It’s that time of the year where I once again make bold predictions about the Pistons that end up being way wrong. After finishing up hot take week for teams around the NBA, it is now time for me to bring on some hot takes for the Pistons.
If you want to check out my terrible bold predictions from last season, you can right here.
Joe Johnson will make the final roster and start at least 20 games this season
Predicting Joe Johnson to make the final roster is not all that bold. I love Christian Wood and want him to claim the final roster spot, but I have this feeling that Joe Johnson is going to make the final roster because he is a veteran presence, and Dwane Casey probably doesn’t care that much about having a backup center with how much Andre Drummond plays and how much he likes to play small.
Where we are getting bold is predicting Joe Johnson to start 20 games. It is very difficult to predict what Dwane Casey is going to do with his rotation. Four of the five starting positions are likely set with Reggie Jackson, Tony Snell, Blake Griffin, and Andre Drummond. However, nobody really knows who is going to start at shooting guard. It is probably going to come down to Bruce Brown or Luke Kennard.
All signs point to Luke Kennard coming off the bench because his full skill set can be better utilized. However, if Bruce Brown is in fact the starter and does not progress well enough offensively, I could see a scenario where Dwane Casey inserts Joe Johnson into the starting lineup to provide a bit of a spark offensively without moving Luke Kennard from his role off the bench.
Now at this point of his career, Joe Johnson should not be playing shooting guard. Him trying to defend shooting guards combined with the poor defense of Reggie Jackson would be a disaster defensively. I still think Dwane Casey would be crazy enough to do this if the scenario I laid out above actually happens.
Andre Drummond will make at least 15 three pointers this season
I went a little less bold with my Andre Drummond three-pointers prediction than I did last year, in which I stupidly predicted he would shoot 35 percent from three point range (he shot a whopping 13 percent).
This might be shooting a little bit low in terms of boldness, as he made 5 of them last season. However, Dwane Casey wants the team to shoot a higher percentage from three point range, so letting Andre Drummond shoot a ton of three pointers is probably still not in his plans. Drummond appears to still be working on his three point shot based on the infamous summer workout videos, and Dwane Casey wants the team to shoot a lot of threes, so it is not inconceivable to see Andre Drummond making a few more threes than last season.
I am going to stay away from predicting his percentage because I highly doubt it is going to be that high.
Blake Griffin will not get hurt, but he will also only play 65 games
You are probably seeing the headline and are very confused. How does Blake Griffin not get hurt but only play 65 games? The answer is load management.
It worked wonders for the Toronto Raptors last season with Kawhi Leonard, who only played in 60 games last season despite being healthy the whole season. Now obviously the Toronto Raptors are a way better team than the Pistons and were therefore able to rest Kawhi Leonard as much as they did without missing a beat.
Blake Griffin is far too important to the Pistons for him to be missing any games due to load management, but based on what happened at the end of last season there is no way that the Pistons are not doing some kind of load management with Blake Griffin. Even though Blake Griffin is greatly important to the Pistons success, they are better equipped to give him some rest this season.
Markieff Morris is not as good as he used to be and is not anywhere near the level of Blake Griffin, but he is a lot more reliable of a power forward than anybody the Pistons had on the roster last season. He is able to start a few games in place of Blake Griffin. The team will likely struggle, but they will not struggle as much as they did when they had Thon Maker starting after Blake Griffin got hurt at the end of last season.
Missing 17 games for load management is probably a bit too much, but hopefully the improvement of the Pistons depth will allow them to rest Blake Griffin that much and have him healthy for a deep playoff run (yeah, go ahead and laugh).
Andre Drummond will be an All-NBA center
There are a lot of good centers in the NBA. Regardless of what you think of Andre Drummond as a player, he is one of those good centers. You have Rudy Gobert, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Karl Anthony-Towns, and even Anthony Davis. if you consider him a center. There are obviously a few others that are near the level of Andre Drummond, but those are the big names.
Beating out one of these centers who put up gaudier scoring numbers and are more well-known is going to be very tough. But if Andre Drummond is able to build off of how he ended last season and make another jump defensively, him making one of the three All-NBA teams is not that crazy.
His current production likely wouldn’t be enough to get the attention of the media members who vote on it, but if the Pistons as a team can make a jump to the middle of the Eastern Conference standings along with a jump in Andre Drummond’s numbers, I think he becomes a legitimate All-NBA center in the voters eyes.
Speaking of jumping to the middle of the Eastern Conference standings, that leads me to my last prediction.
The Pistons will win a first round playoff series
You knew this one would be coming. This also makes it pretty obvious that I think the team will not be an eighth seed like last season. I think they capture the fourth or fifth seed in the East and are not only able to end their winless playoff streak, but also win a series. I am not going to predict who they will be playing in this theoretical playoff series victory or what seed they will be, but the four vs. five seed matchup is always close regardless of who has home court advantage.
I am not bold enough to predict a Pistons Championship this season, that would just be dumb. And in a league that is all about winning Championships, it is tough to get excited about just winning one playoff series, but we have to start somewhere. Baby steps people, baby steps.
What are your thoughts on my predictions? Too bold? Not bold enough? Sound off in the comments below