There are big things expected of the Detroit Pistons this season. With the Hawks and Heat potentially taking a step back, and after a promising season and a strong first-round loss to the Cavaliers even in a sweep, there’s talk that Detroit could be primed for a big jump up the standings.
There is one slight concern, though. The Pistons moved on from some key veterans. These aren’t players that brought much on the floor, but their presence still made a difference. It’s not something most will talk about, but consider this quote from Reggie Jackson to the Detroit Free News this week:
“We did have steady rocks with Joel Anthony, Anthony Tolliver and Steve Blake, who really watched over us,” Jackson said.
“Unfortunately, they’ve moved on and we have to find a way to get it done.”Hats off to those guys for everything they taught us. We’re definitely appreciative of it and we’ll definitely use it in the future. They’re a big part of building the culture here. Now it’s time for us to carry the torch.”
Jackson acknowledged that this means he has to step up, that Andre Drummond has to step up. But consider this: the player with the most years of NBA experience on the Pistons going into camp is Ish Smith, with just six years. After that it’s Marcus Morris, Jackson, and Tobias Harris with five. That’s just not a lot of experience for a team expected to make an Eastern Conference run. Playoff success often requires that experience.
There’s a comparable situation with Milwaukee last year. They parted ways with Zaza Pachulia and Jared Dudley, and their defense absolutely fell to pieces. Now, Dudley and Pachulia both had larger on-court roles than Tolliver and Blake, and the Pistons’ bench unit was a nightmare in terms of production and defense last season. They should be better this year. But these intangible things like veteran leadership matter way more than it seems like to to those outside.
This doesn’t mean the Pistons will disappoint, but it is something Detroit will have to manage as they figure out how to really win together.
Source: CBS Sports / Reggie Jackson says Pistons face adjustment without veteran leadership