This was going to be the best Pistons Power Rankings ever. Then Brandon Jennings went and got injured and "The Sound of Silence" became the theme song of every Detroit Pistons fan alive. The season, and the rankings, must go on, however. Here's the highs and lows of January, ranked accordingly:
1. "We just form a f-cking wall."
If anyone has gotten sick of this, then stop reading right now. This isn't for you. Even if it's overkill at this point, it is exactly what the Stan Van Gundy Pistons are all about. They're intense, they want to win, and they give a f*ck. Getting rid of Josh Smith was definitely the best thing that happened to this team, but give credit to the players that are still on the team, they play hard and they play well.
2. Brandon Jennings
This is what it's like to date someone for a month, be in the head-over-heels-in-love-honeymoon-phase, and then get a job in a city 2,000 miles away. You break up abruptly, both unwilling to commit to something so new even though it's so much fun. You want to text, letting them know you're thinking about them, but instead remain silent, stewing in your sorrow as a former shell of your old self.
That's what the Jennings injury has done to us all. With him, we were thinking about not only a trip to the playoffs, but a first-round win. Instead, he's out for six to nine months and nearly all hope is lost.
While we wait for Jennings to return, just like we wait for a job offer back in the city of our possible love, this video from Hypnowheel does justice to all Jennings gave the Pistons this season:
3. RIP, Josh Smith
Remembering the good times of the Josh Smith Pistons' Era: pic.twitter.com/QzFPvCEMvG— Liam B-P (@liam_bp) December 22, 2014
4. Andre Drummond
Every missed shot "is like a pass to me," Andre Drummond said. There was talk of Drummond being the next Dwight Howard. But his early season play was more like Ben Wallace -- not there's anything wrong with that, just not superstar material. Then -- recurring theme here -- Josh Smith left and Drummond started to take over. His numbers have made a jump from 12.4 points and 12.6 rebounds per game in the 28 games with Smith to 12.8 points and 13.3 rebounds per in the 17 games without him. His plus/minus went from -4.7 to +3.1. Best of all, he's been a monster again. Remember those 15-rebound games Drummond seemed to be made for? He only had 7 of them with Smith in the lineup. Without? Drummond has had 15 or more rebounds nine times. Instead of a 15-rebound game once every four games, he has 15 boards once every two games. Once Drummond starts making some free throws, look out.
5. Stan Van Gundy
It was easy to get down on the Pistons when they were 5-23 and paying Josh Smith not to play basketball for them. But Van Gundy has turned everything around. Even with Jennings out, Van Gundy just might be able to get this team to the playoffs.
Plus, he's always very fun to watch:
5. Game Winners
Two of the biggest wins in the post-Josh-Smith era came against the Spurs and the Toronto Raptors. Both were thanks to the heroics of Jennings (cue the tears again). Here's his shutdown defense in the big win against Toronto:
And here's his stupidly improbable game winner against the Spurs that led to the wall:
H/T the time-traveling HeWizard
GET WELL SOON, BRANDON JENNINGS.
6. The Drive can ball
The Grand Rapids Drive, the Pistons' D-League team, had a nice performance at the D-League Showcase. They lost in the championship game to the Bakersfield Jam, 105-99. A lot of these guys won't make a Pistons roster, but players like Gigi Datome and Spencer Dinwiddie could see playing time.
Yes, the Pistons lost Brandon Jennings for the year. Yes, the season is probably over. But here's the thing: The Eastern Conference is a terrible basketball conference. Detroit can still make the playoffs. D.J. Augustin is going to need to step up. Jodie Meeks has made a huge difference since returning from injury. And Greg Monroe is a legitimate threat down low (here's to hoping he sticks around next season). Detroit basketball isn't dead. It's alive and well.
313. All-Star heroes past
The 2006 All-Star game was a coronation of the Detroit Pistons dominance of the Eastern Conference throughout the 2000s. Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace were all named reserves on the East's All-Star team. It was the first time in league history that four reserves were chosen from the same team. It's nice to remember that there was no superstar on that team. While Drummond may one day get there, it's okay if he doesn't. A team like the Atlanta Hawks is showing what the 2004 Detroit Pistons made clear: That you can win as a team.
Not Ranked: The dancing usher WILL NOT STOP. They almost won me over by bringing the boy back, but couldn't quite pull it off.