Be honest, could you name the starting five of the Detroit Pistons right now? If you're not from Detroit or a huge fan, probably not, right? Smaller markets get fewer media coverage and when star players on a slight decline get to those markets, we sometimes do forget their true potential. Then they have a 50 point game with an and-one to win the game in overtime and we are reminded again.
50 points (20 -35), 6 assists and 14 rebounds was the line next to Blake Griffin's name at the end of tonight's clash with the 76ers in Detroit. A monster performance in which Griffin did it all for the Pistons. He played for 44 minutes, carrying the offensive load throughout the game and especially in the OT. After his trade to Detroit, many have written Griffin off to basketball irrelevance. A team that will be in the race for the bottom of the playoff picture in the East at best, according to most, is showing there is more than meets the eye.
With a new coach in Dwayne Casey, the Pistons have a respectable core in Griffin, Drummond, and Jackson. Casey is known as a great defensive coach and his regular season coaching was always very good. Where he always struck out was is in the playoffs, but this team is not considered to be a playoff threat with Drummond and Griffin both on the floor. In today's NBA it just seems there is not enough spacing there.
Well, that may be changing as well. Casey did accept the three-pointer a lot in his last season in Toronto and it seems he kept some of those habits in Detroit. Griffin went 5 - 10 from behind the arc, an amazing stat for griffin making 50% of them, but also for Casey giving him the freedom to take 10 3-pointers in a game. When asked about the game by Michael Rothstein of ESPN Griffin said “You know, the past two, three years, all I hear about is how bad I am, and I've been hurt, I've had bad games. But we talked about it. This summer, being able to work out for the first time in three summers is huge, you know. The last three summers I was fighting and working as hard as I could to get healthy to be able to play. And this summer, I was able to really put time in and work on my game, work on my body, and I've always been a big believer in hard work pays off.”
If we do get to see the '15/'16 Blake with a consistent shot from behind the arc, the Pistons may be the Indiana from last year, a team that no-one saw coming.
Stats courtesy of NBA.com