What was once considered a slow start is now turning into a disappointing season for the Detroit Pistons.
As owners of a 14-22 record and a six-game losing streak after their loss to the Raptors Wednesday, underachieving might be an understatement. There have been a rash of injuries and a few benchings along the way, but the season is still young. Luckily for Pistons fans, there are a few bright spots for coach Cheeks’ squad.
* * *
The former UConn Husky has lived up to, and exceeded, expectations that the “experts” had for him coming into his sophomore season in the Association. In a team filled with streaky shooters and plagued with injuries, Drummond has been one of the few consistent bright spots. The second-year center is averaging 12.8 points and 12.7 rebounds while shooting a stellar 60.5 percent from the field.
Drummond has not missed a game so far this season, showing that the back injury he suffered last year is not a lingering issue. Drummond is currently in eighth place in All-Star voting for frontcourt players in the Eastern Conference.
* * *
In the last year of his contract, he has also exceeded expectations thus far. As the Pistons’ sixth man, has given coach Cheeks the opportunity to switch up the backcourt combinations during the game without seeing a drop-off in production. Unfortunately, Stuckey has missed eight games already with various injuries.
Through the Pistons’ first 36 games, in which Stuckey has played in 28, Rodney is averaging 14 points per game, up 2.5 from last season. His shooting has also improved, up four percent from a year ago. When comparing Stuckey and Brandon Jennings using per 36-minute stats, Stuckey actually averages 2.6 more points per game than Jennings. The Pistons could capitalize on Stuckey’s impressive season and his expiring contract by shopping him before the trade deadline.
* * *
Moose, who is also in the last year of his contract, has given the Pistons solid production from the power forward position. Along with Drummond, you can almost always count on Monroe to post a double-double every night. He averages 14.6 points and nearly nine boards per game.
Many scouts believe that he has hit his ceiling in terms of potential, which is one reason why the Pistons decided not to give Monroe a contract extension this year. If Detroit decides to break up the “Big Three” of Drummond, Monroe and Josh Smith, then Greg would be the first one to go. There have not been any rumors as to who might trade for the big man, but there are several teams in need of a power forward like Monroe.
* * *
Yes, the Conference itself is a bright spot for the Pistons. The teams are so atrocious this year that Detroit finds itself only one game out of the playoffs despite being eight games under .500. If the Pistons were in the Western Conference, they would be merely three games ahead of last place.
With so many games remaining in the season, the Pistons have an excellent shot at making the playoffs this year. Eighth place will likely need a win total in the mid-thirties by year’s end, which is very doable for the Pistons. So cheer up Pistons fans, we stink, but so does everyone else.
Blake Froling is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.