Coming Together

Big-time additions Smith, Jennings finding their groove for Pistons

Josh Smith
The Pistons are finding their groove with the new additions from the off-season.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Anybody who follows the NBA noticed what the Pistons did over the summer, coming away with a revamped and far more talented roster. And they’ve also noticed now that this team is starting to catch fire, including a great win last night at Indiana.

It wasn’t going to happen overnight. There were too many new faces, but this was a team that added an awful lot of firepower and the guys just had to learn how to play together in the most effective way to produce victories. I think we’re starting to see that come together.

But I know there’s a lot more growth in the future for the Pistons and that’s exciting. As of right now, this is a team to be reckoned with. If you look at the past few games, I don’t think you can argue with that. Nobody’s going to come to play the Detroit Pistons now without first packing a lunch.

The growth we’ll see from the Pistons in the weeks ahead is going to happen both offensively and defensively. When you look at it as a fan, naturally you look at who’s making shots and who’s making plays when your team has the ball. You might look at some shot-blocking and some defensive rebounding on the other end, but there’s a lot more to playing defense than that. Guys have to know their roles, they have to trust each other and they have to know when to cover for each other.

Slowly but surely, the Pistons are getting more and more comfortable defensively. It’s probably even more critical that they develop that familiarity and trust defensively than any other area. Even though you might have thought, because of their bigs inside, that they would have been ready to roll defensively when they hit the starting game, in reality that almost never happens.

These guys are really doing the best they can to learn how best to play together on both ends. I like the potential of this team and also like the way they’re playing together right now. It’s a good time to be a Pistons fan.

The exciting additions of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings to this roster gave the Pistons the potential to play with anybody. But these guys are so multitalented that it was going to take a while for them to fit in and play not only explosively but efficiently. You’ve got to give Mo Cheeks a lot of credit for, No. 1, his patience, because he’s been around, he played at a very high level in this league and was one of the best pure point guards of all time.

His influence on both of these guys has been tremendous. He played Brandon Jennings’ position and that’s going to be a nice fit for Brandon to have a guy like Mo in the first year over on the sidelines. He was also the guy who had to get the ball to some of the greatest frontcourt players who ever played, including Dr. J, Julius Erving.

When he sat down recently and talked with Josh about the best way to get him the ball and how to make him an even more efficient player, and talked to Brandon about what he needs from him, it wasn’t just some guy talking. It was a guy who’s been there and done that. And those guys understand that.

You have to give Mo credit for watching things play out until he has definite ideas how things should be done, not only for the team, but for these guys. At this point in time – early to mid-December of their first years here – we’ve seen in what should have been a blowout win over a red-hot Brooklyn team, the gut-wrenching overtime loss to the best team in the West so far in Portland, and the win over Indiana in what was the first home loss of the season, that these guys have come into their own as Pistons.

They’ve put up numbers before. Everybody in the league knows how talented they are, but when you come into a new situation and try to make your team better it doesn’t always happen right away. But they are really starting to be forces and they’re now going to be guys who can steer this team to victory.

You have to love the potential for this team and I think everybody did from day one in training camp. But everybody knows that every team in the NBA is a work in progress and you want to peak at the right time. You want to get better and better and better and give yourself a chance to not only make the postseason but really make some noise in the playoffs. I think this Pistons team is poised to do all of that.

There will be some bumps in the road, because that’s just the way it goes in the NBA. Other teams are also improving and figuring out what works best for them, too, and it’s never just a steady climb uphill. Boston, up next for the Pistons, is a good example of that. I think people thought perhaps they’d be a sure-fire lottery team but they continue to get better. They’re playing very well defensively and coming together on offense.

Don’t ever forget this is the NBA. These are the best basketball players in the world and they all have goals and high expectations. But, like I said before, it’s a great time to be a Pistons fan. Because we’re going to see this team keep getting better and better over the weeks and months ahead.