After raising eyebrows for their hot start, the Detroit Pistons continue to sustain a high level of play through the first quarter of the season. A big part of this has to be credited to their ability to execute games down the stretch, mainly against high quality teams.
The Pistons have quality wins against a lot of teams considered to be contenders, such as the Timberwolves twice, the Thunder, the defending champion Warriors, and most recently, the best team in the NBA, the Celtics. A lot of this is due to their ability to close out games. The Pistons have a +3.7 net rating in the fourth quarter, highest in the NBA. Also happen to be a top 5 in the league in fourth quarter scoring, averaging 27.4 points.
One of the big reasons Detroit has climbed to second place in the Eastern Conference is due to Andre Drummond playing like a top center in this league. After not having the year expected of him in the 2016-2017 and being mentioned in trade rumors, Drummond has shown significant signs of improvement and eagerness to return to being an NBA All-Star. He is the league leader in rebounds, averaging a career high 15.6 and is also leading the league in second chance points with 5.7. However, what caught the NBA by surprise was his significant increase in his free throw shooting. Drummond, a career 39% free throw shooter, is shooting a 61.8% from the line.
As good as Andre Drummond has been for Detroit, he isn’t the only Piston that is having a solid year. Tobias Harris has been on a tear, averaging a career high of 19.1 points per game, while shooting 47.4 from deep, playing as a huge contributing factor to the Pistons being a top five three point shooting team. Reggie Jackson, another player who was involved in trade rumors, has been a solid closer, while the addition of Avery Bradly’s defensive services and three point shooting have been huge. The Pistons have received big contributions off the bench, mainly from Ish Smith and Anthony Tolliver. The bench happens to hold a 2.6 net rating which is fourth best in the league.
So far, the Pistons have been the surprise team of the year. A team that was predicted to miss the Playoffs happens to hold the second best record in the Eastern Conference and their ability to execute and keep up with contenders has justified that. If they keep up this level of play, the Detroit Pistons will be a force to be reckoned with come April.