Four Pistons Make SI Top 100

In a recent blog done on Sports Illustrated’s Point Forward, two writers, Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney ranked the top 100 players in the NBA. With the Pistons making noise in the off-season, they acquired 2 of the top 100. Here are the players that made it to the list.

Coming in at No. 91, point guard Brandon Jennings. Here is what Golliver said about Jennings:

This summer should have been a humbling experience for Jennings, but something tells me he won’t see it that way. It’s not often that an organization decides to part with its former top-10 pick who started for four years and twice guided his team to the playoffs, especially when the market set his worth at a relatively modest $24 million over three years. That’s what happened to Jennings, who was dumped in a sign-and-trade to Detroit so that Milwaukee, which deemed him not good enough to be worth the hassle, could start fresh. Jennings is a flashy playmaker with shot-selection issues and an almost delusional level of self-confidence. His reputation will get a boost if he finds a way to make the Pistons’ unusual puzzle pieces fit on offense. — B.G.

Coming in next for the Pistons is center Andre Drummond

Here is what B.G. had to say about Drummond:

Drummond is far and away one of the most difficult players to place on a list like this. His ridiculous per-minute impact as a teenager — and all the upside it foretells– suggests a player who could conceivably be regarded as a top-15 asset right now. The Pistons would reject straight-up offers for Drummond involving a good 30 players listed above him in this exercise, but the UConn product and iCarly fanboy still has plenty to prove during his sophomore season. Was his midseason back injury a one-time fluky hiccup? (He looked very good during the Orlando Summer League.) Can he handle full-time starter’s minutes for a team with playoff aspirations? Can the 37.1 percent free-throw shooter avoid falling victim to endless Hack-a-Shaqing? Can he team with Greg Monroe and Josh Smith to make the jumbo lineup a functional concept? Can his evident potential as a traditional back-line stopper translate into team-wide improvement for a Detroit squad that ranked No. 23 in points allowed per possession last season? — B.G.

The next two get even better. Coming in at No. 52 is power forward Greg Monroe.

Monroe’s unconventionality takes a moment to process, and not just because he’s a left-handed big man with unusual vision who also enjoys putting the ball on the floor to create for himself. He lacks the mid-range jumper to truly thrive at power forward and doesn’t possess the presence and overall defensive skill set to excel at center. Either way, he’s a dependable scorer and a determined rebounder. With second-year center Andre Drummond on the come and forward Josh Smith in the fold after signing a four-year, $54 million free-agent contract, the 2013-14 season could decide whether Monroe winds up being one-half of one of the league’s best young Twin Towers combinations, or the odd man out who becomes trade bait. — B.G.

And the highest ranking Piston, is of course, new comer Josh Smith

At No.34 here is what B.G. had to say.

It’s fair to wonder whether a player who fits Smith’s current profile will be able to exist in the NBA 10 years from now. This generation’s elite players, LeBron James and Kevin Durant in particular, have shown the value of carefully honing their skills and allowing statistical consultants to help guide their development. In an evolving, ultra-competitive league full of copycats, it seems unlikely that a player with Smith’s type of incredible skill would be able to develop — or not develop — like he did during his nine years with the Hawks.

In 2023, will there be a player capable of leading the league in defensive win shares and posting a top-10 PER at his position who is openly booed and mocked by his home crowd virtually every time he lines up a long two-point shot? In 2023, will there be a talented player who tunes out that direct, negative feedback so thoroughly that he winds up leading his team in scoring even though he takes a full 50 percent of his attempts from areas where he is a mediocre or poor shooter? Or will these obvious aggravations become extinct? Smith has been stuffing box scores for playoff teams for six years now, and yet the inevitable sense is that he could be so, so much better if he ever “got it.”

What Smith got this summer was a four-year, $54 million contract from the Pistons and one massive, badly needed change of scenery. The Palace will be cheering his defensive heroics, highlight-reel blocks and transition excitement from Day One, and it’s possible that Pistons fans will be rooting for a playoff team for the first time since 2009. One can’t help but wonder, though, how long it will take Detroit to turn on his shot selection. A bad shot is a bad shot, no matter the zip code. — B.G.

With all of this said about the Pistons stars, it is safe to say there will be some bad shots over the course of the season. However, I know that I am excited to see if this team can gel. But here is a highlight reel of Smith they used in the post.


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