Monday, September 19, 2005

30 Reasons to Get Fired Up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #23

Can the Pistons fight off competition in East?

I can guarantee that I’m not the only NBA fan who has doubted the success of the Pistons over the last two seasons. I thought the Lakers would demolish them two years ago and firmly believed the Heat would take care of business last June. Glad I’m not a betting man…oh, wait. Anyway, here we are 23 days away from the start of the 2005-06 preseason and somehow the Pistons are underdogs once again. The reason for this of course is the departure of Larry Brown. But as many experts view that as a precursor for disaster, I look at it as a possible blessing in disguise. Here are three reasons why the Pistons could still be the favorites to represent the East in the 2006 Finals.

1) Flip Saunders. Two seasons in Detroit for Larry Brown, two trips to the Finals. Anytime a team loses a coach with such accolades it usually spells immediate trouble. However, in this particular case I think the Pistons may be better off. With all of the distractions Brown caused last seasons (“Brown to NYC” rumors, 12 surgeries on his Golden Girls hip), Detroit desperately needed a fresh start and who better to bring in than Saunders? Flip clearly got the shit end of the stick in Minnesota, especially after piloting the Wolves to the Conference Finals in ‘04. Honestly, what was Kevin McHale thinking? Now he’s got a lifetime assistant coach pacing the sidelines with a frustrated KG one Wally Szczerbiak air ball away from demanding a trade. Meanwhile, Saunders has to be thrilled with his new gig and despite all the inevitable pressure coming his way this season, I fully expect him to fit right in. And so while the media may make it seem that the success of the 05-06 season rests entirely on his shoulders, I can think of a few reasons to think otherwise.

2) Deeper Bench. One of the problems Detroit ran into against the Spurs last year was a lack of depth coming off the pine. Thus, Joe Dumars wasted no time this summer in adding some solid pieces to the puzzle. Take a look:

--F Jason Maxiell, 6-7 rookie from Cincinnati. I can’t think of a better player for Ben Wallace to groom.

--SG Maurice Evans, 6-5 FA from Sacramento. Kings were sad to let go of their athletic 2. Should be a huge help for Rip off the bench.

--FC Dale Davis, 6-11 FA from Indiana. The veteran should provide some help down low for the Wallace boys and some added experience from his days with the Pacers.

Keep in mind too that PG Carlos Arroyo was a mid-season acquisition last year and should be much improved as Chauncey Billups’ backup.

3) Euro Stars in the Making? One thing that Larry Brown clearly failed with was the grooming of his young European players. Darko Milicic, the former #2 pick overall, must have bench sores all over his ass from averaging 41.1 minutes on the bench last season. Another player, G Carlos Delfino saw limited action due to injury but also got no love once he was fit to play. With Ben Wallace in the last year of his contract, both Saunders and Dumars would be foolish to let Darko rot away on the bench again. And from what I’ve heard about Delfino’s game, they have to get this kid some run as well. I fully expect these two to recieve some serious minutes in the preseason and show they belong in the regular rotation. You can refer to Paul’s article from Sunday for more on Donnie Darko (scroll down).

It is my feeling that with a new coach, a deeper bench, and the potential emergence of Milicic and Delfino, the Pistons have a chance to be even better in 05-06. While most publications and websites will most likely predict Miami or Indiana to run away with the East crown, remember that Detroit has no problem playing the underdogs. They have starred in that role the past two seasons and just because Larry Brown is off to New York, don’t count out Saunders to get this team back to the Finals.


At 9:43 PM, Blogger The Cavalier said...

I see hard going for the Pistons this year. Not sure why - just a hunch.

I guess they're always underestimated - that's like their thing.

At 9:56 PM, Blogger EZ Snappin said...

Pistons are still an elite team that may match up better against Heat v2.0 than against last year's version. They are still a bit weak with perimeter bench guys - particularly behind Chauncey. They need someone better than Carlos Arroyo and a rapidly aging Lindsay Hunter (did he age one year per game in the Finals or was it just me?). Should be more fun to watch with Flip allowing them to open up more on offense.

And it wasn't just operations on Larry Brown's "Golden Girl hip" - he had a few to fix his "golden showers bladder."

At 10:04 AM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

EZ, you can be the NBA Source medical guru. Sound like something you'd be interested in?

As for Arroyo, if he can play like the guy we saw in the Olympics 2 summers ago, there's no reason he can't be a solid backup to Billups. I mean he was everywhere in those games. I still like the Pistons just because they're superior defensively than both Miami and Indy.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

Doesn't Flip Saunders look like a muppet? And is there a funnier word on the planet than muppet? Answers please

At 10:44 AM, Blogger The Cavalier said...


At 7:17 PM, Blogger EZ Snappin said...

Sure! I'll do a weekly "Cripple Threat" report. It's a shame that there will be less phantom "tendonitis" IR assignments with the D-League and expanded roster.


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