Being a Detroit Pistons fan is not an easy job at present. They are a team that is rebuilding through youth after enjoying great success through the early part of the new millennium.
The franchise appeared in six straight Eastern Conference Finals from 2003-2008 and managed to go all the way to a championship in 2004.
Despite this youth and inexperience, the Pistons have shown promise during this season and after combating a slow start have found themselves with a 15-25 record.
They are only five games back from the Celtics who currently occupy eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
I have five key things that coach Lawrence Frank could implement this season that would give the baby Pistons a chance to possibly even scrape into the playoffs.
1. Start Andre Drummond
Many so called NBA “experts” claimed that the 6’11 centre from Connecticut was the most likely high-end pick from the 2012 draft to end up as a failure but if this season’s form is anything to go off by, Drummond has a very bright future ahead.
While his averages don’t look amazing with 7 points and 7 rebounds in 20 minutes of game time, when Drummond is given a chance to play 36 minutes or more he is averaging 13 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks and two steals. That is a compelling case to start the young man.
With six double doubles already and providing much needed energy on the defensive end, Lawrence Frank needs to consider starting Andre Drummond, pushing Jason Maxiell to the bench and playing Greg Monroe at the power forward position.
Speaking of Greg Monroe….
2. Move Greg Monroe to power forward
Moving Greg Monroe to power forward not only allows Drummond to play more minutes at centre but it also gives Monroe a chance to go back to a position that he is more comfortable with.
The Pistons have not had a monster centre during Monroe’s tenure, forcing him to play at the five rather than the four despite having the perfect mould for a power forward.
Monroe has great touch with the ball, passes really well and has the ability to step out to 10-12 feet and hit jump shots, something that Drummond has yet to develop and something Maxiell doesn’t have.
If the Pistons want to maximise their scoring ability during the final stretch of the season, they need to put Greg Monroe at the Power Forward and ride his jump shot.
3. Put more energy into defence
While this sounds simple to implement, energy on defence is the main reason Detroit have lost so many winnable games.
The area most in need of energy is the Pistons defensive rebounding, which at times has been horrendous and has cost the team a wealth of points. While starting Drummond does help slightly, the other Piston tall’s need to lift their game with the team only averaging 31 defensive boards a game while coughing up 11 offensive rebounds to the opposition.
Detroit have been improving in this area but if they want to start competing with the best the NBA has to offer they need an important player like Jason Maxiell to start giving more on the defensive side of the game.
4. Play four quarters
This is something that the Pistons have struggled to do all season long and probably cost the team five or six wins in the early stages of the season. While not being able to close out games is almost an expectation from young teams, many of these games that saw the Pistons get run over were to equally young teams and not to teams full of seasoned veterans.
This season has seen Rodney Stuckey coming off the bench which means the Pistons have lost quite a bit of experience in their starting line-up, instead favouring the chance to give rookie Kyle Singler more experience.
While this will be good in the long run, Stuckey needs to be in the middle of the action for the majority of the last two quarters to make sure that the Pistons come away with a win, instead of losing a game after leading by double digits at the half.
5. Give Will Bynum more minutes
Not many people take notice of Will Bynum due to a vast combination of things. He’s only six foot, he comes off the bench for a young team and he doesn’t exactly get a lot of minutes.
Because Bynum flies so low under the radar he could become the Pistons secret weapon, propelling the team to wins instead of coming off the bench to play minutes in junk time.
Bynum has played 30 games this year, averaging only 17 minutes with eight points per game, but when he has been given opportunities this year to play more minutes due to injury he has thrived.
During January this year he has played 7 games for 34 assists, 7 steals and 76 points while averaging 20 minutes.
It is clear to see that, in being given just three extra minutes, he is doing damage to other teams. If he permanently plays as the second point guard while Rodney Stuckey plays as the second shooting guard, the Pistons may just find a way to make the playoffs.