Final First-Half Player Power Rankings for Detroit Pistons
While the team is struggling to stay in the playoff race, the results have been mixed when you look at the roster on a player-to-player basis. Some players have even played some of their best basketball of the season as of late.
Taking a look at each player individually allows for another installment of Player Power Rankings—the final edition for the first half of this season. Players are ranked against each other based on their performance for the season thus far, with emphasis placed on recent games.
*All statistics compiled from NBA.com and updated as of Jan. 11 unless otherwise noted.
15. Peyton Siva
Rookie point guard Peyton Siva was sent to the D-League in December, and for good reason. The former Louisville Cardinal has played 76 minutes in 13 games for the Pistons and has managed to score just four total points. He's also committed 13 turnovers against just eight assists, giving the ball away more than once every six minutes.
In his D-League debut, Siva had 24 points, five rebounds and three assists for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Continued play like that is key to give him experience for when he returns to the Pistons.
14. Tony Mitchell
Like Siva, 2013 second-round pick Tony Mitchell was also sent to play for the Mad Ants. After playing just 37 minutes so far this season, the move will give him the chance to earn valuable playing time, rather than the chance to keep the end of the bench warm in Detroit.
It's hard to judge either player in such a limited amount of playing time, but Mitchell gets the edge because, despite playing in just 37 minutes, he has scored 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds with just two turnovers.
13. Luigi Datome
Italian sharpshooter Luigi Datome has simply been unable to find his range since coming to the United States. This season he's shooting just 19.4 percent from three, including just 2-of-13 in December.
He showed a brief flash of improvement, scoring nine points in 13 minutes against the Houston Rockets on Dec. 21 and 13 points in 17 minutes two nights later against the Cleveland Cavaliers. But in five appearances since, he's shot just 3-of-12. He'll have to improve his consistency to earn regular playing time.
12. Charlie Villanueva
Power forward Charlie Villanueva has never been more than a mediocre defensive player, so when he's not scoring there is no reason for him to be on the court.
Such is the case with his recent play. In his last four appearances he is shooting a combined 5-of-20 from the field, including 0-of-9 from the arc. He's shooting just 38.5 percent from the field and 23.3 percent from three on the season, offering little argument that he should not be relegated to the Pistons' bench.
11. Jonas Jerebko
One bench player who seems to be in line for an expanded role is forward Jonas Jerebko. The eight minutes per game he's averaging is by far the lowest of his career, but he's currently shooting career-highs in field goal and three-point percentage, at 51.7 and 45 percent, respectively.
The Pistons are in need of consistent shooters to stretch the floor, and Datome and Villanueva have just not made their shots this season. Coach Maurice Cheeks could be well-served to increase Jerebko's workload going forward.
10. Chauncey Billups
If any of the first five players in the power rankings were earning more consistent playing time, point guard Chauncey Billups would be ranked even lower than No. 10.
At 37 years old, nobody knew going into the season what Billups would have left in the tank. Unfortunately for the Pistons, it's been less than seemingly anyone could have imagined. He's already missed 19 games, and when he has played he's averaging 3.9 points and 2.2 assists in 16.7 minutes. He's shot just 30.7 percent from the field, and has a brutally low PER of 5.98 (the league average is 15.0).
What's made the downfall even more surprising was Billups' performance in the season opener against the Washington Wizards, in which he had 16 points and five assists in 31 minutes. In his 17 games since, he's failed to score more than seven points in a game.
Billups has seen his playing time decrease in each month this season, and he's played double-digit minutes just once in his last five appearances. Would Cheeks be willing to take Billups completely out of the rotation?
9. Josh Harrellson
Third-year big man Josh Harrellson had seemingly worked his way into Cheeks' rotation before seeing his minutes cut drastically just before the new year.
From Dec. 7 to Dec. 28, Harrellson played double-digit minutes in 10 of 13 games, including 24 minutes against the Orlando Magic and 23 minutes against the Washington Wizards in the final two games in back-to-back nights. His numbers weren't mind-blowing, but he did score at least seven points four times and shot 38.9 percent from three in December.
But over the last five games he has barely been able to set foot on the court, playing a combined 14 minutes. It remains to be seen if that is an indicator of how Harrellson will be used going forward, or if he will return to the rotation.
8. Will Bynum
After missing the first nine games of December with a hamstring injury, Will Bynum played some of the best basketball of his career the second half of the month.
Over seven games (he didn't play against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 23) he averaged nearly eight points per game, shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from the arc. Bynum has shot 44.4 percent from the field and 27.6 percent from three in his career.
So far in January he's averaging more points with an increased workload, but his shooting percentages have come back to earth. His efficiency has gone down as his role increased, but there's no doubt that he's one of the top eight players on the roster.
