The 2016-2017 NBA season was supposed to be a productive and encouraging one for the Detroit Pistons… until it wasn’t. Stan Van Gundy’s team entered last year riding high after a playoff appearance and a semi-competitive series against the Cleveland Cavaliers but, in short order, the wheels came flying off the wagon. When things settled, the Pistons emerged with a dismal 37-45 record that fell four games out of the playoffs and, given the expectations, that performance was nothing short of disastrous.
With the Eastern Conference immersed in turmoil, though, many projected Detroit to bounce back and they have done just that in the opening days of the campaign. The Pistons are off to a flying 5-2 start that doubles as the best mark in the East and the team is riding a three-game winning streak over the likes of the Wolves, Clippers and Warriors. Is that level of play real? Probably not, but there are actual encouraging signs that don’t all revolve around the opening of Little Caesars Arena.
Reggie Jackson looks to be “back” as a real, live starting point guard in the NBA, Tobias Harris is on an early-season tear and Avery Bradley remains the uber-solid shooting guard that Detroit likely assumed it was getting in trade with the Celtics. Beyond that, Andre Drummond has been effective (including a 70 percent clip at the free throw line) and the Pistons are even coaxing helpful minutes out of Stanley Johnson and Henry Ellenson.
The complete package may not be “sexy” and, in short, there is nothing tremendously appealing from a national sense about the Pistons. What this team appears to be, however, is a playoff-caliber squad in a weakened Eastern Conference and, well, that is much better than not being a playoff-caliber squad in a weakened Eastern Conference.
Where do the Pistons land in this week’s edition of our NBA power rankings? Let’s find out.