The Detroit Pistons have been a beast in the East for many years now, but many believe that their best games are behind them. That may be true, seeing as top stars Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, and Rasheed Wallace are all over the age of 30. The Pistons do have a slew of young talent that seems to be ready to take the next step in becoming NBA stars. This could be the year when the older players on the team pass the torch to the next generation of stars in Detroit. Whether or not the transition will be a smooth one relates to how successful the Pistons are during the regular season. Even though it looks like the Pistons are aging and heading down that lonely road to retirement, they are still capable of getting back to the NBA Finals and possibly leaving with another trophy.
Offense: The pace of Detroitís offense is slow, but it is very efficient in its deliberate attack on the opposition. Both players in Detroitís backcourt are great playmakers and complement each other and the rest of the offense perfectly. The Pistons arenít dynamite on offense, but they really donít have a weakness on that side of the floor. They wonít overwhelm you with their scoring or shooting, but they always seem to outsmart the defense or tire them out on both ends of the floor. Another strength for the Detroit offense is that just about every player in the rotation is versatile or multi-dimensional. Each player can find a shot anywhere on the floor and each player helps every teammate in finding that shot. With all the young guns coming up in the Detroit system, the offense will look rejuvenated even though it seems to be fine, but an extra boost likely wonít hurt the chemistry.
Defense: The Detroit Pistons have made their living on defense. Every team that steps into The Palace of Auburn Hills is scared to death of what the Pistons will put them through on the defensive end. Along with the Spurs and the Celtics of last season, the Pistons have been one of the most dominant defensive squads in the NBAís illustrious history. Even though the key players in Detroitís rotation are getting older, they can still play shut down defense against almost any player in the game. If there is anything that the Pistons can count on to get victories, it is their stifling defense, and that defense took them to the NBA Title back in 2004.
Strengths: The Detroit Pistons are full of experience, especially considering that they have made it to the Conference Finals every year since 2003. The defense of this team is still frighteningly powerful and getting through the Playoffs is nothing new for this veteran squad. Mix in the young blood and the Pistons could be ready for another title shot.
Weaknesses: The Pistons seem to have a knack for overlooking opponents they consider to be lesser in talent when compared to them. This happened in the Playoffs last year against the 76ers and Magic, which possibly could have had a hand in their loss to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. If the Pistons can stay motivated against any team rather than a select few, they wonít have any problems, but there is no guarantee they will follow that regimen.
Five Players to Watch:
Chauncey Billups - Chauncey Billups is perhaps the best two-way point guard in the NBA as he is a solid playmaker on offense and a ferocious defender on the other end of the floor. Billups, most importantly, is the leader of this team. He provides a steady-head on the floor, and in the clutch is not afraid to take the big shot, hence his nickname of Mr. Big Shot. His days as Detroitís starting point guard are numbered, though, as Rodney Stuckey is hot on his tail for that spot in the lineup.
Richard Hamilton - Though Chauncey Billups is the teamís best playmaker, Rip Hamilton is probably the most important player on offense. He never stops moving, never. Unless heís stopping to spot up for one of his deadly mid-range jumpers, he is constantly cutting through the defense and playing off screens. Not since Reggie Miller left the league has there been a player with more non-stop energy than Hamilton. His play tires out his opponent immensely and is very entertaining. Without the ball, Rip Hamilton does more damage than seems believable.
Rasheed Wallace - Rasheed Wallace has the talent to be one of the ten best players in the NBA, but he doesnít seem to care. Many times, Sheed looks completely unstoppable. He can score in the post on anyone and his outside shot is a killer. Sadly, he just doesnít have that drive to be all he can be and carry the Pistons anywhere he wants. Perhaps itís for the best, though, as he fits in well with the offense and defense. The thought of how great he can be is very frustrating, though, as sometimes itís just unbearable watching him coast through certain games.
Tayshaun Prince - Tayshaun Prince, like many of his teammates, is on the roster to be a role player. Prince never tries to be the star of the team, and that allows him to focus on what he does best; defense. He is a talented offensive player, but his defense is miraculous. He has those spidery arms that give opposing players fits and is quick enough to stay in front of anyone. Prince is also relatively young and has quite a few years left to benefit this team. His role in the future of this team will be vital to their success.
Rodney Stuckey - When Chauncey Billups went down in the Playoffs, Rodney Stuckey filled in for him. His play in Billupsí stead was unbelievable for a player in just his first year in the league. He wasnít afraid to get to the basket, created for his teammates, and most surprisingly, made almost no ďrookieĒ mistakes on the floor. Stuckey will improve even more this season. There is no doubt that he is the future of the Detroit Pistons, the only question remaining is - how long is it going to take before heís the full time starter?
Title Hopes: Detroit fans have every reason to believe that the Pistons could be the NBA Champions in 2009. They are still monstrous on defense and the young players are starting to make an impact within the rotation. The addition of Kwame Brown could be beneficial, but the former first overall pick is completely unreliable at this point. Kwame Brown will not help carry the Pistons over the Celtics, and neither will Amir Johnson, no matter how talented he is. The Pistons were focused in 2004 and 2005, and it showed. Last year they were a superb team, but still looked careless at times. Maybe new head coach Michael Curry can change the morale of this team. Even if he can, the East has become a tougher place to play, and getting back to the Finals this year will be an even more difficult task for the Detroit Pistons.
Prediction: 1st Place, Central Division