In an unstable, talent-starved Eastern Conference the Detroit Pistons will still not make the playoffs, according to ESPN.
As part of their official Summer Forecast series, ESPN asked 44 experts to project the Eastern Conference standings, and the Pistons tied for eighth, finishing percentage points behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the final playoff spot.
Even with an overall weaker Eastern Conference, a presumably more healthy Reggie Jackson, ESPN predicted Detroit to finish with the same 37-45 record as a year ago.
The team also added Avery Bradley, Langston Galloway and Anthony Tolliver, but lost two starters in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Marcus Morris.
As someone who thinks last year was essentially rock bottom for the roster as currently constructed, I’ll take this bit of conventional wisdom from people who don’t pay much attention to blah teams like Detroit with a grain of salt.
One year removed from a 44-38 finish, the bloom certainly appears to be off the rose. I’m not saying that the Pistons are a slam dunk to rebound from their miserable year last year, but if you’re asking me to believe in Jackson to rebound from injury or to trust a Miami Heat team that went 30-11 behind the play of Dion Waiters and James Johnson, I’m saying I might side with Jackson’s health.
If you’re asking if I think the Charlotte Hornets are guaranteed to improve after trading for Dwight Howard, who seems to have drama follow him everywhere, or better jump shooting from the Pistons after an amazingly inefficient season, I might side with the Pistons.
If you’re asking me if I think the Sixers are truly going to improve by 11 games because Joel Embiid, who is still injured, is going to miraculously play the whole season, or Andre Drummond to improve from last year’s backslide, I might side with Drummond.
Truth be told, there are pockets of intrigue and warts all over the bottom 10 teams in the Eastern Conference, so I’m confused why pundits consistently treat Detroit as a team that is bound to perform exactly as poorly as last season, even while everyone was surprised just how poorly they played last season.
Yes, it was just over year ago that the ESPN Summer Forecast panel projected the Pistons to be the fourth seed and finish with a 45-37 record.