Detroit Pistons: A Work in Progress

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Detroit Pistons:  A Work in Progress
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

With the start of the NBA season less than two weeks away, it's time to take a look at how the Detroit Pistons may fare this year after the dismal showing they put on last year.

Not much is expected of the team this year since they are clearly in a rebuilding phase with a new rookie coach in John Kuester and eight new players.  However, so far in the preseason there have been a lot of positives.

Rookies Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko have been playing well and DaJuan Summers and Deron Washington have put on decent showings. 

Guard Will Bynum had flashes of brilliance last year and so far this season he has stepped up, averaging a team-leading 18 points a game in 24 minutes.  He's also leading the team in assists and steals.

Kuester's offensive mindedness has worked out okay and the team's strong defense hasn't been pushed aside.  His three-guard offense has been running well and his four guards have all been getting play time.

On the other hand, Tayshaun Prince has continued to be a non-factor and Rodney Stuckey's shots still are a bit shaky.

It's still way too early in the season to decide how all of these things will pan out but the preseason has shone some light on how the team will perform this year.

I think that Bynum is going to end up being the best move that the team has made in the last couple of seasons.  He's small but he's quick, and his playing style has a lot of aspects that made Isiah Thomas the star that he was.

Bynum had that standout 20-game series last year where he averaged 12 points in 21 minutes but then he kind of faded the rest of the season.  Because of that, he spent the summer losing weight and working on his game.

The weight loss and practice has made him quicker and improved his shot.

The jury is still out on Coach Kuester but he already seems to be reading his players' abilities better than Coach Michael Curry ever did.  He seems to have a knack for maximizing his player's strengths and for finding their spot in his lineup. 

He's been playing Stuckey at small forward, something that surprised everyone, but the move has worked out well. 

Kuester seems to understand that he needs to adapt to his team rather than trying to force his own philosophies upon them, a mistake that Curry made the entire season.

As for the team's move toward a focus on offense rather than their defense, I don't think that it's going to hurt them. 

With Wallace back in the middle and Kwame Brown, Chris Wilcox, Jason Maxiell and Charlie Villanueva joining him, I don't think the team needs to worry about a lapse in defensive strategy.

So far in the preseason, the Pistons remain ranked high in all defensive stats.

The three-guard defense is nice in that it allows all of the guards to get some heavy playing time but I think that down the line, Kuester is going to have to decide who he wants to be the front-runner. 

When it comes time for big games, constantly changing guards is going to stall any momentum the team may have.

As for Stuckey and Prince's struggles, I think that Prince is the main concern.  Stuckey was pushed too much too fast last year when he was thrust into Chauncey Billups' role before he was ready.

I think this season with less of the spotlight on Stuckey he will find it easier to relax.  As a result, his shots should settle down.  He is already shooting 43 percent in the preseason.

Prince is the main concern because he should be the team's star player going forward.  Hamilton and Wallace won't be around forever and Prince is the only young player with championship experience.

In the past, Prince has been one of the Pistons' toughest and greatest players.  Who could forget that infamous block on Reggie Miller?  Unfortunately, injuries and shooting droughts have taken their toll on his game the last couple of seasons.

Hopefully, with a more well-rounded team, Prince will be able to get more rest this season which should help him stay healthy. 

I don't see the team heading very far in the playoffs this year but I think they have a shot at making the playoffs again. 

General Manager Joe Dumars has gotten a lot criticism for his moves lately but he has proven over and over that he knows how to put together a team with odd parts that seem to fit perfectly together. 

Hopefully, the team that he has assembled this time around will once again help the Pistons become a powerhouse in the East.

 

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