The Detroit Pistons made major improvements to their team over the summer, but it's their second unit that could help them be successful.
Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings were big free-agent acquisitions who will improve Detroit's offense. Andre Drummond showed tremendous potential late last season and averaged a double-double during this preseason.
What's going to happen when the starters are off the floor?
The Pistons have a promising player in Kyle Singler who should improve during his sophomore season. Will Bynum has given them quality minutes over the last couple of years and should continue to do so if he gets consistent minutes.
Detroit's bench has capable shooters, but they struggled to get many shots up, shooting under 1,500 threes in 2012-13, good for 24th in the league.
Can the Pistons' bench provide a spark?
Their backup forwards have the potential to be the strong point of the second unit. Unfortunately, it could also be their weakest point.
What happens when the Pistons sit two of their three starting bigs?
Jonas Jerebko figures to get the most time as the backup to Greg Monroe, but he likes to play at the perimeter whereas Monroe has more of a post-up or mid-range game.
The same goes for Charlie Villanueva.
This will change the way Detroit plays when its frontcourt starters are resting. Tony Mitchell showed flashes during the preseason, but he's unproven and could struggle if given a large amount of minutes.
Jerebko will have to step his game up.
If he wants to play outside, he'll have to improve last year's 30-percent figure from downtown.
He's effective when working inside and cutting to the basket, converting 52 percent of shots up to 10 feet from the basket, per basktetball-reference.com.
If he focuses on working inside and only takes threes when he has to, it will help the Pistons as their starting frontcourt meshes and works on its floor spacing.
Shooters Must Step Up
This is one area where Detroit's improved frontcourt will significantly help.
If any of its three bigs can command a double-team—they should be able to—it will open up the perimeter for the Pistons' shooters.
This is where Brandon Jennings has to be effective.
He shot 37 percent from three last season with the Milwaukee Bucks, and that was without a true offensive threat down low.
Charlie Villanueva, Kyle Singler, Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko attempted the most threes last year, with three players shooting under 35 percent. Jerebko was right on that mark.
These four, plus Chauncey Billups, should get better looks, so they'll be able to improve their perimeter shooting as a collective unit. Stuckey, though, should probably avoid spotting up behind the arc altogether.
Implementing an inside-outside style could help the Pistons become a very dangerous offensive team.
Kyle Singler Must Take the Next Step
Coming into his second season, Singler must become Detroit's best perimeter player next to Jennings. He has the potential to be the Pistons' best shooter, but he also has to improve on getting to the basket.
According to Synergy, 35 percent of Singler's plays last season were spot-up shots, but he only converted on 39 percent of those.
Singler has had success getting to the basket, though. According to basketball-reference.com, he made nearly 63 percent of his shots at the rim.
Now, some of those attempts come in transition with no defender, but it's still a very high number.
At 6'8", 230 pounds, the second-year swingman has a size advantage over a lot of guards and can match up with most small forwards. If he can put the ball on the floor on a more consistent basis, he'll take some pressure off that big frontcourt.
Ideally, Singler will shoot 40 percent from downtown and average between 12 and 14 points.
There's no denying the level of talent Detroit's starters have.
Smith will stuff the stat sheet on a nightly basis, and Drummond and Monroe could be one of the league's top big-man duos.
With Jennings running the point, the Pistons now have someone who can work in isolations and create for himself.
But four players can't do it all, and Detroit's bench players have a lot of potential if they can alter their games and knock down shots.
Stuckey needs to start attacking the rim more instead of playing around the perimeter, and first-round pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could be a wild card if he can grasp the game quickly and gets consistent minutes.
Detroit is poised to make the playoffs and could be as high as a No. 6 seed.
It begins with the starters, but the second unit will give the Pistons the boost they need.