The Pistons are in town tonight to face off against the Timberwolves, each team coming off home losses on their respective home courts. The Pistons come into tonight with a record of 24-37, good for 9th in the Eastern Conference, and only 3 games behind the 8-seed Atlanta Hawks.
Coming into the year, their goal was to surpass the label of "playoff hopeful". In the summer of 2013, they signed free agent Josh Smith to a massive 4-year, $54 million deal, and also acquired Brandon Jennings by way of a sign-and-trade with Milwaukee. Jennings received a 3-year deal worth over $25 million in the process. To this point, neither acquisition has seen as much success as Joe Dumars had hoped for.
Smith is still taking three-pointers at a strangely high rate considering his storied lack of success from that range. In fact, he's putting up more threes per game (3.3) than ever before, despite shooting a career low .232 from deep (aside from the 2009-10 season, an outlier year of sorts, when he only attempted and missed 7 threes in 81 games). Smith is also shooting a career low in TS% at .461 and has a career low 14.7 PER.
Like Smith, Brandon Jennings is also struggling. While not hitting any career lows, he's still having trouble putting the ball in the hoop. He's putting up 5.7 threes per game, only connecting on them 33.9 percent of the time, good for 117th in the NBA.
Despite the issues surrounding their most recent acquisitions, the Pistons do still have some nice pieces, most notably perhaps being their 20-year-old center Andre Drummond. As described over at Detroit Bad Boys, Drummond's work on the glass, mainly the offensive boards, has put him on the map.He's leading the league in offensive boards by almost 100, and his overall numbers (13.2 ppg, 13 rpg) are a nice improvement from his minutes-limited rookie season.
No duo in the NBA pulls down more offensive boards than Drummond and Greg Monroe (Griffin/Jordan in 2nd, Love/Pek in 3rd). For both Detroit and the Wolves, a big part of these numbers may have to do with the mass of missed shots from each team's perimeter players, but it's impressive nonetheless.
Offensively, the duo causes a lot of problems for the opposition, and Drummond's individual game leads most to believe we haven't seen him anywhere near his peak. Not yet, anyway.
The last time these teams met was on December 10, when the Wolves routed the Pistions 121-94 in Motor City. Kevin Love led the way that night, notching 26 points, 16 rebounds and 7 assists in just 30 minutes. The entire starting 5 hit double figures scoring in a game that put the Wolves at 11-12 on the year. At 30-30, the Wolves need to win tonight to avoid falling back below the .500 mark.
As mentioned, the Pistons are currently 9th in the Eastern Conference, and only 3 games back for the final playoff spot. The Wolves are a bit further back, but their goal is still the playoffs. Coming off a loss to the Knicks, the odds of a high-energy game tonight are pretty good.
The game will be at 7pm tonight, and broadcast on FS North.
C- Nikola Pekovic
PF- Kevin Love
SF- Corey Brewer
SG- Kevin Martin
PG- Ricky Rubio
C- Andre Drummond
PF- Greg Monroe
SF- Josh Smith
SG- Kyle Singler
PG- Brandon Jennings