A new era begins this season in Detroit for the Pistons. In the wake of the passing of owner Bill Davidson, the Pistons are in an uncharted territory. Even though "Mr. D" will be on the back of the Pistons jerseys, the team is a departure from the last championship team Davidson had put together.
Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and an ancient Ben Wallace are all that remain of the last team to raise the championship banner in the Palace. Even truer now that the three-time WNBA champions Shock have announced that they are moving to Golden Hurricane country—aka—Tulsa.
An offseason that brought another coaching staff to run Mr. D's team as well as a lukewarm free agent sweepstakes to retool the team. The draft which thankfully was not as mind-numbing as last season's—however did not overly inspire fans to put in pre-orders for the new guys' uniforms except maybe for Jonas Jerebko.
Where does one start in which issue will work out and which one won't is comparable to throwing darts blindfolded at a list of the Pistons offseason transactions. However, the 2009-2010 Pistons are a team that doesn't have the drama of last season's team which is an improvement—right?
Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace are only five years removed from the 2004 title. Yet their performance over the past few seasons have regressed enough that they seem like they imitating their former selves.
The coaching changeover of Larry Brown, Flip Saunders and Michael Curry since the title combined with the counterproductive presence of Rasheed Wallace and the trade of Chauncy Billups for Allen Iverson are major reasons for this drop-off of focus for Hamilton and Prince. Hopefully the Keuster regime and the newly added players will create a more cohesive locker room for Hamilton and Prince to shine again.
Ben Wallace on the other hand took the money and ran in 2006 to the Bulls, Cavs and then this past offseason to the Suns to bring Shaq to Cleveland. He is a shadow of his former self as back problems and other aliments have taken a toll. Also the lack of his 'fro has made him into the NBA's version of Samson—however, he can still see.
John Keuster was the offensive guru for the Cleveland Cavaliers in last season's dominance of the NBA which included a home record of 39-2. As the new head coach of the Pistons, he must reassemble a team that has lost its way. Yes it did make it to the playoffs but fan and sportswriter opinion in Detroit favored them tanking the season instead of being swept by the Cavs in the first round.
The Detroit Pistons do not have a central star like the Cavs do with Lebron James. Therefore the Pistons version of "Kue-ball" must be a team focused approach which in truth is Pistons basketball at its best. He doesn't have the egos from last season to wreck the chemistry.
The leash that Joe Dumars will have on him will be widely debated. Considering that Dumars fired Curry after a season in which he made the playoffs and a day after Curry approved of the draft picks, Keuster will have to do more. What is more? Well that is the playoffs but not as the last seed like last season and be swept.
The team will have to have the kind of chemistry that not so much in step with the Red Wings but is not something that makes the rumor wire around town. The Pistons will have to become the Pistons.
The free agent signings of Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon did not resonant a great blip on the radar. A year away from the greatest free agent class ever and the Pistons pick two mid-level players to replace Rasheed Wallace/Antonio McDyess and Allen Iverson.
Villanueva and Gordon are not lousy players by any stretch, nor are they daily SportsCenter highlight reels. They are not flashy players, instead they just do their job daily.
An issue to contemplate is going to be the starter along side Rodney Stuckey in the backcourt. Is it Hamilton or Gordon? Both are UConn Huskies so they should get along and not create the mess Iverson did with Hamilton last season.
Due to a hamstring injury, Villaneueva played in his first preseason game on October 17th however he should be ready for the real deal next week.
The draft picks in 2009 were nothing like the head scratching of the 2008 draft. Walter Sharpe who was selected 32nd last year, did very little for the Pistons and was dealt this past offseason along with Aaron Afflalo to Denver for a 2nd round draft pick next year.
The draftees this year were Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers and Jonas Jerebko. Daye is a taller version of Tayshaun Prince which is hard to fathom considering how skinny Prince already is. Therefore, he better put on the bulk if he expects to compete. Summers is a power forward who hasn't scored yet in the preseason and will probably be bench wamer unless injuries force him to crack the lineup.
The surprise however has been Jerebko. The first Swedish player to play in Detroit who isn't on the Red Wings has proved his worth and why he could fit in on the Wings. He was suspended for one game for punching Miami's Jamaal Magloire on October 5 and started in the place of an injured Prince in the October 17 game against the Grizzlies.
The Pistons have eight days until the regular season start of the new era in Pistons basketball. It is too soon to tell what will come of the new look Pistons nor what the nickname will be for this version of the team.
However, the fans will come to the Palace to help start a new chapter regardless. The team therefore must provide the fans with a team that doesn't need to be the Cavs or Celtics, but can at least complete with them in both the regular season and playoffs.