Once a derelict building ready to be demolished, the Detroit Pistons are now playing like the wrecking ball, having just cruised to a win over a Mavs team that was riding the standings to the top.
Since the Josh Smith trade, the Pistons have forgotten how to lose, winning seven straight, which is two more than the total games they had won prior to Smith leaving.
The suddenly streaking Pistons were, at first, brought down a notch since their first five wins post-Smith came against teams with a collective record of 64-110. But the revving Pistons have now toppled two Western powers in back-to-back games. For those who value historical precedence, Detroit hadn’t won at San Antonio and Dallas in the same year since the 1996-97 season.
And the Bad Boys’ spurt hasn’t been a question of lucky plays or fortunate spins of the ball, the Pistons rank fourth in offensive efficiency and second in defensive efficiency since Smith left for H-Town. Unreal. Especially when considering that just some weeks ago, Detroit’s squad ranked 28th and 24th in the above categories. Quite a leap but not a surprising one when taken into account that Smith led all Pistons players in field-goal attempts (14.0 per) even while shooting ghastly sub-40 numbers.
As a starter in Houston, he was just as bad, averaging 5.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, on 29 percent shooting.
Andre Drummond has been one of the leading beneficiaries of the Smith departure. As his numbers show, prior to playing sans J-Smoove, Drummond was just not playing to his full potential:
Average stats post-Smith, pre-Dallas game: 15.8 points, 16 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 4.0 shocks (steals+blocks), 65.6% shooting
Average stats pre-Smith, pre-Dallas game: 12.4 points, 12.6 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 2.7 shocks, 48.2% shooting
Brandon Jennings has also been liberated, averaging 19.2 points, 5.0 assists, 2.0 rebounds, 1.4 shocks, on 47.0 percent shooting in the last five, yes, including the Dallas and San Antonio litmus tests.
And they’re not alone.
The only thing threatening their surging high is the NBA’s best team, the Atlanta Hawks, who they duel with on Friday. But, for now, the Detroit boys are back in town.