Don't look now Pistons fans, but the Bad Boys are back! Well, maybe not the Bad Boys, but their certainly a lot badder then they've been in awhile.
After a dismal 5-23 start, the subtraction of disgruntled forward Josh Smith, additions of forward Anthony Tolliver, center Joel Anthony, guard John Lucas III and Reggie Jackson; the Pistons are only one game out of the playoffs at 23-34. Granted, yes this is the horribly weak Eastern Division, but any team that can recover from a 5-23 start and going from a destined lottery pick on Christmas day to a game out of the playoffs two months later, that's saying something.
Are the Pistons a title contender? Well let's not get too far ahead of ourselves now. Yes the Pistons have gone on a good stretch of late, beating two of the better teams in the East (Washington and Chicago), but they are far from competing against the best of the West. Now as far as the East is concerned, they aren't as far off as some of you may think.
With another devastating knee injury to Derek Rose, he may never be the same player when and if he returns. The feel good stories of Atlanta and Toronto may or may not last. Yes, there's always LeBron James and the Cavs to get through, but as the Pistons showed Tuesday night, they can compete. No, they aren't there chemistry wise or even talent wise yet, but they have determination and heart which can go a long way in this league.
The Pistons recent trades set themselves for a playoff push for this year, as well as to sustain success in the future. Jackson looks like he will be the point guard of the present and future. There are plenty of contracts coming off the books this offseason, with only $45 million in guaranteed contracts. That's well under the $63 million salary cap, which may increase this offseason. That's plenty of cap room to re-sign Jackson, or Greg Monroe, or both. Also plenty of room to try and sway possible free agents to come to a team with a young nucleus that could consist of Jackson, Monroe and Andre Drummond. Plenty of cap room to create endless possibilities, possibilities that didn't exist before.
They may not be title contenders, but this team is definitely relevant. And with a well needed change of culture with new head coach and President Stan Van Gundy will provide some exciting basketball in Detroit that hasn't existed this past decade.