Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Every shot from the paint has to be contested. That used to be the definition of Pistons basketball...and it must be again.
Over the first six games, the Pistons defense was the league's third worst, allowing a tubesocks-worthy 104 PPG. Their opponents' shooting percentage is the league's fourth-best...or worst, if you're looking at it as a Pistons fan.
What's the problem exactly?
For starters, their perimeter and interior defense could make Swiss cheese look solid. Against Denver, as a random example, the Nuggets shot 56 percent in the first half, and 35 percent were in the paint, while 15 were from downtown. The Pistons have the league's worst point differential, while teams are putting up the third-most points per game and shooting the fourth-best percentage.
If we don't contest shots inside and out, every game will continue to be a no-contest.
Now, before you get too down, know this: I said before the season that the Pistons' schedule was brutal coming out of the gate. Many of the teams we've been playing against are some of the league's toughest to guard. So I believe at least a portion of the defensive struggling will end simply when we return home and the opposition gets easier. But the team certainly can't count on that.
Which is why it's comforting that Lawrence Frank ranks improving the defense as his No. 1 priority.
“Until we have a defensive mindset the road is going to be very hard for us to win,” Frank said. “We have to commit: Every single guy that steps on the floor has to defend. Defend. Rebound. No turnovers. Simple formula, hard to do, but we’ll get it. In order for us to win the game we have to put defense first. That’s it."
Let's hope that's, indeed, it—for letting the other guys set up a general supply store in the paint, and go Harlem Globetrotters on us from behind the arc. Geez.