Calling the last ten years of Pistons basketball disappointing would be a considerable understatement. After consistently being near the top of the league from 2003-2008, the historic franchise has fallen on tough times. They have appeared in the playoffs once since the 2008-2009 season, and any minor glimmer of optimism still leaves Pistons fans with a lot of skepticism.
It makes sense with how things have gone over the years, but with the NBA’s reigning Coach of the Year on board in Dwane Casey as well as a full training camp and offseason to integrate Blake Griffin in with Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond. It could finally be the year the Pistons start establishing some consistency and moving into the playoffs in the wide-open Eastern Conference.
Let’s take a look at five reasons why the Pistons will make the playoffs next season:
Dwane Casey is a Coaching Upgrade
The Toronto Raptors were the number one seed last season under the leadership of Dwane Casey. The rest of the league took notice as Dwane Casey was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year. One of the biggest reasons for the Raptors improvement was due to the development of some of their younger players to form one of the more effective bench units in the NBA. The Pistons have three young players who all are in serious need of some proper development in Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard, and Henry Ellenson.
These players were either not given a proper chance under Stan Van Gundy in the case of Ellenson, or placed into roles that did not emphasize their strengths as in the case of Stanley Johnson. Dwane Casey did a really good job of putting his young players off the bench into positions that emphasized their strengths and didn’t force them to do things that they were not good at. Having Stanley Johnson stand around on the arc for 3 pointers is not an effective way to use him, and that is often what he did under Stan Van Gundy. He needs to be allowed to have the ball in his hands and attack the rim and use his passing ability to set up others.
These guys are likely to have a role off the bench for the Pistons as they look for depth to complement their “Big Three” without much money to add players. Dwane Casey talked about Ellenson, Stanley Johnson, and Luke Kennard at length during his introductory press conference. He knows how important their development is to the present and future of the Pistons and he is going to make it a point to develop them. He backed that sentiment up by bringing in assistant coaches like Sean Sweeney and DJ Bakker who specialize in player development.
The Pistons young players are going to get a fresh start under a coach who is effective at developing young players. These three guys all have talent, and it is up to the reigning Coach of the Year to get it out of them. I think he will, and that is one of the main reasons why the Pistons will make the playoffs this season.
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