I admit that I dropped the ball on getting this put together in time to be slightly more relevant*. We asked three questions about thoughts from the preseason, so I guess this in a way gives us a chance to see which of the writers actually turned out to be a basketball prophet, seeing into the NBA crystal ball.
*(Questions and answers took place after the preseason and before the regular season, even before the Beno Udrih signing)
1. We all know not to read too much into the preseason, but... What is one thing that has you unexpectedly worried due the Pistons' performance during the preseason?
Lazarus Jackson: I'm not sure if "unexpected" is the right word, but the third-string/backup point guard position has me worried. Neither Lorenzo Brown nor Ray McCallum have seized the opportunity offered them, and as of my response, the Pistons haven't decided who to keep on the roster and who to send to the D-League (or waive). I think the Pistons would prefer to keep Brown on the roster; he has the size (and alleged defensive capability) and the secondary creative punch that the team needs. But we don't know for certain.
Justin Lambregtse: The thing that I am most worried about is the overall health of this team. Things like broken noses happen, and can be played through. However, injuries like knee tendinitis for Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris could linger along with Stanley Johnson's foot injury. All of these injuries have happened before we have even played a second of regular season basketball.
Glenn Metzger (GM26): Nobody (who is going to play) can shoot from range so far this preseason. Gbinijie (60%) and Ellenson (50%) aside, Ish Smith hit 57% of his 3's on just barely one attempt per game, and the next best shooter is Tobias at 35% in about three shots per game. KCP and Marcus are at 31% and 30% respectively, and everyone else is under 30%. I didn't think it would be stellar, but I didn't expect it to be this bad.
Steve Hinson: Not a huge deal, but Boban's turnovers. He had a solid turnover percentage in San Antonio but really seemed to struggle with ball security in the preseason with 2 or more turnovers in each game. He's going to have to get that figured out if he's going to take over the backup center job.
Jamie Delaney: Full disclosure: I've watched like 5 whole minutes of Detroit Pistons pre-season basketball, so this is based on an EXTREMELY small sample size. The backcourt play has me sweating with anxiety like Trump going to speak on stage during a Beyonce concert. KCP is starting to come on stronger but Ish needs to be more consistent and focused on moving the ball, getting the offense moving. The backcourt initiates so much of the offense,a nd with reggie out, any struggles or inconsistencies will be magnified x10.
Jordan Bellant (@jdbell20): Health is definitely the major concern at the moment. In terms of play during the preseason, I'm worried about the point guard position. Not just because of the Reggie Jackson injury, but the play of LoRay BroCallum has left much to be desired. Seeing as the role of the 3rd PG increases with the injury, it could be deja vu for Pistons fans. Not in a good way... in a Steve Blake way.
Ben Gulker: Reggie Jackson's health. Ish Smith can approximate some of Reggie's ball handling and distributing abilities...but not his scoring. And while Ray McCallum is a fine third point guard, I'm nervous about his ability to handle full-time backup duties.
Ken Wallace (revken): I'm concerned that Stanley Johnson does not seem ready to make a significant jump this year. I think we have good options if he falters (play Leuer more at PF, Harris more at SF and Bullock/Hilliard more at SG), but I was hoping to see more from Stanley in preseason.
Kevin Sawyer: Nothing much has changed. Other than Tobias Harris seeming primed for an all-star bid, KCP still sucks at shooting, SVG is not breaking the mold in terms of allocating minutes in spite of the fact he has a potentially monster front line. And Ish Smith
2. What is one thing that has you unexpectedly excited due to the Pistons' performance during the preseason?
Lazarus Jackson: I predicted in my season preview that Henry Ellenson would barely see the floor in the regular season. I'm not ready to adjust that prediction, but Ellenson looked FAR more ready to be an NBA player than I expected him to - with the caveat that it was mostly because his shot was falling. He still has a ways to go defensively, but the if the shots keep falling, maybe you make time for him.
