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Links: Pistons fans are feeling bad, but there is light up ahead

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Yes, we can see the light.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-Kentucky vs UCLA Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

I would say a good portion of Pistons fans (specifically DBB readers) are pretty shocked and disappointed about the Pistons’ struggles over the last few weeks. I don’t think most saw it coming. However, losing games is not the ultimate reason for the disappointment; rather it is how the Pistons have largely been zombies in those games. The team as a whole hasn’t played with much energy and the defensive effort has been atrocious -- not a ‘lack of talent’ atrocious, but more of a lack of ‘care’ atrocious. Big difference. For video evidence, I will regale you with Pistons defensive masterpiece against the Bulls not long ago.

As if you needed another rotten reminder, NBA players get paid obscene amounts of money to play a game. And this Pistons team just has way too many guys that don’t care enough and are not simply playing with focus and energy. Is it too much to ask that they play the game the right way? In actuality, maybe only three or four players are giving poor effort or going through the motions — or however you would like to phrase it. Though, as the saying goes, ‘a bad apple spoils the bunch’. This team really stinks.

And, as I and no less than 32,545 other Pistons fans have written on this very website, this team is void of leadership. Captain geniuses we all are, but this leadership void needs to be stated until all of us are blue in the face. Say, if we don’t let it out somehow, we will wilt and then explode. Some of us.

Frankly, at least from my perspective, it’s going to take a very, very long time before I forget how this 2016-17 team flat mailed it in with a dozen or so games to go in the season. A few decent efforts against Miami and Milwaukee aren’t enough to change anything. Surely lots of roster turnover will go a long way in accelerating that process of forgetting, but I don’t exactly have all the confidence in the world that Stan Van Gundy really ‘gets’ what is going on. There’s a sense he lives on an entirely different planet from his players (not necessarily all his fault) and from successful modern basketball strategy (pretty much his fault).

I could go on and on, but I trust you get the gist.

Here are some other basketball things to hopefully lift your spirits:

De’Aaron Fox is going to be the real deal in NBA

Not only is De’Aaron supremely talented, but the way he competes on both sides of court is a positive sign of things to come for him. And I just love Fox’s display of raw emotion with Bam Adebayo after Kentucky’s loss against North Carolina in the Elite Eight. So, do the Pistons have any chance to draft Fox? Well, not if they keep winning they don’t — darn you Ish Smith and your corner three pointer! Right now Detroit is slated 11th in the NBA draft. With more losing (please tank), players like Frank Ntilikina, Bam Adebayo, Miles Bridges, and perhaps even super tall wing Jonathan Isaac are options that could potentially be on the board whenever Detroit does pick. All these guys have big time upside. Two weeks these guys weren’t a possibility for this team. Things are looking up I say!

Also, I have to chime in — anyone else think that Lonzo Ball is a bit overrated? Because I sure do, and it has nothing to do with his father’s antics. Lonzo is too much flash and not enough substance. I’m not saying he won’t be an All-Star level guy, it’s just that people are so quick to anoint him the next great NBA point guard. There are too many holes in his game that people are overlooking.

Small forward Justin Jackson and center Zach Collins real options for Pistons

The 6-foot-8 wiry, long and offensively gifted Jackson is shooting up many draft boards to the middle of the first round at least. The North Carolina Tar Heel can get his own shot in a variety of ways and having three years of college ball under his belt before entering the NBA should give him an advantage over other wing prospects. As for freshman 7-footer Zach Collins of Gonzaga, he doesn’t start because of Gonzaga’s front-court depth, but he plays lots of important minutes and has the offensive and defensive skills to make any pro team salivate. He’s already listed as a top-25 player if he were to enter the draft now. I’m thinking he will stay for his sophomore season and then declare for next year’s weaker draft, though he’s surely someone the Pistons would be smart to keep their eyes on from here on out.

Check out both of these players Monday night in the NCAA Championship game.

SWAT nation

6-foot-8-ish Oregon forward Jordan Bell played a huge part in crumbling Kansas in the Elite Eight by blocking eight shots, some in eerily similar fashion to how Big Ben Wallace did it back in the day. Here are a few of those blocks:

Star guard Sindarius Thornwell finally knocked off big stage

I highlighted South Carolina star guard (South Carolina actually has two of them, P.J. Dozier being the other) Sindarius Thornwell’s play at the end of the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament when South Carolina knocked off Duke. But now, after a long string of tournament games that all saw Sindarius score 20+ while leading his team deeper and deeper, a win Saturday night against a long, tall and talented Gonzaga team wasn’t to be. As bad luck would have it, Sindarius had the flu days prior to the Gonzaga game, and it certainly showed as he just didn’t have the same kind of energy. However, the aggressive and efficient ‘Sindarius Thornwell-Pope’ (as IamPAP once wrote) moved up draft boards during the last several weeks, although he’s a senior and is not going anywhere in the top 15 (or even top 30 probably). It’s a shame Detroit doesn’t have a second round pick because Thornwell would be a legitimate guard option to consider.

Coaching prospects on the rise

Former Pistons Darvin Ham and Jerry Stackhouse are two of the top five coaching prospects to keep an eye on.

Sorry, this won’t lift your spirits much

Every NBA team’s Big Three has been ranked from 30-1 by Fox Sports. The Pistons got a ways to go to even be ranked in the middle. Well, I guess the good news is that there’s nowhere to go but up!

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Enjoy the National Championship game.