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With three bigs who can finish, Josh Smith says Detroit alley-oops will be “race to the rim”

Sep 12, 2013, 12:08 PM EDT

Hawks forward Smith reacts after a shot in the first half during their game against the Celtics in Game One of their NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs basketball game in Atlanta Reuters

“Me, Drummond and Monroe, it’s going to be a race to the rim to see who can get there fastest for lobs.”

That is Josh Smith talking about the blessing and the curse of the Detroit Pistons — with Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe in the front court, the paint could get a little crowded. That is a potentially devastating front line and the Pistons should be a strong defensive team because of it. But they will need floor spacing and teams will be all too happy to let Brandon Jennings and Smith help that spacing with jumpers.

There are questions to be answered in Detroit — can Mo Cheeks bring it all together as a coach? — but there is a lot of reason for optimism. Detroit should be in the playoff mix this season.

Smith is excited. He is working out with his future teammates at the Pistons facility and sounds like a guy thrilled by the opportunities change presents, as he told the Pistons official Web site.

“I feel great about my choice,” Smith said after a brisk workout Wednesday at the team’s practice facility. “Our team, our roster, is very impressive to me. We have a lot of hard workers who’ve been in here, getting it in, getting to know each other. I’m real excited. We have rookies that are sponges. They just want to get better. We have young fellas that play hard and everybody wants to get better and everybody wants to do it together. Whenever you are able to be a part of something like that, it’s special.”

When the Pistons went out and got Smith this summer in free agency, they had put together potentially one of the best front lines in the NBA. But it is the addition of the lightning quick Brandon Jennings — not the most efficient player ever but an upgrade over Brandon Knight — that put this team over the top.

“I was excited – it was crazy,” Smith said of his reaction when he heard about the (Jennings) trade. “I know what he’s capable of doing and I know the reason he played the way he played in Milwaukee – because he had to. He had to get the ball, he had to score points. There wasn’t any low-post presence in Milwaukee, so he and Monta (Ellis) had to take the bulk of the shots – some good, some bad, but he had to do it. As a player, you understand that.

“I’ve seen Brandon a long time. I’ve seen the progression since he was in high school and when he played overseas. He was a pass-first point guard. That’s what people don’t really know and understand about Brandon. He’s an excellent passer and he’s going to display that this season.”

Not to go all Missouri, but “show me.” Detroit has a lot of potential and I think we could see a poor man’s Memphis Grizzlies — great inside game, great defense and that wins them a lot of games and makes them a tough out in the playoffs.

It’s going to be an interesting season in the Motor City. And who gets the lobs is just part of that.

  1. 00maltliquor - Sep 12, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    Can’t wait to see the finished product. I’m gonna keep a close eye on DET this season. It’s a very interesting team to me, very curious to see how it pans out. It’s good to see a storied franchise like the Pistons start to rise from the ashes. When the Pistons are in the mix in the East, all is right with the NBA world, IMO.

  2. abchome - Sep 12, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    He’s certainly excited. He knows there will be many “Kobe assist” from Jennings.

  3. cmart0907 - Sep 12, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    I hope they don’t expect Brandon Jennings to pass it to them lmao.

  4. orlandochamps - Sep 12, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    the remix!! new lob city for sure. gonna b fun a fun season for my boy jennings

  5. senorpapino - Sep 12, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Detroit has four all star/potential all star players under 27. If they mesh and KCP is a solid outside shooter, this team is going to be good for the next few years.

  6. Gabriel Johnson - Sep 13, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    I’m from the “Show Me” state and I’m liking the moves Detroit made, now all they need is to bring Dennis Rodman out of retirement.

    • adamsjohn714 - Sep 13, 2013 at 9:14 PM

      If they could have kept Calderon, they’d be 50+ wins guaranteed. Nice draft pick, though, and more Drummond = more wins.

      • Gabriel Johnson - Sep 15, 2013 at 5:12 PM

        Gotta have a good, solid PG like Calderon

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