In the preseason every team preached positivity and the promise of a winning season, but the regular season is upon us and a few wrinkles are already causing early projections to seem a little less certain. We asked our crew to weigh in on how much of a ripple three of the current storylines might cause the landscape of the East.
(Note: These questions and answers are from before news of Reggie Jackson’s injury)
1: Given that Khris Middleton is going to miss substantial time and Chris Bosh almost certainly is done as at least as a Miami Heat player how do you see that affecting their seasons in relation to the Pistons' win total?
Benjamin Gulker: I don't think it impacts the Pistons' win total at all, although it might make a difference for the Playoff picture overall.
Justin Lambregtse: I don't see either player's absence having that much of an effect on the Pistons' win total because I never viewed either team as being that good before those injuries. I thought the Pistons would beat them most of the times they played, but maybe they will win 1 or 2 more games.
Kevin Sawyer: I don't think either loss is necessarily all that devastating, and it would have to be to produce even 1-2 extra wins for the Pistons in their season match ups. The Bucks might be in trouble by virtue of the caliber of their replacement players. But given neither team projected to be ahead of the Pistons before the injuries, it shouldn't make much of a difference.
Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): PC answer: Both teams are still going to be competitive and in this league, you can’t take anything for granted. Real answer: Detroit is better than Milwaukee and Miami with Middleton and Bosh and certainly without them.
Lazarus Jackson: I had Miami sneaking into the bottom half of the playoffs without anything from Bosh anyway, so I don't think this affects the team at all. Miami prepared for the eventuality that Bosh wouldn't play throughout the entire offseason. They can't miss what they never had.
Sean Corp: It won't make a huge difference in the win-loss total, though I imagine the eighth seed in the East won't need to win 44 games again so Detroit's margin for error might be a little higher. I'd say the playoff teams uniformly got weaker (save for Boston and Cleveland) and the bottom of the conference got stronger (save maybe Chicago). I will say, however, that I think Detroit went from the strongest division in the Eastern Conference with the best stable of coaches when SVG came on board to maybe the weakest. I'm not a fan of the coaching hires or personnel moves of Indiana or Chicago so it should be less of an inter-division bloodbath this season.
Steve Hinson: Those are both big blows, especially considering the next man up for each. The Bucks invested a rotation spot to Rashad Vaughn last year, but it'd take a big jump for him to be a plus player. In Miami, it's even sketchier.
Glenn Metzger (GM26): Maybe it helps a little bit. Bosh seems like the type of player the Pistons would struggle to guard in the past, so it might make the W a bit easier.
Kenneth Wallace (revken): I think the Bucks losing Middleton and the Heat losing Bosh are significant blows to those teams, and make it doubtful that either one can reach the playoffs. So I think it makes it more likely that the Pistons get 50 wins, and that the East's better teams all win a few more games.
2: If you believe early reports, Rajon Rondo is being seen by Bulls players management and players as a real asset to the team. Do you think he'll help the Bulls or is it fool's gold?
Benjamin Gulker: Rondo is still a good player. So is Wade. And so is Butler. I think the Bulls will be pretty decent and a very interesting counterpoint to the main trends wee are seeing in today's NBA.
Justin Lambregtse: I think it is fool's gold. He has always been a player with a bad attitude and ego, and I don't see that changing. A leopard doesn't change it's spots.
Kevin Sawyer: Rondo qua Rondo is certainly an asset. He brings several elite skills to the table. Alas, shooting isn't one of them, and the Bulls are going to be trotting out some lineups that cannot space the floor, which will make it difficult for him to operate.
Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): 2008 – 2012 Rajon Rondo is one of my all-time favorite players; unfortunately for the Bulls , it’s 2016. Praise is always high during training camp and preseason, let’s check back around Thanksgiving (or maybe even Halloween?).
Lazarus Jackson: Fools gold. Rondo might be a good voice in the locker room, but his offense-breaking play on the court is what's going to matter more. I love that the Bulls think this is going to work; almost nothing brings me more joy than the Bulls being bad.
