30 teams in 30 days: Can Drummond, Bradley bring Pistons back to playoffs?


30 teams in 30 days: Can Drummond, Bradley bring Pistons back to playoffs?

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Detroit Pistons.

The last time the Detroit Pistons moved into a new arena was 1989, a move that came on the eve of them winning the first of back-to-back NBA titles.

Detroit is on the move once again (they will play in downtown Detroit now after having played at The Palace of Auburn Hills since 1989), but the team’s outlook for this season isn’t nearly as rosy, new home or not.

To say they have had a postseason rut doesn’t do justice to the struggles they have endured in recent years with one postseason appearance (2016) in the last eight seasons.

Forget about winning a playoff series.

Detroit hasn’t won a playoff game since 2008 when it took Boston six games to knock the Pistons off in the Eastern Conference finals.

But this team isn’t kidding itself.

They know a deep playoff run, while not out of the question, is a longshot at best. Getting to the postseason would make this upcoming season a successful one for Detroit.

And that success would likely involve a big year from Andre Drummond who has established himself as one of the NBA’s top centers.

The 7-footer averaged 13.6 points and 13.8 rebounds per game last season, and has averaged a double-double in each of the last four seasons.

But the 24-year-old big man is going to need help if the Pistons are to make postseason trips a more regular occurrence than a solar eclipse.

Detroit wants to remain one of the better defensive teams in the league (last season the Pistons’ defensive rating of 105.3 ranked 11th in the NBA), but they know there’s a need to be a better scoring team.

Last season, the Pistons averaged 101.3 points which ranked 26th in the NBA and shot 33 percent from 3-point range which ranked 28th in the league.

Detroit got an upgrade in both categories with their trade of Marcus Morris to Boston for Avery Bradley.

The 6-foot-2 Bradley, one of the better two-way players in the NBA, has shown improvement in at least one phase of his game every subsequent year he has been in the NBA, a trend he’s likely to continue along this season.

Last year, Bradley averaged 16.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, both career highs.

The Pistons are also banking on a big bounce-back season from Reggie Jackson who played in just 52 games, the fewest games he played since his rookie season with Oklahoma City (45 games).

Their play will go far in the Pistons finding a way back into the postseason, a place they would love to call home.

Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Avery Bradley (Boston); Anthony Tolliver (Minnesota); Langston Galloway (New York)

Key losses: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Los Angeles Lakers)

Rookies of note: Luke Kennard.

Expectations: 42-40 (Third in the Central Division, 7th in the East)


Kyrie gets the last laugh against Horford and Team Steph

Kyrie gets the last laugh against Horford and Team Steph

LOS ANGELES – Kyrie Irving and Al Horford were on different teams for the NBA's All-Star game pitting Team LeBron vs Team Steph, so somebody was coming back a loser.

But considering how competitive the game was for longer stretches than usual, both players came away feeling good in a relatively close all-star game that ended with Team LeBron edging Team Steph 148-145.

LeBron James led all scorers with 29 points along wit 10 rebounds and eight assists and walked away with Game MVP honors for the third time.

Irving, who played for Team LeBron, had a near double-double with 13 points and nine assists along with seven rebounds.

And Horford, who came off the bench for Team Steph, had six points and five rebounds along with two assists.  

“This was pretty fun,” Irving said. “I think that we showcased that tonight with an incredible competitive spirit. The game was kind of getting away, but I think a few of us took it a little personal that we wanted to keep the game still competitive and at a high level. Fans and everyone across so many different countries want to see the best players in the world showcase their talent.”

Horford echoed similar sentiments about the game which had a different format this year, with LeBron James and Stephen Curry each picking the two teams from the 22-player pool of players from both the Eastern and Western Conferences.

“Early, guys were making (defensive) plays,” Horford said. “Guys were making a point, they weren’t going to let it be a dunk fest.

Horford added, “Even last year and the year before, there was a lot of heat on how bad the game was. I felt like this game was, it was good.”

Irving, a five-time all-star, also acknowledged how he and some of the players wanted to change the perception of the all-star game as being nothing more than a glorified lay-up line.

“I think we all took it kind of personal,” Irving said. “Individually we wanted to come out and be competitive. Last year it was (192-182), tat’s just not as fun as communicating with guys that you don’t necessarily play with every single day, bouncing ideas off in the time-outs. It’s just that competitive fire that we all share.”

And then there’s the payday for winning.

Not only will various charities benefit from the game – LeBron James’ charity of choice gets $350,000 because his team won and Steph Curry’s charity of choice gets $150,000 – but the players on the winning team get a pretty nice check as well.

The winning team members each get $100,000 while the players on the losing team come away with $25,000.

“There was something that, something that we could look forward to if we got the win,” Irving acknowledged. “You know, they’ll probably bring up the cash prize, but … $100,000 to $25,000, I think everybody in this room would be doing the same things we were doing.”


LeBron James savors first opportunity to build NBA roster

USA TODAY Sports Photo

LeBron James savors first opportunity to build NBA roster

LOS ANGELES – LeBron James had been mum on the process he used in selecting Team LeBron … until now.

Following Team LeBron’s 148-145 win over Team Steph, James revealed how he went about assembling is roster which included Boston’s Kyrie Irving who asked for a trade out of Cleveland last summer.

“I took Kevin (Durant) first, then I took (New Orleans) Anthony Davis, and I followed that with Kyrie and DeMarcus (Cousins).”

While this year’s all-star game had been billed as the ultimate pick-up game, it was clear that James put a tremendous amount of thought into assembling his team akin to what an NBA General Manager might do.

“I know who I like watching and I had a draft board,” James said. “I had a process. Some of it went to … it almost went according to plan. A couple of them fell through, but I was satisfied and happy with all the guys that I got.”

A reporter later asked James where was this draft board.

“Ain’t none of your business,” said James, grinning. “You’re going too far, man.”