Detroit Pistons, an Early Season Surprise

Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson

Mac Ireland, Staff Writer

While it is still very early in the NBA season there are still some teams that have performed beyond expectations. And while there have been quite a few early surprises, one team, in particular, stands out and that’s the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons were expected to make an improvement from last year and even make the playoffs. But Detroit early on finds themselves as the second seed in the East with a 14-6 record. Let’s take a look at what got them to this point.

Looking at Detroit’s offense it is easy to see that their offense is not the reason they are winning games. The Pistons are an average offensive team ranking 19 or lower in major offensive statistical categories. The only categories that they rank higher than 19 are turnovers, offensive rebounds, three-point percentage, and field goal percentage. In terms of individual player performance, no one has been through the roof outstanding. Tobias Harris leads the team in scoring with 19.1 points per game and Avery Bradley is right behind him with 16.8 points per game. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing when factoring in how balanced Detroit’s offense is. Moving the ball and taking the best shot has helped the Pistons earn a league rank of 10 in field goal percentage and three-point percentage. And taking care of the basketball is can be the difference between winning and losing games. With a league rank of 6 in turnovers per game, it is clear that Detroit focuses on efficiency.

Where Motor City has made a living this year is on the defensive end. The Pistons rank 7 in the league in points allowed per game. The Pistons also have the 12 best defensive rating in the NBA. While 12 might seem low they are playing in a much weaker Eastern Conference. When looking at just Eastern Conference teams, Detroit is only behind Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto in defensive rating. That is some good company to be in. A contributing factor to Detroit’s improved defense was off-season acquisition, Avery Bradley.

The final piece that has helped the Pistons get to this point is coach Stan Van Gundy. He has managed to build a solid roster and done an excellent job of getting his players to buy into his system. With winning results I’m sure he is gaining players trust each and every day. With a track record like Van Gundy’s, it is hard to believe he has never won a coach of the year award. But if his team’s success carries on throughout the year he may be in the discussion once again.