Detroit Pistons: Vegas Projection - 45.5 Wins
GBB Overall Staff Projections:
- Six take the over (Hrdlicka, Lucas, Ford, Jordan, Trammell, Yeung), six take the under (Mullinax, Reynolds, Concool, Conner, Huguley, Rubrum)
- Average projected record- 42-40
Key additions: Ish Smith, Jon Leuer, Boban Marjanovic, Henry Ellison
Key losses: Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Joel Anthony, Anthony Tolliver
Analysis: After a promising appearance in the playoffs this past season, the Pistons are looking for a big jump this year. Stan Van Gundy has continued to make the Pistons into his 2009 Magic with a 4 out 1 in offense anchored by a killer screen and roll. Andre Drummond has maintained his progress, but really needs to work on both his free throw shooting and finding a go to offensive move. Reggie Jackson had a career year shooting the ball (35% from deep on 118 three point makes). If he can keep hitting threes at that clip, it will make it even tougher to guard him. SVG spent major money signing backups in guard Ish Smith, 7’3 behemoth Boban Marjanovic, and sharpshooting power forward Jon Leuer. These moves are sure to help what was a rather thin bench for the Pistons last season.
Strengths: The development of the Pistons core. SVG really has a team positioned to be a force in the east for the next 6-7 years if he can keep them together. With Jackson, Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Stanley Johnson, and mid-season acquisition Tobias Harris all ages 26 or under, the ceiling is still high. Franchise center piece Drummond, in particular, is only 23. Tobias Harris, a shooter at the 3 and 4 who can create shots for himself, really seemed to settle in at the latter part of the season. Lastly, Marcus Morris was a great combo forward for them, averaging 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists as a starter. These Pistons will be scrappy, deep, and have a top-10 center, and that should be enough for an increase in wins this season.
Weaknesses: SVG’s basketball model has always been to have a dominating post presence surrounded by an array of shooters. However, both need improvement. Andre Drummond has had success as a roll man on offense, but has really struggled to create his own shot, and that needs to change. He has a decent hook shot, but seems to lack assertiveness on offense because of a perceived fear of getting to the line, where he is a career 38% from the charity stripe. In addition, the shooting for the Pistons has been lacking. Drummond may not be Van Gundy’s Dwight Howard, but the perimeter players he has are also not the snipers he had in Orlando. Leading three-point taker Caldwell-Pope took just over 5 threes a game, and shot a measly 30% on them. In fact, the top-5 three point shooters for the Pistons combined to convert at just a 33.5% clip. This has to improve if the Pistons want to really make some noise this season.
Final Thought: After some consideration, I’m taking the over on the Pistons, at 49 wins.
L. A . Lakers: Vegas Projection - 24.5 Wins
GBB Overall Staff Projections -
- Three take the over (Mullinax, Ford, Jordan), nine take the under (Lucas, Hrdlicka, Reynolds, Concool, Conner, Trammell, Huguley, Rubrum, Yeung)
- Average projected record: 22-60
Key additions: Brandon Ingram, Jose Calderon, Luol Deng, Timofey Mosgov
Key Losses: KOBE BRYANT, Brandon Bass, Roy Hibbert
Analysis: Oh boy. The Lakers start the season for the first time in 20 years without Kobe Bryant. After 3 agonizing seasons, the Lakers have some young talent compiled around them with which to start the rebuild. It won’t be fun and there will be some extremely painful stretches in the season. However, with D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, and new coach Luke Walton, the Lakers are on the right track. The Lakers now have youth stockpiled at every position, along with veterans such as Deng, Mozgov, and Calderon to guide the way. With the development of the young guns on the roster, the Lakers can be a force to be reckoned with in as little as 3-4 years.
Strengths: Youth. For the first time in a long time, the Lakers are in a full blown youth movement. Russell and Clarkson man the guard spots. New draft pick Brandon Ingram and Anthony Brown are in the small forward spot. Julius Randle and Larry Nance, Jr. are at the power forward position. And Tarik Black and 19-year-old rookie Ivica Zubac will see time at center. In addition, the Lakers also have a number of veterans with the aforementioned Deng, Mozgov, and Calderon, as well as Lou Williams and Nick Young (he does count). Luke Walton comes over from Golden State and he will bring a championship pedigree to these young Lakers, as well as the flexibility in their style of play that they didn’t have under Byron Scott. The Lakers will have a fast break style and will really get thrown into the fire this season, as they learn to work and develop together. Look for Russell and Randle to make huge steps in development, and watch Brandon Ingram this season as he could potentially be R.O.Y.
Weaknesses: OK, so I’m going to try to keep this short but sweet. Everything. Defense is going to be an issue all season, as the young ones continue to learn the finer parts of guarding their man. Julius Randle as of now, is still a very limited offensive player if he isn’t going to his right and also has to work on his jump shot. Russell will need to learn how to get his teammates more involved after averaging only 3 assists last season, and the bench will be rather lacking, although somewhat deep. In short, there’s a lot of work to be done, and the Lakers will lose. A lot. But now, we can at least begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Final Thought: I’ve grappled back and forth with this, but I’m taking the over on the Lakers, at 26 wins
Until next time Griz fans, keep grinding.