THIS young NBA season continues to be confusing and puzzling. The most abnormal number is the amount of Piston wins we have seen through their first 13 games. How has Stan Van Gundy and co done so well early on?
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ANDRE Drummond is the face of the Pistons squad with the walking 15/15 doing more of the same early on in the year. While his 14.2 points and 15.5 (league-leading) rebounds a game are similar to his career averages there is one BIG number in his box scores that is jumping out and grabbing us. The career 38.9% free throw shooter is shooting 63.2% from the line in 2017 which included a perplexing 14-16 from the line against the Bucks. He isn’t Superman though with a 0-7 effort just five nights later.
STILL Drummond and his Detroit teammates are hitting their free throws better than they did a season ago combining to shoot almost 5% higher. In fact, Drummond’s free throws aren’t the only thing he is helping the team do. With his rebounding prowess on full display, he has gobbled up 5.3 offensive boards each night which is the most in the league (tied with DeAndre Jordan) and has seen the Pistons snag the fourth most offensive boards on offer out of all 30 NBA teams.
FUNNILY enough, even though they are chewing up boards, they are actually performing worse than last season (43.7 rebounds a night compared to 45.7 12 months ago). Defense still remains their strength with the early season reaping more turnovers than last year, but still a similar amount of point allowed to their foes. However, the offensive side of the ball is where the Pistons have really taken the next step this year.
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LAST year they were dead last for points per shot and while they aren’t lighting the world on fire (19th in 2017-18 for PPS) the added offensive efficiency, plus their continued defensive dominance has translated to their fastest start in years. Tobias Harris’ career year to date is a big reason their offense is clicking. Putting up 20.1 points a night, Harris is peaking for Detroit shooting an unconscious 50.6% from behind the arc, good for the fifth-best percentage in the NBA.
COMBINING Harris’ offensive binge, Drummonds free throw numbers and the added skillset Avery Bradley brings means the Pistons have chalked up a record similar to the likes of Golden State, Boston and Houston. The question is can they keep winning games at such a high clip for a lenghty portion of the season. They are clicking right now with Van Gundy’s job security boosted and a healthy Reggie Jackson thriving running the show though with Detroit fans raving over the squads start to the new year. Now we will find out if they are actually good or just lucky through their first 13 contests.
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