Detroit Pistons

The Whiteboard: Is this the year the Detroit Pistons get it together?

The last two seasons have not been kind to the Detroit Pistons, but their fortunes could be changing.

The Stan Van Gundy era was not a great one for the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons made the postseason just once in Van Gundy’s four years at the helm of the team, and they didn’t notch a playoff win in their only trip back in 2016.

Although Van Gundy was fired as both head coach and president of basketball operations and replaced in the first capacity by Dwane Casey, the Pistons have not torn down their team. They might not be able to, honestly.

Detroit has roughly $253 million already promised to Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson and, uh, Jon Leuer over the next three seasons. Throw in Langston Galloway and that number jumps to $274 million. Stan was not the most frugal executive in the world.

Anyway, by choice or not, the Pistons are rolling with their core which mainly features Drummond, Blade, and Jackson. The good news for Detroit is that lineups with those three on the floor flourished last season, outscoring opponents by 10.6 points per 100 possessions over a small sample size of 85 possessions per Cleaning the Glass.

The bad news is two of those players–Jackson and Griffin–often struggle with injury issues. Blake played 58, 61, and 35 games apiece over his last three seasons. Jackson played 45 games last year and 52 the season before that.

Therein lies the key for the Pistons. The star power of Blake and Drummond should be enough to get Detroit back to the postseason, especially in the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference, but for the season to really go well Motor City needs to keep its key players healthy.

If Detroit gets full seasons from Reggie Jackson and Blake Griffin, the Pistons should look pretty damn good. If one or both of those players is out for long stretches of the season, things aren’t so rosy.

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