Justin Lambregtse: I am excited about the defense. While it was not perfect, I thought they played solid defense during the preseason, and it kept them in a few games where the offense wasn't doing too great. I am tempering my expectations a bit because the Pistons had a great defense through the first 4 or 5 games last season and it fell off a as the season went on.
Glenn Metzger (GM26): Henry Ellenson looks like he can play, and we might not have to wait three or four years to see it happen.
Steve Hinson: That team defense yo! Finishing the preseason with a defensive rating of 92, holding opponents to the second lowest field goal percentage, and lowest points per game - commitment to defense is going to be the thing that defines how good the Pistons are this year.
Jamie Delaney: Again, small sample size but I am going to say the rook Henny Ellenson. I am the captain of SS #TeamHenny and am hoping to build enough momentum that the Pistons will have a new cognac sponsor in-stadium by the All Star break. Big guy can shoot the 3 ball and is already breaking noses in practice. I love it.
Jordan Bellant (@jdbell20): Henry Ellenson looks like he belongs. He gets a little lost at time, but his offensive production has been great. He shines in the box score and leaves plenty in the game film (Like Kevin Love and Channing Frye had a baby). I expected he wouldn't be a factor, even in preseason, for another year. So that's a positive!
Ben Gulker: Others have said it better than me, so read them: Ellenson.
Ken Wallace (revken): I doubt that he gets much playing time this season, but Henry Ellenson looking like the real thing has excited me even more about the Pistons' future.
Kevin Sawyer: In limited Minutes, Boban (hereinafter Bob) was somehow better than he was last year. Like, seriously presumably his caliber of play regresses to the mean with additional minutes, but shouldn't you check to find out if it does? What if it doesn't? Why not use the preseason to give him 30 minutes and see what happens?
3. What was your win projection for the Pistons before the Reggie Jackson injury and what is your adjusted total since?
Lazarus Jackson: I had Detroit winning 47 games; I think that number falls down to 45 or 44. How they fare on their seemingly new-normal early-season road trip (@ Clippers, @ Phoenix, @ San Antonio, @ Denver) will tell me if I should be mentally knocking off a few more. Fortunately, there's a stretch of winnable games in early December (@ Atlanta, Orlando, Chicago, @ Charlotte, @ Minnesota, Philadelphia) that I think would be a perfect time to for the team to take off after bringing Reggie back.
Justin Lambregtse: I am probably in the minority of thinking it will not have that big of an impact. It is not that I don't think that Reggie Jackson in extremely valuable to this team, but I believe that everybody else will step up to cover for his absence well. With that being said, I thought the Pistons would win 48 games before the injury, and I think they will win 45-46 now.
Glenn Metzger (GM26): Before he went down I said 48. I can see his injury costing us at most 4 games, so my new floor is 44 wins. I'm optimistic about more though.
Steve Hinson: 49 wins before, 44 wins now. I think the blows to the fourth quarter offense and next man in at backup point guard are going to be pretty challenging.
Jamie Delaney: I projected 43-44 before the Reggie injury and am keeping it at that total. The early part of the season is very kind for the Pistons, and with all of these pre-season injuries I am hoping that karma will work back in our guys favor down the stretch.
Jordan Bellant (@jdbell20): My win projection has not changed because the start of the schedule is relatively easy. I will stay at 45 wins for the Pistons. I think we struggle against better teams and do a better job of beating bad teams. I expect similar efficiency and production, so 45 remains the right number for me.
Ben Gulker: 49 wins pre-injury. 45-ish wins if Tobias can carry a significantly larger load on offense, but less than that if not.
Ken Wallace (revken): I believe I projected 50 wins, so I'm going to ratchet my expectations down to 48 now that Reggie will be out for up to one-fourth of the season.
Kevin Sawyer: I don't think the tandem of Smith/Udrih is that much worse, unless Udrih is really just done. Smith seems to get the idea that he's not going to be the leading scorer, and really is a good point guard in other respects. That said, PG is the most disruptive position. My original prediction was 46, I am now at 43.5.