The season starts in less than a week and throughout the year we are looking to keep you updated with the rest of the Eastern Conference as the Pistons look to *hopefully* make a playoff push.
News and notes
New York Knicks
At times last year, New York Knicks fielded a team that resembled a middle of the road D-League squad. Talent wise, the Knicks are head and shoulders above last year with the acquisitions of Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams and rookies Kristpas Porzingas and Jerian Grant. Second-year coach Derek Fisher is even flirting with the idea of starting Porzingas and with the patience of the New York media and fan base, what could possibly go wrong? I'm in the minority of people who think Carmelo Anthony is still a top twelve(ish) player and if this team can stay relatively healthy, they no longer become an easy W....just a W.
A lot has been made of the Philadelphia um, retooling process. Reports surfaced last week that 2014 third overall pick Joel Embiid refused to wear a walking boot while visiting the 76ers summer league team in Vegas. Speculation from sources is that it isn't an issue of Embiid's foot not healing properly, and, instead, he actually re-broke his foot while in Las Vegas. Either way, Embiid is set to miss the entire upcoming season. Philadelphia can sell their fans on the talent of Nerlens Noel and Jahil Okafor (can they grow together is another question) but this team is still two years away from being two years away.
Sadly, the Pistons broke even last year going a combined 4-4 v. Philadelphia and New York. Looking ahead, they lose a perceived "gimmie" with only seven combined games in 2015-16. If the Pistons are serious playoff contenders, anything less than a 5-2 record is unacceptable. In a long 82 game season, players and teams can start going through the motions during the dog days of the schedule. On a good team, that group think is quickly rerouted. On a bad team, it can be the start of a losing streak. Many times, the difference is in the quality of leadership and even though we all love Stan Van Gundy, this falls squarely on the players. How the Pistons play this year against apparent lesser teams will be a direct reflection of team leaders Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson. Over the summer, they said all the right things but for both players, this is the first time in their career the camera will be pointed at them if the ship turns sour. The Pistons have not earned the right to go through the motions in any aspect of basketball and it's up to their leaders to reinforce that concept. Detroit needs every game this year as the playoff race is expected to be tight; they should be licking their chops to beat up on the Knicks and 76ers of the world.
LeBron James took an anti-inflammatory shot to his back, effectively ending his preseason after only participating in two games. James received a similar shot in January of 2015 forcing a hiatus of basketball-related activities for roughly two weeks. For the Cavs, the good news is that after his previous shot, James put a then-struggling team on his back and led them to the NBA Finals. The bad news, obviously, is that this raises the question of whether this is a recurring, possibly degenerative problem, for their superstar.
Kevin Love returned to the court (10/18) in his first game action in almost six months. He recorded six points and four rebounds in 13 minutes of play. With Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert already sidelined with injury and the continued holdout of Tristian Thompson, a healthy Love is vital to Cavs early season success. Cleveland visits Detroit on Nov. 17.
Chicago's Derrick Rose has yet to resume full contact in practice. After breaking an orbital bone in his eye socket on the first day of training camp, the oft-injured guard has been sidelined and relegated to light shootarounds and film study. When the former MVP does come back, look for him to wear a protective mask for now and possibly the remainder of his career. Chicago is at Detroit on Oct. 30.
Milwaukee forward Jabari Parker continues to practice at full speed, but the second overall pick in the 2014 draft has yet to see preseason action. Parker tore his ACL 25 games into his rookie campaign and a decision on opening night availability has not yet been made. The Pistons first game v. the Bucks is Nov. 23 at Milwaukee.
Thabo Sefolosha is back on the court for the Atlanta Hawks after he broke his leg in April. The Pistons visit the Hawks on opening night.
Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat has participated fully in training camp and in preseason games. Bosh missed most of the second half of the 14-15 season with blood clots in his lungs but is expected to be healthy moving forward.