Following the longest offseason since 2002 for the Pistons, it's finally time for the new regular season. With new coaches, players, and attitude, Detroit is officially turning over a new leaf tonight vs. the Memphis Grizzlies, marking the start of the 2009-2010 NBA regular season.
New head coach, John Kuester announced his (first) starting lineup of the season earlier this morning. It will consist of Stuckey, Hamilton, Prince, Villanueva, and Ben Wallace (as you can see above). Kwame Brown, who was favored to start earlier this preseason, has been battling a hand injury, but should be good to go off the bench.
A lot has been said about Richard Hamilton missing practice yesterday. It even led one Pistons blogger, Dan Feldman, to wonder if the Pistons were on the verge of trading him. While I didn't think that was the case, that's a valid question considering Hamilton is surely the largest trade bait on the team and often times, when a guy is about to be traded, they are mysteriously absent from practice leading up to it. Throw in the fact that the Pistons waived Deron Washington to open up a roster spot (and to the dismay of many fans) and the coincidental timing of Hamilton's anti-Curry comments, it all seems plausible. However, John Kuester insisted that it was a personal problem with Hamilton and he was in Memphis well before the shootaround this morning.
With Hamilton in the starting lineup, that leaves their biggest free agent signee, Ben Gordon seeing significant time off the bench as Detroit's sixth man. Will Bynum will also see his fair share in Kuester's three guard sets.
The Grizzlies will be without Allen Iverson (shucks), but he wasn't afraid to reiterate some things about his time in Detroit. While I still adamantly believe Iverson was more of a team burden than anything else, I am comfortable admitting Curry may have been a bigger problem than I originally thought.
As for the game itself, Detroit can look back about a week and a half ago to know what not to do in this one. In Detroit's preseason game vs. the Grizzlies on October 17, they allowed Memphis to jump out to a 22-point first quarter lead (how do you let that happen?) and the Griz never looked back. Detroit wound up losing that game by 21-points.
If Detroit can prevent the Grizzlies from shooting above 50% and shoot a decent percentage themselves, they should be alright. They matched virtually every team they played in rebounding during the preseason, but it was contesting shots (mainly around the perimeter) that posed as the real major problem. Team defense will improve as the season endures, but it all starts tonight.
Not many people are giving Detroit any credit for the roster overhaul over the offseason, or any chance to be a force in the Eastern Conference. In fact, many people believe Detroit will somehow be worse this season and miss out on the playoffs. Charlie Villanueva said it best last night in a few of his tweets on Twitter: Don't sleep on Detroit, because this team is going to be a surprise in the East.
Sit back and relax -- it's going to be a fun ride. Welcome to the new season and go Pistons!