Are the Detroit Pistons for real?
Off to a 7-3 start, it still might be too early to tell not even one-eighth of the way through the regular season. But, people are taking notice.
A spin through various power rankings is proof of that. On Monday, Pistons were in the top 10 at ESPN, Sports Illustrated, NBA.com, CBS Sports and USA Today, with SI vautling them nine spots from No. 15 to No. 6.
“Alright, so Detroit might be legit, Kevin Ducey of Sports Illusrated writes. “At least in the East. I’m still not sure about the reliability of Andre Drummond (see 10/29 vs. Golden State) but the rest of this squad is filling in nicely. Avery Bradley has found his his scoring groove, Ish Smith is doing stuff off the bench, and what do you know, this team is second in the East.”
Drummond, however, appears to be at least a key reason for the Pistons’ resurgence, according to Vincent Johnson of ESPN and Chris Barnewall of CBS Sports, the latter of which has Detroit up one spot to No. 4 in its rankings. ESPN has the Piston ninth in its rankings, up six spots from a week ago.
“Andre Drummond is shooting 75 percent from the free-throw line,” Johnson wrote. “This cannot be overstated. Entering this season, Drummond had the worst free-throw percentage in NBA history at 38.1 percent (minimum 500 attempts). In this young season, has anyone in the NBA improved in any area more than Drummond at the foul line?”
Wrote Barnewall: “Hacking Andre Drummond is no longer a viable strategy.”
USA Today, meanwhile, has the Pistons up to No. 5 — a bump up of two spots — while NBA.com also has them at No. 5, after a five-spot rise from a week ago. Like ESPN and CBS Sports, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann credits Drummond for at least part of the Pistons’ emergence, noting his improved free-throw shooting and his continued strong play on glass. He leads the league in rebounding percentage (26.6 percent of his team’s rebounnds), and is second in rebounds per game (14.7).
Detroit has won five of six — including a well-documented west road swing in which it knocked off the Los Angeles Clippers and defending champion Golden State Warriors — and is off to its best 10-game start since 2008-09. The Pistons are home Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers (5-5).