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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for January and and February: 22. Detroit Pistons

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of February 28th) :  23-37 (fourth place, Central Division)  

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of February 28th)

  • Points Scored: 94.9 (21st)
  • Points Allowed: 97.5 (14th)
  • Team FG%: .446 (15th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .448 (15th)
  • Team FT%: .695 (28th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .363 (11th)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.2 (8th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 42.4 (18th)
  • Turnovers per game: 15.1 (21st)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 13.5 (25th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of February 28th)

  • Scoring (ppg): Greg Monroe (15.6)
  • Rebounds per game:  Greg Monroe (9.6)
  • Minutes per game: Greg Monroe (32.8)
  • Assists per game: Jose Calderon (7.2)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Andre Drummond (.592)
  • Free Throw Percentage: Rodney Stuckey (.790)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Brandon Knight (.378)
  • Steals per game: Greg Monroe (1.4)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Andre Drummond (1.7)
Worst Player of the Month: Jonas Jerebko

Can it be time to show this once promising prospect the door?  After having an impressive rookie season, many hoops fans in Motor City saw this young Swedish national as a diamond in the rough and a future piece of the Pistons' return to respectability; however, for the past couple of years, he has lost much  of his luster and his value has greatly diminished as well.  Hampered by injuries, both his minutes and his production have dropped sharply--his scoring went from 9.8ppg in his rookie season to just 6.0 per game and he has been shooting an abysmal .400 from the field compared to the near .500 he shot in his rookie year.  Jerebko did not start 2013 off very well as he played just three games, averaging just 3.0 points in only 10 minutes per game; however, his numbers improved greatly in February as his scoring doubled from the previous month while his shooting spiked up to .529 while he scorched the perimeter shooting .462 from beyond the arc.  Perhaps his improved production may be enough of a reason to keep or it can be the perfect selling point for Dumars if he wants to orchestrate another trade to upgrade the roster yet again. 
First Player of the Month:  Jose Calderon

Since being exiled from his home of seven years in a trade that sent former Memphis Grizzly leading scorer Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors, Jose Calderon has been a literal godsend to a team whose offense lacked consistency and ball movement.  He has finally given the Pistons what they have sorely needed and have tried and failed to obtain--a true point guard who's focused on protecting the ball and setting up his teammates.  The Pistons' offense has run so much smoothly since the Spaniard's arrival to motor city as the team's offensive execution has improved leaps and bounds from before.  Upon arriving to Detroit in the month of February, he has been absolutely stellar contributing on both sides of the court averaging 12.3 points, 7.2 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals per game while shooting .500 from the field and an amazing .511 from the three point line.  At 31 years of age, Calderon has probably reached his peak as a player and will never get any better than he already is; however, through his impressive performance thus far in Detroit, Jose will certainly garner much attention for his service and most definitely earn a sizable amount once he becomes an unrestricted free agents at season's end.

Although they may still rest at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and relatively remain ignored by the most part, the Detroit Pistons have swiftly and silently returned to becoming a force in the NBA.  Their once stifling defensive play that had all but disappeared since team GM Joe Dumars rashly and incomprehensibly threw a grenade on the veteran team that brought Detroit so much glory has finally returned as the Pistons currently rank among the top half of the league in points and field goals allowed.  Detroit has also been a strong presence on the boards ranking eighth in the league in that category, while on the offensive end have been surprisingly lighting it up from the perimeter as they currently sit eleventh in the league in three point field goal percentage.  Despite their rather lackluster record, the Pistons have proven to be quite the relentless adversary only losing by just three points per game thus far while statistically matching their opponent toe to toe in rebounds, field goals and turnovers. In one season the Pistons went from being unbearable to watch to actually being rather pleasantly appealing to eyes of late and it looks as if there will be a new Motor City Renaissance and every NBA team, especially in their own Central  Division would be wise to take notice.

