NBA Detroit Pistons

Five Reasons Why the Detroit Pistons Will Miss the Playoffs This Year

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Top 5 Reasons Detroit Pistons Will Miss Playoffs

Detroit Pistons
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons haven’t played postseason basketball since 2009 and haven’t had a winning season in five years. For a franchise that boasts one of the most iconic teams in league history and three world championships, that is simply not acceptable. Routinely drafting in the lottery isn’t going to cut it in Detroit, so general manager Joe Dumars set out to transform Detroit’s roster this offseason in order to put them in a position to play some playoff basketball again.

The question remains whether the signings of Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings and Chauncey Billups will be enough to put them in the playoff picture, though. While their roster is much improved from last season, it may not be enough as they still have more questions than they have answers. Will Smith be able to play with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe? Will Jennings be able to lead this team better than Brandon Knight did? Can Billups still contribute significantly for an entire NBA season?

Add to these questions that Detroit plays in a tough division and the rest of the eastern conference is much improved from last year, and you have to start wondering if this is a team that can win enough games to snap their streak of losing seasons. Not only are they young and inexperienced, but they’ll also have a new head coach, a seemingly mediocre one at that, in Maurice Cheeks. This team will need some time to develop an identity, and it might not happen soon enough for them to break into playoff contention this season. Here are the top five reasons why.

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5. Central Division Will Be Tough

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The central division is the strongest it’s been in years, including two potentially elite teams in the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers, with three teams making the playoffs last season. Additionally, it seems every team has made improvements to their roster this offseason. Indiana was a win away from playing in last season’s NBA Finals. They traded for Luis Scola, an underrated player who thrives on doing the dirty work for a successful team and will be returning Danny Granger, an All-Star level talent, to their lineup. While these may seem like minor tweaks, remember the Pacers were already an elite team beforehand.

The Bulls, a team that finished fifth in the east last season, will return former league MVP Derrick Rose and have added a shooting threat in Mike Dunleavy.

The Cleveland Cavaliers should be much improved from last season after adding Jarrett Jack, Andrew Bynum and first-round draft picks Anthony Bennett and Sergey Karasev. Add to these additions the fact that Anderson Varejao, a double-double machine who was averaging 14.4 rebounds and 14.1 points per game before being injured last season, will be returning to the lineup, and it’s easy to see why everyone views Cleveland as a playoff team this year. If Bynum and Varejao can stay healthy, Cleveland could have one of the best front courts in the league next season.

The Milwaukee Bucks lost a considerable amount of players from last season’s playoff team, but they also acquired a good deal of talent via trades and free agency. While they lost scoring leaders Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, they have added Gary Neal, O.J. Mayo, Caron Butler, Luke Ridnour and Brandon Knight, a young player with a lot of upside and a strong to desire to prove himself in this league.

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4. Team Will Need Time to Gel

Brandon Jennings
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

This season’s Pistons team will look much different from last season’s team. The fact that the Pistons have had so much roster turnover, not to mention a coaching change, is cause for concern in itself. While it’s true the Pistons have improved their roster with their offseason moves, it remains to be seen how this will translate in the win column. There are still a bevy of questions about this roster, including what position Josh Smith will play, if they will be able to space the floor, what kind of offense they will run, and how much production they can expect from their four rookies. Although it appears this team is set up well for the future, it will take time for them to gel and develop an identity, and there is no telling how long that might take.

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3. Spacing Issues

Spacing Issues
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The Pistons could have some serious issues spacing the floor next season. They shot just below the league average behind the arc last season and their three best players, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Josh Smith, will play the majority of the game in or near the paint. While Josh Smith likes to think he can stretch the floor, his shooting numbers would suggest otherwise.

Smith has an affinity for the long two. He shot 281 of them last season and converted them at a ghastly clip of .324. Add to that his career three-point shooting percentage of .283, and you stop wondering why some Hawks fans think the departure of Smith is addition by subtraction. Simply put, the Pistons may have an incredibly hard time keeping opposing defenses from sagging off shooters for most of the season which leads us to the next reason they could extend their streak of drafting in the lottery.

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2. If Their Shots Aren't Falling, Their Win Total Will

Pistons will need to shoot very well
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

With the possible spacing issues that come with having your three best players mostly ineffective outside of 15 feet, the Pistons will need to have a consistent outside scoring threat in order to prevent opposing defenses from clogging the paint. Chauncey Billups should add some relief and so should rookies Kentavious Caldwell Pope and Luigi Datome. However, Datome and Caldwell-Pope have yet to step onto an NBA floor, so whether their games will translate to the NBA or how much playing time either of them will see are both questions that don’t yet have an answer.

While we know what to expect from Billups, he has only played a combined 44 games over the past two seasons. Not only is Chauncey Billups in the twilight of his career, but serious questions remain about whether his aging body can handle the rigors of an 82-game NBA season.

What about Brandon Jennings, you ask? Well, even though more than a third of Jennings’ shots come from beyond the arc, he only converts about 37.5 percent of those. That’s not a mark that gets you excited about a player who will likely be launching the long ball four to six times nightly.

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1. Pistons Are a Very Young Team

Pistons need experience
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Pistons current roster has an average age of 25.2. As a Pistons fan, this should make you very optimistic about the future because it is looking incredibly bright. In the present, however, it’s not something to get excited about. Since 1988, 51 teams have had an average age of 25.2 or less, and of those 51 teams only nine have made the playoffs and two of them had losing records. While it’s entirely possible the Pistons have improved their roster enough to finally make a return to the playoffs, history is telling us that the odds are not on their side.