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DBB on 3: Commenter’s Choice

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This time we left it up to you guys to ask our writers questions.

Graphics by Christopher Daniels

I’ve been really enjoying sort of curating (i.e. asking the questions but not answering) this newish feature of DBB, where we ask our writers to answer three questions. This time however I was at a loss for what questions to ask so I thought I’d leave it up to our readers - specifically actually our readers who comment - to ask the questions. As anyone who enjoys reading and contributing to the comments knows we have some incredibly astute people on our comment thread and who better to ask right?

My only quibble would be that far too few of you asked questions. I’m hoping for more next time and we’re planning to make this a monthly or bi-monthly thing so next time we put out the request please have at it, the answers will only be as good as the questions asked.

That being said many thanks to those who did submit questions (especially Merwinly: we could have in fact made this a “Merwinly’s Choice”).

As a grammatical side note, neither “commenter” nor “commentor” are recognized by spell check or any english language dictionary, but neither are many words commonly used in online parlance so yeah, my apologies Oxford.

Here we go:

1. What’s the farthest the Pistons will advance in the playoffs over the next three years? (Merwinly)

Ben Gulker: As constructed against the East as currently constructed, I will be surprised to see them reach the Conference Finals. They look like a quality second-round team right now with the flexibility to make 1-2 moves to reach the ECF.

Glenn Metzger (GM26): I don't think they'll make the Finals yet, and I won't be disappointed if they miss out on ECF after some hard-fought round two series, but I'll be disappointed if they aren't at least competitive in round two. I'll say ECF is possible but not probable.

Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): So, at the end of 2019? Of course there are tons of variables but I'm a firm believer in this core and the ceiling they can reach. ECF is in play and I really wouldn't be surprised with a Finals trip.

Kevin Sawyer: There is enough consistency here that I think a ECF appearance is likely in at least one season. We have surprisingly little roster flexibility, and I don't think we drafted well this season, so I think that's the ceiling barring a seismic shift.

Justin Lambregtse: Eastern Conference Finals. It will be 3 years from now though. They might do it in 2 years, but that would take everything going perfect in the development of every player.

Jordan Bellant (jdbell20): I think we are entering into our title window. The Eastern Conference Finals should be the goal in the next 3-5 years. Most likely, we are still two seasons away from that. It's still a young team, so I think the ECF in 2018-19 is likely the farthest they'll go.

Steve Hinson: Pistons could make an ECF. If Drummond develops, a title. That’s right.

Lazarus Jackson: If everything goes according to plan, Pistons could make an ECF in 2019. If Drummond develops defensively, he can be the best player on a championship-level team, and you hope that's around his age 26-28 seasons, so right around 2019, 2020.

Sean Wheeler (hypnowheel): They could surprise and make the ECF this year. I think it’s more likely to happen in 2018, and a finals appearance is possible in 2019. SVB could swing a trade that speeds things up a bit.

Ben Quagliata: Champions, don’t @ me.

Devin Jones (realdevinjones): As much as I want to believe they're an ECF team, I think it's more likely that they'll only reach the second round in the next three years. It's tough to make it to the conference finals. Just ask the LA Clippers, who with all their talent have made theirs.

David Fernandez: The Pistons may have one of the strongest starting units in the Eastern Conference, but Dre can't play during crunch time and our bench still has to prove it's top quality. Oh yeah, Cleveland still has LeBron James. Best finish would be the Eastern Conference Finals.

Ryan Pravato (Prava88): Eastern Conference Finals is a real possibility in three seasons (2018-19) if everything goes nicely. Internal improvement will result and it very well could be really something special with all the talented guys on the squad, but.... team could be very different in two/three seasons as well. Will all the special pieces be in place? It's not easy.

Ken Wallace (revken): I think we will reach the Finals by year 3. Hopefully we win, but they depends on who we face, too.

2. How large is the impact of a team’s culture on an individual’s development? (Merwinly)

Ben Gulker: I think there's a little bit of the chicken-egg problem here, which makes the question hard to answer with a lot of certainty. Do good players who win games create good culture? Or, does good culture produce good players?

Glenn Metzger (GM26): As far as becoming an adult and fulfilling your potential, I think it's huge to have a good culture around you. I don't think it has as big an impact on your skills as much as on your work ethic, and that is what drives your development.

Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): It's a case by case scenario. No (bad) culture is keeping Kobe Bryant from reaching his potential. He might not have five rings but individually, he'll be fine. It's the guys with less intrinsic motivation (not less talent) than Bryant who benefit most from a great culture.

Kevin Sawyer: SVG preaches defense and preparedness. It's not a coincidence his teams rock the preseason, and that melds into the first 10-15 games of the regular season. After that point, talent tends to win out.

Justin Lambregtse: I think culture is one of the biggest factors if not the biggest factor. Take the Spurs for example, the have one of the best cultures in the NBA, and they do a phenomenal job in developing players. They have a coach and GM on the same page and both know exactly what they want in players. The Pistons are obviously not quite on the level of the Spurs in terms of culture, but they are getting there and I think it all starts with a GM and coach on the same page.

Jordan Bellant (jdbell20): I think an organization that can build a winning culture (Celtics and Spurs come to mind) can help to develop younger players. Coaching becomes incredibly important because everyone wants to win. So making the right coaching decisions can help to match culture to team building.

Steve Hinson: I think it makes a huge amount of difference. But also, I think too often a player's development influences a culture. San Antonio, y'all doing good stuff. Dwight Howard, not so much.

Lazarus Jackson: It can make a world of difference. Ask San Antonio or Miami how much internal development is made up of team cultural from the top down. Conversely, ask Sacramento or Phoenix how poor culture impacts development negatively.

Sean Wheeler (hypnowheel): I think “what if Carmelo was drafted by the Pistons?” provides good insight. Highly unlikely he becomes the same player if he matured under Larry Brown, Flip Saunders and the Goin’ to Work crew.

Ben Quagliata: Classic “what comes first” argument here. Good leaders breeds good culture, but at the same time, players are formed by culture. Look at San Antonio. Duncan, Ginobili and Parker are/were pillars of solitude there creating that aura of professionalism. They could turn JR Smith into a choir boy.

Devin Jones (realdevinjones): Team culture is huge - just ask San Antonio. But having superstars is also huge - just ask Cleveland. I think ideally you want a blend of the two. We know SVG is instilling a great culture, now we have to see if Drummond can take the leap and build around it.

David Fernandez: Culture is everything. Just ask Kwahi Leonard (good), or DeMarcus Cousins (bad) for that matter.

Ryan Pravato (Prava88): Huge. There are exceptions, but the right culture can make or break how a player develops. From the very top all the way down to even the role players that may be around the organization for some years, it all can mold development.

Ken Wallace (revken): I think team culture affects a player's development to varying degrees depending on how self-motivated the player is. No way to clone a guy like Kawai Leonard and put him in San Antonio and Sacramento and see how he turns out, but it sure would be interesting to see!

3. How many games will the Pistons win this year? *With a request for a poll at the bottom (isiah's_dreamtime_issues)

Ben Gulker: 48.

Glenn Metzger (GM26): 48

Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): 49

Kevin Sawyer: SVG preaches defense and preparedness. It's not a coincidence his teams rock the preseason, and that melds into the first 10-15 games of the regular season. After that point, talent tends to win out.

Justin Lambregtse: I think Pistons will win 48 games this year. I think a better bench along with some internal development will add a few more wins.

Jordan Bellant (jdbell20): 45

Steve Hinson: 40-58. Somewhere in that range. I'm less and less sure I have any idea.

Lazarus Jackson: Over-under was 46.5. I like the over, but that was a VERY good place for Vegas to put that number, I will say.

Sean Wheeler (hypnowheel): I’ve written previously it’d be 48-52 wins if everyone is healthy. With Middleton and Bosh likely out of the picture, things look a bit easier in the East, so I might go with a higher number in that range. Good times are coming.

Ben Quagliata: 74, again, don’t @ me.

Devin Jones (realdevinjones): I'll take the over on the Pistons at 46.

David Fernandez: 48 wins for the Stons.

Ryan Pravato (Prava88): 47 wins. I want to say more wins, but things are never so smooth (things are rolling along a bit too smooth so I'm feeling nervous). There will be bumps -- although 47 wins should not be something to shake your head at for now.

Ken Wallace (revken): I think the Pistons will win 50 games this season.

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Yet another pretty fine assemblage of opinion from DBB’s finest. What do all y’all think?