The Detroit Pistons have undergone a massive transformation since Stan Van Gundy was hired as team president and coach last summer. There was the jettisoning of talented, but inconsistent forward Josh Smith and the midseason acquisition of guard Reggie Jackson from Oklahoma City Thunder. And this summer, forward Greg Monroe left the team and signed a max contract with the Milwaukee Bucks.
So what does one do when faced with so much upheaval? You go to Las Vegas. Members of the Pistons team will be heading to Sin City to partake in some training with MMA trainers and coaches. The trip was organized by Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond, and will begin Aug 31 and last about a week.
Spencer Dinwiddie, battling for a backup point guard spot on the team, believed the trip would be an opportunity for the teammates to bond, as he told the Detroit Free Press.
“Keep getting in great shape and bond with the guys,” Dinwiddie said. “That’s the main thing when you have guys here early, that’s what you’re going to gain from it the most. I think most of the guys are going to be there.”
This upcoming season could be big for the Pistons in year two of the Van Gundy era. The team is somewhat reminiscent of his old Orlando Magic teams, with Drummond playing the role of a young Dwight Howard and Jackson an updated version of Jameer Nelson. Van Gundy likes to spread the floor and has shooters in Reggie Bullock and Jodie Meeks. The Eastern Conference is no stronger than it was last year, and the team showed significant promise once they cut loose Smith, only to see Brandon Jennings go down with a season-ending injury.
If the team is healthy, and Jackson and Drummond take the next step the team could not only make the playoffs in the East, but they may also go far.
Pistons fans shouldn’t worry about the players mixing it up in the octagon with MMA fighters according to Dinwiddie, though. “You can get hurt doing that,” he said.