The Pistons may never lose again after deciding they'd rather pay Josh Smith to stay away than to play for them. They've gone 5-0 since sending Smith into the wilderness and their margin of victory over that span is a stunning 18.2 points. The Josh Smith Effect is in action.
WOW! That chart. I was really hoping to see one for Houston (I'm not obsessed, right V.?) since they had something similar for Rondo to Dallas (they are starting to concern me now). But WOW! Take all of those articles we have written about him and simply replace it with this chart and I think everyone will understand.
All that second-guessing of the decision to waive Josh Smith with $30 million-ish left on his contract, instead of sending him away Allen Iverson-style until a trade could be found, gets drowned out pretty quickly when you start out 5-0 post-Josh. So what if the opposition in those games is a combined 64-110?
The Pistons made the biggest jump for the week on these rankings, moving up 4. However, I would like to address that last sentence (though I won't go too far into detail). Yes, we beat "bad" teams. BUT BY AN AVERAGE OF 18.2!!! Which, honestly, could be higher seeing as how the lowest of that group was the 10 point win against Indiana the first game after making a major change to the roster. Also, Indiana allows 95.9 points per game on the season, we scored 119. Though we only scored 3 points above their average allowance for the season, we held the Cavs (with LeBron, though sans Irving) to 20 points below their season average. Not only did we hold the Magic 7 points under their average, we scored 10 points more than they allow per game. The Knicks game, well they're the Knicks, and it should have been a much higher differential. And then the Kings, the exact same as the Magic (held them to 7 points fewer, scored 10 points more). Before the trade we were losing to these kinds of teams, and not barely. I'm sorry, but I'll fully enjoy this win streak.
They have won five straight games since waiving Josh Smith and are four games out of the final East playoff spot.
The only rankings where the Pistons didn't move. I honestly don't get it. In the last 5 games (for all NBA teams) the Pistons have the highest point differential, the second highest offensive rating, the second lowest defensive rating, the highest Net Rating (almost 6 points higher than second...the Mavericks), fourth highest true shooting percentage, and the second highest three point percentage. But they're still 27th on this list. Wow.
You cannot make this stuff up. 5-0 since waiving Josh Smith, and looking like a real live NBA team. Moving the ball, making smart decisions, actually shooting and making baskets. The NBA is hilariously unbelievable.
Uh oh, I think the hysteria is setting in.
Last Week: 27
Brandon Jennings looks downright efficient when he is not playing with Josh Smith.
That he does. I will admit, it is starting to concern me some. Not that the Pistons are relying on him now, but if he continues on this, will they start? Jennings has had some good streaks in his career, followed by some not so good streaks. Maybe it was the thumb injury, but that is something we saw this year already. I really am praying it was the thumb injury and Jennings has a new lease on his game (and that Van Gundy has a leash on Jennings).
The 3-point shooting is what stands out and Brandon Jennings' hot streak obviously doesn't appear to be sustainable, but the Pistons also have allowed less than 92 points per 100 possessions since waiving Josh Smith. They've forced a lot more turnovers and had been keeping their opponents off the line until the Kings got there 36 times on Sunday.
Wait, did Schuhmann just read what I put in response to the USA Today rankings about Jennings? But on the defensive side, that is where I honestly think it was more our opponents than our defense. Do not get me wrong, our defense has definitely improved, but a defensive rating under 92? That would be the best defense in the league. So, removing an elite defender improves our defense? Got it!
Other quotes from the NBA.com rankings:
Speaking of slippage, the Miami Heat appear to be sliding right out of the playoffs, with the Indiana Pacers starting to gain some traction and the Detroit Pistons looking like a new team sans Josh Smith.
• Plus-minus stud: Andre Drummond (DET) was a plus-60 in three games last week.
• High jumps of the week: Detroit (+7), Oklahoma City (+4), Atlanta (+3), Brooklyn (+3), Dallas (+3)
Well, that was fun. I will say, though I know it's been an easy schedule, part of me was expecting a jump of at least two spots in each rankings due to the dominance the Pistons have been exhibiting. No matter, we'll be #1 on the rankings come June.