NBA.com’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2017-18 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the Detroit Pistons, who were at their worst with their highest paid players on the floor.
Last season, the Detroit Pistons were outscored by 8.3 points per 100 possessions when Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond were on the floor together.
That was a NetRtg (point differential per 100 possessions) worse than any team in the league last season, when the Lakers ranked 30th at minus-7.2. In those 1,135 minutes, the Pistons had the numbers of both a bottom-three offense and a bottom-three defense.
When neither was on the floor, the Pistons outscored their opponents by 8.1 points per 100 possessions, a mark better than every team other than the Golden State Warriors.
Jackson and Drummond were, and remain, the two players to whom the Pistons have the most money committed going forward. So it’s not good that the team was awful when they shared the floor.
Overall, the Pistons were 10.9 points per 100 possessions better with Drummond off the floor than they were with him on the floor, and they were 10.5 points per 100 possessions better with Jackson on the floor than they were with him on the floor. Those were the seventh and eighth worst on-off-court NetRtg differentials among 277 players who played at least 1,000 minutes for a single team last season.
* These calculate the average per-possession plus-minus for every starter or every bench player, weighted by minutes played.
The much bigger difference (13.2 points per possessions) between the Jackson-and-Drummond Pistons and the no-Jackson-or-Drummond Pistons was on the defensive end of the floor, where Drummond has failed to approach his potential, given his combination of size and athleticism.
The Pistons allowed their opponents to take only 28 percent of their shots, the lowest rate in the league, from the restricted area. But that number was higher when Drummond was on the floor (29.5 percent) than when he wasn’t (26.4 percent). And opponents shot 55.5 percent at the rim when he was their to protect it, a mark which had him as the sixth worst rim protector among 60 players who defended at least five shots per game in 25 or more games last season.
There wasn’t as big a difference in the offensive numbers, which were below average no matter who was on the floor. Still, the offense was better with Ish Smith running it than with Jackson on the floor.
Jackson missed the first 21 games last year and was seemingly dealing with knee pain all season. His effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage were both his lowest marks since his rookie season. His drives per 36 minutes dropped from 12.5 in 2015-16 to 9.0 in ’16-17, and he was one of seven players who shot less than 50 percent on at least 150 field goal attempts in the restricted area last season.
“It’s affected all of us,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said of Jackson’s knee issues near the end of the season. “This was a guy who was our leading scorer last year, our best shot creator.”
Indeed, the season before, the Pistons were better offensively with Jackson on the floor (105.7 points scored per 100 possessions) than they were with him off the floor (99.3). The season prior to that, Detroit was really good with Jackson and Drummond on the floor with floor-spacers around them (after acquiring Jackson at the deadline).
With other Eastern Conference teams taking a step backward this summer, the opportunity is there for Detroit to get back into the playoffs. They’ve made some changes to the supporting cast, but it will be the play (and health) of Jackson and Drummond that determines if the Pistons can rebound from a rough season.
PISTONS NOTES – GENERAL
- Were 9.8 points per 100 possessions better when they didn’t play the day/night before (minus-0.0) than they were in the second game of a back-to-back (minus-9.8). That was the biggest rest-no-rest differential in the league.
- Were 11.0 points per 100 possessions better at home (plus-3.4) than on the road (minus-7.5). That was the second biggest home-road NetRtg differential in the league, only a hair smaller than that of the Lakers. The Pistons’ DefRtg differential (8.8 fewer points per 100 possessions allowed at home) was the largest in the league.
- Were 15-22 (0.405) in games that were within five points in the last five minutes after going 25-17 (0.595) the season before. That was the second biggest drop in winning percentage in clutch games.
- Outscored their opponents by 3.5 points per game, the best differential in the league, on second chances.
- Pistons games averaged just 40.4 free throw attempts per game, fewest in the league. They ranked 30th in free throw rate and ninth in opponent free throw rate.
PISTONS NOTES – OFFENSE
- Took only 53 percent or their shots from the restricted area or 3-point range. That was the lowest rate in the league and down from 62 percent (13th highest rate) in 2015-16. That was the biggest drop-off, by a wide margin, in the percentage of shots that came from the two most efficient areas on the floor.
- Had the league’s lowest free throw rate (FTA/FGA), getting to the line just 21.8 times per 100 shots from the field.
- One of two teams (Phoenix was the other) that ranked in the bottom five in both 3-point percentage and in the percentage of their shots that came from 3-point range. Shot just 32.7 percent, the second worst mark in the league, on wide-open 3-pointers.
