Do the Pistons need to press the Panic Button?

Joseph Beaudet

You know how I said the Red Wings were closest to pressing the Panic Button? Yeah, I lied. The Pistons are the closest team in Detroit to pressing that button. If they haven’t already, they may need to plan on it some time this season. Last year, for whatever reason, the Pistons sucked. Widely viewed as semi-contenders in the Eastern conference before last season, they failed to meet any expectations and missed the playoffs altogether.

Well, it wasn’t “For whatever reason.” In fact, there’s a few things I can very easily point out in why this team was so damn bad. However, in terms of offense, they weren’t much worse this past season, and actually played better in some regards. In the ’15-16 season, the Pistons had a 43.9 FG percentage, they pushed that up to 44.9 percent in the ’16-17 season. They even became a better free throw shooting team! WHAT?! Yes, I promise. In the ’15-16 season, they shot an abysmal 66.8% from the foul line, but brought that all the way up to 71.9% in the ’16-17 season. Hell, even their assist numbers went up, from 19.4 per game to 21.1. Despite all these improvements, they scored 0.7 fewer points, dropping from 102 a game to 101.3, but with such a small shift, does that really lead to a 7-win decrease?

But then you look at their opponents’ numbers, and see where it all went downhill. Well goddamn. Detroit became a much worse 3-point defending team, allowing opponents to make 35.5% in the ’15-16 season, to 36.6% in the ’16-17 season. On top of that they allowed more rebounds per game, going from 42.5 in ’15-16, to 42.9 in ’16-17. Now, I know you’re thinking, “Well that isn’t many rebounds,” and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong, but it’s 33 more rebounds in the entire season. With one of the best centers in the league in the middle, that’s unacceptable, but we give him shit later. As a team, the Pistons also allowed 1.1 more points per game, and legitimately went from averaging a win in 2015-16, to a loss in 2016-17.

Now, let’s shit talk Andre Drummond. Simply put, Dre is supposed to be Detroit’s best player, but he was far from it this season. While putting up better numbers in both free throw(!) and field goal percentage, he managed to score 2.6 fewer points per game. Drummond’s rebound numbers also took a hit as he averaged 1 fewer rebound per game, so as previously mentioned, he can be put to blame for the team averaging fewer rebounds per game. Last season compared to two seasons ago, Drummond took 1.9 fewer shots per game. While that may be part of the reason he shot better, he shot nearly 1 percent better from the field, so you’d think Stan Van Gundy would’ve given him a green light when the team was struggling. Drummond’s fall in production doesn’t fall all the way on him in some respects, but it certainly falls primarily on his shoulders.

While I’m not sure the Pistons need to press the Panic Button quite yet, I know damn well they are close. With little cap room available, the team can’t go out and get a big free agent without offloading a big contract. Not only that, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will likely command a max contract this offseason because he’s a good defender and 3-point shooter. Pistons fans, we may very well be in for another bad season, and who knows how many more.

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