AOL.com's Preseason NBA Power Rankings: 21. Detroit Pistons
With the month of October knocking on our doors, AOL Sports has been rolling out our NBA team previews and power rankings in the weeks leading up to the 2015-16 season. Friday, the Phoenix Suns came in at No. 22.
Next up, we discuss the prospects of Stan Van Gundy's Detroit Pistons, who are still building toward something bigger.
From the moment Van Gundy took control of the Pistons, it was clear the team was shifting in the opposite direction of the previous regime. Within a couple of months, Josh Smith was exiled, and upon the season's conclusion, it was clear that big man Greg Monroe wouldn't be returning.
Monroe inked a four-year pact with the Milwaukee Bucks, clearing the Pistons' frontcourt for Andre Drummond to blossom into the team's focal point.
Drummond has averaged 13.7 points and 13.3 rebounds per game over the last pair of seasons, and only at 22 years old, his path to stardom seems completely evident.
At the power forward, Van Gundy traded for stretch big man Ersan Ilyasova, who shot 38.9 percent from three-point range last year and 37 percent for his career. Paired with fellow new addition Marcus Morris, an above-average three-point shooter, it's clear the Pistons are trying to spread the floor with much-needed shooting, moving away from the three-big frontcourt of Smith-Monroe-Drummond.
In the backcourt, Detroit has committed to Reggie Jackson as their point man, shelling out a five-year, $80 million contract for him this summer. While Jackson is still young, just 25, his long-range shooting woes provide issues for a team that's trying to clear offensive space for their 7-footer inside. Jackson can make plays for others and is a suitable scorer from inside the arc, but his fit on this roster will be worth monitoring.
Brandon Jennings won't be returning from his Achilles injury until around December, but when he does return, it'll be intriguing to see how Van Gundy splits minutes at the point between his two high-salary guards. Jennings' contract expires after the season, so he'll surely be a trade candidate around the deadline if healthy.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Stanley Johnson are promising two-way players on the wing, while Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks can help space the floor off the bench with shooting.
But if Jackson continues to struggle from beyond the arc, it'll put more pressure on Van Gundy to implant his role players to better fit the lineup. And while a handful of players on the reserve squad are useful in spurts, there isn't enough talent across the roster to sustain success for extended periods of time.
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