Well, that was a fun first week. With stifling defense, the Pistons were able to beat the Atlanta Hawks, Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls. Not with accurate and abundant three point shooting, not with transition buckets galore, but with defense. All of that has lead to the Pistons jumping up the media's NBA Power Rankings. Here is this week's collection (keep in mind, these were before Tuesday night's loss to the Indiana Pacers):
Last Week: 20
This Week: 3
The Pistons' bench is a real concern. They were a minus-16 last week in 42 minutes with at least three starters on the bench and Jodie Meeks is out 12-16 weeks after breaking his foot on Wednesday. But Andre Drummond (18.7 points and 16.3 rebounds per game) looks like a first-time All-Star and Marcus Morris (19.3 points per game) looks like one of the big steals of the offseason.
Agreed, the bench play is worrisome. Steve Blake needs to either stop shooting or choose his shots better. Stanley Johnson needs to slow down a bit in the halfcourt offense and let the game come to him. Anthony Tolliver, who had a good game against the Bulls, needs to start hitting his shots. And once Brandon Jennings comes back...
But honestly, as much as I love the Pistons, I don't think I could put them at No. 3 right now.
Last Week: 22
This Week: 14
Surprise! Stan Van Gundy’s off-season moves have paid immediate dividends, Andre Drummond has looked like an All-Star, and Detroit looks like it has a chance to muck up the East’s pecking order a little bit. Marcus Morris has been a quick systemic fit, and wins over three solid teams makes the Pistons this week’s biggest riser.
Morris has been the surprise of the team so far. I am not sure if it is sustainable, but if it is, the league needs to be on notice.
Last Week: 28
This Week: 4
Break up the Pistons! Impressive wins over the Bulls and Atlanta Hawks, plus a grind-it-out win over the postseason-hopeful Utah Jazz, have Detroit at 3-0 and looking like a real threat to break into the Eastern playoff bracket for the first time in seven seasons.
It might not be a beautiful brand of basketball — the Pistons rank in the bottom five in pace and the bottom half of the league in offensive efficiency, per NBA.com — but they're bombing 25 3-pointers a game, center Andre Drummond (18.7 points, 16.3 rebounds, two blocks per game, a shockingly respectable 58.1 percent from the free-throw line) looks like an All-Star, and Marcus Morris (19.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, 57.1 percent from 3) has been a pleasant surprise. Losing reserve Jodie Meeks to a Jones fracture will test Detroit's wing depth, and a brutal six-game West Coast swing that includes visits to the Warriors and Clippers means we'll soon have a much better idea of how good the Pistons are.
For now, though, Stan Van Gundy's got a squad worth watching. Style on 'em, SVG.
Oh, so NOW you want to pay attention? GET OFF THIS BANDWAGON!!!
Last Week: 17
This Week: 11
There was a tweet circulating Sunday night, amid all the madness emanating from the World Series and other sporting pursuits, about the three teams Detroit has beaten (Atlanta, Utah and Chicago) going 8-0 combined in their other games. The only Pistons downers to date: Too many empty seats at the home opener and the loss of Jodie Meeks.
Did you really have to point out the empty seats at the home opener? It's ok, there will be more filled seasons in the playoffs.
Last Week: 23
This Week: 8
That's right. eighth. They're undefeated, and their opponents are 8-0 in games that are not against them. They are hitting shots, defending with confidence and playing consistently quarter by quarter. They've got a formula and it is working right now.
Meh, not really hitting shots. I mean, yes, we've hit them when we've needed to, but the Pistons are 28th in the league in field-goal percentage, 20th in three-point percentage, and 29th in free-throw percentage. But take that into consideration, they won three games against pretty good teams but are not shooting the ball well. When it starts going in, and it will, game over.
Last Week: 11
This Week: 10
The Pistons are bumped up to a top 10 team after SportsLine already believed in this Stan Van Gundy squad. Huge leaps in projected wins and playoff percentage because the starting unit is destroying teams (plus-23.2 net rating). The bench is suspect and they just lost Jodie Meeks for a couple months, but they're clicking in the ways we expected them to. They have the biggest jump in wins projected by two full wins.
That jump in win projection went from 43.5 to 49.7. Anybody remember when the Pistons were last 32-50 and what happened the following season?