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Power Ranking Every Key Detroit Pistons Player Before Season's End

Jakub RudnikContributor IIIMarch 23, 2014

Power Ranking Every Key Detroit Pistons Player Before Season's End

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    How do the Pistons players stack up against one another?
    How do the Pistons players stack up against one another?John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

    As the Detroit Pistons continue their free fall down the NBA standings, it's time to decide how each key member of the roster stacks up against one another. 

    This once promising season has quickly become a disappointment, as the Pistons have lost 14 of their last 17 games. The chances of a playoff appearance have almost completely disappeared, and they have actually played poorly enough to possibly keep their first-round pick in June's draft (the Charlotte Bobcats get it this season if it falls outside the top eight).

    While the team may not have much to play for at this point, general manager Joe Dumars' expiring contract likely signifies changes in the front office. A potential replacement might want to change the direction of the team, and this final stretch of games gives players the chance to prove that they're worth keeping around.

    These power rankings examine the top 10 Pistons players by considering the entire season, particularly recent performances.

10. Josh Harrellson

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    One of the pleasant surprises of the first half of this season for the Pistons was the play of Josh Harrellson, but unfortunately he's been hampered by a knee injury and hasn't played since Feb. 1.

    At 6'10" and 275 pounds with a 38.7 percent mark from the arc this season, he has a very useful skill set for the Pistons, who have too many players who are their best near the rim. 

    He's played both the 4 and 5 this season and has been particularly effective at power forward, where his player efficiency rating is 16 and he holds opponents to just a 10.2 PER, according to 82games.com

    The injury has put a damper on his season, but he fits well with the other frontcourt players. He's just 25 and won't cost much to re-sign. It would be a mistake if he wasn't in Detroit next season. 

9. Jonas Jerebko

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Jonas Jerebko is playing a much smaller role for the Pistons this season than at any point in his four-year career, but his versatility has kept him from falling out of the rotation entirely.

    He had averaged at least 18 minutes per game in his first season, but this season he's playing less than 10 per game. He has seen action in 50 games, though—more than double the total of fellow backup big man Charlie Villanueva.

    Offensively, Jerebko has played fairly well, shooting 47.6 percent from the field and a career-high 34.3 percent from beyond the arc. He's shooting well enough to help stretch the floor, something that is always in demand on this roster.

    However, he's been a liability on the defensive end. According to 82games.com, opposing power forwards have been very successful against him, with a PER of 19.2 this season. He has never exactly been a defensive stopper, but being that much of a liability has kept him from playing a bigger role this year.

8. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

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    Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    The hope at the beginning of the season was that rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would be a big contributor for the Pistons. His demotion to the bench for Kyle Singler is the result of KCP not being ready for that role.

    After averaging at least 20 minutes per game in the first three months of the season, he's played just 10.5 and 11.5 per game in February and March, respectively. And with his play, that was completely deserved. 

    He has shot just 39.5 percent from the field and 30.5 percent from three on the year, averaging 5.7 points in more than 20 minutes per game. He hasn't offered anything in the way of playmaking, averaging less than one assist per contest. And despite being a tremendous rebounder in college, he has averaged just 1.9 in the NBA. 

    He has been successful on the defensive end, holding opposing shooting guards to a below-average PER of 13.9, per 82games.com, and he has averaged one steal per game. By no means is he an elite defender at this point, but he's been very good for being only 21 years old. If he can find a way to contribute offensively, he'll be a useful player.

7. Kyle Singler

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    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Kyle Singler played the best basketball of his career in February after moving to the starting lineup, but his play has come back to earth in March.

    In February, he played more than 36 minutes per game and shot 47.5 percent from the field and 50 percent from arc, averaging 12.6 points per game. His field-goal percentage in March has fallen to 40.5 percent, and he's shooting 34.3 percent from outside, which is more in line with how he's played in his career.

    He's a below-average defensive player who struggles to stay in front of quicker wings and doesn't force many turnovers. But his size makes him a solid rebounder, as he averages nearly four per game.

    Singler is a valuable role player—a high-energy player who knows his role offensively. And at 25, he's young enough that he should be a part of the Pistons' future plans. But he's overmatched almost every single night against starting shooting guards, so he can't be their long-term solution on the wing.

6. Will Bynum

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    Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

    One of the few Pistons who have played well over the last month has been Will Bynum. 

    The veteran point guard has averaged 11.1 points and 4.9 assists in March, and his scoring has actually increased in each month this season. His field-goal percentage has dipped a bit to 40 percent, but he's shooting the exact same number from beyond the arc and is getting to the line more than three times per game. 

    Even though it hasn't translated into wins for the Pistons, Bynum's play off the bench has been excellent lately. After scoring in double digits just 12 times in the first five months of the season, he's done it six times in March. He also didn't have 10 assists in a game once this season before doing it twice in the past three games, and he had nine in the other game.

