As the Motor City looks to end its NBA playoff drought, we look at some of the biggest surprises for the Pistons in the early part of the season.
5. Central Division Standings
Yes, Detroit is two games under .500. Yes, there is a long way to go in the season. And yes, the Pistons are chasing the NBA's hottest team, the Indiana Pacers. That being said, raise your hand if you thought Detroit would be above Chicago and in second place in the Central Division on Christmas Day.
The Pistons are currently 14-16 and 10 games behind the first-place Pacers. However, they are the only team this season to defeat the Pacers at home. They also have victories over the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls. They are 5-2 against the Central division and 13-6 against the Eastern Conference.
Bottom line, the Pistons have played well against the teams they are battling for a postseason spot. Second place on Christmas Day is something the Motor City can build on as we head towards the new year.
4. Offensive Production
Detroit has been an offensive powerhouse this season, averaging 100.8 points per game. The Pistons rank fourth in the Eastern Conference in points scored and first in the Central Division. With five players averaging over 13 points per game and solid production off the bench, it's not hard to understand why Detroit has been able to fill up the scoring column.
Brandon Jennings in 14 December games: 19.5 points, 8.1 assists, 39% from 3 and 3 games with 20+ points, 10+ assists.— Keith Langlois (@Keith_Langlois) December 24, 2013
3. Rodney Stuckey Has Been a Spark Off the Bench
Rodney Stuckey has been playing like a man determined to once again be a starter for the Pistons. Stuckey has elevated his level of play off the bench and has carried Detroit more than once this season. The six-year veteran is averaging a career-high in points per game with 14.9.
Stuckey has been a consistent spark off the bench and trails only Brandon Jennings (17.6) and Josh Smith (15.8) in scoring for the Pistons. Stuckey is making a strong push for Sixth Man of the Year and more importantly is keeping Detroit in games when the starters struggle to score.
2. Andre Drummond is Playing Like an All-Star
Drummond has been a monster down low for the Pistons this year. He is averaging career highs in points (13.2), rebounds (12.5), blocks (1.6) and even steals (1.5). Drummond is playing like a man determined to take the Pistons to the playoffs and make the All-Star team doing it. He is the Eastern Conference's leading rebounder and third in the conference in blocks.
Drummond has given the Pistons the kind of interior threat they haven't seen since Ben Wallace. The difference is, Wallace was no threat to score and Drummond is a major scoring threat in the paint. If Drummond continues to excel like he has through the first 30 games, Detroit will find themselves not only in the playoffs, but with an All-Star center as well.
1. No "D" in Detroit
#Pistons Defense the last two nights: "U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi, cuz you ugly!" 230 points vs Bobcats and Rockets. Gotta correct it— Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill) December 22, 2013
Detroit last won the NBA Championship in 2004; in 2005, they lost in Game 7 of the NBA Finals and in 2006, they reached the conference finals after a franchise-best 64-18 season. From 2003-2008, the Pistons reached the conference finals six consecutive times. What did all of those teams have in common? Defense.
Since the new millennium, Detroit has been built around their defense. Don't believe me? Ask Chauncey Billups; he is the only player on the roster who was a part of the most amazing run in franchise history.
The 2013 Pistons are giving up 101.7 points per game. In the Eastern Conference, only the Nets and 76ers are allowing more points. If Detroit hopes to be taken seriously as a playoff contender, the defensive effort has to improve.
It's about time to put the "D" back in Detroit.
All stats courtesy of NBA.com.