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The Pistons landed a star player in Monday’s trade with the Clippers. But does Detroit have enough -- right now -- to make the playoffs this season?
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David Aldridge: I’m not trying to cop out on the question, but I’m not sure. Four games out doesn’t sound like a lot with 30 or so games left, but it’s more than you think. I guess it’s possible Blake Griffin could have a galvanizing effect and that the ball will wind up in the hands of better shooters/scorers now for the Pistons than before. But chemistry doesn’t usually happen that fast. Philly’s going to get J.J. Redick back eventually and Joel Embiid is getting close to back-to-back clearance, so it’s more likely than not that Philly gets rolling again post All-Star. Let’s go with no for Playoff Detroit.
Steve Aschburner: Will Blake Griffin play more games from now until the end of the regular season than Joel Embiid? To me, if you answer my question, then maybe I can answer yours. Philadelphia is the team the Pistons have to chase down to snag the East’s last postseason slot (facing the No. 1 seed is no great prize, but hey, it’s a playoff spot). Philadelphia is like two different teams when Embiid is or isn’t participating, but that might or might not occur often enough for Detroit to leapfrog them. I appreciate Stan Van Gundy’s determination, even urgency, to make this season a step forward for Detroit, but I think I’m going to trust the Process and say no.
Trey Kerby: Stan Van Gundy must think so, because he’s tied his fortunes to a Blake and Andre frontcourt for the foreseeable future. And I tend to agree. Yes, the fit will be imperfect, but Griffin has played his entire career next to a center like Drummond, so maybe the adjustment period won’t be as brutal as some would assume. And yes, the roster still has holes, but maybe Reggie Jackson can come back, maybe Luke Kennard can bust out and maybe the new-look Pistons can catch the league by surprise during the second half. Look at the Blazers last year -- they added Jusuf Nurkic and went on a crazy post-deadline run last season before the league really figured them out. It’s easy to see how the same thing could happen in Detroit. The Pistons were a borderline playoff team prior to the trade, and there’s no doubt the Pistons upped their talent level by acquiring Griffin. Keeping Griffin on the court so that the team can figure things out is the next step. If those two things happen, they’re a playoff team.
Tas Melas: Sure, it’s the East, but they desperately need Reggie Jackson back. Jackson needs to be Lou Williams-lite for Detroit -- handling the ball in late-game situations and hitting some big shots while running the pick-and-roll with Blake. Guard play is a huge worry for this team as currently constructed and Jackson won’t be back from his ankle injury until at least after the All-Star break.
Shaun Powell: Plenty depends on a few other teams currently with a better record: How much does Washington fall without John Wall in uniform for up to eight weeks; will the Sixers play Joel Embiid more down the stretch to secure a spot; and whether the surprising Pacers saved their worst for March and April. That said, if Reggie Jackson bounces back from injury and Luke Kennard does well with extended minutes and responsibility, then yes, the Pistons are playoff bound, provided one of those previously mentioned teams cooperate.
John Schuhmann: Good news: The ninth-place Pistons have one of the league's easiest remaining schedules. Bad news: The remaining schedule of the eighth-place Sixers is the easiest in the league, and the Sixers have already won the season series (though they'll play one more time in Detroit in April). Good news: The Pistons are also just three games in the loss column behind the seventh-place Pacers (who have a relatively tough remaining schedule) and have won the season series against Indiana. The Pistons do have the talent to be a playoff team, though it will be interesting to see what they get out of their backcourt going forward. Their fate also could depend on the play of the Pacers as much as it does on Blake Griffin's ability to make an impact.
Sekou Smith: Certainly. I don't think the Pistons would have made the move to acquire Blake Griffin if they didn't believe they had a shot at making the postseason. And there is plenty of time left in this season for the Pistons to get rolling with their new core group, for the Philadelphia 76ers (who sit directly above them in the standings) to stumble and provide the opening the Pistons need to get back in the mix. A blockbuster trade like this one can work in Stan Van Gundy's favor if it lights a fire in that locker room and injects the sense of urgency that might have been missing before Blake showed up in the Motor City.
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