Tonight at 9:30 the Pistons will wrap up their west coast swing with a game against the LA Lakers. The Lakers are not good. This game will end up being a pretty big definer of the first stretch of the Pistons season. If they win they have survived a brutal early schedule to go 6-4 including a couple wins over good teams and losses to a few good teams. Something that looks real and they can build on into the rest of the season. If they manage to lose tonight then the early hot start looks more like just a hot start but one that we don't know for sure how real it is. Although I would like to throw out that given how brutal the schedule has been, if you had told me the Pistons would start the year 5-5 I would have been just fine with that.
The Them: So you remember in my scouting of the Warriors, where I said the biggest issue is that (beyond Drummond) there is probably not a single guy on the Pistons who is better than his counter part on the Warriors? Yeah now the Pistons are the team with all the better guys. Lou Williams is almost certainly better than whoever is the Pistons 6th man right now. But other than that, there is not a single guy who I would take right now. Obviously part of the reason is that they have a bunch of young guys who are not any where near fully developed. Julius Randle has generally shown some great potential. I had no idea how monstrous he was capable of as a driver. Jordan Clarkson is off to a pretty good start, scoring a pretty efficient 15 points a game. (even if he is not distributing very well.) Deangelo Russel has not gotten off to a good start but rookie point guards are almost never good. And yes. Kobe legitimately has not been good. He is not scoring very many points, and it is at a terrible percentage. It is literally almost sad that such a good player has fallen so far. Although there is still a chance I suppose that he could turn it around at some point. They do not have much ball movement although they do shoot more 3s now so thats cool. Lou Williams has also shot like crap so far but that is not very likely to keep up for very long. The biggest surprise to me at least so far is Roy Hibbert. He had a real chance to redeem himself a bit, if he could've managed to rim protect the Lakers to anywhere near a competent defense, he would revive some of his value. But he has not done that at all. And while a lot of that has to do with how bad everyone else is on D on this team, the defense has actually been markedly worse when he is on the floor. The Pistons really have no excuse to lose this game. The Lakers are not like the Kings where they actually might be pretty good or even really good if they managed to pull it together. (Which there are some signs of life being shown in Sac town right now) The Lakers are just bad. HOWEVA, they are still an NBA team so lets look at the matchups.
Matchups to watch.
Andre vs. showing up: The Lakers are bad, and they are a really bad rebounding team. Roy Hibbert should have close to no chance to box out Drummond with any consistency. The Lakers also miss a lot of shots. As such, Drummond has the potential for a monster game even by his standards. Like if he shows up and gives even decent effort he might end up with close to 30 boards tonight. Also watch for Drummond to face up Hibbert a few times tonight. Hibbert is big enough that he can bang a bit with Drummond in the post, but he is notoriously slow footed. As such Drummond might be able to just dribble past him. Regardless though, no one on the Lakers figure to have any chance to compete with Drummond for rebounds or even in the post. Drummond could legitimately end up with a 25/25 game. The only reason he does not have a huge game would be if he is totally wasted from his effort last night. (Which I don't know how likely that is since I did not watch that game.)
Julius Randle vs. Whoever guards him: Randle is not as good as Blake Griffin by any stretch, however he has the same sort of dribble drive game that Griffin has. Whoever guards him on the Pistons will likely have some trouble. Randle is super young and unpolished so he is not super likely to go off for a huge game, but he certainly could have a really good game. This is really the only good matchup that the Lakers have in this game, and if Byron Scott has any brain he will attack it a lot. Although we don't know for sure if Byron does have a real brain or if he left it in the 90s.
The Pistons vs. Energy: The one thing that scares me about this game is that it is a classic trap game. Second of a back to back, and the first game was a close fought game against a good team. The best chance the Lakers have is if the Pistons just play like crap. So this is an actual thing.
Lou Williams/Kobe vs. Shooting like crap: I threw in Kobe because I don't ever want to count that dude out, but this is mostly for Williams. In the Clippers scouting I mentioned that Jamal Crawford had shot like crap which meant that he was due to break out, and then he did just that against the Pistons. Williams is a classic chucker in the same mold as Crawford, and he also has been shooting like absolute crap this year. Only Williams is not old as piss so there is a good chance that he will break out very soon. Hopefully it is not tonight. Because if he goes off then the Lakers suddenly have a real chance in this game.
So in conclusion
Cackle with knowing glee if:
Kobe is air balling fadeaways all game.
Lou Williams is chucking bricks.
Roy HIbbert looks like a damn fool.
Julius Randle falls prey to charging Ersan several times and gets into foul trouble/stops driving.
The Lakers look like the Lakers the past couple years.
Run for the Hills if:
The Pistons look dead.
Lou Williams starts hitting shots.
Andre Drummond is not destroying everyone on each side of the ball.
Kobe has a flashback.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre has a 30/30 game.
Ersan draws 3 charges against Randle.
The Pistons win by like, a lot of points.
The only reason I give the Lakers much chance in this game is because it is the NBA, and as such anyone can beat anyone. But the Lakers figure to be one of the worst teams in basketball all year, like there is almost no semblance of decent basketball anywhere on this team this year. If the Pistons lose this game it is their own fault. Each of their 4 losses are games where you are able to just kind of shake your head/tip your hat to the other team and accept that you can't win them all. This is not one of them. If the Pistons are really a playoff team (which I think they are) they should win this one with some ease.
What do you think? Think I'm stupid? Let me know! We all get smarter!