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2015-16 NBA Preview: The Pistons Could Stop Being Terrible

We’re inaugurating our NBA player projection system, CARMELO, with 2015-16 season previews for every team in the league. Check out the teams we’ve already previewed here. Learn more about CARMELO here.

It’s been a rough few years — really, almost a decade — for the Detroit Pistons, who haven’t had a winning season since the dissolution of their mid-2000s quasi-dynasty. And superficially, coach Stan Van Gundy’s first season at the helm last year wasn’t much better, resulting in a 32-50 record. But Detroit did markedly improve its point differential last season, to the point that the team scored exactly as many points per game as it gave up after the All-Star break. And the Pistons at least have some interesting pieces to work with now (not least of which is rookie Stanley Johnson), though they must also cope with the loss of free-agent big man Greg Monroe, who signed with the division-rival Bucks over the summer.

What’s in store for the 2015-16 Pistons, according to our CARMELO1 player projection system? The model expects them to go 38-44.


And here’s what CARMELO thinks of the Pistons’ key players:


Reggie Jackson is the poster child for every player who’s convinced he would be a bigger star if only given the chance.


Drafted for his silky-smooth jumper, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would make the Pistons happy if he turned out a Joe Johnson level of production; a second coming of Ray Allen (Caldwell-Pope’s sixth-closest comp) would be a bonanza, but don’t bank on it.


A tantalizing young talent, Andre Drummond isn’t yet 23 years old. He’s a 100th-percentile rebounder and elite rim protector. Despite abysmal free-throw shooting, he’s projected to produce 4.6 wins above replacement this season and be the Pistons’ best player (as he was last year). The Shawn Kemp ceiling is not outrageous.


Journeyman Anthony Tolliver has some size and can stretch the floor, but he does little else.


Brandon Jennings is the Pistons’ second- or third-best player. Unfortunately, he’s also an inefficient scorer and atrocious defender. The Kenny Anderson comp is too generous; he’s a slimmer Damon Stoudamire.


A wily shooting specialist in the twilight of his career, Jodie Meeks is allergic to rebounding and defends like a mannequin.


Marcus Morris is the lesser of the Morris twins. A stretch-big and candidate for regression in his shooting. Vladimir Radmanovic!


Like comps Mills and Harrington, Ersan Ilyasova’s best seasons have come and gone now that he’s hit his late 20s.


  1. Career-Arc Regression Model Estimator with Local Optimization.

Andrew Flowers wrote about economics and sports for FiveThirtyEight.