    He is still a defensive liability who can struggle with turnovers and shot selection when the ball is in his hands. But his play in March makes the contract extension he signed in the offseason look like a good move for the Pistons. 

5. Rodney Stuckey

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    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    To start the season, Rodney Stuckey looked totally revitalized and was one of the best reserves in the NBA. But his play has been sporadic for the past four months, much like his team's.

    On face value, his 13.5 points per game on 43.2 percent shooting from the floor look solid, particularly for a sixth man. But when compared to the 16.9 points per game and 49.5 percent he shot in November, it's far less impressive. 

    Stuckey's career in Detroit has been filled with challenges, from trying to follow in Chauncey Billups' footsteps to being forced into the unnatural role of point guard. But in November, as a score-first guard off the bench, it finally looked like he had found the role he was meant to fill. Unfortunately, he didn't maintain that level of play. 

    His contract expires at the end of this season, when he'll be 28. He still should have several seasons left before his game begins to decline, but he's a subpar outside shooter, which is an area where the Pistons struggle. It remains to be seen if he will be part of their future plans. 

4. Brandon Jennings

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    John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

    Brandon Jennings had been arguably the Pistons' second-best player the entire season before his play fell off dramatically.

    After averaging at least 15 points in each of the first four months of the season, he's putting up just 10 per game in March. His 6.7 assists and 0.6 steals are also his lowest of any month. Even with his minutes down slightly, it doesn't explain his poor play. 

    Jennings is, at best, an average defensive player. Prone to gambling for steals and losing focus off the ball, he just hasn't shown the discipline required of a top player. So if he's not scoring the ball or creating for others, he's just not helping his team win games. And that's exactly what has happened in March. 

    The hope is that this is just a hiccup. On one hand, he might have grown as a player this season, collecting career highs in assists and free-throw attempts. On the other hand, he's averaging more turnovers than ever before and is only shooting 37.6 percent from the field and 33.6 percent from the arc—both fall below his career averages. 

    He's still just 24 and likely has not hit his prime as a player. But he hasn't proved that he's a top-10 point guard, and the way he's played lately makes it look doubtful that he'll ever get there.

3. Josh Smith

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    Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

    While Josh Smith has been much maligned this season, his play has been improved as of late, unlike Jennings.

    He is still taking entirely too many threes and has shot just 38 percent from the field in March, but he has managed to average 17.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks during the month. 

    The same problem still persists: He is at his best playing power forward and shooting near the rim. However, he's playing big-time minutes on the wing, being dared on a nightly basis to shoot long-range jumpers by opposing defenses. 

    The Pistons are a talented team, and Smith is a talented player, despite the grief he's been given this season. His decision making and work ethic have received criticism, and much of it is justified. But he's also been put into a poorly constructed roster. Until he's moved back to power forward full time, he will continue to shoot far too many jumpers.

    The Pistons signed him to a contract that pays him like a top player, and he hasn't been that for them this season. But his numbers have been better than people have given him credit for. 

2. Greg Monroe

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    With restricted free agency looming for Greg Monroe, the fourth-year big man has played some of his best basketball of the season as of late.

    He has averaged 16.4 points and 10.7 rebounds in March, similar to his impressive 2012-13 numbers. But he's also played better on the defensive end, averaging 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks—his career averages are 1.2 and 0.6, respectively. 

    When he's playing like he is now, Monroe looks like the kind of player who is worth investing significant money in. He'll be just 24 at the end of the season and can be an excellent low-post scorer. And, in theory, his offensive-oriented skill set fits well alongside Andre Drummond's defensive game.

    But he struggled in the first three months of the season and can be a defensive liability. He's been their second-best player this season, but the Pistons will have a tough decision to make in the offseason.

1. Andre Drummond

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    The Pistons were very fortunate that Andre Drummond's injury wasn't more serious.
    The Pistons were very fortunate that Andre Drummond's injury wasn't more serious.John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

    In just his second NBA season, Andre Drummond has consistently shown that he is already the Pistons' best player.

    It was obvious in his rookie year and in his lone season at the University of Connecticut that he had the physical gifts to be a great basketball player. Only a small handful of players have his combination of size and athleticism. But this season, he's looked like one of the best big men in the league—and he's just scratching the surface of his potential.

    At just 20 years old, he's averaging 13.1 points, 12.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.3 steals. If he finishes the season with those totals, he'll be just one of nine players in NBA history with at least those averages in a season, according to Basketball-Reference.com. Those players include: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Bob Lanier, Kevin Garnett, Chris Webber and Dwight Howard.

    Drummond is not in the same class as those players, and it is more likely than not that he'll never reach their level. But it's worth pointing out because his physical gifts let him impact the game in ways that so few others can.

    He is the Pistons' best player and someone you can build a contender around. In this disappointment of a season, he's been by far the biggest reason to be hopeful for the Pistons.

     

    Note: All statistics compiled from NBA.com and updated as of March 22.

    Jakub Rudnik covers the Detroit Pistons for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.


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