We don’t know what a lot of the NBA teams are. Are the Bulls taking the next step with Derrick Rose and new coach Vinny Del Negro? Is New Orleans on the cusp of greatness? How good will the Blazers be?
But we know what the Pistons are.
Consistent. Defensive Oriented. High Chemistry.
Put it in the bank.
But this year, some new, intriguing questions have popped up? How will new coach Michael Curry do? Is Rodney Stuckey the new team leader and star in waiting? Are Amir Johnson and Jason Maxiell the new breed of the toughness the old “Bad Boys”?
Well, for one, I don’t expect a huge drop-off in wins. Some, yes. 59-23 is a real good number. That’s winning nearly three fourths of your games. If the Pistons were a football team last year, they would have been 12-4. That’s a hard number to improve on. Still, we can expect 5-8 less wins, which should get around third in the East. I’ll take that.
So what about these new guys? I love Stuckey. I was a little unhappy when he got drafted because I had never heard of him, and let’s face it, a fan will be happy if his team picks a 6-6, 300 pound power forward with freckles and a 24” vertical if he’s heard of the guy. We are scared of the unknown. But we shouldn’t be scared of Stuckey. His combination of size (6”5, 200 pounds), speed (go watch those Celtics ECF games last year), and shooting touch will be making me and all other Pistons fans happy for quite a while. The problem is that he’s blocked by Rip Hamilton in the starting lineup. I see a possible deal coming to get rid of Rip, especially if Amir Johnson doesn’t cut it at power forward.
Hey, look at that segue. That just kind of fell into my lap. (Not really). Anyway, Johnson is still a little unknown to me. He was drafted real young out of high school (just to let you know how young he is, he has grown two inches since leaving high school) and didn’t do anything his first two years, playing only 11 NBA games total, but contributed a lot last year. He’s real athletic and lanky, and that plus his defensive potential reminds me a lot of Kevin Garnett. I don’t want to go there just yet, but I think he can be special. Look for him to be a defensive stopper to start this year off, and then slowly build up an offensive resume.
The frontcourt is this team’s real big question. Rasheed Wallace is real good, but he’s more built to be a small forward or a power forward, not a center. He’s too good on the outside to make him stay in the middle all the time. He also has been talked about a lot in trades because of his contract and personality. But, if he can keep performing the same way he has been since he became a Piston and Maxiell and Antonio McDyess can contribute off the bench, this whole unit might not be such a question mark.
This team obviously will be good once again and get a top seed for the playoffs, but that’s where they need to step up. That was the knock on Flip Saunders, and hopefully Michael Curry can lit a fire under these guys and take them back to the top, and if he can’t, then maybe we will see some new, fresh faces in the coming years.
It will be fun to watch.