NBA: Youth Emerging For Pistons

By Vidur Malik

Much has changed in the NBA’s Eastern conference in the past decade. Many of today’s contenders were at the bottom of the East just a few years ago, and the elite teams of the decade’s earlier years are now in rebuilding mode.

The Detroit Pistons are perhaps the best example of this power shift in the East. From 2002 to 2007, the Pistons made it to five straight Eastern conference finals series, and made it to two NBA Finals in that span, including a dominating four-game series win over the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004. Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace and the selfless Piston lineup are either out of Detroit or becoming irrelevant. They’ve taken chances on aging players like Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady without great results, and they’re currently 12-26 and at the bottom of the conference.

Despite its struggles, there is enough young talent on the team to instill hope for the future. Guard Rodney Stuckey and forward Tayshaun Prince have been reliable players for a while now, and there are younger players who are showing signs of solid play. Rookie center Greg Monroe has seen a huge improvement in his numbers recently. He is averaging 5.8 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game this year, but he’s had a double-double in his past four games. That kind of consistency is something that can benefit your fantasy team. If four-straight games of double-digit points and rebounds aren’t enough to convince you to pick him up, keep an eye on him to see if he keeps it up. If Monroe continues to develop, he could be the East’s next great big man and have some epic battles with Dwight Howard.

Though his numbers might not be as impressive as Monroe’s, Pistons forward Austin Daye has also been playing well recently. Daye has improved his numbers in important categories in his second year in the league. His scoring average has gone from 5.1 in his rookie year to 6.6, he’s getting more minutes and his three-point percentage has risen significantly. Day hit 29 3-pointers in 2009, and has already made 27 this year. If you’re looking for a forward who you don’t need to depend on for big numbers every night, consider Daye. He might not be a consistent scorer, but if you want to take a chance on someone, he would be a good pick.

The championship-caliber teams of the early-to-mid 2000’s are gone, but there is a new group that could make the Pistons a playoff team again. You’ll benefit from picking up those players and seeing how they can add to your team’s production.




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