Watch Out: Pistons a Surprising Threat in The Eastern Conference

Eric YarmolukCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2009

AUBURN HILLS, MI - APRIL 26:  (L-R) Tayshaun Prince #22 and Richard Hamilton #32 of the Detroit Pistons sit on the bench in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the Palace of Auburn Hills on April 26, 2009 in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  The Cavaliers won 99-78.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Pistons started the season off with two crucial injuries. Tayshaun Prince injured his back and has been out since about the third game of the season, and Richard Hamilton had an ankle sprain and has been out since the first game of the season.

John Kuester found himself in a situation where he had to find a way to replace Hamilton and Prince in that starting lineup with two elite players. So he started running the starting lineup consisting of Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon, Jonas Jerebko, Charlie Villanueva, and Ben Wallace.

Then the Pistons faced another injury to Ben Gordon which hurt the Pistons even more in scoring. Which then led to a lineup of Rodney Stuckey, Chucky Atkins, Jonas Jerebko, Charlie Villanueva, and Ben Wallace.

Then once again the Pistons faced another injury to Charlie Villanueva who suffered a broken nose and has been taken out of the starting lineup to provide the spark the Pistons need off the bench. Which now leads to the Rodney Stuckey, Chucky Atkins, Jonas Jerebko, Jason Maxiell, and Ben Wallace Starting lineup.

When the Pistons thought it couldn't get any worse, they faced yet another injury with Will Bynum who has sat out the last two games due to injuries on both ankles.

But somehow despite having injuries to four great scorers the Pistons have found a way to crawl back up into the east winning the past five games and moving up to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. With just one more win the Pistons could move up to the fifth seed in a blink of an eye due to Miami and Milwaukee both sitting on 11 wins on the season as well.

The Pistons have had some big wins without their four elite players against teams like Atlanta, Orlando, and Denver and have had players dramatically improve their game.

In the past five games Rodney Stuckey has put up amazing numbers, putting up 27, 25, 27, 25, and 19 to average 25 points per game to be able to make up for the lack of scoring the Pistons have with Bynum, Gordon, and Hamilton sitting on the bench.

Jonas Jerebko shows improvement just about every game on both his offense and defense putting up huge numbers and no longer playing like a rookie.

Ben Wallace is playing like it's 2004 again looking like a fifth time defensive player of the year candidate.

Charlie Villanueva has been providing the exact spark the Pistons need coming off the bench putting up 24 against Golden State and 27 against Denver and averaging around 15 points per game this season, which is better than his career average of around 13 points per game.

Finally welcome back Rip Hamilton! After sitting out all season long with an ankle injury and scoring 25 points in his first game, Rip Hamilton comes in as a starter putting up 18 points and bringing back more scoring threats for the Pistons.

So how are the Pistons such a threat in the East now sitting at the seventh seed?

Well the Pistons have proved even with injuries that they can compete with the best. These bench roll players such as Austin Daye, Jonas Jerebko, and Jason Maxiell have showed drastic improvement and grown much more confidence in their game play to where they can provide even more scoring and energy coming off the bench and keep the momentum going for the Pistons when the starters are resting.

Once the Pistons are back to full force and have Will Bynum, Ben Gordon, Tayshaun Prince, and Rip Hamilton all playing together, the Pistons will possibly be surprisingly one of the best teams in the East.

So watch out Orlando, Boston, and Cleveland because the Pistons are no joke this year. They will fight until the end and have a great chance of making it back to the Eastern Conference Finals once again.