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Vegas Win Total Projection: 34.5
The Stan Van Gundy era has certainly begun. Letting Greg Monroe and Ersan Ilyasova go via free-agency and resigning Reggie Jackson to a monster $80 million dollar deal, the team is certainly moving large pieces. Will it be good or bad? Tough to say this early on, but all signs point to sustained success in the weakened eastern conference. Last season, injuries to Brandon Jennings and other role players hurt their chances of making any type of playoff run. And while the return of Jennings isn't imminent, they still have some great pieces like Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, not to mention their latest draft-pick and Summer League standout, Stanley Johnson. At only 19 years of age, Johnson has a lot of growing to do, but looks very confident both defensively and offensively. We will see how this season plays out, I wouldn't be surprised to see a team like Detroit make a 7 or 8 seed in the playoffs. With Stan Van Gundy and his coaching style, I think this team can certainly look a lot better than last season's injury ridden team. Based on their youth and athleticism they should be able to handle back-to-backs well and play well under an aggressive, hard-nosed guy like Stan.
Top Fantasy Options
For Detroit, I look at point guards and big-men who have been productive in previous capacities. Drummond and Jackson are really the two in this case. The reason I say these two are your top fantasy options is because of what Stan Van Gundy does. I compare Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard of the Magic to the two on Detroit today. Both pairs were coached by Van Gundy and both pairs have similar skills. Jackson, ball-centric point guard, and Drummond, an elite big man, both of which are still young. John Schuhmann of NBA.com, had an tail-tell sign of what's to come on twitter in recent months. Per 100 possessions, the Pistons with Reggie and Drummond on the floor were a plus 146 in efficiency, where as Drummond, Monroe, and Jackson were minus 56. Clearly, that is something to look for next season without Monroe in the team. I just think both of these guys will thrive with the high-intensity, aggressive coaching style of Stan Van Gundy and for fantasy that makes Reggie Jackson and Drummond good plays.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a guy I have never been fond of since being drafted out of Georgia. His defensive presence is certainly good, but efficiency and offensive statistics don't bode well for him. A career 39% field goal shooter, KCP is on the outside looking in, in my opinion. With new Arizona forward Stanley Johnson standing out in Summer league and being more athletic, taller, and younger, I just don't see Kentavious getting much run this year. He's had opportunities and has occasional had stand-up performances but his 11.25 player efficiency rating, along with Marcus Morris, Danny Granger, and Reggie Bullock being in Detroit as well, doesn't make him a viable fantasy candidate for most games.
I think we will see what Stanley Johnson can do this season. In recent months he's performed well and people around the league are starting to take notice of him. That being said, 19 years old in the NBA is hard, especially with no professional experience. He played extremely well in Summer League, shooting the ball at higher than a 50 percent clip. His wingspan stands at almost 7 feet, being compared to Jae Crowder or even Kawhi Leonard. He's an extremely mobile, athletic, hard-working player who can create his own shot. He is probably one of the most mature defensive players I have seen in the Summer League and plays with a tenacity, work ethic like a Wes Matthews. When watching him in Summer League, I felt like he separated himself from the rest of the crowd, he certainly looked better than anyone he went up against. Although it was just Summer League action, I like his chances to start this year and become a dark horse in the Rookie of the Year race.
The team is now in it's 2nd season with Mr. Van Gundy and I look to see them improve in most every category. Points per game, points allowed per game, and hopefully assists per game should all go up from their middle of the pack rankings (18th, 16th, 14th respectively in the league). Last season, as I mentioned before, they were riddled with injuries and issues like Josh Smith. This season, they've gone out and gotten good draft picks, high character guys like Steve Blake and Marcus Morris, and resigned key free-agents. Having said all that, do I expect to see a dramatic change this season? Not really, I see them getting 40-42 wins, possibly being an 6 thru 8 seed in the East, and getting their younger guys minutes.Resources: Vegasinsider.com,NBA.com
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