple that with the draft picks and this deal doesn’t look great for the Pistons. Looking at the contract Tobias was on and his break out year and there will be more than a few collars pulled in cautious disbelief in Detroit.
BUT, I like this deal. Ill let you watch this video while you clean up the coffee you spit out.
Now let me tell you why:
- What they had wasn’t working
- The Pistons are in the middle of an eight game losing streak and have looked atrocious since Reggie Jackson went down with an injury. The Pistons have not had a playmaker in the lineup since then. I mean, yeah Andre is good and all, but if we absolutely need a bucket I’m not so sure he is the guy. Griffin is a bona fide all-star and known bucket-getter.
- It really wasn’t much
- Bradley was 100% not coming back to the Pistons and Boban didn’t contribute at all. Bradley is an elite level defender who will be courted heavily in the offseason when he becomes a restricted free agent. If the Pistons are going to pay a lot of money to a player, I’d rather it be Griffin than Bradley. As for Boban, I legit think he is too big to play long minutes. Like, his body literally cant hold up for long stretches of time. So essentially, the Pistons gave up Tobias, a first, and a second for Blake Griffin.
- Doesn’t hurt the depth of the team
- The Pistons were loaded at SG so losing Avery doesn’t hurt; in fact it may help. This season is already lost so now having an opening at SG will allow Kennard to get more minutes and move Langston Galloway into the main back up role. If Kennard can develop, him and Bullock will be a couple of interesting young players to have on the wings.
- Griffin is trapped in Paradise
- Griffin just signed a 5-year extension with the Clippers this offseason, so there is no threat of him just leaving in free agency any time soon. This gives the Pistons two all-stars to build around for the foreseeable future.