Wednesday, November 01, 2006

How good will the Pistons be? I couldn't tell you, and I don't think the Pistons know either

The Pistons' longest off-season in 3 years finally comes to an end tonight. And I'm not sure what in the Hell I should expect.

What I do expect, and this has never changed, is for the Pistons to win around 50 games, and be contenders for the Eastern Conference finals. Billups, 'Sheed, Prince, Hamilton, and Dice are all very good and all returning, which pretty much guarantees contending for the division, at the very least. That's without question.

But there are several things that I'm not sure of, and have no idea as to the answers. I can only make uneducated guesses...

What is the rotation is going to look like come April? Your guess is as good as mine. Right now we are hearing that 10 men are vying for PT. The top 5, plus Mohammed, Delfino, Maxiel, Murray, and Hunter.

Will that rotation go more than 7 players deep once April rolls around? How long has it been since we were first told that the Pistons would develop their bench? Since the Rick Carlisle era? So if you go by past history, including Flip Saunders running the starters + Dice out of gas last season, the answer is no. I'll have to see the bench play consistent minutes nightly to actually believe it.

Carlos Delfino - Player or tease? My guess is tease. Even the Pistons themselves don't know if Delfino is for real. Why else would we be hearing all the Jalen Rose rumors?

Nazr Mohammed - Player or a very poor man's Ben Wallace? Can I waffle and say somewhere in between? If you go by his stats per 48 minutes, the Pistons may have something. But why did he end up rotting on the Spurs bench during the '06 playoffs? There's an awful lot riding on how well Mohammed plays. I can guarantee one thing, though. Sometime during the season I'm going to go off on the Pistons lax interior D. Ben Wallace spoiled us over the past 5 years.

Jason Maxiel - Player or a poor man's Jerome Williams? I'll say that he's a player. Word is that he could be another Corliss Williamson in the making. If he can bring max energy coming off the bench, I think we'll all be happy.

Flip Murray - Player or a poor man's Carlos Arroyo? If you go by last season's Pistons - Cavs playoff war, Murray will be a contributor. Even still, I'll need more convincing. Start convincing me tonight, Flip...

Will Joe Dumars sign Jalen Rose? For that matter, if signed, can Rose contribute in a limited role? The competition is stiff for the former Wolverine, if you believe what you read. Rose is a Detroiter. The Pistons are a possible title contender. Seems like a match. But will Rose accept that he's no longer an impact player who would be more effective in limited minutes? Terry Foster thinks so, and is convinced that Rose will be a Piston. He could the the player fans have felt the Pistons have needed for several years. A shooter off the bench. Make it happen, Joe D.

Now that Ben Wallace is a Bull, can the Pistons score enough to cover for the additional points they are bound to give up? Honestly, I don't know. But in thinking back to previous seasons, and the long scoring droughts that this same basic cast has suffered through, I can't be that optimistic. This is where Flip Saunders now saying that he'll be using the entire playbook this season will come into play. Saunders is supposedly an offensive super genius. Flip believes can get serious points from his offensive sets without a "Superstar" on offense. The results we see will prove if the genius rep is deserved or not.

Who will be the most important Piston? With Ben Wallace gone with his Brinks truck to Chicago, this is now Chauncey Billups' team. This is also a contract year for Chauncey, as he will most assuredly opt out of his final year. If he wants a max contract, or something close, from the Pistons, the next 82 games will be spent making his case. All of the above could be moot if Billups doesn't play up to his capabilities, and at least have a season similar to last year. For the Pistons to make a long playoff run, Billups doesn't have to be the league MVP, but at least be on the short list. For that matter, he cannot run out of gas in the playoffs, unlike last season.

So, in the end, what do we know?

The Pistons will be good. Maybe really damn good, if they get some decent bench play, and the starters don't decline. But NBA Champion good? That remains to be seen, but I'd be surprised if they get out of the East.

I may be overly optimistic, but this admittedly biased fan says the Pistons get 54 wins, a number 2 seed, and that they will run out of steam, once again, in the conference finals.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that the Pistons will run out of gas in the playoffs but I think they will get the 4th seed for the playoffs. They are a fun team to watch play and Big Ben was a big loss for them.