Next up in our “Seasons in Review” series, we take a look at Pistons GT, who rode MVP candidate LetsGetItRamo and a staunch defense to a No. 3 seed playoff berth.
Check out the latest installment of this series, where I considered what was, what will be, and what might be for Raptors Uprising GC going forward.
Current roster: Iinsanitty, JosephTheTruth
Protections: LetsGetItRamo, Iinsanitty
Offseason transactions: Traded LetsGetItRamo to Pacers Gaming for the No. 4 overall pick. Retained JosephTheTruth in exchange for its 2nd round pick.
Draft picks: 1st round (4th overall), 1st (16th), 3rd (50th), 4th (68th)
The Good: The Pistons won the very first game in league history and motored forward from there. They demonstrated constancy and tough defense throughout the season. LetsGetItRamo spearheaded the action on both ends of the floor, earning MVP candidacy for his low-post offense and all-around defense. The team made the semifinals of both the TIPOFF and TICKET tournaments. It was really all about the defense: the Pistons held their opponents to the fewest points per game in the league. When they worked to play the game at their tempo—and for the most part they did, playing at the second lowest pace and keeping opponents to the lowest—the Pistons were incredibly hard to beat.
The Bad: Unfortunately, the Pistons had their share of blips on the season. When they lost, they were often blown out, and they lost their fair share of winnable games, such as being upset by Warriors Gaming Squad in the first round of the TURN. The offense was all but anemic all season, with the team heavily relying on the ImSoFarAhead/Ramo pick-and-roll with Iinsanitty providing secondary scoring at the shot-creating slasher. It didn’t work all that often, though, as Pistons GT finished dead last in points per game and in the bottom three in multiple other key offensive statistics. They stalled against Heat Check Gaming in the first round of the playoffs, deploying an uncharacteristic lineup and losing in blowout fashion.
The Good: Coach Duane Burton won Coach of the Year and figures to return to helm the team in season two. That’s good, since the Pistons will have four new players to integrate and will have to figure out a new offense that lacks its pick-and-roll cogs from season one. They have the fourth overall pick in the draft, as well as the sixteenth, but they need to find a franchise player at No. 4. They really like JosephTheTruth and will rely on him to help cultivate their team culture. The fourth and sixteenth overall picks are really big.
The Bad: Hmm… anything bad happen to the Pistons this offseason? Let’s see… Oh, they traded away MVP candidate LetsGetItRamo, likely forming one of the best Big 3s in the league elsewhere in the Midwest. They gambled a second-round pick on JosephTheTruth taking a big step forward in season two—not that he was bad, but he was hardly a focal point offensively or defense. The Pistons have a gaping hole on both sides of the court without Ramo. They’ll have to create an offense without its best player from last season and devise a defense devoid of its best player—one of the league’s best players—from season one.
The Big Question
What will life be like after Ramo?
Don’t expect the Pistons to look particularly familiar next season. Swapping out a game-defining player for a new high draft pick will make for interesting times in the Motor City.
A lot of this, of course, hinges on the player Pistons GT picks at No. 4 overall. Will they go for a guard and try to run the offense along the perimeter, relegating Iinsanitty to secondary ball-handling duties again? Will they switch their protected player to point guard and try to replace Ramo with a talented big man?
The Pistons need to hit on this pick, badly. Ramo is a franchise-caliber talent, and he’s now in Indiana. Rather than returning a battle-tested MVP candidate—an MVP candidate!—they’ll rely on an untested top pick whom they pray can equal or surpass what Ramo brought to the table.
Life after Ramo might be good. It might also entail a lost, rebuilding period. Whatever it is, last year’s No. 3 seed will be very different next season.