Take THAT Atlanta! Well ... kind of Atlanta. As any sports fan should know, preseason failure or success should be taken with a grain of salt. When the opponent is playing without its entire starting lineup, perhaps a few large grains of salt are needed.
The Pistons ended the preseason at 3-5 after a 115-87 win over the shorthanded Atlanta Hawks, the same Hawks they open the regular season with Oct. 27. For most, the preseason is used as an attempt to solve training camp mysteries with actual game outcomes becoming a distant second on the priority list. Even though it's a "meaningless" preseason game, it offered the Pistons one last chance to answer existing player rotation and pecking order questions.
With Brandon Jennings recovering from an Achilles injury that could sideline him through Christmas, one of the biggest question marks of this roster is at backup point guard. Stan Van Gundy preemptively answered this question in the offseason acquiring the services of Steve Blake only to see the veteran point guard miss the first seven games of the preseason after suffering a concussion during the second day of camp.
Blake saw his first game action in a Piston uniform Friday night and.....color me impressed. Typically, having a new point guard is like hiring a new secretary at the office, it takes time to see how everyone likes their coffee. However, Blake wasted no time making an impact. He was instantly able to play the part of playmaking distributor in a way only a 12-year veteran could. He ended with night with two points on 1-of-6 shooting, but most importantly, he dished 12 assists in 24 minutes.
Blake's vision, manipulation of the defense and orchestration of the offense was on point the whole night.
Although matching up with mostly Atlanta's D-League squad, Spencer Dinwiddie played his best ball in a while. While most of the Hawks roster was unremarkable, backup point guard Dennis Schroder is a future starter in this league and Dinwiddie more than held his own. Using active hands on defense and showing confidence in his shot (even when he missed, the body language looked good), Dinwiddie played the role of an actual, real-life NBA player.
Reggie Bullock made a name for himself during training camp and during the preseason. With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope out because of a foot sprain suffered Wednesday against the Hornets, the Phoenix Sun trade "throw-in" received another opportunity to shine and, again, rose to the occasion. Bullock finished with 15 points and connected on 3-of-5 3-point attempts. Bullock looks like he belongs and, even better, acts and plays like he knows he belongs. Marcus Morris clearly has a role on this team and if Bullock ends up contributing in any form, that back page of the newspaper trade will go down as an absolute heist. Adding to the peace of mind, Jodie Meeks also looked sharp, hitting three triples and finishing with 17 points. Between KCP, Bullock and Meeks, hopefully, a functioning, productive rotation is on the horizon.
That's a wrap on the 2015 preseason. The next time you see the Pistons, wins and losses are the only thing that matters. Expectations are high but please keep in mind the feeling of disappointment is directly related to....expectations. We all love the idea of Andre Drummond continuing to polish his rough edges; we all want Reggie Jackson to prove that he's worth his contract; some believe Stanley Johnson should start preparing his Hall of Fame speech. It's all great in theory and part of being a fan but until proven otherwise, this organization hasn't made the playoffs in six years. They have an opportunity to change that beginning Oct. 27.