- Led the league with 22.6 pull-up 2-point jumpers per game. Four teams took less than half as many.
- Had the league’s worst offense in the second games of back-to-back, scoring just 99.0 points per 100 possessions as they went 3-14 with no rest.
- Have ranked in the bottom three in assist percentage (AST/FGM) in three of the last four seasons.
PISTONS NOTES – DEFENSE
- Comparing their points allowed per 100 possessions vs. the league average, they’ve improved defensively in each of Van Gundy’s three seasons in Detroit. After allowing 3.3 more than the league average in 2013-14, they allowed just 1.1 more in Van Gundy’s first season. In 2015-16, they allowed 0.5 points per possessions less and last season, they allowed 0.9 less.
- Last season, they grabbed 81.2 percent of available defensive rebounds, the highest mark in NBA history.
- Allowed the fewest points in transition for the second straight season. Only 11.2 percent of their opponents’ shots came in the first six seconds of the shot clock, the lowest rate in the league.
- According to SportVU, they allowed just 1.02 points per possession, the lowest rate in the league, when their opponent ran a ball screen.
- Opponents took just 59 percent of their shots from the restricted area or 3-point range, the lowest rate in the league. So while they had the league’s worst shot-selection profile on offense, they had the league’s best on defense.
- Allowed their opponents to shoot a league-high 42.5 percent from mid-range.
PISTONS NOTES – LINEUPS
- Had three of the six worst defensive lineups that played at least 200 minutes together.
- All three of those lineups included Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Drummond and Marcus Morris, who had the league’s worst three-man plus-minus, with Detroit getting outscored by 271 points in their 1,558 minutes together. Detroit actually had seven of the worst 10 (and 10 of the worst 18) raw plus-minus marks among three-man units.
- Had the league’s two worst post-break lineups (minimum 100 minutes). They were outscored by 150 points (more 33 points per 100 possessions) in 227 total minutes.
- With Aron Baynes and Morris on the floor together, the Pistons outscored their opponents by 8.4 points per 100 possessions, the best mark among their 29 two-man combinations that played at least 500 minutes. Both Baynes and Morris are now in Boston.
- They allowed 9.6 fewer points possessions with Baynes on the floor (98.5) than they did with him off the floor (108.1). That was the league’s best on-off-court DefRtg differential among 277 players who played at least 1,000 minutes for a single team.
PISTONS NOTES – INDIVIDUAL
- Avery Bradley grabbed 10.1 percent of available rebounds last season, up from 4.6 percent the season before. That was the biggest increase in rebounding percentage among 244 players who played at least 500 minutes in 2015-16 and 1,000 minutes in ’16-17.
- Bradley’s effective field goal percentage of 53.3 percent was a career high, even though his restricted-area field goal percentage dropped from 70 percent the season before to 62 percent last season.
- Andre Drummond ranked fifth in offensive rebounding percentage and first in defensive rebounding percentage among 294 players who averaged at least 15 minutes in 40 or more games. The only other player in the top 10 in both was Dwight Howard (third and fifth).
- Langston Galloway was one of two players (Manu Ginobili was the other) who attempted at least 200 2-point shots and at least 200 3-points shots, and shot better on the threes (39.0 percent) than on the twos (36.7 percent).
- Tobias Harris recorded career highs in both effective field goal percentage (53.2 percent) and true shooting percentage (56.8 percent). Those numbers ranked 15th and 22nd among the 38 players who took at least 1,000 shots from the field. He ranked fifth in mid-range field goal percentage (47.6 percent) among 70 players with at least 200 mid-range attempts.
- Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith were assisted on 16.2 percent and 17.0 percent of their baskets, respectively. Those were the two lowest rates among 174 players who attempted at least 500 shots from the field.
- Jon Leuer shot 76.6 percent in the restricted area, the second best mark among 185 players who attempted at least 150 restricted-area shots. But Leuer’s effective field goal percentage of 44.8 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers was the third worst mark among 122 players who attempted at least 200.
- Boban Marjanovic grabbed 130 rebounds in just 293 minutes last season. Among players who played at least 100 minutes, only Drummond grabbed more rebounds per 36.
- Smith had a true shooting percentage of just 47.7 percent, the third worst mark among players who took at least 500 shots.
- 92 percent of Anthony Tolliver‘s jump shots were catch-and-shoot attempts (as opposed to pull-ups). That was the highest rate among 179 players who attempted at least 250 total jumpers, according to SportVU.
John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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NBA TV’s Pistons preview premieres at 6 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 13. View archived clips from previous previews here.