6 Weaknesses Detroit Pistons Must Address for Next Year
Detroit is a city that loves its sports. "April in the D," is a time when the Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons are all in the midst of their seasons, and is one of the most exciting months for an avid Detroit sports fan.
But as of the past few years, the Pistons have suffered, and look almost nothing like the championship team we had in 2004. With only Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace remaining from the starting five that led Detroit to back to back Finals appearances, more die-hard Detroit fans are turning to the Lions for their successful record.
If that last sentence isn't a strong enough warning that the Pistons need to take this offseason to build on the past few years, I am not sure what is.
Here are a few key points the Pistons should truly focus on to become the team it once was.
A Suitable Counterpart for Greg Monroe
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Greg Monroe's draft two years ago has proven to be one of the most successful for Detroit in the last five years, aside from Brandon Knight last year.
But Monroe can't do it alone in the paint. Even with averaging 9.7 rebounds a game, NBA teams are building around big guys down low who can snag rebounds as soon as they bounce off the rim.
In the past, Charlie Villanueva and Ben Wallace have been those type of players, but they were out-performed throughout the season. Villanueva only averaged 3.7 rebounds a game, and Wallace was not too far ahead with 4.3 per game.
With the lottery starting at 8 pm Wednesday, the Pistons have a 1.7 percent chance in securing the top draft pick. If Detroit is blessed and receives the first pick overall, Anthony Davis would be snagged without a doubt.
But with an 81.3 percent chance for ninth overall, Tyler Zeller from UNC would compliment Monroe down low as a wide body, snagging more rebounds for the team, and allowing Monroe to play power forward more often, giving him more chances to score.
Shooting in General
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Basketball's goal is simple: score more points than the other team. Sadly, it seems like Detroit forgot that key part of the game last season, and definitely need a reminder this offseason.
Detroit's shooting percentage was much lower than hoped for this year—43.8 percent field goals made and 34.6 percent from beyond the arc. These percentages added up to an average of 90.9 points a game.
In comparison to the top scoring team this season—the Denver Nuggets, who averaged 104.1 points per game—the Pistons seemed to be shooting with one hand behind their collective back.
The key to better point per game average is better field goal percentage, which is a direct result of taking better shots.
Not forcing a bomb 35 feet away, but instead working it inside, and letting the big men down low do their jobs and post up is the simplest way to increase scoring. And even if they don't make it, those down low shots have a better chance of drawing fouls anyway.
Playing Smarter Basketball
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I'd like to add an addition to the last slide where I stated that the goal of basketball was to outscore your opponents. This is more of a side goal, but completing this makes the primary goal much easier. This side goal is to reduce your opponents' scoring to a minimum.
By basic logic, the Pistons can stop their opponent from scoring as much as they have, (opponents average almost 96 points against Detroit) then the Pistons' offense has an easier job of needing to score less points for a win.
This topic can lead back to my first point, of having another player to help Greg Monroe down low, but applies to all members of the team whose missteps can easily result in their opponents scoring. Opponents average almost nine steals a game, and these can be easily converted to points.
Turnovers are another plague for basketball teams, and not only give the opponent a chance to score, but eliminate any opportunity for putting points on the board for your team. Simply reducing both numbers each game gives your team more chances to score, and a better opportunity to win.
Revamp the Lineup
First-round pick Brandon Knight helped lead the Pistons
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Every year, more and more young players enter the NBA out of college, looking to become the next Jordan or Kareem and change the game of basketball forever.
While this may not happen for a majority of these young players, they do posses more athletic skills and are faster than some of the older players in the league right now. Drafting the young players helps create the dynasty teams like the Lakers and Celtics, who have dominated the NBA over the past decade.
But for these younger players to learn the NBA pace and adapt to the league, veterans on the team must step down and allow these rookies to learn the ropes.
These basketball stars who have run teams for the past few years do not have to step down completely; more share the spotlight with the younger players and help them develop into leaders of the future. Players like Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace have years of knowledge to pass down to younger players who have aspired to be like them their whole lives.
As the Pistons continue to draft younger players, it is up to these stars of the present to shape the legends of the future.
Defense Is the Best Offense, Right?
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One of Detroit's biggest holes to fill stands on defense. Statistics from the Detroit Pistons' official statistics page show that Detroit was simply outperformed when it comes to rebounds—offensively and defensively—and blocks.
Ben Wallace led the Pistons with blocks, averaging 0.8 per game. This statistic pales in comparison to the NBA leader Serge Ibaka, who averaged 3.65 blocks per game.
In the rebounding category, the Pistons actually had more offensive rebounds per game than opponents, but brought their overall average down by being beaten on the defensive glass. Stopping these offensive boards is key as they can only lead to more chances for the opponent to score points.
Being more aggressive on these boards helps reduce second chance opportunities, and ultimately reduces points scored by opponents.
Leave the Past in the Past
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This may be one of the biggest keys the Pistons have to learn from. The last season the Pistons finished above .500 was back in 2007-2008.
Since then, the Pistons haven't had over 40 wins a year, with this year being the lowest at 25 wins. Granted, this season was shortened, but if the win percentage from this year is used on a standard 82-game season, the Pistons still only finish with 31 in the win column.
The best plan for the Pistons is to learn and grow from these past years and use them as a stepping stone for what is to come. With the lottery draft Wednesday, the Pistons look to continue their trek toward repeating the success this team had in 2004.
Earlier this year, Pistons owner Tom Gores expressed his aspiration to reach the playoffs in 2013. I believe that is a reachable goal as long as the team can work together, use this offseason to their advantage and prepare as much as they can for the beginning of the season come next fall.
If all of these keys come together before next season, the city of Detroit can look forward to seeing a new Pistons team—one that is focused on making the teams owner's aspiration a reality.