Everyone is excited for a fresh start. The new head coach is preaching fundamentals and comes with a winning reputation. Josh Smith talks leadership, Brandon Jennings preaches accountability and Andre Drummond talks about growing his game.
The date is Sept. 30, 2013 at Pistons media day to introduce new head coach Maurice Cheeks and kick off another season of Pistons basketball. The season would see the Pistons finish with 29 wins and with Mo Cheeks out of a job.
The Pistons held another media day Monday at the Palace of Auburn Hills and again Smith talked leadership, Jennings preached accountability and Drummond talked about how he was going to improve his game.
Just like last year everyone was being 100 percent sincere. In the end, media days must be taken with a healthy dose of salt. It's not about what players say in front of a media scrum that dictates the course of the year ahead. It's everything the public doesn't see, and, ultimately, the results on the floor.
And while Drummond is a budding superstar talking about becoming a team leader, and Smith is the highest paid player on the team and Monroe is the most consistent and skilled offensive force, the real leader is and must be Stan Van Gundy. And according to all the players and owner Tom Gores, Van Gundy is up to the challenge.
The players have been in town since Sept. 1 learning Van Gundy's system and learning how to be a team. When asked about his No. 1 priority this season, Van Gundy kept it simple.
"My job tomorrow is to make sure everybody runs back on defense," Van Gundy said.
And the amazing thing is, even that simple concept is a step in the right direction for a Pistons team that has known little more than upheaval and disappointing results in recent years.
It's Van Gundy's job to hold Jennings accountable when he stops looking for his teammates and starts looking for his shot. It's Van Gundy's job to put Smith in a position to succeed instead of letting him float on the perimeter and take 3-pointers with abandon. And, most importantly, it's Van Gundy's job to navigate a tricky three-big rotation featuring Smith, Drummond and Greg Monroe and ensuring success on the court and no distractions off of it.
Is he the man for the job? I'd say he's the best coach the Pistons have had since Larry Brown, but these challenges would be tricky for anyone to handle. We're about to find out if he's up for it.
Detroit Bad Boys was on hand at Pistons media day and will bring you a number of stories in the coming days. Stay tuned for more.