The NBA season is coming. With that in mind, it is time to flip through the book on the 2013-14 season and to take a look at what the season might have in store — especially when it comes to the Magic. Be sure to look out for more of these team capsules and to check out all the blogs taking part in this year's NBA Blog Preview (don't worry, I will be linking to all of them in the next few weeks … months … this preview IS never-ending, afterall).
Last Year: 29-53
Last Year vs. Magic: Pistons lost 110-106 in Detroit on Nov. 16; Pistons lost 90-74 in Orlando on Nov. 21; Pistons won 105-90 on Jan. 22 in Detroit; Pistons won 104-102 in Orlando on Jan. 27
This Year vs. Magic: Bucks Won 107-98 in Milwaukee on Feb. 2; March 17 in Milwaukee; April 10 in Orlando
Magic Connection: Chauncey Billups (Player, 2000)
The Previews: Packey/Detroit Bad Boys
The Detroit Pistons have made some mistakes with their money. It cost them several years coming out of the Eastern Conference Finals runs of the mid-2000s. Getting out of the contracts of Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon took some work. And the Pistons stayed out of the Playoffs as they went through this painful rebuilding following that string of success.
Joe Dumars worked hard to rebuild it all.
In 2014, he might be able to say the Pistons are on the way back. Or, maybe, he might be able to say he lost his second chance with cap room. Either way, Maurice Cheeks and teh Pistons will begin facing larger expectations and have an eye toward the postseason with Josh Smith coming into the fold this season.
The Pistons are styling themselves as the second coming of the Bad Boys, if not in style then at least in size. This is a team that will throwback to the days when size mattered. Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond are two of the most intruging big men prospects int he league. And Josh Smith marks the big free agent haul for Joe Dumars this time around.
Smith has always been the mercurial player among the NBA's All Stars or quasi-All Stars. He hasn ot yet made the All-Star team, but came oh so close yet again in averaging 17.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game for a Hawks team that many expected to take a step back. Of course, the Hawks stayed exactly where they were — in the middle of the Playoffs.
Detroit would just like to get there and so they added the versatile forward to the lineup.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/Zimbio
His addition though adds some serious questions to what the Pistons can do, what they will do and whether the Pistons can make the Playoffs.
Already last year, Detroit was 18th in the league 3-point field goal percentage, making 35.6 percent of its long-range shots. Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe are two great options in the post, but were -1.4 points per 100 possessions in 453 minutes playing together. Does that improve with Josh Smith further clogging the lane or asking for post looks. It seems like there might be an odd man out.
Either that or Smith, a 28.3 percent career 3-point shooter, has really improved as a 3-point shooter. Nine seasons into his career, it is not likely Smith has improved that significantly.
And what about the guards?
The Pistons exchanged Brandon Knight for inconsistent scorer Brandon Jennings. Kyle Singler had a nice rookie season last year. And Chauncey Billups is Chauncey Billups — albeit an aging one.
Rookie Italian import Luigi Datome shows a lot of promise, but nobody knows how his game will translate to the NBA. And nobody really knows how this relatively young and versatile group will come together. And whether it can actually make the Playoffs or challenge.
There are a lot of pieces that need to be figured out. Detroit is certainly an improved team and one of the more intriguing ones in the Eastern Conference.
How the Pistons Will Beat the Magic: Athleticism will be the big strength of this Pistons squad. Hopefully Maurice Cheeks can convince this team to commit to the defensive end. If they do that, they could become a really dangerous fast breaking team. That is where Josh Smith is most effective. And Brandon Jennings should love playing in the open floor with the chance to use his speed to get past back pedaling defenders. It is not entirely clear Detroit will take this route with this team. The Pistons are going to be extremely athletic and so the Magic would have to be careful to limit them to a half-court game and prevent them from getting those athletes in space. There are just too many guys who can fly and play above the rim and the Magic cannot really match that.
How the Magic Will Beat the Pistons: Execution is the key to any game. The Pistons though are an athletic team that should put a lot of pressure on teams defensively. As I stated above, I believe when the Magic and the Pistons match up, pace will play a key role. Orlando does not have a ton of great athletes, particularly in the post. Nikola Vucevic is crafty at timing his jumps to get rebounds, but he is not going out of his area to get a whole bunch of rebounds and he is not out-leaping anybody for rebounds. This means for Orlando to slow Detroit down and eliminate that athletic advantage on the wings from Smith and Jennings, Orlando will have to have careful execution to ensure they get good looks and counteract the athleticism and length coming from this Detroit team.