The 2017-2018 Detroit Pistons have been, one could say, hard to figure out. Look no further than the last two games. A loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the worst team in the Western Conference. A team that has no business beating Detroit, but yet it happened. Fast forward two days later, and they beat the New York Knicks. Two teams they should beat, but they only beat one of them. So, it begs the question, is this team a playoff threat? Or will they fold come the second half of the season?
Detroit began December losing seven straight games. All seven were against teams that would be in the playoffs if they started today. However, they have also beaten the likes of Boston, Oklahoma City, Golden State, and Minnesota this season.
However, if you look into the stats, not a ton has changed from last season. Detroit is a top-10 defensive team in the NBA (currently ranked eighth in points allowed). But, they couple that will offensive in-efficiency and inconsistency.
Their leading scorer, Tobias Harris, is shooting less than 40 percent from the field over the last ten games. Reggie Jackson, who is being paid like a guy who is supposed to lead a franchise, remains as inconsistent as it gets, especially in the fourth quarter. Any given night he can carry the Pistons to victory late, or have a costly turnover or two followed by a loss.
The Pistons rank 22nd offensively in field goal percentage. But, they rank top-10 in the league in 3-point percentage. This presents a unique situation. One that says Detroit struggles to finish inside the line, and typically, those shots are coming in the paint. Looking at the current make-up of the roster, this is evident. They don’t have a wing slasher, they have a point guard who is inconsistent and a big guy that cannot shoot outside of five feet. This makes you rely heavily on the long-ball.
The Pistons are a team without a star, without an elite scorer. They will lock up, and they will also fluctuate offensively from very bad to very good on a night-to-night basis. These facts make it abundantly clear, that Detroit is good enough to make the playoffs, probably, but not good enough to win a playoff series.
The reality is this. Detroit is likely not a whole lot different than it has been the past two seasons. A fringe playoff team in the Eastern Conference, one that could win some playoff games, but would likely struggle to win a playoff series against the top dogs in the conference. Nothing that has occurred thus far can make one believe their ceiling is any higher than that.