Marc Stein of ESPN.com released his power rankings yesterday. After a weekend that saw the Pistons break San Antonio's 11-game winning streak and steal a late-game road win in Milwaukee, one might think the Pistons were due for a slight boost. Turns out wins and losses had nothing to do with Marc Stein's assessment. Well, one loss did but didn't have to do with the Pistons record. The Pistons dropped from 21st in the power rankings to 23, and all because of a sore back.
Now, it's important to note that Stein's rankings were released on Monday before the Pistons took the court against the Hornets. If anyone was upset that the Pistons slipped in the power rankings because of only one player, the Hornets loss was proof as to why Stein's logic is totally legitimate.
The Hornets bench outscored the Pistons bench 53-30. Even worse, the Hornets' Ryan Anderson came off the bench to single-handedly outscore the Pistons reserves 31-30. We're not saying that having Andre Drummond available off the bench would have bettered the scoring difference in the Pistons favor, but having the rookie center's defensive presence in the lane might have helped against a New Orleans team that won the points in the paint battle and bested the Pistons bigs in total rebounds.
Offensively, Drummond's mere presence on the floor with second unit is enough to open up driving lanes and shooting opportunities for his teammates. The second unit was 0-8 from behind the long line and they weren't getting many open looks as the Hornets help defense had nothing to worry about underneath the basket. As cold as the Pistons were on Monday, one would have to imagine that Drummond's presence in the lane would have created some easier looks for the outside shooters.
The Pistons fought tough over the weekend without Andre Drummond, but Stein is correct to drop them in the rankings in light of the back injury. The Pistons don't have a viable replacement to pickup the rebounding and defensive slack that losing Drummond creates. Without Drummond the second unit is forced to play a different style of basketball. A style that isn't nearly as effective without Drummond, and one that makes the Pistons a worse off team.Tags: Andre Drummond, Basketball, Detroit, Detroit Pistons, NBA