By: Bogart Lipe
It’s finally over.
Well not officially over. But close enough.
This is officially the last weekly piece for the season.
(And we might as well now commend Andre Drummond’s ridiculously impressive turnaround at the free throw line, consistently having me write 600 words a week. Genuinely an outstanding season for him.)
Anyway, the Pistons (finally) play their last game of the season tonight against the Bulls. Last Wednesday they lost to the Sixers by, and I’m not completely sure about this, something around 74 points. This officially ended their season. I can stop walking around, ashamed, knowing that I am an avid Pistons fan. An avid Pistons fan that went on record multiple times preseason that the team would be a top Eastern Conference team and win 50 games. I doubled down early in the season when the Pistons started 14-6.
A rough stretch followed. The team ended up 19-15, when Reggie Jackson went down with a severely sprained ankle. Then: losing, more losing, the Blake Griffin trade, some winning (!!!), then more and more losing, and (finally) being eliminated from postseason contention.
This has been difficult. It’s not easy doing this every year. Reggie Jackson hasn’t been able to stay healthy, playing 44 games so far this season and missing 30 games last year. And it doesn’t help that the team quietly revolves around his presence on the floor. He is not as talented as Blake Griffin. He is not the athletic monster of a man that Andre Drummond is. However, he is the engine that makes this team go. He’s one of Andre’s best friends, and it shows with the difference in Andre’s overall energy and play when Reggie plays and when he does not. Pistons fans weren’t lucky enough to watch the trio of Blake, Dre, and Reggie play meaningful games together. And yet again, the Pistons will likely “run it back” with the same roster next year. Of course, this team is nowhere near the same team as the one in October, and the team has increased its star power tenfold with the addition of Griffin. However, Pistons fans have been led on long enough without any change where, it’s now become apparent, it needs to take place.
It remains yet to be seen whether tonight’s game against the Bulls will be Stan Van Gundy’s last as coach and/or President of Basketball Operations. At this point in time, it would make very little sense for him to retain both positions. Many will argue that it would make very little sense for him to retain any semblance of a position with the Pistons, and this point of view is understandable. For some fans like yours truly, it doesn’t matter what happens with Stan Van, as long as something changes. Fire him from coaching, but keep him as president? Fine. Fire him from both positions? Fine. Admittedly, keeping SVG as coach and firing him as president would be the least sensible option of all the possibilities, but at this point as long as something changes I’ll be slightly encouraged. There are many good coaches available (hello David Fizdale) as well as good president or general manager candidates (I miss you Chauncey Billups).
It’s been consecutive brutal seasons for the Pistons and fans. And just like this year, come fall, there will be some blinded fans who still think that this team when healthy can be a top team in the East and even win 50 games next year.
This team when healthy can be a top team in the East and even win 50 games next year.
It’s been fun. Go Pistons.
Image credit: https://www.si.com/nba/2016/04/21/stan-van-gundy-stanley-johnson-lebron-james-comments