Heading into the season, the Detroit frontcourt looked like it could be either a really great idea (tons of talent) or really crowded (tons of talent). How has it worked so far?
Well, about as well as the record indicates. Some aspects have worked well. Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe have absolutely been able to thrive in a frontcourt together despite expectations to the contrary. The two have staked their claim as the best young pair in the league, led by Drummond's superstar potential and Monroe's steadiness.
Josh Smith's addition though...it's not gone well. As you can see from the numbers, his production has taken a huge drop across the board shifting to small forward. For most of the season he's drifted around the perimeter on offense and been lost defensively. He's had three relatively strong games in a row, which has inspired some hopes among some Pistons fans that he's turned the corner. Mo Cheeks has been taking advantage of his size advantage against most small forwards to run plays for him, backing down his defender for a high percentage shot. But this newfound commitment to the paint is still very questionable. In short, if you guys wanted to trade for him that would be really cool of you.
Do you foresee any moves being made in the frontcourt or anywhere else?
Not really. The presumption from pundits that Joe Dumars would trade Monroe after signing Smith was really a bad idea, and Moose's early play this year looks to have solidified his long-term future in Detroit. Dumars is also unlikely to start shopping Smith this early in the experiment unless something dramatic occurs. Even Rodney Stuckey's expiring contract looks unlikely to be dealt, as he's been a crucial offensive weapon off the bench.
There's plenty of hope in the DBB fanbase that Smith is moved as early as possible (Smith for Ben Gordon has been a popular suggestion), but most expect to see the season play out with the roster as is.
Andre Drummond is a beast and it looks like any concerns that surrounded him during the draft are all but forgotten. What has he and/or the team done to help make this jump in performance?
Focused on his strengths, defense and the glass. He was handed bite-sized pieces last year, ensuring that he could keep his focus and energy consistent throughout the game. As his role has increased this year, he's actually seen an increase in productivity - which seemed unthinkable after a rookie year that was incredibly productive on a per minute basis. Offensively, his primary impact is on misses and in the pick and roll, and he's an incredible weapon on both. He's not a post threat at this point, but occasionally shows flashes that this may come in the future.
In addition to being a dominant force on the court, it should also be noted that he seems like a truly likable guy. The Pistons have been incredibly fortunate to luck in to this individual being a part of the franchise.
Josh Smith is a special talent but his affinity for the three-point shot can be worrisome. He's already taken 114 this season, but is on pace to hit more than he ever has in a single season. So is it really a concern for this team?
Absolutely. He's taken the 27th most three pointers in the league, but is shooting 26 percent. Between the three pointers and long twos, he's been toxic to the offense's efficiency. If he's going to turn around his tenure with the Pistons, it's going to require abandoning the jumper and finding as many opportunities to get into the paint as possible.
Given the state of the East the Pistons might not need to do a whole lot to grab a playoff spot, but what areas does this team still need to address?
With the personnel on the roster, it seems that the Pistons defense should be much better than it is. They've spent most of the season below average, although Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's insertion into the starting lineup has helped. But Smith has struggled to keep track of his man and allowed far too many open looks, the frontcourt has struggled mightily stopping the pick and roll, and Brandon Jennings is certainly not an asset on the defensive end. There's plenty of talent available for improvements, but it may take some changes in rotations and schemes to see results.