There’s something to be said for the positive and negative memories or associations we attach to people, places, or things. The NBA is no exception.

If you hear names like, “The Los Angeles Lakers” or “ The Boston Celtics,” the first thing that comes to mind is probably their vast accrual of championships, or the great players that wore those uniforms.

But what about the Detroit Pistons?

Sadly, the first thing that comes to mind for myself when I think about the Pistons is a lucid Ron Artest charging the stands. The Malice at the Palace has burned its way into the minds of young fans. The Isiah Thomas Pistons are lore most of us never saw live, we’ve forgotten the boys and are left with only the bad.

All of that, however, is about to change.

The 2015-2016 Pistons have busted out of the gates with a 5-2 record, embodying all that is a Stan Van Gundy team.

In the offseason, Stan Van Gundy (SVG) let it be known that in order for his team to be competitive, the Pistons first had to change its defensive — or lack thereof — prowess.

By season’s end last year, Detroit had amped up the defense, posting a defensive efficiency rating of 106.4 per 100 possessions, down from 109.7 the year prior to SVG taking over.

This year, although the sample size is still very young, the Pistons are holding teams to 96.5 per night.

The team also saw a drop in defensive field-goal percentage, going from 27th (.470) to 22nd (.456). Detroit is not only defending in the half court, their getting back in transition, too. Motown went from 23rd (14.1) in fast-break points allowed the year prior to SVG’s arrival, to fifth (11.3) in just one season while gaining nearly three more possessions per game.

The Pistons look like a well-oiled — and most importantly — sanely-functional machine raw with young talent that has immense potential.

SVG is driving the best ship he has ever been on board with, including that 2009 Orlando Magic team that barely harbored contending NBA talent, which he of course led to a Finals appearance.

The play on the perimeter with Reggie Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been superb. Things can only get better once Brandon Jennings and Jodie Meeks return from injury, the Pistons backcourt is deep. . .

Rookie Stanley Johnson has struggled quite a bit to begin his NBA campaign, but the talent for the No. 8 overall pick is there.

Marcus Morris has contributed nicely with what SVG wants to do, averaging a surprising 17 points and seven rebounds per game thus far.

Ilyasova has fit in exactly how the team had hoped, stretching the floor at 6-foot-10, allowing Detroit to work through the middle, similar to how SVG ran the 2009 Magic with Dwight Howard.

And let’s not forget about the big guy. Andre Drummond is having a historical start to the season, grabbing as many rebounds (122) as he has scored points. He’s also averaging nearly two blocks per game.

By the way, Detroit has Drummond on payroll for a measly $3.3 million this season.

SVG has built the 2015 Pistons to work through Drummond, and through six games this season, the team looks primed to make the playoffs.

These aren’t your parent’s Pistons, but they’re also a long way away from just being known as the franchise that gave us The Malice at the Palace.

 

Randall Faehnrich

HC Contributor

@RandyFaehnrich

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