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No team in the NBA suffered more for a lack of floor spacers last year than the Pistons, who couldn't clear enough room to unleash their best offensive options: post-ups and pick-and-rolls involving young bigs Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Opponents could easily slink a few steps away from almost every Piston on the perimeter and jam the lane, content in the knowledge that Detroit didn't have shooters (rental point guard José Calderón excluded) who could connect consistently from beyond the arc.
As a result the Pistons ranked 23rd in field goal percentage in the restricted area despite piling up the second-most attempts from that range. A decongestant was needed, and the Pistons have attempted to fill that prescription piecemeal. Point guard Brandon Jennings may not always exercise good judgment, but he's a decent deep threat off the dribble. Small forward Luigi Datome, the MVP of Italy's Serie A, is a highly accurate marksman who finds ways to get open. Chauncey Billups—aka Mr. Big Shot, the 2004 Finals MVP for Detroit—has made 38.8% of his career threes. And 6'5" rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the No. 8 pick from Georgia, will also stretch the D; he's bold enough to fire at will and skilled enough to hit. For the Pistons' offense to work, their shooters will have to succeed often enough to warrant serious attention—and this new group will make opponents take notice.
COACH MAURICE CHEEKS (1ST SEASON WITH PISTONS)
2012--13 RECORD 29--53 (4TH IN CENTRAL)
WHAT'S NEW Cheeks inherits two up-and-coming big men and three new starters (one of them pretty familiar).
PROJECTED LINEUP (2012--13 STATS)
PG BRANDON JENNINGS