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Detroit: Life After J-Smoove

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Josh Smith is the best thing that has happened to the Detroit Pistons this season.

Somewhere (maybe my imagination) there is a Detroit Pistons fan that slipped into a coma in December and woke up this morning. After being greeted by family and friends, they were told that their treasured Pistons are on a 7 game win streak and that Josh Smith is the cause of it. Now as crazy as that might sound to him/her, it is absolutely true!

Nobody saw this coming. Well… apparently Stan Van Gundy and the rest of the Piston’s general management team did. They decided Smith was such a problem for the organization that it wasn’t even worth their time and effort to try and find a team willing to trade assets for the team-cancerous 29 year old former Atlanta flyer.

The original idea of Josh Smith on the Pistons seemed to be a brilliant idea. However, he was never the player that they thought they were receiving. Sure, Smith could still get buckets, but he wasn’t the player Detroit was expecting – an athletic power forward that shot north of 40% from the field and would try and dunk on anybody while defending at a high level. Smith was also being forced to play the wing (strike one) because Drummond and Monroe are just better post-up options than Smith. You can’t force a player to play a position he’s never played when he’s likely in his prime, or was already at the peak of his career.

Well, why not bring Smith off the bench? You can’t bring a guy off the bench that is supposed to make $54 million dollars over four years (strike two). It only took a season and a forth to show all Detroit fans that Smith was an obvious problem. Several times a game the offense would stop its fluency when the ball would arrive in J-Smoove’s hands. Forced three pointers, ugly jump shots, and shooting through double and triple teams are never a good idea unless your name is Kobe Bryant or Dirk Nowitzki.

My personal opinion is that Smith’s ego was waaaaayyyyyy too big (strike 3). He was THE MAN in Atlanta and had to come to a losing team in Detroit. I believe that Smith’s vision of himself was stepping into a losing team with young talent around him and being able to do anything he wants. Questions that Josh Smith would as himself — I’ve never been a good three-point shooter… so maybe I should start shooting threes? Our team defense is poor? Okay then I will stop trying also. Maybe if I try and score 25-30 points on 20 + shots than everything will be okay? — Okay you get the point. I really have no idea what was going through his head, but whatever he envisioned didn’t work out and not only is Smith moving on (lucky to be in Houston), but so is the city of Detroit.

WOW!!!!!! That is all I have to say about how well the Pistons have been playing! This is the longest winning streak for Detroit since then2008-09 season. A seven game win streak for this group is something of great measure. They’ve also beat legit teams (Dallas, San Antonio, Sacramento Cleveland).
I’m not sure when it happened, but Detroit has apparently found a time machine. Because Brandon Jennings has been playing extremely well on this streak (19.3 PPG). He has found his shooting touch again and looks like he went back to Milwaukee when he was a legit threat. Jennings game-winner was only his second of his career of what I believe was his 20th attempt in his short career.

Andre Drummond has also been absolutely dominant over the win streak (14.4 PPG & 16.4 RPG). He had 19 rebounds last night against Dallas to go with his paint-partner Greg Monroe’s 27-18-6 night. These two young bigs are emerging as one of the best block-duos in the league. They are for sure the biggest reason for the Pistons dominance the last couple weeks. Drummond and Monroe are extremely fun to watch because they do everything you’d want your big men to do. They clean the glass exceptionally well, they attempt to put-back dunk EVERYTHING, and are able to dominate their defender down low. They are just two young players going out every night and competing, it’s awesome basketball.

Greg Monroe is going out and balling each night. The Detroit Pistons are going to be forced with a tough decision soon. After negotiating with Monroe all last summer, they were only able to agree to a one-year deal that would keep Monroe on the team. They’re either going to have to trade Monroe to team that feels he’d want to resign with them this summer or else ride out his contract, hope to make the playoffs, and dream that you’ve done enough to get Monroe to resign to a long-term deal.

With how the Pistons are playing, the question becomes simple. Can they make the playoffs? Detroit is currently only three games out from the eight seed in the Eastern Conference, and 4 games out from the seven seed. CLEARLY, the goal has changed. In a year that was destined to end with Ping-Pong balls, playoffs have become the vision. The Eastern Conference is weak again this year (and will continue to be) so the goal is no longer lofty; it is achievable. ESPECIALLY if Detroit can continue to play basketball how they’ve been doing lately.

A seven game winning streak is nothing to laugh about. It’s a great achievement. But it’s still a very small sample size. The good thing for Detroit is the things they’re doing well aren’t going to change. They have a GREAT coach who won’t be going anywhere. They have talented bigs that have bought into cleaning the glass and trying hard each game. They have found the dynamic point guard that was missing, Brandon Jennings. He is a unique talent compared to other point guards in the league with his explosiveness, unorthodox creativity, shooting ability (threes, fadeaways, floater/runners), and is a fantastic ball handling/distributor.

My prediction – They won’t get any worse than they are right now in my opinion. I’m not saying that they’re going to win every game the rest of the season. It’s possible that they can extend this winning streak or win most of their games they have left. But the more time that passes, teams will be able to scout better and learn how to stop the Pistons. I believe the Pistons WILL make the playoffs. They’ll be a six, seven, or eight seed. This is a year that they get their feet wet in the playoffs before they make a splash in years to come.

Right now the Detroit Pistons are the hottest team in basketball and until that changes it is… DEEEETROITTTTT BASSSKETBAAAAALLLL!!!!



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