Detroit Pistons (2008/09 Season Record: 39-43)
Key Additions: Ben Gordon, Charlie Villenueva, Ben Wallace, Chris Wilcox
Key Losses: Allen Iverson, Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess
The Detroit Pistons took a MASSIVE step backwards last season. After being a pereniall title contender for the past five seasons (including one championship in 2004) the Pistons qualified for the playoffs by the skin of their teeth and were quickly swept in the first round in 2009. Much of the blame can be levelled at the ill advised Billups for Iverson trade by GM Joe Dumars (I think Dumars expected the team to take a step back in order to create cap space in 2009, but was surprised when they took a leap) and the internal faction that decision created over the distribution of minutes and shots. With the team revamped for the 2009-10 season the Pistons should bounce back to their winning ways.
The Pistons’ key acquisition this off season was scoring machine Ben Gordon. Gordon is an outstanding shooter who is adept at getting his shot off against taller players. Unfortunately, he plays the same position as long-time starter Richard Hamilton. Last season both Hamilton and Iverson balked when they were alternately instructed to give up their starting spots to each other causing tension in the Pistons locker room. It is unlikely that Hamilton will be quite as threatened by Gordon as Gordon was predominantly used as a sixth man in four of his five seasons with Chicago.
The bigger issue for the Pistons’ backcourt will be the dearth of talent at the point guard position. While he is admittedly still young, it does not appear that last year’s starter, Rodney Stuckey, will ever be the player Joe Dumars hopes. In fact, it could be easily argued that Stuckey was out played by backup man Will Bynum, though Bynum is not a long term solution as Detroit’s starting point. Additionally, neither Gordon nor Hamilton possess the skill-set to play the one for more than a minimal number of minutes at a time. This is a rather large problem for Detroit that will need to be rectified if they ever hope to reach the elite in the Eastern Conference.
In the front court the Pistons have the dependable Tayshaun Prince at the three, free agent signing Charlie Villenueva at the four, and either the over-the-hill Ben Wallace or the disappointing Chris Wilcox at the five. Charlie Villenueva promises to bring a scoring touch that the Pistons’ front court hasn’t seen in three seasons, however, he does not have the reputation as a stopper and Detroit’s front court is bound to be less effective than the Wallace-McDyess tandem on the defensive end of the floor.
While certain problems persist with this new incarnation of the Detroit Pistons, a relatively controversy and injury free season should see the team improve in 2009/10.
2009/10 Predicted Season Record: 42-40