The Pistons are finally playing with some kind of consistency. We've waited for this since the 5-4 start to the season that had us hoping for a playoff run against one of the elite teams in the East and maybe surprising one or two teams, meanwhile having terrific contracts as potenital trade bait if the right offer was made to Joe Dumars. Well, mainly injuries prevented the plan from happening and after the good start, Detroit decided to drop 21 out of their next 28 games, sporting a 13-game losing streak and generally losing to teams that were very very beatable losing to the Raptors twice for instance.
A losing streak like that usually takes a toll on the players especially when the veterans wo have been leading this team for several years are out and injured and a new hierarchy has to develop. Rodney Stuckey isn't capable of leading this team yet (or ever) and the new additions Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva have been struggling with injuries of their own. A lot of people aren't satisfied what those two have shown but what a lot of people also don't understand is that supposedly minor aches can have a big impact on what you are capable of doing. Sprained ankles don't seem to be bad for a pure shooter like Gordon, but you lose lift and agility, that way you don't get the seperation from your defender, your drive isn't as big a weapon and when you shoot the jumper you don't get up as high. Kobe never seemed to have problems shooting because his finger was hurt, he started struggling with the ankle and groin injuries. Players usually play through sprained wrists pretty easily, but everything that aches in your lower back or downwards has a huge impact on your performance. That's why it has been bad for the Pistons, since most of their injuries were lower body injuries that effect the players in so many different ways, and what's worse, next morning when you get up out of bed, you feel every single move from the night before.
But there has been a change in dynamics ever since Tay and Rip returned from their injuries and their play has picked up. Tay looks like the Prince of the Palace again and Rip has been dead-on the past three games, even though he almost cost us that Spurs game but whatever dude.If you look at the last 20 games they have won 10 of those 20. I don't know if you realized that, I sure didn't. I'm so accustomed to this team winning around .700 of their games that being mediocre still seems, well, really bad. The overall record also doesn't help to see small improvements.They have against the teams they are supposed to lose to, but all in all they have been hovering around .500 and you can see from their win against the Spurs, this team has the talent to compete. Ok, San Antonio is not the team of '05 or '07, but they are still a playoff contender in the Western Conference so we'll take that win. The Schedule will become a little bit rougher playing Denver, Boston and Cleveland in the next two weeks, but if we get out of this playing at .500 still, I will be pretty proud of this team.
We have a lot of good pieces, we need some more additions but summing it up. I like this team, it's got character. Don't get down on Joe Dumars, he's the best GM there is for this franchise. I'm not saying the FA signings this summer were horrible, I think both C-Nuv and BG will be valuable assets for the years to come. Instead of focusing on trading Rip or BG I think we should explore trades for Stuckey. This team needs a true PG and a true C, that's all there is to it. We won't be a title contender with those two positions filled out, but the balance will be much better.