Detroit Pistons

The Pistons’ breakout player will be…

Luke Kennard. While Kennard will likely always be destined to live in the shadow of Donovan Mitchell (drafted one pick later), he has been a sneaky good player for two years running. Already armed with a quality 40% 3-point stroke on nearly 500 attempts in two seasons, he’s also displayed a savviness as a secondary ball handler and someone who can make his teammates better not just by stretching the defense but by moving the ball. This summer, he worked on making his catch-and-release even quicker, and if he can do that he could become a serious offensive threat.

It all goes wrong if…

Point guard has been the Achilles heel of the Pistons for years. Reggie Jackson has been injured or ineffective for large stretches and Detroit’s depth at the position has been atrocious. It seems to be the franchise where point guards go to die – (RIP Jose Calderon, Jameer Nelson, Beno Udrih, Steve Blake). The arrivals of Derrick Rose and Tim Frazier to go with a rejuvenated Jackson is supposed to put an end to that problem. Yes, I just said D Rose, Jackson and healthy in the same sentence.

What we’ll be saying about the Pistons at the end of the season…

The hope of Pistons fans is people begin asking themselves, “When did Andre Drummond get this good?” Drummond has never garnered much respect around the league, but he has slowly improved each and every season. He played the best stretch of his career in the season’s final 35 games. He wasn’t just good, he was dominant on both ends of the floor. He was protecting the paint, blocking shots and making smart reads on defense. He was efficient on offense and, of course, rebounding everything in sight on his way to a team-high +9.4 net rating.

Final prediction

The Pistons have mostly been sub-mediocrity at its most boring for years. True enough, this season, Vegas pegged them at 37.5. Vegas is wrong. Why? Management is making a bet that the top of the roster (Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson) is fine and it’s been a dreadful bench that has been its downfall. Instead of trading for a star to play 2,600 minutes, Detroit is betting replacing the 3,000 minutes from Stanley Johnson, Zaza Pachulia, Jose Calderon and Glenn Robinson with competent players (Derrick Rose, Tony Snell, Markieff Morris, Joe Johnson) will propel them back into the playoffs. They’re right.

Final prediction: 44-38

Sean Corp (@sean_corp)