As DBB's Kool-Aid Peddler-in-Chief, I feel it is my duty to remind loyal Pistons fans just how well their team is performing thus far, and why they should be even more excited about the next 52 games.
Prior to the season, I was both applauded and ridiculed for suggesting the Pistons could win "42-50 games" when most analysts were projecting win totals in the thirties and another trip to the lottery. I got used to seeing pics of the Kool-Aid Man popping up in the comments.
After their promising start, and looking at their challenging early-season schedule, I thought they'd enter Christmas break around .500, before Brandon Jennings returned and helped them rise in the standings in the new year.
Yes, even I was a bit too skeptical about this team.
Boasting a 17-13 record, the Pistons have more than survived arguably their most difficult portion of the schedule, and are well-positioned to surge higher in the Beastern Conference standings as Brandon Jennings bolsters the bench and the schedule becomes more friendly.
Make no mistake, they will be playing, on average, with greater rest and greater depth from this point forward, and have the added benefit of a starting unit that continues to gel and become more cohesive as the season progresses.
While they're currently on pace to win about 45-46 games, adding Jennings (and eventually Meeks) and getting more rest should elevate their winning percentage even more. A 50-win season is no longer wishful thinking.
Packey and I chatted a bit at Philips Arena during the recent loss to the Hawks, and agreed that this team is poised to host a playoff series.
Ask yourself - how many teams in the East are clearly better than the Pistons?
I count one. The Lebrons.
While a case could be made for the Raptors, they sit one game ahead at this point. Toronto is the only other East team to have played as many road games as the Pistons, so I give them credit for being better than their record as well.
The eye test tells me that the Bulls are on the downslide and the Heat are paper tigers, while the Pacers and Hawks are more experienced and fundamentally sound, but lack the talent and potential of these young Pistons.
During the offseason, we at DBB talked a lot about the "ifs"... that the Pistons would be good if Reggie Jackson played the way he did late last year, if Andre Drummond blossomed into a star, if KCP showed improvement, if Stanley Johnson contributed right away, if the offense flowed better without Monroe clogging up the paint, and so on.
At this moment, it appears that many of those ifs are coming to fruition. Reggie and Dre are playing like All-Stars. KCP is playing defense at a high level, while lately beginning to show more consistency on offense. Stanimal is shooting the three-ball very well and giving solid minutes most nights. The offense is much more open with 48 minutes of stretch-4 play alongside Drummond.
One of the remaining ifs will soon be answered as well... if Jennings returns as the Swag we know and love. And if that happens, look out. Because even Steve Blake is beginning to play well.
Yes, it's a fun time to be a Detroit Pistons fan. The best part is that our enthusiasm is as much about the future as it is about this season. Aside from Cleveland, there isn't another team in the East that I'd project above the Pistons for the next 3-5 years. This team is so young that it's only going to get better as its core players enter their primes.
So there you have it. A nice, big pitcher of Kool-Aid under the tree for you. I already got my favorite gift... courtesy of Mrs. Hypnowheel.
Merry Christmas, DBB!