The NBA schedule was released last week. Because I am a crazy person, I projected every win and loss this season for Detroit, based on nothing but my gut.
Then, because I am a thorough crazy person, I did it a few more times, with win totals ranging from “Almost as good as that one dream about Jennifer Lawrence” to “Start stocking up on sadness cognac now.”
Let’s start with the unicorns-rainbows-cotton-candy-land projection:
Never losing more than two games is a row? Pretty good. A six-game winning streak to start the year? Yes please. A NINE-game winning streak in March and April to seal up 56 wins, home-court advantage, and what would’ve been the second-best record in the conference last season?
However, we can shed a tear for this projection, because much like that dream about J-Law, it has no chance of happening. This would require huge strides offensively and defensively, from both the starters and the bench, and zero injuries -- minor or otherwise -- for the entire year.
Will some of those things come together to make the Pistons a better team than last year? Hopefully. Will ALL of those things come together to make this team a top seed in the east? Highly unlikely.
Alright, let’s balance the karmic scales and break out the sad cognac:
In this reality, the schedule is too tough in November and December, and the young Pistons never find their footing and never win more than two games in a row. Maybe there’s an injury to a starter. Maybe Detroit is just not as good as Atlanta, Indiana, or Charlotte. Maybe the team can’t focus down the stretch. Whatever it is, bang, Detroit’s under .500 again at 39 wins.
A regression like this would prove disastrous for the groundwork Stan Van Gundy has spent the last two years laying for the Pistons. If there are no major injuries and the season goes along in this manner, the team would have to go into the offseason looking to change things up.
Let’s hope that doesn’t end up being the case.
If the internal player development doesn’t take off quite like we hope here at DBB, the Pistons still look good enough to compete for a playoff spot:
That’s still 10 wins in March, but a better performance earlier in the year probably enables Detroit to seal up a playoff spot. Also, never losing more than three games in a row would be a good display of mental toughness from any team.
45 wins likely would be good enough to make the playoffs, but probably not good enough for home-court advantage. It also opens up the possibility of playing one of the Cleveland/Toronto/Boston three-headed hydra in the first round, which lowers the chance of the Pistons making it out of the first round.
Essentially, it’d be a run-back of 2015-16 for the Pistons.
Last year was fun, don’t get me wrong, but I think Detroit is a better team than they were last year. How much better?
This much better:
That’s more like it. The team would still start slow November and December, but are buoyed by a seven-game winning streak in March. In this reality, the Pistons are quite streaky and a poor road team, but are good enough at home and against the rest of the East to almost win 50 games and certainly make the playoffs.
If 49 wins is enough for home-court advantage in the playoffs (which was the case last year), the Pistons can be the home team in a 4-5 or 3-6 playoff series, setting themselves up to win their first postseason series in nearly a decade.
This is an optimistic-but-not-totally-unfair projection. Which just so happens to be exactly where you want to be as a fan, 75 days before the season starts.
Which of the projections looks closest to you? Let us know in the comments below.