The Scouting Report: Detroit Pistons
Projected starting line-up: Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond
New additions: Stanley Johnson, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Aron Baynes, Steve Blake
Departures: Greg Monroe
Injuries: Brandon Jennings (achilles, out until December), Jodie Meeks (fractured foot, out for awhile)
Year two of the Stan Van Gundy era in the Motor City has been a roaring success through five games.
Van Gundy–head coach as well as the team’s President of Basketball Operations–has constructed a retro-fitted version of the contending teams he had in Orlando before the team let Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith go. Then came the inevitable Dwight Howard trade.
Playing the part of Howard has been third year center Andre Drummond who has been allowed to flourish in the middle following the departure of Greg Monroe. Drummond is averaging an NBA-high 19 rebounds per game through the first five games. And thanks to Drummond, the Pistons are currently ranked third in the league in points allowed per possession.
Ersan Ilyasova and Marcus Morris give the Pistons 3/4 versatility at both forward spots and have both fit in rather seamlessly after coming over in the offseason. Both will force the Blazers to cover them beyond the arc.
Their backcourt has played well to start the season, too. So far this season, Reggie Jackson is shooting a solid 37 percent from long-range while dishing six assists per game. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has cooled off after a red-hot start to the season but can get his shot in just about any scenario and he’ll have plenty of chances to do so, playing 38 minutes a night. They also have nice size defensively with Jackson being stronger than average for a point guard at 208 lbs while Caldwell-Pope is 6-5 with a 6-8 wingspan.
Off the bench, the Pistons have three-time Trail Blazer Steve Blake, former Spurs bruiser Aron Baynes. Baynes will be a tough size match-up for Ed Davis and rookie wing Stanley Johnson from Arizona.
Johnson scored 28 in a preseason game, but the Pistons are putting him on a slow burn to start the season with just 20 minutes per game.
Much of Detroit’s success has been due to their heavy reliance on their starters, with everyone except Ilyasova averaging 27 minutes. If you’ve seen Ilyasova play defense, you understand why. But jokes aside, their starting line-up has been a monstrous +16.7 per 100 possessions.
The toughest challenge the Blazers will face defensively may be simply keeping Drummond off the offensive boards. Drummond has had 27 put back plays according to Synergy Sports Technology, nine more than the next closest player despite playing one or two games less than every player in the top-ten in that category. Drummond is also a tough pick and roll player who can get up for alley-oop dunks.
Every Blazers big man is going to have their work cut out for them trying to keep Drummond off the glass on both ends. If they can do it, they’ll give themselves a very good chance to hand the Pistons their second loss of the season.