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8 PISTONS

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The Pistons have an Andre Drummond problem. He looked to be a dominating force early in his career, but the shifting focus of NBA offenses has rendered the 6'11" center's inside--only game largely unimportant. Without impeccable back line defense, Drummond's flashes of brilliance won't make him worthy of his five-year, $127.2 million contract.

The numbers paint a horrifying picture: Detroit was 12.0 points per 100 possessions better with Drummond off the court. (Both his offensive and defensive splits were negative.) It didn't help that he hit just 38.6% of his free throws and blocked a career-low 1.1 shots per game. Coach Stan Van Gundy has to figure out how to juggle his lineups when his team's highest-paid player is making a profoundly negative impact.

Meanwhile, the Pistons' second-highest-paid player, Reggie Jackson, saw his scoring average drop by more than four points last season. Unless Van Gundy can coax a committed defensive performance from Drummond and get consistent play from Jackson, he might find that his team is closer to a full-on rebuilding project than anyone in Detroit would care to admit.

PROJECTED LINEUP

2016--17 STATS

COACH STAN VAN GUNDY

(4th season with Pistons)

2016--17 RECORD 37--45

(5th in Central)

78 [THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING]

PG REGGIE JACKSON

14.5 PPG; 5.2 APG; 41.9 FG%; 35.9 3FG%

54 [THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING]

SG AVERY BRADLEY [NEW ACQUISITION]

16.3 PPG; 6.1 RPG; 46.3 FG%; 39.0 3FG%

81 [THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING]

SF TOBIAS HARRIS

16.1 PPG; 5.1 RPG; 48.1 FG%; 34.7 3FG%

PF JON LEUER

10.2 PPG; 5.4 RPG; 1.5 APG; 48.0 FG%

51 [THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING]

C ANDRE DRUMMOND

13.6 PPG; 13.8 RPG; 1.5 SPG; 53.0 FG%

BENCH

PG ISH SMITH

9.4 PPG; 2.9 RPG; 5.2 APG; 43.9 FG%

SF STANLEY JOHNSON

4.4 PPG; 2.5 RPG; 35.3 FG%; 29.2 3FG%

SG LUKE KENNARD [ROOKIE, COLLEGE STATS]

19.5 PPG; 5.1 RPG; 49.0 FG%; 43.8 3FG%

• THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING

*NEW ACQUISITION

(R) ROOKIE, COLLEGE STATS

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP DETROIT

People look at the roster and say they're trying to replicate what Stan Van Gundy had in Orlando, but that doesn't take into account how good Hedo Turkoglu was. The Pistons don't have a frontcourt player like that who can initiate offense and shoot around 40% from three. JON LEUER's not that caliber of player. TOBIAS HARRIS is more of a scorer and shooter than a playmaker.... So much is going to depend on REGGIE JACKSON. If he's healthy and they've let bygones be bygones, the team can be good.... ANDRE DRUMMOND has potential to be a two-way player—he's not a zero. If he can get to 50% free throw shooting, continue to be a leading rebounder and be more of a shot blocker, that's great, because he can move his feet on the perimeter and guard pick-and-rolls. Just don't throw him the ball on a post up. He's got to be a roll guy and feast on the offensive glass.... AVERY BRADLEY will help them because he's a more consistent shooter than Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.... The fact that they traded Marcus Morris is a signal they still have high hopes for STANLEY JOHNSON because of the role he played in the playoffs as a rookie [in 2015--16]. But the clock is ticking. All he has to do to make good money is make open threes and guard. In the past he's tried to do too much.... Stan is so good at putting guys like LUKE KENNARD in positions to succeed. He's not strictly a spot-up shooter; he's a playmaker. They can play him with LANGSTON GALLOWAY, get Galloway running off the ball and let Kennard handle it. There's a lot of fun ways they can use him.

TELLING 12.0 STATISTIC

BOTTOM LINE

The Pistons aren't exactly inspiring, but in the East they've still got enough talent to sneak into the playoffs.