On Wednesday night the Detroit Pistons played their annual exhibition game at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. Those who came to the game looking for star power were probably disappointed that most of the familiar faces were in street clothes or sweats for the majority of the game. On the other hand, if you were looking for evidence that the team had an answer for their 2007 Conference Finals defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, you had to be happy with the energy and skills displayed by the Pistons’ young guns. I won’t say anything more about it other than Jason Maxiell is an absolute beast and Natalie over at Need4Sheed (who is responsible for the cool picture of Maxiell) has a great report from the game.
As you look over their roster, you see Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince and Antonio McDyess along with several other familiar faces like Lindsey Hunter, Ronald Dupree, and yes, even Nazr Mohammed & Ronald “Flip” Murray. The most exciting part of their roster could well be those names that are not (yet) as familiar:
- board-crashing Jason Maxiell
- smooth shooting Jarvis Hayes – great interview with Hayes from Empty the Bench
- buzz-generating Amir Johnson – our “Almost Completely Off Topic” Department suggests Free Darko’s pictures of Amir Johnson’s trip to China.
- and a host of rookies: Arron Afflalo, Sammy Mejia, Cheikh Samb and Rodney Stuckey – here’s a YouTube intro to the Piston’s class of 2007
On to the previews where Slam Online wonders if the Pistons can fix what went wrong last year, Sporting News says that those predicting the decline of the Pistons will be validated … just not this year, the Freep’s Krista Jahnke wonders who will play center, and Draft Express calls for the best season since 2004-2005. All the youth on the team means that the game plan will likely include less half court and more running the floor. On his Hoopsworld preview of the Pistons, Matt Watson wrote:
Running should be something that Johnson does a lot of this year, especially if Saunders opens up the offense as planned when the second-unit is in the game. “Running is my thing, that’s what I do,” he said. “I used to run track when I was in high school. So we’re going to have fun with that, bring some of the young guys in, just have fun and run the floor.”
Matt also runs Detroit Bad Boys, which should be (along with Need4Sheed who also has a great preview) on your regular list of Pistons blogs. A few other blogs you might not be as familiar with are Pistons Insider and Full Court Press (both from mLive), Motoring at MVN (here’s their preview), PistonsNews.com and Detroit Sports Unleashed. Another great place to go for updates is BallHype’s Pistons page. Hey, PistonsNation is another cool blog and had a link to a cool Hall of Fame Watch article on Billups from Dime mag. They say he’s “out” – I say wait & see.