Sean Corp: Rajon Rondo can't shoot. Dwyane Wade can't shoot. Jimmy Butler can't shoot. No amount of leadership or playmaking is going to make up for that fact. Each one of those players have some transcendent skills that might allow them to overcome their obvious spacing issues, but I don't see Chicago's offense being especially effective this year. Rondo is a hell of a passer but he'll find difficulty finding open passing lanes when everyone is playing off the top three backcourt players. Also, he needs the ball in his hands at all times and isn't known as the most team-first individual. What happens when he's standing around the perimeter watching Wade or Butler do their thing? It could get ugly.
Steve Hinson: I think he's an upgrade over Derrick Rose. But the biggest problem is fit. You hire Fred Hoiberg for his offense centered around three point shooting, then in the first full offseason your acquisitions are Rajon Rondo, Dwayne Wade, and Robin Lopez? I think the team does have some decent talent, just not a rudder.
Glenn Metzger (GM26): Fool's gold. Rondo seems to fit best on a team with established alphas. I don't think this Chicago team is that.
Kenneth Wallace (revken): I think Rondo helps the Bulls, but they will need to develop rotations that maximize the skills of he, Butler and Wade by surrounding them as often as possible with more shooters. I think short-term they are better, but long-term adding Rondo and Wade was a mistake.
3: How much do you see the reported discord between John Wall and Bradley Beal as it portends to their success as a team?
Benjamin Gulker: It's hard for me to care. I think both players are significantly overrated, and any locker room drama is likely to be more significant than what they accomplish on the court.
Justin Lambregtse: From what I have read on the situation, neither player has really ever gotten along on the court. If that is the case, I don't see it having any effect on their success as a team because those two have learned to play together already without liking each other.
Kevin Sawyer: They are both extremely overrated players, and I am not a big believer in the notion chemistry substantially impacts win totals anyway. So long as neither pulls a gun on the other, it doesn't matter much if they like each other.
Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): If the Wizards are forced to break up the Wall/Beal backcourt, the bad guy is Bradley Beal. Off court chemistry is nice to have but far from a must. On court, however, players must be on the same page or it’s not going to work. Beal – who has trouble staying on court to begin with – sees himself as Batman when he’s clearly Robin. It’s too bad, their skill set seem to be a perfect fit.
Lazarus Jackson: Not quite sure. Both guys aren't as good as they think they are, but one (Wall) is quite clearly better than the other on the court. Wall, though, appears to be a pocket-watcher, he lets other people's money (See: Jackson, Reggie; Harden, James; Beal, Bradley) affect his words off the court, which sows discord in the locker room. I don't think the Wizards will have a notable level of success this year, but the Wall/Beal rift should only account for like 5 percent of that.
Sean Corp: It's John Wall's team and for good reason. Beal can puff his chest out all he wants, but at this point he remains a player with a scary injury history who is a catch-and-shoot threat who is more interested in trying to take people off the dribble like the "star" he thinks he is. Now, he's young enough that he could develop into that star player, but the sooner he recognizes his role on his team for the 2015-16 year the better off the Wizards will be. The case is so blindingly obvious that I feel like his coaches and teammates will help Beal see the light, for this season anyway.
Steve Hinson: Short term, they'll be ok. You can still win games with guys not necessarily enjoying playing together. I trust Scott Brooks to be able to deal with it far more than I would trust Randy Wittman. Long term, Washington will eventually have to pick one. But someone should probably let them know that Otto Porter is well on his way to becoming the best player on their team.
Glenn Metzger (GM26): Probably not much, if only because I didn't see Washington being that successful anyway.
Kenneth Wallace (revken): Wall and Beal have the potential to be one of the league's best backcourts. I figure they'll probably resolve their issues like professionals and do what's best for their team, so they can return to the playoffs.
What are your thoughts? Do those factors change things much for the Pistons?
It’s almost go time!