Options for the Detroit Pistons Starting Lineup in 2017-18

The Detroit Pistons went through a 2016-17 season that raised many more questions than it answered, particularly for a team expected to make a sizable leap in terms of wins.

As a result, they have had a more involved offseason than may have been previously anticipated, with Marcus Morris being shipped off to Boston in exchange for Avery Bradley and Reggie Jackson's name arising in rumors as well.

The team never really got its groove together last season, going through 12 different starting lineups over the course of the year. The Pistons had a glut of forwards to use, and with Jackson struggling to regain form after injury, backup Ish Smith came in in relief for stretches.

Now, with planning for next season ready to begin, the Pistons need to get a consistent rotation locked in. Some elements of their lineup, such as Jackson and Bradley in the backcourt or Andre Drummond at center, are more or less locked in, but the 3 and 4 will spur the most debate.

If the Pistons wish to start their most experienced lineup, slotting in Tobias Harris at small forward and Jon Leuer at power forward is the way to go. This assortment is more of a traditional look, with a one-dimensional stretch four, but it also puts a lot of creators on the floor at the same time, with Jackson, Harris, and Drummond all demanding a high number of touches.

The other option is third-year forward Stanley Johnson, who picked up his production on a previously disappointing second season towards the end of the year. 2017-18 will mean a lot for his career prospects moving forward, so he should be poised to make the most of the opportunity.

Slotting him in with Leuer would work if, and it's a big if, he can shoot consistently. Johnson hit just 29 percent of his three-pointers last season, and with Leuer also struggling from behind the arc (30 percent), Detroit would be hurt in terms of spacing.

In an ideal world, a pairing of Harris and Johnson is the best for the future. The former can take advantage of bigger defenders while his rebounding deficiencies will be taken care of by Drummond. 

The one hang-up in this whole scheme is Johnson's development. It's very likely that the Pistons start the year with Harris and Leuer, and transition to giving more time to Johnson as he deserves.

The Pistons will have many issues to be worked out next season, not the least of which is their starting lineup. Should they figure it out, they'll be on the right track again as a franchise, while if they continue to create more questions than they answer, the front office and coaching staff could be in jeopardy.


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