For no more than a handful of NBA teams, the 2012-13 season will be assessed in the starkest possible terms: championship or bust. Miami, Oklahoma City, the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston and San Antonio fit that profile.

For everybody else, off-season analysis will be a little more painstaking. For many of them, it will be as simple as taking that next step. But toward what? Ask Pistons fans what the next step for their team should be and the answer more often than not comes back, “make the playoffs.”

Slava Kravtsov might not be a guy whose statistics jump out of the box score, but nobody has to convince Pistons fans who remember their 2004 NBA title of the value of just such a player. Ben Wallace put together a pretty fair career without filling up every statistical column.

Seven years to the day after stealing away from New Orleans in the predawn hours as Hurricane Katrina beat a relentless path to his hometown, Greg Monroe kept a watchful eye from afar as Tropical Storm Isaac threatened a similar fate for the people of the Gulf Coast.

Isaac, expected to reach hurricane status and make landfall on the August 29 anniversary of Katrina’s slamming of the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coastline, swung west of Florida’s gulf shore overnight and is now bearing down on a target eerily close to New Orleans.

If the accounting department notices a spike in the Pistons’ utility bills this summer, it’s not because Joe Dumars and his basketball staff are cranking up the air conditioning to combat the heat. It’s because the place has been overrun with basketball players who’ve kept the lights burning virtually since the regular season ended in late April.

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