Detroit Pistons: 30 Teams in 30 Days
Finished 39-43, third in Central Division, eighth in Eastern Conference
First Round: Lost to Cleveland Cavaliers 4-0
Ben Gordon via free agency, Charlie Villanueva via free agency, Chris Wilcox via free agency, Austin Daye via draft, Dajuan Summers via draft, Jonas Jerebko via draft
Rasheed Wallace via free agency, Antonio McDyess via free agency, Walter Sharpe via trade, Amir Johnson via trade, Aaron Afflalo via trade
The Detroit Pistons appeared to be headed where many teams have gone before and not come out of for years. Mediocrity looked like it finally overtook the city of Detroit, until finally, an answer arrived.
Actually, make it two.
The Pistons came away with two of the biggest prizes this offseason when they managed to pick up free agents Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.
Gordon was one of the most talented players off the Chicago Bulls roster and one of the best sixth men in the league. He averaged 21 points and shot 41 percent from behind the three-point line last year while leading his team to the playoffs.
Villanueva is coming off of the best year of his career, where he averaged 16 points and seven rebounds as a power forward for the Milwaukee Bucks. The hairless wonder is going into his fifth year and seems to be improving by the year. His career blossomed last year when the team lost two of it's starters, and he had to take on the role as a No. 1 or No. 2 player.
While Detroit did come away with two stars, it also lost some of its hometown heroes.
Rasheed Wallace, who played his last six years with the team and won a championship, was lost to free agency after a dismal year where he had a career-low field-goal percentage and his lowest points-per-game average since his rookie season. Wallace was the face of the organization for most of the past decade, and the city will miss the emotion and heart he brought to every game.
The team also lost reliable swingman Antonio McDyess. McDyess had played the last five years in Detroit and was one of the most stable players on the team with one of the most consistant jump shots. He is coming off a season where he missed 20 games and averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Detroit "accomplished" something it had not done in nearly 10 years when it finished with a losing record. The Pistons had recorded over 50 wins since the 2001-02 season and had reached the conference finals every year since the 2002-03 season. But last season, they were downed easily in the playoffs when they put up little contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Many consider the deal of trading away team leader Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson the reason for the Pistons troubles. The team lost its leader who was more of a pass-first, half-court type of player and gained a shoot-first player who developed little chemistry with the team.
When longtime Pistons veteran Richard Hamilton was benched for Iverson, the organization knew that something like this could not last.
Iverson missed nearly 30 games and was benched for the remainder of the season and postseason due to an "injury." He is a free agent at the moment, and with Detroit showing absolutely no concern to bring back the All-Star, Iverson is as good as gone.
While 2008 was not the greatest of years for Detroit, it did see the emergence of a young guard named Rodney Stuckey. Stuckey was in his second year with the team and put in the starting lineup after Iverson took Hamilton's role as shooting guard. He quickly made an impact, averaging 13 points and five assists per game. He will continue to remain the team's starting point guard and will try to fill the shoes that Billups left behind.
The city of Detroit will also be very happy to know that Kwame Brown will most likely not be it's starting center next season. The pickup of Chris Wilcox will solve that problem, and while he is not a top center, he is definitely not Brown.
The team is also said to be looking at former center Ben Wallace, which would be a great addition, considering Detroit was his first true home in the NBA.
Detroit also still has two of its core players from its championship runs over the decade in Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince.
Hamilton is coming off of another suitable season where he averaged 18 points and four assists. He also averaged a career-high in three-pointers.
Prince will also be returning for his eighth season, and he has always pleased the city of Detroit with the determination and in-your-face defense he brings to every game. Prince has not missed a game in seven seasons and is coming off of a season where he averaged 14 points a career-high six rebounds per game.
Detroit is welcoming a number of young, talented players from the draft in Austin Daye, Dajuan Summers, and Jonas Jerebko.
Daye is a lanky forward out of Gonzaga who is sure to add some length to the team. He is a decent rebounder, but he will get pushed around in the NBA due to his wiry frame and will need to bulk up if he wants to survive in this league.
Summers was a second-round catch by the Pistons. The forward out of Villanova averaged 14 points and four rebounds last year while leading his team to the Final Four in last year's NCAA tournament.
The Detroit Pistons and their loyal fan base are not used to seeing losing records and are not happy with being a .500 team. The moves they made this off season will not yet make them contenders again, but they are on the right track to once again to become a force in the Eastern conference.
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Rodney Stuckey
SG: Richard Hamilton
SF: Tayshaun Prince
PF: Charlie Villanueva
C: Chris Wilcox
This is part seven of a 30-day series of 2009-10 season previews of each NBA team. My profile will contain every other team that has been previewed before.
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