Veteran power forward Anthony Tolliver knows that the Pistons’ 7-3 start doesn’t mean much in the long run.
“It’s part of 82 games. We’ve got to keep doing it,” he said. “Just one game at a time and don’t get ahead of ourselves. Don’t get too confident, but also using this confidence knowing that whoever we play against we have a chance and we can win and we can beat anybody.”
Suffice to say, though, that no one predicted Detroit would lead the Cavaliers by three games in the standings at any point this season. The Pistons, who are off to their best 10-game beginning since 2008, have only qualified for the playoffs once in the last eight seasons. Cleveland will eventually get its act together but there are signs that the Pistons’ start is not a fluke.
They have posted some quality wins and shown the ability to erase double-digit deficits. That included a road triumph against the Warriors, even though the Pistons were playing the second end of a back-to-back.
Center Andre Drummond, their franchise player, has returned with a renewed focus and looks like an All-Star again after a subpar season. He’s even making his free throws (75%).
Point guard Reggie Jackson, slowed by a knee injury a year ago, looks healthy and is running the offense efficiently (3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio). Tobias Harris is shooting with confidence from the perimeter, averaging nearly 20 PPG, while Stanley Johnson has provided a defensive presence at small forward.
Detroit’s major offseason acquisition, Avery Bradley, has impacted the team at both ends. The shooting guard’s tenacious defense has rubbed off on his new teammates and his steady offensive output has been a major upgrade over the inconsistent player he replaced, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Coach Stan Van Gundy has so many solid bench options that he’s struggling to decide who should be in the rotation.
Of course, things could change in a hurry, as the Pistons don’t have the talent to beat many teams unless they’re at their best. They proved that with a road loss to the Lakers and a home loss to the Sixers.
They also have no viable options if Drummond suffers a significant injury. They lost Aron Baynes in free agency and are using power forward Jon Leuer and a summer-league addition, Eric Moreland, as his backups.
This brings us to our question of the day: Will the Pistons make the playoffs this season or is their quick start a mirage?
Please weigh in on this topic in the comments section. We look forward to what you have to say.