Hey guys, this is Jordan, one of the hosts of The Academy on Raw Radio X. Every Thursday, we bring you 2 hours of sports talk (4-6 PM EST), focusing on Detroit and the teams we love. We have had Sean Corp on to talk Pistons in the past and we really enjoy the community here at DBB. So I thought I would share my nerdy ramblings. This off-season has gotten me excited for the SVG's Pistons. In my anticipation for the upcoming season, I tried to gaze into the crystal ball a bit.
I am interested how this roster would work together. Who starts, who gets minutes, and what can we expect from this roster? Looking at previous SVG rotations, the current roster and how they fit together, I wanted to get an idea of the rotation. I came up with this:
Forecasting for 82 games, I think what is above is pretty realistic. There were a couple things I really focused on to give us an idea of next year's rotation. First, I am only using players under contract (assuming Monroe signs). Will Bynum seems the likely man out, given his contract buyout and the recent signing of D.J. Augustin. Even if Dinwiddie misses the season, this seems likely. To put together the minutes, the first thing I looked at was former Stan Van Gundy rotations. I used the 2009-10 team as a model. In part, the makeup of the roster was very similar, with the difference being the Magic had 3 point guards. That season, the Magic won 59 games and only had 12 players play throughout the whole year. The minute distribution (like with other SVG teams) was interesting. No player averaged less than 13 minutes per game, although some were in limited appearances. Also, Dwight Howard averaged the most minutes at 34.7 per game. It is worth noting, it is rare a player gets 35+ minutes playing for Stan.
Based on this, I think your opening day starters are Drummond, Monroe, Butler, Meeks, and Jennings. People seem to think there is a battle between Jennings and Augustin to start. Clearly, Augustin was brought in for quality point guard play with the second unit. While he showed he can handle his own with Chicago last season, he is best used in a reserve role. Given his contract and Jennings' status as returning starter, I think Jennings is starter until he plays his way to the bench. If you watched last season, you know that's a possibility. The good news, we now have a reliable, consistent back-up. Other spots on the roster to mention, KCP's versatility makes him a perfect option off the bench. He is still developing and his "D&3" combo could be nice subbing for Meeks and at the 3. I think there are some teams where he can guard the small forward, or play as the third guard for the Pistons. The toughest position to predict is at small forward, but I think Singler and Butler will share similar minutes and starts throughout the year.
In terms of production, I wanted to just run down realistic stat lines for everyone based on their minutes:
Andre Drummond: 33 MPG, 14 PPG, 12 RPG, 1.5 BPG - It will be tough for Drummond to match his offensive rebound total from last season. Lets hope he does not, since that means more shots are falling. I think we should expect improvement from him offensively, especially given a system where he might see better looks. Also, a slight improvement at the free throw line could mean a difference in his offense without relying on put backs.
Aaron Gray: 6 MPG, 2 PPG, 2 RPG
Greg Monroe: 34 MPG, 15.5 PPG, 8 RPG, 3.5 APG - I am expecting similar production from Monroe. I would like to see his FG% to get back over 50%, and I expect with a slower pace and better looks this is a real possibility. Also, on offense I expect to see Monroe being called on to move the ball more. I can see him starting plays at the elbow and giving himself more open looks from 12-15 feet. He had 3.5 assists per game two years ago, so its not outrageous to expect.
Josh Smith: 21 MPG, 9 PPG, 5 RPG, 2 APG - It is difficult to project but I went back to his rookie year for an idea of what he does when he shoots less. I think Stan Van could make Smith a valuable 6th man, playing a majority of his minutes at the 4 next to Monroe. In limited minutes, he might be more focused to produce without the luxury of being a volume shooter. I think he is a guy that can help us in transition and being an energy guy off the bench.
Jonas Jerebko: 7 MPG, 3 PPG, 1 RPG
Caron Butler: 20 MPG, 9 PPG, 3 RPG - I can see Butler fitting in well to this team. I think he is a Torii Hunter type: His value in the locker room outweighs his limited production on the court. Although, Butler is a great shooter and I can see him coming in and hitting 37% of his shots (making 1.2 of his 3.4 attempts). That type of shooting makes him a weapon and a guy that can get hot at times. Although as the season goes on, I expect his minutes to shrink. Age and fatigue might mean an expanded role for someone like Martin or Singler.
Kyle Singler: 16 MPG, 6 PPG, 1 RPG, 1 APG - Singler is best coming off the bench. I think he sees a majority of his minutes at the 3, especially since KCP and Meeks will be asked to play primarily at the 2. The addition of Martin, Meeks, and Butler means a drop in minutes for Singler. I see it hard for him to average more than 20 for next season. Although, if he shoots above 38% like last season, he could find a role in Van Gundy's offense.
Cartier Martin: 10 MPG, 3 PPG, 1 RPG - I think Martin was a great addition to this team. He is a plus-defender and a very efficient shooter. He has range and should basically give us a three a game, seeing most of his minutes subbing in as part of the second unit. An expanded role is possible if he shoots like he did last season.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: 20 MPG, 7.5 PPG, 2 RPG, 2 APG - The MVP... of Summer League! Still, I think KCP is a player that is really developing well. I think he has difficulty beating out a veteran, brought in by the new brass, for a starting spot. I think he is a constant irrational confidence guy. Which is a step up from the unsure shooter we saw last season. I expect streaky performances throughout the season. In the end, he is working his way toward starting and being a good starter on a playoff team. It's only year two, we have to remember that.
Jodie Meeks: 25 MPG, 9.5 PPG, 2 RPG, 1 APG - Is that line worth $6.5 million to you? It's difficult to gauge what he will do in Detroit. I think the Lakers was a bizarre situation and someone had to score on that team! It was nice to see him take advantage of the situation, but I see his production differently. I see him giving us what he gave Philly between 2010-2012. It will be expected for him to shoot and be a decent defender, that's about it.
Brandon Jennings: 34 MPG, 16.5 PPG, 7.5 APG, 3 RPG, 2 TOPG - This is the spot where our season might be decided. I see Jennings flourishing under SVG, especially after seeing how he spent his off-season (drugs and cross-overs, perfect). So lets play 'what if?' What if he got the same minutes as last year; cut down on his turnovers, shot 34.5% from 3PT, and scored slightly better while still getting the same amount of assists? I would be pretty damn happy.
D.J. Augustin: 14 MPG, 5 PPG, 3 APG - What a strange career this man has had! It seems only fitting he winds up in Detroit. I think Augustin becomes a very unremarkable back-up in Detroit. Think Shaun Hill. He comes in and shoots 40-37-85 and everyone wants to see more of him. But in his role, he does a solid job.
So if you add all of that up, the Pistons would be averaging around 100 points per game. While similar to last year, I would expect a pretty significant change in our Points Per Possession and an Adjust FG% above 50%. Doing that, we could be an average to slightly-above-average offense. Being more efficient would help our defense, and all-around, I think we are already an improved team from last season.
Let me know what you think, I really appreciate the feedback. And if you can, give our show a listen! You can listen at RawRadioX.com or by using the Tune-In Radio App (searching "Raw Radio X"). Thursday, 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM!