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DBB on 3: What now?

The season’s not officially over but our playoff hopes are.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Well that’s not how we saw this going before Reggie Jackson went down is it? If you asked me to predict then which team out of the Pistons and the Philadelphia 76ers would be out of the playoffs and which would be vying for the 3rd spot I’m confident I would’ve gone with the opposite to today’s outcome.

But smelly stuff happens, and here were are. Where is here though actually? We asked our staff to give their thoughts on three questions surrounding the next steps facing the Pistons.

(Note: the questions and answers were from before we were out of playoff contention but when playoff hopes still were very dim.)

1. If this is Stan Van Gundy’s last stand what grade would you give his tenure?

Ben Gulker: C-. It’s impossible to get around the fact that SVG will only have one winning season out of four under his belt when the season ends. Yes, injuries are a big reason why - but he’s done a lousy job planning for that contingency. Combined with a poor draft record and the inevitable albatross of the Griffin contract, losing quality restricted free agents for nothing, failing to trade Josh Smith, and I could keep going - it’s been a below-average tenure.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: I gave him a B+ as a GM in a long article early in the 2016-17 season, mostly on the strength of the trades for Jackson, Harris and Morris. Pretty much everything has been a disaster since then. I was not a big fan of our 2017 offseason or draft as they happened, the 2016 draft and offseason look worse and worse with time, and the Griffin trade is mainly defensible based on how bad the other moves have been. His coaching has been ok, but it would be hard not to drop that grade down to C range at best. He’s left this roster very inflexible and bereft of assets and doesn’t have a lot of meaningful winning to show for it.

Ryan Pravato: D+. This team is an utter bore to watch and doesn’t win very many games. If the team was winning games and nearly always in the playoffs, then the ‘utter bore’ part wouldn’t be a big deal. But my God, the NBA is a business, so you must be at least a) entertaining to watch or b) winning ball games. The Pistons are clearly failing at both. The Griffin Hail Mary was a solid attempt in helping both, and a lot remains to be seen whether it will. Though, it just seems to be too little, too late.

Steve Hinson: D. When it comes to a final grade, results are the biggest thing. The process with SVG always made sense, but the outcomes just haven’t been enough.

Lazarus Jackson: C. The roster as a whole is in a much better spot than when Stan took the job, but lots of (relatively) small mistakes and poor responsiveness to injuries have meant that the Pistons’ weren’t as successful as most imagined they would be when he took over.

Jordan Bellant: I give SVG an SV-C. I put a lot of blame on ownership and the fact that he took over a bad roster and was asked to become competitive quickly. His moves this past offseason and acquiring Blake will stain his legacy further. But, he wasn’t allowed to bottom out and he was asked to make the playoffs. If you factor in the negative injury luck, he wasn’t that far off from completing those goals.

Justin Lambregtse: I would give it a C-. He has upgraded the roster, but the team also has a very poor cap situation. As a coach, he has done a very poor job. His rotations suck, he is too resistant to change, and his offense sucks. I don’t think there is any positives I can point to with his coaching.

Michael Snyder: C+ 2014-15 Opening night starting lineup for SVG’s first game – Josh Smith, KCP, Kyle Singler, Brandon Jennings, Andre Drummond – what the hell am I supposed to do with that? Singler logged almost 30 minutes that game. The suspended Greg Monroe doesn’t add much, either. Point is, our current roster is much more capable of professional basketball than whatever that was. I’m not sure why people think Griffin is going to age faster than milk but they do. He’ll be fine, we’ll be fine.

Sean Wheeler: B- overall. When you look at the quality of the roster, he’s made clear improvements. Jennings/KCP/Smith/Monroe has become Jackson/Bullock/Johnson/Griffin. That’s not too shabby. When his team is healthy, they’re very promising. However, when unhealthy, they’ve been far worse than they really should be.

David Fernandez: Stan would earn a C+. He drastically fell short of expectations, which were not that high to begin with. Making the playoffs in the East is not the greatest of feats in sport, and SVG was only able to deliver Detroit their once in four years. Yes, he took over a disaster of a roster, but the team he inherited finished with 29 wins, last season’s Pistons finished with 37 wins, and this year will be around 37-39 wins.

2. Do you think he deserves more time?

Ben Gulker: I wouldn’t frame it in terms of what he deserves, but what the franchise needs. Firing him in the summer puts us back on the coaching carousel, and I don’t want to be there again. Let him coach out next season and see if he can coach more out of this roster than I see on paper. Allow him to earn the chance to bring the plan to fruition. If he doesn’t, let’s move on.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: No, at least from the perspective of him having personnel power. That’s a bad idea for 99% of coaches and SVG, especially trying-to-save-his-job SVG, is no exception. We know what direction this is heading if he’s is allowed to make more trades/signings, and it’s not a good choice for the long-term well-being of the franchise. As a coach you can make the argument he’s good enough to stay, but I think the situation of having him still there in a diminished capacity is probably better off avoided.

Ryan Pravato: No more time. It’s been four years, gang. That’s a long time and that’s a lot of games (read: opportunities). What’s Stan got to be proud of in four years in a league where essentially half the teams make the playoffs? Yeah, don’t bother answering that.

Steve Hinson: Yes. We’re at the point where the die is cast, where changing leadership wouldn’t really make any difference. Let him finish out his contract and let the decision make itself. If it’s another disappointing season, both sides would be ready to part ways. If things finally come together and the Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Reggie Jackson trio manages to finally fulfill its potential, great.

Lazarus Jackson: I have said, and continue to think, that he should be allowed to finish out the remainder of his contract as head coach, if that is what he wants. I continue to think that the way this plays out is that Stan is asked to step down from his role as President of Basketball Operations, and rather than accept that demotion, he resigns. “Deserve” is a strong word, but I think he’s been an overall positive and another year of him wouldn’t cripple the franchise.

Jordan Bellant: No, and most of that is because of his role as the Head Coach. I think his rotation decisions have stunted the growth and opportunities for younger players. It’s a shame. I really like SVG but I’m really disappointed in how he has coached these past two seasons.

Justin Lambregtse: No, get him out the second the season is over. Four years is plenty of time for a guy who has all the power to get the team where it should be. He has 1 playoff appearance to show for his tenure, and that was 2 season ago. Yes, the team has been hit by injuries, but it is his job to get players in place who can reliably fill in.

Michael Snyder: The entire roster has his fingerprint on it and he should be allowed to be in absolute misery or reap the benefits on a day-to-day basis.

Sean Wheeler: Yes. Given the dramatic overhaul to the roster and the acquisition of the best individual player the franchise has seen since Grant Hill, SVG should get a chance to (God willing) show what his squad can do. Add that to the fact that there isn’t a clear coaching upgrading just dying to take the reins of this franchise, change for change’s sake would likely produce more pain and suffering in the short-term, without any guarantees for the long-term.

David Fernandez: I said once the Blake Griffin trade went down, that this was a move for next year, that guaranteed SVG finishing out his contract. Unless Detroit is able to swoon a guaranteed upgrade, then I think it’s best to stand pat for SVG’s final year. Although, I do think he’ll be asked to step down as POB, and remain on as coach.

3. Regardless of what happens with Stan do you think the trio of Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson have any possibility of future success?

Ben Gulker: Success, absolutely. Assuming good health, those three with the current guys locked up for next year looks like a winning team to me. How long it can be successful is the hard question. How Griffin and Jackson age (and avoid injury) will be critical, as will the franchise’s ability to sign value free agents at a low price - something that may prove difficult to do. But, a winning team would be a breath of fresh air for the next couple seasons.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: Sure, but like anything else it depends on how you define success. It’s entirely within the realm of possibility that core three is still good enough for a playoff appearance or three, but when you’re talking about that as one of the better outcomes for a trio with that much committed to it, it’s not really a good sign.

Ryan Pravato: What do we define as success? Being the 5th seed? If it’s a 5th seed, then yes. That trio could get there (and mayyybeee win a playoff series) with good health, more familiarity and some dependable role players such as Bullock and Kennard (assuming he improves a nice deal) doing their part, for example. It’s a dreadful defensive unit, but, you already knew that. Perhaps a better coach could help there. Drummond is the key to it all on the defensive end. I still hold out some hope - it’s just more fun that way. Offensively, there’s potential there, no doubt.

Steve Hinson: Certainly. We’ve seen flashes from all three. I’m not entirely bullish of the likelihood though. I don’t trust Drummond’s ability to limit his game to the areas where thrives, I don’t trust Jackson’s ability to stay healthy, and I don’t trust Griffin’s ability to be a franchise centerpiece.

Lazarus Jackson: Regardless of what happens with Stan do you think the trio of Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson have any possibility of future success?

That depends on what you mean by “success.” Is that a playoff series? They absolutely can make a playoff series. Is that a playoff series win? I think that’s possible but not as likely as making the playoffs, yes. Is success a conference championship and an appearance in the Finals? If so, then I don’t think they’ll be successful.

Jordan Bellant: Sure. We need to have two shooters around them and figure out how to play off Blake and Andre. I don’t think it’s a high ceiling but I could see a low playoff seed over the next two seasons if things break correctly. I have a lot of faith in new Head Coach Jerry Stackhouse...

Justin Lambregtse: I think they do, but it totally depends on the health of Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson, which is very scary considering their recent slate of injuries. I think this team, if they stay healthy, can become a top 4 seed in the East. That is also dependent on the continued improvement of Luke Kennard and Reggie Bullock’s breakout season not being a fluke.

Michael Snyder: Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. I think they complement each other rather well.

Sean Wheeler: Absolutely. They really do need to develop an offensive scheme in the offseason that maximizes their individual talents and find another wing who can spread the floor. But people forget how many quality teams they beat early this season when healthy - even without Blake Griffin. So yes, I think they can be a 50+ win team with a little luck and good health. I’d call that success.

David Fernandez: Yes, this trio should be a playoff team next year. They’ve looked pretty good (albeit against poor competition) since Reggie returned, and there could be a couple spots opening up next season in the East (looking at Indy and Miami for those spots, possible Cleveland if LBJ leaves). Is making the playoffs in the East a success(?), is the better question. At this point, I say, yes.


What are your thoughts? Please feel free to copy/paste the questions and give us your answers or give us your normal off the cuff style of commentary.

1. If this is Stan Van Gundy’s last stand what grade would you give his tenure?

2. Do you think he deserves more time?

3. Regardless of what happens with Stan do you think the trio of Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson have any possibility of future success?