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Pistons Certain To Bounce Back From Mediocrity

Behind a healthier squad and a key acquisition over the summer, count on Detroit returning to form, writes Spencer Davies.

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Updated 10 months ago on
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When the playoffs came around earlier this year, the Detroit Pistons were on the outside looking in.

Key injuries took their toll from the jump and once they got healthier, it was too difficult to establish stability on the run while hunting for a postseason position. Instead of building upon what they established previously, the team regressed as a whole and turned in a disappointing result.

Andre Drummond is chomping at the bit to rectify that.

“It was an inconsistent year for us as an organization,” the All-Star center told reporters a few weeks back before the NBA Africa Game. “We were really hot and cold.

“Dealing with Reggie [Jackson] being injured was tough to get adjusted to Ish [Smith] right away. My play wasn’t where it was supposed to be and I take responsibility for that as well; I wasn’t playing up to my potential — and I can’t allow that to happen again.”

Accountability is music to any basketball enthusiast’s ears and, in this case, the first move to righting the ship.

Next up is staying healthy. Over the summer, Drummond underwent surgery to fix a deviated septum in his left nostril. It was an issue that had stuck with him since his college days at UConn and will no longer hinder his breathing. For a center constantly running up and down the floor, especially with the current league’s increasing pace, that’s a huge relief.

As for the Robin to his Batman, Jackson likely won’t be sidelined to begin the season this time around. Detroit’s floor general will have a clean slate to start with and in turn, he’ll be able to guide the team offensively as he once did before. It’ll be much easier for him to do so with Drummond dominating inside the way he knows he can.

The tandem of Jackson and Drummond will ultimately determine the direction of the Pistons’ upcoming season, but the acquisition of Avery Bradley could have just as much of an impact.

In ranking moves within the NBA Central, Jeff Bower hit the jackpot with the best trade in the division. Bradley is a proven two-way guard who brings the toughness Stan Van Gundy aspires to instill into the rest of team.

It gives Detroit a bit of a new edge and more of a winner’s mentality because he’s “been there” thanks to his experiences with the Boston Celtics. That in itself makes him an upgrade over Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Not only does the addition of Bradley improve the shooting guard position, but it also gives Jackson a new partner to work with in the backcourt. Bradley’s spacing is surely one of the reasons he thrived with Isaiah Thomas, and there’s no reason to believe it will change in this situation.

In their developing chemistry, and the entire squad really, Bradley can help with teaching defensive values. His contributions from the perimeter will definitely better the Pistons’ 28th-ranked team three-point percentage. It’s a home run addition, period.

The rest of the team will be well off, too.

Tobias Harris has been about as consistent as anyone reasonably can hope to be in the NBA, and he’s likely only going to go up from here at only 24 years of age. Jon Leuer was one of Detroit’s most dependable pieces throughout the entire season, whether starting or not.

We’ve already talked about Stanley Johnson bouncing back and Boban Marjanovic waiting in the wings to make noise. Rookie guard Luke Kennard will probably have an opportunity to light it up at some point.

Bringing back Anthony Tolliver was an under-the-radar, non-costly signing to help out with depth and versatility off the bench. Langston Galloway was much more expensive to acquire, but he’ll also play a key role for the second unit as a primary scoring threat.

Due to what went on in Motown last year, there’s somewhat of a negative outlook on the ball club. This won’t last too long. The Pistons are stocked with better talent than they’ve had in a while. There’s no question about it.

What matters is if those players take them to the level they are capable of reaching.

Don’t sleep on Detroit getting there.

Spencer Davies is a Deputy Editor and a Senior NBA Writer based in Cleveland in his third year with Basketball Insiders. Covering the league and the Cavaliers for the past five seasons, his bylines have appeared on Bleacher Report, FOX Sports and HoopsHype.

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