NBA Preview: Detroit Pistons

30 teams, and with the fourth team in the Central Division I will be talking about a team that is (almost) definitely on the rise, the Detroit Pistons.  After finally returning to the postseason last year, the Detroit Pistons are staying the course, adding depth around the very underrated starting five they have.  Led by C Andre Drummond and PG Reggie Jackson, it appears that GM/coach Stan Van Gundy is finally turning the Pistons into what once was the Dwight Howard-led Orlando Magic.  In other words, a team with a dominant big, a scoring point guard, and shooters all around.  Drummond, check.  Jackson, check.  Shooters, check.  Here come the Pistons.

ADDITIONS: C Cameron Bairstow (trade-Chicago), PG Ish Smith (Philadelphia), F/C Jon Leuer (Phoenix), C Boban Marjanovic (San Antonio), PG Ray McCallum (San Antonio), PF Henry Ellenson (draft), SG Michael Gbinije (draft)

SUBTRACTIONS: SG Jodie Meeks (trade-Orlando), G Spencer Dinwiddie (trade-Chicago), PF Anthony Tolliver (Sacramento), PG Steve Blake (free agent)

RE-SIGNED: C Andre Drummond

It was not the most exciting offseason in Detroit history, but moves needed to be made and they were accomplished.  After trading away Brandon Jennings at the deadline last year and letting Steve Blake walk, the Pistons needed a backup point guard and they found one in Ish Smith.  He had a breakout season, albeit in Philadelphia, and should be a good backup for Jackson.  Jon Leuer is a good shooting big, a Van Gundy guy, and Henry Ellenson can become the stretch four the Pistons are looking for down the road.  As far as losses go, Jodie Meeks is the biggest loss but he spent the last two seasons on the bench in a suit due to injury more often than not.  The signing of Boban Marjanovic was weird to me, as they already signed Aron Baynes the year before to a big deal and one of them becomes redundant.  Tolliver is replaced by Leuer and Ellenson, and the Spencer Dinwiddie-Cameron Bairstow trade is utterly meaningless.  Oh, and the Pistons kept Andre Drummond, which surprised no one.

PLAYER TO WATCH: I want to see how Tobias Harris looks like with Detroit for a full season.  Him being traded last season after signing a big contract by Orlando was baffling to say the least, especially since Orlando essentially only received the least valuable asset they gave up for Serge Ibaka.  That said, Harris is still on the rise, and should be a very good player this season for Detroit and may take on the Rashard Lewis role.  With Drummond and Jackson both on the floor, it takes a lot of pressure off Harris to do what he wants and take good shots.  

BIGGEST CONCERN: My biggest concern for the Detroit Pistons are the backup wing players, as the group of Stanley Johnson, Reggie Bullock, Darrun Hilliard and Michael Gbinije is underwhelming.  Stanley Johnson is a nice player, but if Harris, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Johnson have to miss time, it puts a lot of pressure and big minutes on the remaining two.  This is a little nit-picky as the Pistons should be a good team, but this is definitely a weak point on the roster.

BIGGEST UNKNOWN: There are not a ton of unknowns in Detroit, but how many minutes will Henry Ellenson receive is one of them.  If I were Stan Van Gundy, I would let the trio of Aron Baynes, Boban Marjanovic and Jon Leuer take the boatload of the minutes behind Andre Drummond and Marcus Morris, as Ellenson is not even 20 yet and you have capable backups in those three.  However, he may be this team's power forward of the future, so you want to make sure he gets enough playing time so he can grow and be productive down the road.  

PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: C Andre Drummond, PF Marcus Morris, SF Tobias Harris, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, PG Reggie Jackson

ROTATIONAL PIECES: F Stanley Johnson, PG Ish Smith, C Aron Baynes, PF Jon Leuer

ROUNDING OUT THE ROSTER: C Boban Marjanovic, PF Henry Ellenson, G/F Reggie Bullock, SG Michael Gbinije, F Darrun Hilliard, PG Lorenzo Brown

PREDICTION: Overall, not a ton of surprises in the starting five, bench, or the players who round out the roster.  Expect big things again from Drummond and Jackson, and the trio of Morris, Harris and Caldwell-Pope is as good of a supporting cast as any.  I don't see the Pistons missing the playoffs, but I can't see them going anywhere once they get there either.  I'd say around 47-49 wins is most likely and somewhere between the 5-8 seeds.  If they miss the playoffs it is due to an injury to Drummond or Jackson, not due to the talent on the roster.