Before the start of training camp, even before I was a fully fledged DBB contributor, I wrote a bold predictions piece in the FanPosts detailing at the time what I thought were five outrageous possibilities for the Pistons at the start of the season. You can find the full piece here, but it's time to revisit these prophecies and see whether I have a future in Divination.
1. Hasheem Thabeet makes the final roster.
Here's what I wrote on the matter.
This is entirely possible anyway, due to Aaron Gray's health concerns. However, what makes this bold is that Gray's deal is guaranteed, and therefore harder to shed, as he would have to be bought out for Thabeet to make the roster. It's of course much more likely that Thabeet was signed as well styled insurance for Gray but ultimately would wither away to Grand Rapids, but there is still the lingering feeling around the NBA that this 7'3" Tanzanian may actually be good at basketball.
As we all know, this prediction was false, but not totally inaccurate in its premise. Whilst Thabeet was eventually signed by the Grand Rapids Drive for their inaugural D-League season, Aaron Gray did indeed end up getting waived by the team. However, this was obviously written before the trade which sent Will Bynum to Boston for Joel Anthony, which then pretty much gave the indication that neither Thabeet nor Gray were making the final roster. As we know, Gray missed the season for medical reasons following a cardiac episode but remained with the team in a non-playing capacity, helping train the Pistons bigs whilst recovering. More extensive details were written in November by David Mayo at MLive.com.
2. D.J. Augustin would start over Brandon Jennings
To a lot of the regular commenters here, this may not be so much a bold prediction as it is a lucid pipe-dream. However, for me, Jennings, for at least the start of the season, is the incumbent starting PG. Unless he breaks his jaw again or takes 15 stepback 3s in the open scrimmage, PG is his to [invariably] lose. If we also assume that the 15 pounds he's added on is actually muscle as he says it is, and not fat from sitting around all day watching NBATV as anyone who follows his Twitter would know, then it may make him less cringeworthy on defence, and therefore the better starting PG.
As we now know, the PG spot WAS Jennings' to lose, and for the majority of his season, he played like he deserved that starting spot, save for a rough stretch in late November-December after hyperextending his thumb against Jeff Teague. Based on the numbers per 36 minutes, Jennings was easily the more productive player, averaging nearly 20 points and 8 assists, but Augustin proved to be a reliable backup, and an excellent fill in once Jennings went down and D.J. got consistent minutes. As we know, neither finished the season with the team, for different reasons, and it will be interesting to see how Jennings progresses next season, if he becomes to Reggie Jackson what D.J. was to Jennings.
3. Tony Mitchell is cut
Remember the part where I said the roster stood at 16 guaranteed players? Well, with that pesky thing called roster limitations one player has to be released one way or another. In my eyes, the two most likely candidates are Will Bynum and Tony Mitchell. Bynum is unlikely despite our guard depth because he's one of those "character veterans" that Van Gundy talks about all the time. Mitchell will find playing time hard to come by initially because his position of choice, PF, is coincidentally our biggest strength, with Greg Monroe, Josh Smith and Jonas Jerebko all splitting time there before Mitchell. That's before you even factor in the fact that he has no jumpshot (Smiff taught him well), and the possibility of smallball lineups with Datome or even Singler (god forbid) at the 4, and it looks very bleak.
Again, this was written before the Bynum trade, but it still came true indirectly. Mitchell wasn't cut at the start of the season (that was Aaron Gray), he was the rags which Stan Van Gundy turned into the riches of Anthony Tolliver. In a sense that was Mitchell's best contribution in his entire tenure in Detroit. He failed to play a single second in season 2014-15 before being eventually shipped to Phoenix and subsequently waived. He is apparently now in Puerto Rico where he is being stalked in shopping centers by our own Kriz.
4. Greg Monroe comes off the bench.
We know pretty well what the rotation will look like for the first 2 games due to Monroe's alcohol-related suspension, but after that it's open season. Training camp is a good opportunity for Smith to cement himself as the starting 4, and if he plays well enough in the first two games, then it's hard to see Van Gndy show even a fraction of the comedic ineptitude that surrounded Mo Cheeks and shift Smith back to the 3 and accomodate Monroe in the laughably suicidal "Big Three". At Media Day, Monroe spoke about coming off the bench as well as a range of other things, and he said it was a totally foreign concept to him at this point in his career. A concept which may become familiar as the season wears on.
What idiots we all were. "There's no way SVG will play Josh at the three!" we all chimed ignorantly. Lo and behold, that's exactly what happened. I'll admit I believed it may be a good thing for Monroe to come off the bench so he could be the dominant centre in the second unit, but thank funk that Van Gundy cut Josh Smith, eventually. Also, isn't it funny we were able to optimistically say that there was a chance Smith would play well for us, only to be comically inaccurate? Then he goes out and goes all Magic Johnson-Big O hybrid against Dallas. Let's not forget, there was a stretch of a few games before Smith got waived when Monroe started off the bench, but that was mercifully brief.
5. Spencer Dinwiddie is declared fit for opening night.
This one is REALLY left-field, as all we've heard over the summer (winter here in Down Under), is how there is no timetable for Spencer and that Van Gundy has no expectations of him at all this season. There were various reports mooting a possible January return for the rookie, but by all recent accounts "The Mayor" is progressing swimmingly and has pushed his return well forward. Whether he impresses enough to force a suit-up on opening night, however, only time will tell.
Hmm. I said that this one was the most ridiculous, and yet it was the one that came true. Dinwiddie did indeed get declared fit for opening night, and in fact did play a few minutes. Whether the fact that the game was in Denver near his college stomping grounds at Colorado had anything to do with it is irrelevant, but Dinwiddie had a nice, healthy rookie season.
So let's collate the results here. I successfully predicted 2/5 scenarios. I've awarded myself 1 mark for the Dinwiddie prediction, and half a mark each for the Mitchell and Monroe predictions. Mitchell did eventually get released, just not in the form I expected, and Monroe did start for about 3 games, so I've been generous here. Remember younger readers, your teachers WANT to pass you, don't give them a reason to fail you.
What about you? Did you have any outlandish predictions at training camp? Share them below.