I think the Detroit Pistons went from eclipsed irrelevancy to dangerously competitive in two major signings this summer. The first was free agent forward Josh Smith signing to a four-year deal, and the second was Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings inking a three-year deal in a sign-and-trade that sent Brandon Knight and Slava Kravtsov to Milwaukee. We know Jennings is a double-nickel scorer (see vs. Golden State in 2009) and a constant scoring threat with the basketball. His question marks have more to do with his true point-guard and leadership qualities than his capabilities as a talent. Even though I'm focusing on the Jennings and Smith signings, Detroit bringing back veteran Chauncey Billups is equally significant. The former NBA Finals MVP has championship history with the franchise, and will likely be called upon to mentor and complement Jennings on and off the court.
I'm looking at this front court for the Detroit Pistons as a potentially legitimate resistance, specifically on the defensive end. Adding Josh Smith with the likes of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe makes the Pistons longer, more athletic, and more formidable. Smith, Drummond, and Monroe find common ground in their capabilities to rebound, run the floor, and block shots, each at 6-foot-9 and above. Detroit seems to want to use Smith at that small forward slot to utilize their biggest front line possible. This makes observers reasonably cautious about the offensive limits of this group, particularly from the very fundamental standpoint of shooting, which ideally would come from Jennings and Billups. I still say we're just scratching the surface of the polished repertoire of Greg Monroe, who was top ten last season in double-doubles (37). Monroe's skill set can and will be played through on offense, which is why Joe Dumars should be set on retaining him long-term. I'm still iffy on a sufficient option in the shooting guard slot, depth, and a fluent system, but I think head coach Maurice Cheeks now has a core group that can be feisty, paint-effective, and if healthy, dare I say, my sleeper to claw into an eight-seed come playoff time.