7. Kyle Singler
Another player who has been having one of the best stretches of his career is Kyle Singler.
The second-year small forward—a 44.1 percent shooter for his career—shot 53.5 percent for the month and 46.7 percent from the arc. Those numbers would be great on any team, but they are especially huge for the Pistons, who rank last in team three-point percentage at 31.5 percent, per NBA.com.
Like with Bynum, Singler's shooting numbers are down a bit in an expanded role in January, but he has averaged nearly 10 points per game. With his improvement in outside shooting, Singler has proven to be one of their best bench performers this year.
6. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Pistons rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had struggled offensively over most of the first two months of the season, but he has suddenly hit his stride over the past two weeks.
Since Dec. 30, KCP has averaged 11.6 points—more than four points above his season average. In those games he has shot 56.8 percent from the field (25-of-44) and made half of his 16 threes. He's also had less than one turnover per contest.
Only time will tell if KCP has really improved on the offensive end or if these games were just a fluke, but the Pistons could really use sustained output from their starting 2-guard, and he's one of the few players on the roster capable of improving their outside shooting numbers.
5. Rodney Stuckey
In November, Rodney Stuckey looked like a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year Award consideration, but injuries and a shooting slump have taken away any chance he had of being in the running.
Through the season's first month the combo guard averaged nearly 17 points on 49.5 percent shooting from the field and 37.5 percent shooting from the arc, percentages which would best his career-highs for a season.
But since then he's missed a total of seven games, he's averaging roughly 10 points per game and he has shot below 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from three.
Stuckey's offensive output in November was a big source of scoring for the Pistons in the early part of the season, and without it they've had some trouble scoring points. They need him to provide a spark off the bench as the team tries to move back up the standings.
4. Josh Smith
Since joining the Pistons in the offseason for a contract to the tune of four years and $54 million, Josh Smith has failed to live up to expectations.
In moving to small forward the majority of the time he's on the court, Smith has struggled to adjust. He's averaging his lowest points total since 2005-06, he's shooting a career-low from the field and he's taking more threes than ever before in his career—and failing to make a quarter of them.
All those poor numbers have resulted in sub-15 PER and a lot of questions about his fit alongside Detroit's younger big men.
Even in January, where Smith's scoring average is above 17, he's still shooting below 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from the arc. Until he can find a way to fix his shooting woes, his move to small forward will continue to look like a failure.
3. Brandon Jennings
Point guard Brandon Jennings has been the Pistons' best perimeter player since the beginning of December, but a recent run of mediocre performances has kept him from taking the No. 2 spot.
Jennings played arguably the best basketball of his career the second month of the season, averaging 18.9 points, 8.4 assists and two steals in December. He talked to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe about what has changed in his game.
“One thing Mo [Cheeks] put in my head also is it’s not about who has the better numbers, it’s about who’s running their team at the point guard position," said Jennings. "He told me as an NBA point guard, you’re measured by the way you run your team and by wins, and that’s my main thing."
Despite a start to January in which he's averaging just 12.5 points on 25.5 percent shooting and seven-straight games shooting below 50 percent, this season has been mostly a success for Jennings. But as the point guard, a lot will fall onto his shoulders as far as getting the Pistons back on track.
2. Greg Monroe
Greg Monroe had some early-season struggles adjusting to playing power forward full time, but over the past two weeks he has been great down low for the Pistons.
Over the last six games, the fourth-year big man has averaged 16.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, including a monster 22-point, 10-board performance against the Wizards.
Moving forward, the Pistons need more games like that out of Monroe. As long as they're going to play three big men at a time, they need to continuously pound the ball inside, where Monroe should out-muscle nearly all opposing power forwards. With him having a size advantage against his opponent nearly every night, the Pistons can't afford games where Monroe doesn't look to attack the basket.
Over the next month or so, the Pistons front office will undoubtedly be weighing their options on trades involving Smith or Monroe if the team continues to struggle. If Monroe is to be included in trade talks, he's putting on a pretty good audition right now for the rest of the league.
1. Andre Drummond
The Pistons' MVP over the first half of the season is second-year center Andre Drummond, and it's not really that close.
The 20-year-old big man is averaging 12.7 points, and is leading the team in rebounds (12.6) and blocks (1.7). He's shooting nearly 60 percent from the field and has the fourth-highest PER among centers at 21.43, per ESPN Insider (subscription required).
Drummond's play has not only been excellent, but it has been very consistent all season long. He's reached double-digit rebounds in 29 of 37 games and scored in double figures in 28 games. And he's been able to increase his blocks average in every month thus far.
With such a young player it would be natural to expect some sort of letdown throughout an 82-game season, but it has yet to happen to Drummond. And that's a big part of why he's entrenched at No. 1.
*Jakub Rudnik covers the Detroit Pistons for B/R. Follow him on Twitter.