Detroit Pistons Analysis: Down the Stretch in Motown

Justin KidwellContributor IFebruary 12, 2008

As the NBA season approaches the All-Star break, we can look back at the first half of the season at what we wanted to happen, and look forward to the best part of the NBA season—the second half. 

The moves by the Suns, Lakers, Spurs, and Warriors have changed the NBA landscape. 

Three of these teams got bigger, the other went for depth, and still more teams are expected to address some needs (Jason Kidd anyone?) before the trade deadline. 

In the midst of these changes and the upcoming festivities in New Orleans, however, stands a team that has won six straight and seems to be hitting their stride.

All season the Detroit Pistons have been strong, but recently they emerged from a cold streak to post wins against some strong teams (Lakers, Magic and Mavericks). 

While the Pistons are not in the news for any trade rumors or free agent signings, they seem to be well positioned to continue their strong play into the second half of the season.

Once again, Detroit is a defensive powerhouse (number two in scoring defense and in defensive FG percentage, number one in defensive FG attempted), an efficient offensive machine (number nine in FG percentage, number 11 in points per shot, number two in assist/turnover ratio) and continues to boast one of the best (if not THE best) backcourts in the NBA. 

What has many sports personalities high on the Pistons is the play of their bench. Jason Maxiell, Jarvis Hayes, Flip Murray, Aaron Affalo, and Rodney Stuckey have contributed ample minutes to the play of a Pistons bench that has gotten a bad rap over the last few years. These reserves have allowed some of the starters to get some valuable rest in tough games and during tough stretches.

Pistons fans should be excited about the team and its shot at another deep playoff run.

While many see the improved bench play as the key to the Pistons’ success, I am apprehensive in heaping so much praise on the Pistons reserves. With the departure of Nazr Mohammed and with Amir Johnson not yet playing a major role, the Pistons are limited to Jason Maxiell as the only true big man in the bench rotation. 

It is no secret that Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess are of advanced age and experience, and the length of the season can take a toll on older bodies. The last few campaigns for these two vets have seen around 100 games and I fear that the moves made by the Western powers, the expected length of this season, and limited rest during games and road stretches are causes for worry. 

The backcourt rotation is strong, but asking ‘Sheed, McDyess, and Maxiell to carry the load through May and possibly beyond, is a tough request. 

Cleveland, Orlando and Boston are good teams and one can expect each to push any series to the limit. The Pistons’ three-man rotation is definitely a cause for concern and may need to be addressed before the deadline or through a more equal share of playing time for the current cast. 

Detroit is already among the bottom half of the teams in the league in rebounding and a tired frontcourt could damage their championship opportunity.

We’ll have to wait and see the impact of these minutes on the Piston big men.