Los Angeles Clippers (5-4) vs Detroit Pistons (5-3)
3:30 p.m. PST
November 14, 2015
FOX Prime Ticket
Last time they met?
December 15, 2015 — The Clippers snapped a two game losing streak and dismantled Detroit 113-91. Chris Douglas-Roberts scored his most as a Clipper against his hometown Detroit — 9 points in 23 minutes — two games later he was out of the rotation for good.
What’s changed since then?
The Clippers have a hit a road bump dropping four their past five games and are dealing with injuries to Chris Paul and J.J. Redick. Meanwhile, the fast-starting Pistons are 2-2 so far in a six game West Coast swing.
After 15 seasons, Hedo Turkoglu has called it quits. He spent the past couple of seasons coming off the bench in Clipperland. While Turk had lost a little (or a lot) of what made him so valuable for so many years in the NBA by the time he arrived in Los Angeles he still was much loved by players and fans alike.
1. Are the Pistons the real deal or will they regress to the mean?
Ben Gulker, Detroit Bad Boys (@brgulker): Prior to the season starting, I had this team pegged to win 41 games, give or take a couple depending on a variety of factors. However, none of us expected the Pistons to start the season as strong as they have, especially given their tough early schedule, including a tough back-to-back against Portland and Golden State on their current six-game West Coast trip. So yes, they are the real deal. The bench has to step up until Brandon Jennings and Jodie Meeks get healthy, and if they do, 45-50 wins is a very real possibility. If not, 41-45 wins is realistic and should be enough for Playoffs in the East.
Roscoe Whalan, (@RoscoeWhalan7): The Pistons started last season 5-23 and have opened 2015-16 5-3. It’s certainly a dramatic improvement. Fast starts normally balance out over the course of an 82-game season but Detroit certainly have more balance and clarity with their roster. SVG is doing a great job getting the most out of his team — helped by an outstanding rookie in Stanley Johnson. So, if you mean by the “real deal” are the Pistons a Playoff team? Then, yes, in the East, most certainly.
J.D. Evans: Well, they’re five and three, so any regression will put them at .500. On the upside, they’ve spent a lot of time on the road against the west. On the downside, they’re at best six deep. But if by ‘real deal’ you mean playoff team, sure. It’s the East.
2. Is Andre Drummond a Top 5 center in the league?
Gulker: Absolutely. And he’s only 22 years old. And he hasn’t even figured out his post game yet! He’s still incredibly raw on both sides of the ball, actually. When he figures it all out… The only center I’d want ahead of Dre right now is Anthony Davis, who is obviously a much more refined product on offense. I’m looking forward to the matchup against Jordan – should be lots of fun.
Whalan: When you’re doing things that statistically haven’t been done since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and freaking Wilt Chamberlain you have to be in the conversation. Sure, he won’t average 20-20 over a full season but Drummond is still incredibly young, raw and putting it all together. He’s probably outside the top 5 for now at the expense of a couple of vets like Duncan and Gasol but long term he’s certainly the future at the 5.
Evans: A few guys have to be ahead of him: Gasol, Cousins, Duncan, and Horford at least. If he’s going to beat out Howard, Lopez etc., I want to see that he’s not just getting those numbers mainly because Detroit’s other bigs are all stretch fours. For instance, Drummond leads the league in rebound rate. Detroit’s next best rebound rater is Aaron Baynes, who plays eleven minutes a game. After him is Stanley Johnson. A rookie three.
3. Do the Clippers have the mettle to ride out the current wave of injuries to its banged-up back court?
Gulker: Hopefully, neither guy is out long. From an outside perspective, Redick and Paul sure look like key cogs in the Clippers’ offense. Chris Paul is arguably the greatest point guard of his generation, so that’s a bit of a Captain Obvious statement, I realize. But, J.J. Redick has grown into a lethal shooting guard in LA and is probably the least appreciated player on the roster, at least from my perspective. As a University of Michigan fan, I’m always pulling for Jamal Crawford, but age seems to be taking its toll on his effectiveness, and Rivers and Prigioni – while both capable players in their own right – are backups for a reason.
Whalan: Evidently that’s not the case. The good news is almost every new acquistion has been underwhelming in the early goings of this season. Here’s to hoping someone (anyone) can step up to the plate — otherwise we’ll be praying for some more Playoff Austin.
Evans: Apparently not. The bench chemistry has been slightly worse that a random pick-up game’s, and it won’t get better until Paul and Redick can provide some stability for the starters, so the bench back-court itself can stabilize, and hopefully someone, anyone, can run some kind of basketball play involving more than one person.
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