Washington Wizards 2019-20 Season Preview: Detroit Pistons

Washington Wizards Thomas Bryant Andre Drummond (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Thomas Bryant Andre Drummond (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) /

Ish Smith won’t be the one killing the Washington Wizards anymore, but the Detroit Pistons will be a tough test this season.

Washington Wizards record versus Detroit Pistons last season: 1-2

Pistons added: Derrick Rose, Joe Johnson, Sekou Doumbouya, Markieff Morris, Tony Snell

Pistons lost: Wayne Ellington, Jose Calderon, Ish Smith, Zaza Pachulia

The Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons are two organizations on very different paths. After a few years of doing whatever it takes to try and make the playoffs, the Wizards are taking a step back to take a step forward down the road. The Pistons, who have hovered around the East’s eighth seed each of the past four seasons, are hoping to take a leap and become at least a second-tier team in the East.

Too that, the Pistons will be relying primarily on their frontcourt. And why shouldn’t they? They’ve got two All-stars down there in Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. Last season, Griffin and Drummond were two of only three players on the Pistons to average over 30 minutes a game. Reggie Bullock, now with the New York Knicks, was the third.

If the Pistons want to lean heavily on their frontcourt against Washington, they should have absolutely no problems. The All-star pair dominated against DC last season. Griffin averaged 27.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 6.3 assists and shot over 50 percent from the field. Drummond’s stats were just as impressive: 24 points (his highest per game average against any other NBA team) and 14 rebounds with a 25.2 percent usage rate. Across the board, Griffin and Drummond performed above their season averages when facing the Wizards. Despite the development of Thomas Bryant, don’t expect that to change.

But offensively, the Wizards could find ways to mitigate the impact Detroit’s frontcourt has on the defensive end. On media day and throughout the early stages of training camp, we’ve seen mention of the Wizards running a more “modern” style. One that creates open outside shots for their big men. It’s a great strategy considering Thomas Bryant’s impressive three-point shooting last year and the addition of Davis Bertans.

If the Wizards can stretch the floor and pull some of Detroit’s bigs out of the paint, then that will open up driving lanes for Bradley Beal, who finished at the rim more often last season than ever before in his career. Even if Drummond or Thon Maker cheat inside to help against the driving guards, Bryant and Bertans will be open for three.

Wizards to Watch

If the Wizards do try and get the three-ball going against Detroit, Davis Bertans could be in for a big night.

With the San Antonio Spurs last season, Davis Bertans was one of the most prolific three-point shooting forwards in the NBA despite only averaging 21.5 minutes per game and starting in just 12 of the 76 games he played. Regardless, Bertans ranked towards the top amongst all forwards in three-point attempts (18th), three-pointers made (11th), and three-point percentage (3rd), according to Basketball-Reference.

Scott Brooks has already described him as one of the best shooters he’s ever seen.

It’s worth noting, though, that the Pistons aren’t the easiest team to score threes against. Or at least they weren’t last season. The Pistons defense allowed the fewest three-pointers made per game last season (9.6), the second-fewest three-pointers attempted (27.8), and the ninth-lowest three-point shooting percentage (34.5 percent), per Basketball-Reference.

2019-20 Game Predictions

Monday, November 4 in Washington

Any game this early in the season is going to be rough for the Washington Wizards. Isaiah Thomas, C.J. Miles, and Troy Brown could all still be battling injury. Even if they are back, they’ll be fresh on the court with little to no preseason or early season games under their belts. Pistons roll an undermanned Wizards roster at home.

Monday, December 16 in Detroit

The Wizards will probably more healthy by this point in the season, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be much more of a threat to the Pistons. Drummond and Blake both post double-doubles as the Pistons cruise to a win in Motor City.

Thursday, December 26 in Detroit

The Wizards are thin at the point guard position, and all of their solutions for this season have one thing in common: poor defense.  It’s a perfect recipe for a vintage Derrick Rose performance. He leads the Pistons to their third win in as many games versus Washington.

Next. Washington Wizards 2019-20 Season Preview: Chicago Bulls. dark

Monday, January 20 in Washington

The Wizards finish all of their games versus the Pistons before the trade deadline, which could be a pretty busy time for Washington. This game is also smacked in the middle of a busy stretch: One home game preceded by two away games and followed by four more road games. A wonky stretch of the schedule, for sure. Detroit takes advantage of the travel schedule and completes the season sweep.