It’s hard to rule teams out of making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference — 38 wins got the eight seed last season and even in an improved conference a team hanging around .500 will have a legitimate shot (if not make it). There are only a couple of teams in the East that really have no shot at that goal (hello Philly!).
Jeff Van Gundy says his brother Stan and the Pistons are one of those teams. They have no shot
Jeff, the former NBA coach and long-time ABC analyst, was on SiriusXM NBA Radio Wednesday morning with hosts Frank Isola and Stacey King and said the Pistons (with Stan Van Gundy as coach and team president) had no shot at the postseason.
“Listen, they have a long rebuild. I think for the last five years Detroit has had the worst record in the Eastern Conference. And you think about that, that’s hard to do because a lot of the teams in the Eastern Conference over the last five years were trying to lose games. So, I mean, it’s a major rebuild. It’s a huge undertaking. I think they’ll be better. I don’t know what that translates to win-wise. I think they’ll be better but a lot depends on some of their perimeter play, how their frontcourt is going to mesh. I doubt you’re going to see the Josh Smith at small forward experiment very often. That was their starting lineup last year with Smith and [Greg] Monroe and [Andre] Drummond. I doubt you’re going to see that because you just don’t have any spacing or shooting on the floor. I’m interested to see how they play. I think there are a lot of things that they’ve got to correct and I think they are working hard at it but I just don’t see how they could make the playoffs.”
There is a lot of truth there. The Pistons have a serious rebuild ahead of them. Josh Smith playing the three is a terrible idea. Detroit’s inability to space the floor was a serious issue last year.
But I think there are things going right for Detroit that will make them a potential playoff team in the East. First, Andre Drummond is going to blossom coming out of those Team USA FIBA World Cup practices and I trust SVG will use him more wisely than the last regime. Greg Monroe is playing to get paid. The Pistons added Jodie Meeks and Caron Butler which should give them improved perimeter shooting and spacing. However the biggest thing to me is Stan Van Gundy will improve the Pistons’ defense, which was bottom 10 last year.
Is all of that enough to get them 12 more wins and up to about .500? Pretty close I think. Detroit may or may not make the playoffs but I think they are in the hunt for one of the last couple spots in the East. That’s a good first step after the past few years.