The signings of Josh Smith, Chauncey Billups and Gigi Datome combined with the development of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe have many Pistons fans picturing playoffs.
But ESPN writer Tom Haberstroh has giving his post free agent frenzy edition of Eastern Conference power rankings and has Detroit finishing 10th, just one spot better than last season's 11-spot finish.
Here is what he has to say about Detroit (ESPN Insider):
I'd be more excited about the Pistons had they addressed their spacing issues brought about by Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, but then they exacerbated the problem by signing notorious long-2 maven Josh Smith.
No doubt, Smith will improve their score prevention on the defensive end, but I'm still not sure how this team can put up enough points to be a playoff team. Can Kentavious Caldwell-Pope rescue a dreadful backcourt?
Not an unfair assessment, I suppose. So if the Pistons don't catapult themselves from the lottery to the playoffs in the East, who does? Haberstroh has the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers both leapfrogging Detroit to nab the No. 7 and No. 8 spots, respectively. I guess he has more faith in the health of Andrew Bynum and Kyrie Irving, and Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. turning into immediate contributors than he does in Detroit figuring out how to make Smith fit into its roster.
I'm not sure that I buy that one. And it's not even the worst thing he wrote about Detroit!
Check out what he wrote about the Milwaukee Bucks (picked to finish one spot ahead of Detroit):
This could work. Underline, double-asterisk, highlight "could." With all the point guard openings being filled, Brandon Jennings figures to re-up with the Bucks on a qualifying offer and help try to lead the Bucks back to the playoffs.
Ironically, O.J. Mayo is a statistical twin to J.J. Redick, who never found his footing in Milwaukee. But don't count out Larry Sanders and John Henson as the East's best young frontcourt. While the franchise's sideways direction could be questioned, the Bucks will be vying for the playoffs once again in 2013-14.
Emphasis mine. Fireable offense Habertstroh's. Them's fightin' words. I'll leave it to you guys in the comments to explain just how wrong he is.
For the record he had the East shaping out this way:
Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks, Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors, Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Philadelphia 76ers.