Are the 2019-20 Detroit Pistons Good?

The Detroit Pistons are at a place in their franchise history not unlike the old TV game show “Card Sharks”, in which contestants had to guess whether the next card in a sequence would have a value higher or lower than the one under discussion.

On Card Sharks, if the host flipped over an eight, that was the nightmare of probability for the player—with aces high, that meant a coin-flip-odds proposition and lots of suspense from the audience.

In the NBA, it means a 41-win team that could win more or fewer games than it did in 2018-19.

Vegas has chosen “lower” for its guess. They’ve got Detroit at 37.5 wins.

Will Dwane Casey’s team be aces high and defy the odds? Or is the ongoing mediocrity of Detroit basketball destined to dip into the low end of the mediocre scale?

2018-19 record: 41-41
2019-20 over/under: 37.5

Mostly the Same Guys, Why Worse?

You look at the core of the 2018-19 Pistons and you see Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond, and Blake Griffin, who between them started 236 out of 246 available games.

You look at the core of the 2019-20 Pistons and you see…Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond, and Blake Griffin.

Sure, Reggie Bullock is gone, but Luke Kennard is entering his third year in the league and showed flashes of solid starter talent last year.

Kennard had a better 3-point shot than Bullock, scored more points per 36 minutes, and was better defensively for the same WS/48 count. And he was a second-year player. I’m not seeing how they’re supposed to be worse than last year.

It’s not as though age is a big problem either. Drummond is entering his age-26 season, while Jackson and Griffin will be 29 and 30 respectively. None of them are into past-their-prime aging veteran territory, and the assumption here seems to be that Griffin won’t be able to stay healthy for 75 games again.

Bruce Brown is an offensive disaster (PER is an imperfect stat, but a 6.9 PER? That’s noteworthy.) He’s also a defensive stopper who is entering his second year in the league and just turned 23. When a guy posts a 6.9 PER and still manages 0.0 VORP, that’s Bruce Bowen, Tony Allen, Rafer Alston-type specialization befitting a second-unit staple and a piece who can get bigger minutes when the other team’s guards absolutely, positively have to be stopped overnight.

It’s worth pointing out as well that Brown’s on-off Net Rating split was plus-3.6.

I’m just not seeing why this team is four wins worse than last year and headed for its worst record since 2016-17 (when they went 37-45) or 2014-15 (32-50.)

THE VERDICT!

You can’t tell me that functionally the same roster that won 41 games, which plays in one of the weakest divisions in the sport (who besides Milwaukee is a lock to be great? Indiana? Not Chicago or Cleveland!), and has a couple of bright young rising stars on both sides of the ball, is going to be four wins or more worse, not with Dwane Casey coaching them.

Are the 2019-20 Pistons good? It’s Plausible. And I’m taking the over while picking them to be the 7 or 8 seed in the playoffs.

NEXT: Indiana Pacers.