In January, the Pistons started the new year with a BANG by winning three of their first four games beating the Sacramento Kings (1/1/2013) and the Atlanta Hawks (1/4/2013) in two hard fought games at home while simply decimating their division rival Milwaukee Bucks on the road (1/11/2013).  After that short 3-1 run, they suffered two straight loses falling at home in a three point heart breaker against the Utah Jazz (1/12/2013) followed by an embarrassing blowout loss at home courtesy of the New York Knicks (1/17/2013); however, the Pistons won three of their next five handing blowout losses to the Boston Celtics (1/20/2013) and the Orlando Magic at home (1/22/2013) while narrowly escaping the Magic yet again for the second time--this time on the road. Detroit would, could and should have possibly won four of five if they managed to hold on to beat the Chicago Bulls (1/23/2013); however, despite being  to 85 points and .437 shooting, Chicago still manage to sneak past the Pistons by just three points.  That game would have certainly been a major confidence boost and would have also been also a great morale boost as they finished January on a sour note losing their last two games rather badly by an average margin of 23 points at the hands of division rival Milwaukee Bucks (1/29/2013) and the Central Division leading Indiana Pacers (1/20/2013).

February would both start finish rather bittersweet as they began the month by torching the Cleveland Cavaliers (2/1/2013), but would later lose their next three--two of which by a total of four points against the Los Angeles Lakers (2/3/2013) and the Brooklyn Nets (2/6/2013).  The Pistons did bounce back strong however, by taking four of their next six games--first by upsetting the league's best San Antonio Spurs by ten points (2/8/2013), then by avenging their previous humiliating loss to the Milwaukee Bucks (2/9/2013).  And despite losing badly at home to the New Orleans Hornets  (2/11/2013) and the Memphis Grizzlies (2/19/2013) Detroit still grabbed two key wins taking down fellow Eastern Conference cellar dwelling teams in the Washington Wizards (2/13/2013) and the Charlotte Bobcats (2/20/2013).  Unfortunately their 4-2 run would end as soon as it started as they would suffer soul crippling blowout losses not just once (2/22/2013), but twice (2/23/2013) at the hand of the first place Indiana Pacers followed by an eleven point drubbing by the Atlanta Hawks (2/25/2013).  The Pistons would however manage to salvage the month finishing the month by earning a hard fought victory against the Washington Wizards just scraping by just one point (12/27/2013).

In those two months, one recurring theme remained rather dominant in the production and success of the Detroit Pistons and that was their unrelenting effort on the defensiive end.  Despite going 10-15 in January and February, the Pistons held their opponents to under 100 points in fourteen of those games winning half of them--four of them by 15 or more points.  Of the ones that they did lose, four of those games were rather tightly competitive as they lost them by a total of nine points--that is just a little over two points per game lost.  On the flip side the Pistons were not as lucky when they allowed their opponents to score over the century mark as they went 3-8 in those games.  Surprisingly the Pistons were 3-1 in games decided by ten points or less; however, as for the rest of those games, they would lose and lose badly by an average margin of 16 points in those seven other games.

Through observing the numbers, it becomes rather apparent that the Pistons are at their best when they focus on playing stifling defense as opposed to trying to outscore their opponents.  Once they started loosening the reins and played lackadaisical defense, they would simply get run over by their competition as Detroit neither has the offensive power to match them or the Pistons simply would not be able to crawl out of the holes that they had dug themselves in.  Nonetheless, despite their rather inconsistent and sputtering offensive, their defense has been the driving force of keeping them a competitive team for a majority of the regular season.  Although they are still nowhere near to returning to their champion contending status from five years ago, if Detroit continue to grow and develop their chemistry and consistency on the defensive end, they can certainly become a playoff team in a year or two.  With another top ten pick coming their way along with oodles of salary cap space once the season ends, Detroit might find themselves becoming a playoff ready team possibly sooner rather than later, and that will put a lot of stress and anxiety for their Eastern Conference rivals.