The biggest winner, believe it or not, from this year’s bizarre NBA Trade Deadline fiasco was none other than the Detroit Pistons.
Currently fourth in their division and just out of touch with the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Detroit needed a big man to come in and shake things up.
They got just what they needed from the Oklahoma City Thunder in point guard Reggie Jackson.
Detroit also re-acquired Tayshaun Prince and look to bounce past both the Charlotte Hornets (9) and the Brooklyn Nets (8) for the final playoff spot–and since they’re just a single game behind both of those teams, the chances of that happening are already highly plausible.
Here are three reasons that you’re going to see a lot of red, white, and blue from MoTown come this post season:
1. Quality Over Quantity
Would you believe me if I told you that the Pistons began this season with a 5-23 record?
Well, they did.
They also decided to dish Josh Smith to the Houston Rockets, and since that trade we have seen a completely different Detroit squad.
Since trading Josh Smith in December, the Pistons have managed to knock off the Cavaliers in Cleveland, the Spurs in San Antonio, and even the Mavericks in Dallas. Quality road wins against top teams have gotten Detroit where it needs to be to have success in the East.
Since the Eastern Conference is much weaker than the Western Conference, it’s a little bit easier to get in as the eighth team (usually you don’t even need to have a winning record).
But I think the Pistons are better than that.
They’ve been able to win impressively with or without their best players and now, since the trade deadline has passed, they made some key moves to their line-up to put them back in the hot seat as they look to grab sole control of a playoff berth.
2. The Jackson Five
Reggie Jackson was looking for nothing short of a starting role in Oklahoma City as part of the Thunder. Since that was not an option over in OKC, he requested to be traded and got his wish, landing in Detroit’s lap. This is just what the Pistons needed– a leader.
After falsely looking to Josh Smith as the team captain and veteran leader, Jackson is just the kind of guy Stan Van Gundy is going to want running his offense for forty-eight minutes. As Jackson made quite clear in his days with the Thunder, he can play as a team player, or if he’s feeling it, can light up the night with scores and rebounds all his own.
This season, Jackson is averaging nearly thirteen points, four assists, and four rebounds per contest. Compared to Branding Jennings, Detroit’s other available point guard, who is averaging fifteen points, six assists, and two rebounds per game, it’s safe to say the Pistons are in good hands.
And if injury comes to one of the point guards, the other one is going to be just as, if not even more, lethal on the floor.
Sounds like fireworks just went off in the palace. Better grab the popcorn.
3. Culture Shock
For a while now, the Pistons have had the Palace to themselves and haven’t really had the chance to share it with opponents in the playoffs–let alone the regular season. But now with the roster in place that includes Reggie Jackson, Brandon Jennings, Tayshaun Prince, and others, the Pistons are the hot hand.
We’ve seen just how inconsistent teams in the East are, especially at the bottom of the totem pole, so catching Charlotte and Brooklyn should be the easiest part of the season following the All-Star break for Detroit.
But once they get in, the question for the Pistons then becomes a matter of how far they’re willing to take it.
As the eight seed, the Pistons would most likely end up having to play the Atlanta Hawks (that’s assuming things go remotely as well as they did in the first half of the season). The Pistons and Hawks square off at the end of March in what could easily be a preview of part of the Eastern Conference’s first round match-ups.
The game will be played in Detroit, and a win against the best time this side of the NBA will not only motivate the players and coaching staff to rally behind the team and what they represent–but it will also undeniably give the fans in Detroit a chance to finally root for a team with a chance to shock the country.
Shock City, any body?