USA TODAY Sports
The Pistons fell to 6-14 with last night’s loss to the Warriors, a disappointing note to wrap up the first quarter of the season. The team looks to be on pace for yet another frustrating year, marching toward 24 wins and another mid-lottery pick.
Several storylines have emerged in this first part of the season, including Singler's emergence, Stuckey's move to the bench, and bounce-back years from Prince and Maxiell. But four primary questions emerged in the preseason. 20 games and one-fourth of the way in, now seems a good time to revisit them.
Is Greg Monroe an All Star?
The greatest hope for the team entering the season was Gregory Keith Monroe Jr. Everything pointed that this was the season where he'd solidify himself among the elite big men in the league. With more minutes and as the offense's focal point, the next step would be one that likely puts him in the All Star game.
MFMP's fantastic preseason prediction for Monroe called for 33.5 mpg, 17.7 ppg on 51% shooting, 10.4 rpg, 2.6 apg, 2.8 to/g, and 1.5 spg. The actuals? Close, but point guardier. Better passing and steal numbers, but a big drop in scoring efficiency. He's averaging the same amount of points with nearly two more shots per game.
The DBB mantra has been to feed the Moose. But perhaps what we saw last year was the proper amount of feeding, that the increase is bringing diminishing returns? The uptick in turnovers isn't such a big deal, as his assist percentage from last year was 14% with a 15.2% turnover percentage, whereas it's 19.6% and 18.1% this year, respectively. And that ratio only seems like it'll get better, particularly with more time alongside Drummond.
But the scoring is concerning. Monroe's offensive repertoire has been either put-backs or dribbling really fast to the left for a layup. Much was made of his improved shooting over the offseason, but he's at 25% for the season on jumpers so far (before last night). There needs to be another dimension to his game if he's going to take that next step as a scorer.
Still, looking at the Eastern Conference big men it seems there may be a place in the All Star game for Moose. If the roster was set today, Chris Bosh and Anderson Varejao would be the only definite picks for big men. A case could be made for Josh Smith, Garnett, or David West, but Monroe should probably be the next one in.
Is Brandon Knight a point guard?
Through 20 games, we know a few things about Brandon Knight. We know he's an NBA player. We know he's tantalizing. But a point guard? Nope. No clue.
He's managed more assists this year, a nice increase of nearly 2 full assists per 36. But he's still well below 2 assists per turnover and consistency remains a major issue. Putting together a full game of decent shooting (over 40%), playmaking (over 5 assists), and efficiency (over 2 a/to) has only happened 3 times in the first 20 games. And those are pretty mild marks to hit. He also still brings little to the table defensively.
As a scorer, he can play. But even Knight's harshest critic would have conceded that coming into the season. He's made strong steps in that area of his game, moving his 51% TS up to a very solid 55%.
The question mark has always been his ability as a point guard, and that remains up in the air as Will Bynum has actually been the better actual point guard so far this season - a painful fact to acknowledge. He's had some nice moments, but as a whole it remains foolish that all of the team's eggs are in his point guard of the future basket.
When will Andre Drummond start?
The question first popped up in the preseason, after Drummond thoroughly outplayed Maxiell. When the he charged out to a great start, the calls became louder. Objectively, there's nothing remaining that suggests Drummond shouldn't start the rest of the season and play as many minutes as possible.
Subjectively, there are theories as to why his minutes are being held back. Other young seven footers' health issues suggest perhaps Arnie's recommending caution. Frank has vaguely mentioned some plan with his development. But there's no solid answers.
Hopefully it's sooner rather than later, the question's up in the air. But one that's not: will Andre Drummond be in the conversation for Rookie of the Year?
Does Joe Dumars even bother coming to the office anymore?
A quarter of the way into the season. This roster still consists of 6 small forwards. Still no legitimate point guards. Still no legitimate big men to come off the bench.
Well, at least we have an answer for one question.