Despite being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in their first playoff series since 2009, the Detroit Pistons can certainly head into their offseason with their heads held high after putting up a valiant effort against the best team in the Eastern Conference.
A number of young players rose to the occasion for the Pistons, most notably Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Stanley Johnson, to show that this team has a bright future ahead of them.
With a few additions, Detroit can cement a regular spot in the postseason and challenge the teams at the top end of the east.
The Boston Celtics should give them inspiration as they were also swept by LeBron James and the Cavaliers last season and have come back stronger this year.
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The most important thing for the Pistons, however, will be to keep hold of its best players and right now that’s All-Star Andre Drummond.
The big man will be a restricted free agent this summer and is in line to sign a max contract. Owner Tom Gores is determined to make that happen in Detroit and said he wouldn’t need to think twice about it.
"No hesitation," Gores said in the Pistons locker room after the game, via ESPN. "Come on, look at all the big guys in the league. Come on."
Stan Van Gundy reportedly told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst that Drummond did not sign an extension before this season's deadline, in a partnership with the team to increase salary-cap space.
When asked if Drummond sees his long-term future in MoTown, Gores said: "You'd have to ask Andre, but I think we have a great relationship. I think he likes Detroit, but you'd have to ask him."
The 22-year-old’s stock has risen considerably this season after he made the All-Star team for the first time and averaged a career-high 16.2 points and 14.8 rebounds per game and led the league in double-doubles with 66, 12 ahead of Russell Westbrook in second.
At such a young age, Drummond is seen as the leader of the team and has been with Detroit ever since they drafted him four years ago.
The center has seen a lot of change in his time in the city and speaking to reporters after the 100-98 defeat to the Cavs, he said he was proud of the team’s success and being able to overcome the odds.
"I've been here the longest," he said. "I'm the last remaining person from my draft class. And I've seen it all. I've been here for four long years, and it's been a struggle. So for us to play the way we've played this season and come out and prove so many people wrong saying that we weren't going to be good enough, that we were such a young team.
"For us to overcome injuries, different things going on, and to be in the playoffs and play like that, you can't help but hold your head high."
He may have shot the worst free-throw percentage in the history of the NBA at 35 percent, but Drummond is the man Detroit must keep and build around as he has so many other facets of his game that will see him be a threat on both ends of the floor.
Under Stan Van Gundy, the man who nurtured Dwight Howard and made him one of the most dominant players in the league in Orlando, Drummond has already become an All-Star and had the best year of his young career. With a future in Detroit, he can reach the same heights, maybe bigger.