Just last week, my kids brought home their report cards for me to sign. As I was looking over them, I was pleased to see that they were progressing well in all areas and there were no areas of concern. After a tough loss to the Chicago Bulls at home, the Pistons have reached their mid-point of the season. How well are they progressing?
At this moment, the Pistons sit at 22-19 and 7th in the Eastern Conference. By contrast, last year at the 41-game mark, the Pistons were 16-25 and tied for 9th in the conference. This was only thanks to the amazing 12-3 run the Pistons were on at that time after releasing Josh Smith when they were 5-23. The Pistons have not needed such a run to get where they are now, with their longest losing streak of the season only being four games, whereas the Pistons had a 13-game losing streak in the first 41 last year.
Continuing with the comparison from last year, here are how their stats differ.
|2014-15 First 41||2015-16 First 41|
|FG%||42.6 (T-28th)||43.1 (T-28th)|
|3P%||35.0 (17th)||33.5 (T-22nd)|
|FT%||69.9 (29th)||65.3 (30th)|
|REB||45.5 (T-4th)||47.5 (2nd)|
|AST||21.1 (T-17th)||18.9 (27th)|
|TOV||13.4 (8th)||14.0 (9th)|
|STL||7.8 (12th)||7.8 (T-15th)|
|BLK||4.6 (T-16th)||3.7 (T-28th)|
|PF||19.4 (T-7th)||19.2 (8th)|
|PFD||19.7 (23rd)||21.7 (5th)|
|PTS||97.9 (22nd)||101.4 (T-15th)|
|OffRtg||101.3 (22nd)||101.5 (21st)|
|DefRtg||103.3 (15th)||100.3 (9th)|
|TS%||51.0 (27th)||50.9 (29th)|
|PACE||95.77 (19th)||97.86 (15th)|
In short, better defense has lead to a better record as the shooting has been fairly the same. Now, this is supposed to be a progress report. Here is how the Pistons stats match up from the first 20 games of this year versus the last 21.
|2015-16 First 20||2015-16 Last 21|
|FG%||41.9 (28th)||44.2 (22nd)|
|3P%||31.7 (25th)||35.1 (T-15th)|
|FT%||65.5 (30th)||65.0 (30th)|
|REB||47.2 (3rd)||47.8 (2nd)|
|AST||18.0 (T-28th)||19.7 (27th)|
|TOV||14.2 (8th)||13.8 (12th)|
|STL||8.2 (14th)||7.5 (T-21st)|
|BLK||3.3 (30th)||4.2 (T-20th)|
|PF||18.5 (T-5th)||19.9 (13th)|
|PFD||22.6 (5th)||20.8 (T-6th)|
|PTS||98.4 (21st)||104.3 (T-7th)|
|OffRtg||99.1 (24th)||103.8 (15th)|
|DefRtg||99.7 (T-8th)||100.8 (T-5th)|
|TS%||49.7 (30th)||52.0 (T-27th)|
|PACE||97.71 (22nd)||98.00 (11th)|
To start the season, it was our defense that kept us in games and allowed us to maintain a winning record for all but a few days. Since then, our offense has picked up though there has been a slight slip in our defense. If the Pistons can maintain this pace, they should be in line for the playoffs.
Half of the Pistons games last year were against teams with winning records. They would go 13-28. So far this season, the Pistons have faced 24 teams who (at this time) have a winning record, and have won half of them. Looking at the current records and the remaining Pistons schedule, this means they have 20 remaining games against such teams. Running the current winning percentages against those games, the Pistons schedule to finish with a record of 44-38.
The Pistons have gotten better in some sense from the first quarter of the season. However, there are still areas of concern. Their free throw shooting is abysmal. Much of that is due to Andre Drummond and Hack-a-Dre. The Pistons are shooting 77.5-percent if you exclude Drummond's numbers, and that would be good for 13th in the league.
Also, the Pistons are starting to commit too many fouls while drawing even fewer of them. Some of those fouls are sloppy, like this one. "No Andre, no."
While the Pistons have beaten the Atlanta Hawks by 12, have multiple double-digit comebacks, and have beaten the Golden State Warriors by 18, they have also lost to the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, continue to get behind by double-digits early in games, and their bench is still inconsistent. Much of the media does not know what to make of the Pistons, and at this point, I'm not even sure if the Pistons know what or who they are. Regardless, they still play well enough to have a chance at getting into the playoffs for the first time in the better part of a decade. As a fan, I can live with that.
Let us know in the poll what grade you'd give the Pistons at this point in the season.