|Detroit Pistons logo 2005-present. The logo merged the original 'Bad Boys' logo with the secondary Pistons logo of 2001-05. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The Detroit Pistons became one of the hottest NBA teams after giving Josh Smith a Christmas gift of 27 million and release papers. Every since they played Santa, they have won 9 of their last 10 games. In a few short weeks, they turned from one of the lottery favourites (5-23) to become one of the dangerous contenders for a playoff spots (14-24) in the Eastern Conference. Their record may not show it but the league has noticed their amazing surge and even their fans are suddenly rejuvenated.
The Pistons are now humming and they are set to become a playoff team. If they succeed in punching their way to a playoff ticket then it will surely become one best comeback stories in professional sports history. Here are some good reasons why the Detroit Pistons can make it:
1. Stan Van Gundy - He is an accomplished coach and he has led teams to overachieve in the past. He never had a winning percentage less than .512 in a season. Van Gundy's career record was over .600 before he took over the Pistons and he never missed making a playoffs. He has what it takes to turn any team into a winner. With the Pistons, he has now the chance to become the "Pat Riley" of the Motown franchise.
2. Team Composition - Detroit became so successful in the past by assembling a deep line-up and not relying on 1 or 2 Superstars. Sure they have Isiah Thomas in their late 80's run but that team paled in comparison to the Lakers, Celtics, and Bulls when it comes to star power. The 2004 Champion team was built similarly. This year's team has so many weapons that it is hard to pinpoint who will explode in one night. Brandon Jennings is getting his confidence back but on some nights the main guard becomes Meeks, Augustin or KCP. They have a solid guard bunch that has a little drop-off in skills if the starters move to the bench. Van Gundy has a lot of good shooters in this team which is usually his team's trademark. Josh Smith was not accurate enough to fit the way the coach wants them play. Will this year be the comeback of Pistons Basketball? Highly Likely.
3. Big Men - The Pistons have a C-PF tandem that can compete with anybody in the league. Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond are at least in the top 12 in their respective positions. Monroe is practically in his contract year and he has been one of the most consistent players of the team. Drummond is one of the up and coming big men in the league and he is just 21 years old. The two of them are double-double machines and they both can play C and PF solidly giving Van Gundy some line up flexibility.
4. Bench - The bench has been a big revelation after being given more minutes when Josh Smith was released. Jonas Jerebko is playing one of his best seasons and he is an excellent stretch four in the Van Gundy offence. The Swede is grabbing rebounds and hitting shots from the outside which complements well with Drummond and Monroe. Meeks has been scoring so well ever since he came back and the Pistons only won 3 games while he was injured. Augustin has shown that he has the ability to run the offence while Caron Butler has a bit of revival with this team. The bench are a big reason why the team have very good second quarters and why Van Gundy can have so many dangerous endgame combinations.
5. The East - If the Pistons were playing the West, the 5-23 start could easily make teams throw a white flag even before the change in calendar year. In the East, everything is possible. The early season favourites are faltering. The best team is for sale. The current 8th seed is for sale. Lebron's Cavs are struggling. To make the playoffs, the Pistons need help from the other teams. They are just 2 games out of the 8th spot and 2.5 from the 7th spot. If the Pistons continue to play like a Top 3 team in the East until the end of the season, they could probably go as high as a 5th seed.
Making playoffs is not easy but if the Pistons manage to pull this off they will definitely be one of the teams to watch in the East. It could even spark a glorious run like what they did in the past decade.