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DBB on 3: When the honeymoon ends

The Blake Griffin Honeymoon is over so now what? We gauge our writers thoughts...

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

There was a lot of excitement over the arrival of Blake Griffin and a lot of discussion since on where the Pistons go from here with their new (super?)star player. We asked our writers to fill in the blank on three subjects surrounding the trade and the final push to sneak into the playoffs.

Here we go!

1. Seven games into the Blake Griffin Era I feel ________ about the future of the Detroit Pistons.

Justin Lambregtse: Slightly better. The Blake Griffin trade has made this team better. Ignoring all the future cap problems and everything else, the Pistons should be a consistent playoff team over the next few years.

Sean Wheeler: Optimistic. (Shocker, right?) This season could swing either way depending on how well Reggie plays when he returns, but the next couple years should see them as a solid playoff team competing for home court advantage as a top 4 seed… or better. Dre has been an absolute monster since Blake arrived, and should get even better with more time playing alongside him.

Ben Gulker: Underwhelmed. The roster is certainly better than it was when SVG took over, but the salary profile is downright scary. Hard to see how this team takes the next step without a great stroke of luck. It looks like we are on the mediocrity treadmill to me.

Steve Hinson: Like there’s a clarity to the future. The structure before the trade left a clear ceiling, and that ceiling was well short of being able to contend for a title. This one may still be short, though we’ll see once Reggie Jackson returns. It might wind up being a force.

Lazarus Jackson: Better. The overall talent level of the team is higher, his return has deepened the team’s need for Stanley Johnson (who has responded in kind), and I no longer have to watch Avery Bradley play basketball if I so desire. Short-term win-win-win.

Ryan Pravato: Conflicted. The team is going to be more interesting to watch from a fan perspective, but there’s so little room for error, even when Reggie comes back. The lack of depth and lack of player development is still a big question mark (and now the utter lack of $$ flexibility). Maybe just maybe Stanley becomes a solid NBA starter... if not, then this team will have a 2nd round ceiling at best.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: Murky. I remain unconvinced that there was really a great path forward for the Pistons given their recent decisions in free agency and inability to draft and develop. But I’ve seen enough from Griffin that I’m still more optimistic than I was before the trade. I’ll hold on to the jilted viewpoint that this was better than getting flexibility again and doing another version of 2016 or 2017 free agency.

Jordan Bellant: I’m feeling good. I like Blake, I think we were bound to go through some growing pains and the All Star break came at a really good time. It would have been great to flip one of those losses, but I’m still positive about our future.

David Fernandez: Optimistic. When the move was made, I didn’t think it would automatically lead to the playoffs this season. With Reggie back next season, I believe this team will be more relevant during the BG era than any other time since the Goin’ To Work days (although not a true contender).

2. In order to better utilize Blake’s talent SVG needs to ________.

Justin Lambregtse: Find somebody else to coach the team. I don’t see SVG as being creative enough to make this work. He was so reluctant to change to a motion offense even though so many teams in the league run it. He coaches like it is the mid-2000s and that is going to make it tough for this to work.

Sean Wheeler: Encourage Blake to play high/low with Dre more than shoot threes. Blake has been settling for too many threes while shooting a Smoove-like 29% from downtown. He was great in the first couple games facilitating the offense and taking it into the paint, drawing double teams and freeing up his teammates for easier looks. SVG also needs to play three shooters next to Dre/Blake at all times, which will happen once Reggie returns and if/when Stanley becomes more consistent from three.

Ben Gulker: Become an exponentially better offensive coach than he’s been in Detroit. Play Griffin with as many shooters as possible, and keep the ball and players moving. Give the ball to Blake and hope won’t cut it.

Steve Hinson: Find someone who can set him up. So far, Blake has been doing all of the setting up for his teammates. Return the favor guys.

Lazarus Jackson: Get him the ball on the move, and stop hedging him like he has the mobility of Tobias Harris on defense. A moving Blake, whether that’s cutting or rolling or driving, is a dangerous thing that the defense has to account for - which should open up space for the other four Pistons on the court with him. On defense, I just think asking Blake to do less gets you more.

Ryan Pravato: Have Blake and Ish on the floor at the same time as little as possible. If that means playing Ish less minutes than usual (and it will), then so be it. Blake needs shooters and that floor spacing to help him with his game.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: Splitting Griffin and Ish as much as you can is an obvious answer to me, and also basically play Griffin all the minutes Drummond doesn’t play, too. I just don’t think a lineup with Ish, Blake and Drummond is ever going to quite cut it offensively. If you want Griffin to be more aggressive attacking the paint, you can’t make it so easy for the defense to help.

Jordan Bellant: Watch some tape when things were good between Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. I don’t think Ish is helping Blake make good decisions on the floor. We need to empower Blake to feel like he’s in charge, but we need someone (a point guard) to make his job easier.

David Fernandez: Continue feeding the spacing supporting cast, and not rely on him to be “the guy” for 75% of the plays when he’s on the floor. Finding others *cough Bullock cough* will open up the floor for BG to operate more freely.

3. With 25 games left in the season the Pistons have a _________ chance of making the playoffs, and if they do they will leap frog the _________.

Justin Lambregtse: Decent chance and they will leapfrog the Miami Heat. The Heat are on a bit of a collapse and that is the only team I could see falling out of the playoff race at this time . The Pistons are going to have to be flawless down the stretch to catch them though.

Sean Wheeler: Great chance if Reggie comes back ready to play, and given how well many East teams are playing they will likely have to settle for the 8th seed. Damn shame they couldn’t have won another game or two during that home stand, which would have given them a better chance of passing Philly or the Bucks.

Ben Gulker: 30%, unless Reggie gets healthy very soon. As is, they might have the easiest offensive scheme to defend in the entire NBA, and it’s likely nothing but a healthy Reggie can fix that. If they can make magic happen, I’ll say Philly, only because of potential volatility.

Steve Hinson: With 25 games left in the season the Pistons have a 50% chance of making the playoffs, and if they do they will leap frog the Heat. The Heat are perhaps the only team who, even more than the Pistons, are likely to have stretches where they’re unbeatable or playing like absolute shit. They tend to run very hot or cold. Yes, the crappy reference to the team name is intended and I don’t apologize.

Lazarus Jackson: 55 percent chance of making the playoffs, and if they do they will leap frog either the Miami Heat (who are maybe the only team in the league who needed the All-Star break as much as the Pistons) or the Indiana Pacers (who are one of the few teams the Pistons hold a season tiebreaker over).

Ryan Pravato: The Pistons have a chance, and it will keep people watching... but not necessarily going to the games (old bit). I don’t see the Heat continuing to crumble, as they are very well coached - though I could see the Sixers lack of experience catching up to them. Would loooovveee for the Sixers to miss the playoffs this season.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: It appears to be getting less and less likely (<20% on FiveThirtyEight at this point), to the point where it’s hard to project it anymore. But still well within the realm of possibility. But we are also 9-17 on the road and have 11 of our next 15 games on the road, so that’s a thing.

Jordan Bellant: 50% chance. I think we’re all waiting for Joel Embiid to miss 10ish games and watch the 76ers drop when he’s out. Same for Miami, I think a Whiteside injury combined with the post All Star schedule could drop them down as well. I think we’re a scrappy 8 seed this year. I’m still not totally sure how we get there - but hopefully 14 wins can do it!

David Fernandez: 50/50 chance of making the playoffs, and if they do they will leap frog the Heat, who have hit a major tailspin over their last 15 games.


What are your thoughts on these topics?

Please copy/paste and let us know in the comments!

1. Seven games into the Blake Griffin Era I feel ________ about the future of the Detroit Pistons.

2. In order to better utilize Blake’s talent SVG needs to ________.

3. With 25 games left in the season the Pistons have a _________ chance of making the playoffs, and if they do they will leap frog the _________.