Flash! The Pistons are out of the playoff hunt. Flash! The season is more than half over. Flash! The trade deadline is near.
Ok, enough with the flashes already. I guess I was trying to wake myself up from this nightmare season with a little razzle dazzle, but it's simply not easy to do. I'm left wondering what happened. Where did things go so wrong this year?
Of course, several key players started the year injured and that probably upended things before they could even get started. Cade Cunningham came back after a full lost injury season, but as much as people say he's great, I think he needed time to shake the rust off and get going again - his turnovers were huge, and well without many shooters on the squad he didn't have many passing options to use.
In my opinion, winning is about chemistry, talent, and leadership. Yeah, I know, three things doesn't bring it clearly into focus, but I think they work in concert and can augment one another. If you have outstanding chemistry it mitigates superior talent. Legendary talent can off set poor leadership. Outstanding leadership is probably under-rated, it probably is the factor that can focus effort, and concentrate on achieving an outcome to overcome all odds.
What do the Pistons have? Where can they improve? Maybe, what can't they improve on might be another fair question. I think chemistry is where I'd start. I believe that blending Cunningham, Ivey, Duren, Thompson, and either Stewart or next year's top choice is the imperative matter. So far, this has been an abysmal failure. Perhaps the talents are complimentary. Shooting seems to continually be an issue. Turnovers might be a close second; perhaps deciding who should have the ball in their hands most needs to be decided too. Leadership also seems amiss.
Leadership I thought might come from the coach, or Cunningham, and although I think all the players have looked to them for guidance, this is almost an entirely missing ingredient. Where will it come from? Is it simply a matter of trusting someone? Is it a matter of someone trusting everyone else?
In my opinion, Coach Williams hasn't shown players he trusts them, or is working to really guide them. I also think that Cade is trying too hard to be the major or dominant force. He is a very talented player, but is he clearly a top rung leader? Maybe it will come later? Maybe someone else is going to emerge?
Troy Weaver's vision for this team isn't very clear to me. Is it to anyone? If so please explain it to me. He's tried to go with a youth movement. Then, he's tried to blend in veterans. Then, he's wanted the team to be defense oriented, but probably has come to realize that they need to score more, and much more efficiently. The type of team he has put together has been frustrating to me.
Perhaps it is the signing of Michael Bagley - why would you believe he would be a defensive first type of player? Perhaps it is the trade to obtain James Wiseman - how has that worked out? Perhaps it was drafting Killian Hayes over All-American Tyrese Halliburton that started my questioning in the first place? I like the wheeling and dealing to get Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart, because both were tough and dynamic players but neither were or are star quality players. Yet, building a young squad has transitioned to being an older one fast.
The roster has a lot of aging talent in Bojan Bogdanovic, Alec Burks, Mike Muscala, Danillo Gallinari, and perhaps even Monte Morris. This really hasn't changed either when as recently as just two years ago the team relied upon veterans like Mason Plumlee, Corey Joseph, Blake Griffin, Wayne Ellington, Derreck Rose, Rodney McGruder, and Delon Wright.
My fear is that mature, capable talent like Jerami Grant won't be added, but the team will hope young players are the drivers of some wished for future success that never really comes. As more and more time goes by those young talents like Spencer Dinwiddie, Bruce Brown, Andre Drummond, Christian Wood, Brandon Knight, Luke Kinnard, and even a few youngish ones we try to add like Jerami Grant, Reggie Jackson, and Reggie Bullock all move on to find real success elsewhere.
I suppose until the Pistons can find their own winning leadership team, there won't be much joy in Piston Land. Where is the next McCloskey and Daly, or Dumars and Carlyle? Is Weaver and Williams still a possibility? Perhaps it ultimately comes down to ownership. Davidson seemed to make things happen unlike ever before, or after him.