1. Leadership will not be an issue this season
Wins or losses, I've got no idea. But one thing that is easily apparent is that there will not be a leadership deficit on this team. In previous years, you had Josh Smith mumble about being a leader because he's a veteran, Brandon Jennings reluctantly saying he needed to step up and Andre Drummond saying he wanted to be the team's leader. But the results on the floor showed that the team was rudderless.
That will not be an issue this season. Reggie Jackson exudes confidence and, more importantly, authority. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope seems more confident and intense than ever. And Drummond had a seriousness and forcefulness I hadn't seen before.
2. KCP doesn't want anyone taking his starting gig
Sometimes a laugh and a long silence says more than words could. When asked about SVG's comments about Johnson playing shooting guard, KCP kept mostly to himself before eventually saying he took the comments to heart. But he didn't seem too pleased about his coach's comments.
3. Stanley Johnson's funky shooting motion isn't going anywhere
Johnson did not seem inclined to drastically change his mechanics during his rookie year. Johnson said shooting coach Dave Hopla is not trying to eliminate his funky delivery and instead is focused on making it more consistent, and giving Johnson better lift with his legs. When asked about coaches' previous attempts to remake his shot, Johnson said that when it stopped going in he'd just go back to what worked.
4. Expect a lot more Andre Drummond post ups
While Drummond is never going to give Detroit what Greg Monroe did on the block, Van Gundy was pretty effusive in his praise of Drummond's post-game development as the year went on last season.
5. Aron Baynes might show more than you think
When Baynes talked about why he was so excited to come to Detroit he talked about what a great reputation Van Gundy has among players, and also mentioned that he was excited because Van Gundy told him the Pistons wanted him not for what he did so well in San Antonio but for the expanded, versatile game he showed off as part of his national team in Australia.
6. Everything just makes sense
Maybe the Pistons sniff .500, maybe they make the playoffs, maybe they don't. But one thing is certain -- all the pieces make sense. No big three lineup, no spacing issues, no selfish reputations. When players spoke they talked about how easily it would be to mesh their skills with the complementary skills of teammates -- mostly Drummond and Jackson. To hear Anthony Tolliver, Ersan Illyasova and Jodie Meeks talk about how easily they were going to get catch-and-shoot chances, and to hear Marcus Morris talk about spotting up or hitting the block depending on the matchup .... it all just made so much sense. A refreshing change of pace from previous seasons.
7. These guys like each other
Every player talked about bonding together and pushing each other. But more than that, the guys you would think Detroit views as its core -- Drummond, Jackson and KCP -- seem incredibly close. Maybe it just seems friendlier because the elephant in the room -- Josh Smith -- is gone. But there just seemed to be an ease in the Palace on Monday.
8. Secondary ball handling is still going to be an issue
Just about every player talked about working on their ball-handling this offseason, which is all well and good, but it indicates that Van Gundy still hasn't zeroed in on a guy he can trust when teams key in on Jackson. KCP, Meeks, Morris and Steve Blake all talked about handling the ball and playing alongside a point guard. One or more of those guys is going to need to step up or Detroit will be an easy puzzle to solve.
9. Teammates are extremely impressed with rookie Stanley Johnson
It's always smart to temper expectations when talking about rookies, but I'm excited to see what Johnson can do in his inaugural NBA season. Teammates, most unprompted, were quick to praise Johnson. Think about a player with some mix of Brandon Knight's work ethic, KCP's defense and Monroe's day-one NBA ability and you'll have some idea of the best-case scenario for Johnson. He's not going to be a star out of the gate or anything, but he certainly seems to have the right mix of skills and opportunity to be a player to keep an eye on for rookie of the year.
10. As usual, I am way too optimistic
These damn Pistons get me every year.