DISCLAIMER: TAKE THIS ENTIRE ARTICLE WITH A GIANT, BOBAN-SIZED GRAIN OF SALT.
But enjoy nonetheless.
While I KNOW IT’S WAY TOO EARLY TO BE MAKING COMPARISONS, I do see some SLIGHT similarities between this current Pistons team and the squad that made a few waves back in 2004.
JUST HEAR ME OUT.
So I took a few minutes digging through Basketball Reference and found some interesting comparisons between the current group and the championship team that went on to appear in six straight Eastern Conference Finals.
Honestly, THIS IS JUST FOR FUN. But I was genuinely surprised to see how similar the two teams are - not only the starting fives, but also the bench units.
When you look at the numbers below, keep in mind that this year’s starting five is about two years younger (on average) than the Goin' to Work crew was at the time. I admittedly cherry-picked some stats that illustrate the similarities, but of course there are some big differences between, say… the defensive prowess of Sheed/Big Ben vs Tobias/Dre.
I KNOW! IT’S WAY TOO EARLY!
2004: 26.6 YRS (avg), 16.76 PER (avg), 0.758 WS/48 (cumulative)
2017: 24.8 YRS (avg), 17.36 PER (avg), 0.725 WS/48 (cumulative)
Chauncey Billups (27): 35.4 MPG, 16.9 PTS, 5.7 AST, .388 3PT%, .550 TS%, .198 WS/48, 18.6 PER
Reggie Jackson (27): 28.7 MPG, 16.3 PTS, 6.1 AST, .365 3PT%, . 553 TS%, .182 WS/48, 20.7 PER
Rip Hamilton (25): 35.5 MPG, 17.6 PTS, 4.0 AST, .265 3PT%, .522 TS%, .141 WS/48, 16.8 PER
Avery Bradley (27): 31.5 MPG, 17.0 PTS, 1.7 AST, .414 3PT%, .536 TS%, .065 WS/48, 14.2 PER
Tayshaun Prince (23): 32.9 MPG, 10.3 PTS, 4.8 REB, .363 3PT%, .536 TS%, .134 WS/48, 13.3 PER
Stanley Johnson (21): 30.8 MPG, 8.5 PTS, 3.2 REB, .333 3PT%, .511 TS%, .082 WS/48, 9.2 PER
Rasheed Wallace (29): 35.1 MPG, 16.0 PTS, 6.8 REB, .331 3PT%, .510 TS%, .125 WS/48, 17.8 PER
Tobias Harris (25): 33.3 MPG, 20.1 PTS, 5.0 REB, .506 3PT%, .601 TS%, .191 WS/48, 19.8 PER
Ben Wallace (29): 37.7 MPG, 9.5 PTS, 12.4 REB, 3.0 BLK, .441 TS%, .160 WS/48, 17.3 PER
Andre Drummond (24): 33.4 MPG, 13.7 PTS, 15.7 REB, 1.2 BLK, .563 TS%, .205 WS/48, 22.9 PER
Lindsey Hunter (33): 20 MPG, 3.5 PTS, 2.6 AST, .399 TS%, .067 WS/48, 9.0 PER
Ish Smith (29): 19.3 MPG, 9.7 PTS, 4.3 AST, .558 TS%, .161 WS/48, 19.7 PER
Mike James (28): 12.3 PTS/36, .377 3PT%, .528 TS%, .113 WS/48, 14.4 PER
Langston Galloway (26): 16.6 PTS/36, .457 3PT%, .687 TS%, .173 WS/48, 16.6 PER
Mehmet Okur (24): 9.6 PTS, 5.9 REB, .375 3PT%, .538 TS%, .179 WS/48, 18.3 PER
Anthony Tolliver (32): 6.9 PTS, 2.9 RED, .342 3PT%, .587 TS%, .164 WS/48, 15.2 PER
*The 2017 Pistons have no comparison for Corliss Williamson as yet.
One thing I found interesting is that, for all the talk about Reggie’s ball-dominant style, he actually puts up better assist numbers than Chauncey Billups did, pretty much across the board. Now leadership abilities… that’s another matter. And it’s also pretty cool how Mr. Big Shot and Mr.
October Jackson both have a knack for hitting the… well, big shot.
While Andre has a long way to go before he could even dream of being in Big Ben’s league defensively, Wallace could only dream of being as skilled offensively as Drummond. And while Sheed was also very tough defensively, Tobias is killing him in offensive efficiency.
Rip eventually became a pesky defender and added the three to his game, but Avery is a much better on the ball defender and consistent threat from downtown.
I think the two-year advantage Tayshaun had over the current version of Stanley Johnson explains the difference in maturity. Tayshaun looked confident in his game from Day One, while Stanley is still finding his way (while looking much improved).
Both teams have a starting PG averaging roughly 16/6, a SG averaging about 17 ppg, a young defensive stalwart at SF, a stretch PF capable of taking over a game and a C who can grab all the rebounds. They also happen to have a strong and deep bench capable of overpowering opposing bench units.
Most importantly, at least as this early point in the season, the current group of Pistons often plays with a level of defensive intensity that at the very least inspires fans to believe something good is brewing in Detroit.
What do they lack?
Well, it’s clear they need an upgrade at backup center and more consistency at backup SF. Maybe Galloway can be their buckets guy off the bench, but they could really use a bench guy like Corliss Williamson who can get his own when the jump shooters go cold.
They could do better getting to the FT line and fall into the trap of shooting too many jumpers at times. The 2004 Pistons could turn to Chauncey, Tayshaun and Sheed to grab their own buckets in the post. The current team relies on ball movement and the three far more, much as the rest of the league in today’s NBA.
But for a group of guys who are an average of two years younger than the 2004 squad, thus far they’re doing a good job holding their own.
We’ll see how the stats look about 10-12 games from now, and more importantly at the halfway point, but hey... it’s fun to look at, right?
(Note: the Pistons are 8-1 since I wrote an article entitled “Has the Pistons’ window of opportunity already closed?” So if they go into the tank anytime soon, I’ll quickly return to being negative.)