If you need any more reading before the Detroit Pistons season opener against the Atlanta Hawks tonight, Kris Willis from Peachtree Hoops took some time out to answer a few questions we had. We hope you enjoy.
1) Al Horford -- 3-point bomber
Al Horford shot 4.1 threes per-36 in the preseason, making 37.5 percent of them. His max in any season is 0.6 attempts per-36. Is Bud reworking the offense?
I think this is a new wrinkle that we are likely to see this season, but it really isn't Bud reworking the offense. He has always preferred the wide open, space the floor system. If anything he is going to have to rework the offense a bit to incorporate the addition of Tiago Splitter to the lineup.
We saw Horford attempt a few three-pointers last season, but primarily from the corners. This preseason he ventured out to the top of the key and drastically cut down on his attempts from midrange. If he can continue to convert at a good clip, then I think it is something we are going to see a lot of this season.
2) Al Horford can't miss!
Horford was also perfect from the line in the preseason, but he's never scratched 80 percent in any season. Has he changed anything about his free throws?
Nothing much that I noticed. He has always been a pretty good shooter but has never really seen sustained success at the charity stripe. I think the bigger question is that Horford only averaged 1.8 attempts after establishing a career-low of 1.9 last season. Mike Budenholzer listed getting to the line more as one of the goals for the team this season, but as we have watched Horford's offensive game drift out to the perimeter, his free throw attempts have naturally dropped.
3) Kyle Korver -- the ageless wonder
Kyle Korver is almost 35 years old. Last year he averaged nearly 50 percent on the second most 3-point attempts in his career and has increased his percentage four straight years. Can he keep those numbers up and maintain being a specialist starter with the Hawks at this age?
We are bracing ourselves for the possibility that Korver takes a step back this season. However, it is important to mention that a step back for him will still have him among the league's elite shooters. A slow start is definitely possible given that so much of his offseason routine was disrupted while he recovered from the broken ankle that he suffered in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Korver has blossomed as a player and is nearly a perfect fit for what Budenholzer wants at the shooting guard position. He keeps himself in pristine shape physically and I think will again be effective as the team's starter at shooting guard. However, I wouldn't be surprised if his numbers did start to regress somewhat.
4) How long can the Hawks keep wining with this core?
The Hawks have a starting lineup with an average age of 30. Jeff Teague is the youngest at 27. They were really good last year. Is their window slipping away?
I think it may be a bit premature to say that, but change is likely on the horizon. Al Horford is a free agent at the end of the season and while it is likely the Hawks make a huge effort to re-sign him nothing is for certain in the NBA. Atlanta will also eventually have a decision to make at point guard where Teague will be entering the final year of his contract next season. Atlanta has Dennis Schroder waiting in the wings as an option to take over for Teague at some point. The Hawks have been in win now mode for the last couple of seasons but they have a flexible enough salary situation that they can make a pivot when the time is right.
5) The Hawks bench
Who is the biggest offensive/defensive threat off the bench?
The addition of Splitter will give the Hawks a huge boost to Atlanta's bench defensively. Offensively there are some capable players like Schroder and Mike Scott or maybe even the newly acquired Tim Hardaway Jr. I think going into the season the offensive ability of the bench unit may be the team's biggest question mark.
6) Detroit's chances from an outside perspective
Where do you see the Pistons landing in the Eastern Conference this year?
I was a big fan of the hiring of Stan Van Gundy and thought he did a good job of clearing out players like Josh Smith from the roster. I am interested to see how the Reggie Jackson signing works out and how they handle that position once Brandon Jennings is healthy and returns to the team. I think Detroit is headed back in the right direction and will be in contention for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
So there you have it. Now let's get ready for some DETROIT BASKETBALL!!!