Pistons adapt to new NBA, and it shows early

The Detroit Pistons are off to its best start since 2005 after last night’s come-from-behind win over the Miami Heat. The team is 10-3 and sitting in the two seed in the Eastern Conference.

Yes, it is still early, but after only a couple of small roster changes, this is an entirely different team than the one that missed the playoffs altogether last season.

I don’t expect this team to finish where they are now, but gaining home court in the first round (top four seed) is realistic. The team has some middle of the road extended stats, but there are a few that show the team’s commitment to the modern NBA.

Throughout the last five seasons teams in the NBA have shot more and more three-point shots. Last season the league average was 27 per game, while Houston led by shooting 40 a night. 27 may not sound like a lot, but to put that in perspective, in the 2009-2010 season teams averaged 18 attempts per game. That’s a 50 percent increase in three-point shots taken per night in less than a decade.

This season teams will break the record once again, while through only a few weeks the league average is 28.6. Houston is averaging 44 per game.

Detroit was late to this, and the team has suffered over the last couple of seasons because of it on both ends of the floor. This season the Pistons are averaging 28.6 three-pointers per game, up from 23 last year. The team is also defending from beyond the arc more efficiently. This season the team is allowing opponents the attempt the fifth fewest threes per game in the league. That’s the new bread-and-butter for the league, and the team is just beginning to build around that.

Teams tend to play more small ball now to space the court. Rarely do teams play with two big guys on the court at once unless one can step out, so playing with bigger lineups around Andre Drummond wasn’t working. Detroit got smaller in the off season by swapping Marcus Morris for Avery Bradley, one of the better perimeter defenders in the league. Having another combo guard in Bradley, instead of Morris, is allowing the team to matchup with almost anyone, and space the floor.

The other change that bringing in another guard has helped with is in the turnover department. The team has the third best turnover differential in the league at 2.6 per game. That’s 2.6 more shots per game, and at 1.2 points per shot, that’s an extra 3.13 points per game. That doesn’t sound like much, but over the season that adds up.

Having the smaller gives up chances in other places, but that’s the way of the modern game and the Pistons are just adjusting to it.

It may not be clear in plain sight, but the difference of a couple of shots per game is the early quantitative difference.

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Posted by Brian Fogg

Brian is the sports writer for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3110 or bfogg@pioneergroup.com.

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