The NBA has had a season for the ages already, and we’re only in the middle of March. Starting with an international incident in the preseason between China and the NBA, continuing into the aftermath of the death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others in January, and now the league’s suspension of the season as the world copes with the coronavirus epidemic, the 2019-20 campaign will live on in infamy.
The Detroit Pistons have found their way into the mix in this developing story after their breakout star from this season, Christian Wood, tested positive for coronavirus. For the Pistons, this season may be best remembered for the chaos and disaster that followed them.
The NBA is hopeful that after a 30-day suspension they may be able to resume operations. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Perhaps the season will resume and go straight to the playoffs. Only time will tell, but we’re going to revisit some of our bold predictions from before the season and see how they worked out as we enter the NBA’s hiatus.
Andre Drummond Will Have A Monster Season
Andre Drummond got off to a tremendous start and carried on much of the dominant close he had to last season. However, the Pistons could never get healthy and spent too much time with Drummond surrounded on the floor by poor and ineffective defenders, and with him frequently as the best offensive option, the season slipped away from them.
Shortly after the New Year, the organization saw the writing on the wall: This was likely to be a lost season. As a result, they started shopping Drummond and his play noticeably lagged at times. He ended up getting traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers at the trade deadline for Brandon Knight, John Henson and a 2023 second round draft pick. This leads us to the next prediction.
A Trade Is Coming
Sure enough, that trade did happen. In spite of the fact that the Pistons knew pretty early on that the playoffs were not in the cards, the only trade they made was at the deadline. After that point, there was plenty of turnover, but not in the form of reciprocal transactions.
Reggie Jackson and Markieff Morris were bought out. Tim Frazier was waived. Jordan McRae was claimed off waivers, Donta Hall and Derrick Walton Jr. were signed to 10-day contracts (Hall was signed to a second 10-day contract, Walton was not). Between injuries, trades, buyouts, signings and G-League call-ups, the Detroit Pistons locker room was virtually unrecognizable compared to the beginning of the season.
Good Injury Luck Won’t Hold Two Years In A Row
It’s hard to nail a prediction much better than this. Last season the Pistons stayed remarkably healthy. Reggie Jackson played all 82 games and did so at a high level. Blake Griffin managed to stave off his typical rotten injury luck until near the end of the season, but pushing himself so hard has had a disastrous impact on his knee and he was shut down before the end of December to recover from arthroscopic surgery.
Jackson missed months of the season, Luke Kennard has been out months, Derrick Rose missed several weeks. At one point in November the Pistons didn’t have an active and healthy point guard on the roster. In March, before the season’s suspension, they were shuttling Donta Hall and rookie Sekou Doumbouya back and forth to Grand Rapids (their G-League team) for development but also needing them in actual NBA games for depth.
Also, Christian Wood has the coronavirus.
Needless to say, every aspect where health is concerned has been an unmitigated disaster this season for the Pistons.
Luke Kennard Will Get A Bump Up In The Pecking Order
Luke Kennard was indeed on track for this, and when he was on the floor clearly had an increase in responsibility and performance. His minutes increased significantly as he averaged 32.9 (up from last season’s 22.8 minutes per game) and his workload increased to 19.8% usage.
Unfortunately, his season was derailed early and he’s been out since December 21st with bilateral knee tendinitis. If and when this season gets restarted, there’s no indication as to whether Kennard will return as the Pistons have been reticent to give comprehensive updates on his status beyond pushing back potential return dates.
40 Wins Could Be Tough To Come By
Sure enough, sportsbooks and win projection platforms nailed this one. Most outlets had the Pistons in the mid-to-high 30s in wins, and they had just 20 wins in 66 games as of the season’s suspension. This was a team that, if healthy, could have challenged for the playoffs and maybe a winning record, but the Pistons were a health disaster from the beginning.
Bruce Brown Will Have Himself A Season
Bruce Brown hasn’t exactly taken a leap, but he’s developed. He’s no longer a lost cause offensively and he can punish teams for leaving him open on the perimeter. After shooting just 25.8% from 3-point range last season, he’s up to a respectable 34.4% this season.
Brown’s playmaking has improved and he’s averaging 5.1 assists per 36 minutes compared to last season’s 2.3, but his increased usage is exposing some poor decision-making and his turnovers have also doubled from 1.1 to 2.2 per 36 minutes.
Head coach Dwane Casey seems convinced his best role is as a 2-guard, and as his shooting comes around it’s possible that this might in fact be the case. His turnovers are an issue if he is to be utilized as a point guard, so the most accurate description for Bruce Brown at this point is that his story has surely not been written yet in full.