When comparing teams, one of the simplest measures of a team's overall effectiveness is their average margin of victory. The good teams have a highly positive average margin of victory, the bad teams have a very negative one. Obviously. The Pistons currently sport a -9.0 average margin, third worst in the league. The division-leading Bulls also have the highest MOV in basketball, at +9.7. Based on that statistic alone, Detroit would need to increase their offense by 18.7 points a game, hold teams to 18.7 points less per game, or (much more likely) somewhere in between. It's a truism in sports that there are two ways to win - either score more points than your opponent or don't let them score more points than you. Lawrence Frank seems to feel that the latter is the case, and history shows that this is the best way to win a championship. Of the two, the Pistons are a better defensive team (17th in terms of opponent points scored) than they are a scoring offensive team (dead last), but part of the reason for both is that they play so slowly - their effective field goal percentages are 45.35 (26th) and 52.2% allowed (29th), according to HoopData.com (http://hoopdata.com/teamff.aspx) So what do they need to do to play closer? Shoot better and defend better, obviously. The easiest way to improve would be to add a 30 ppg Power Forward to replace Jerebko. Not likely to happen, however, so we'll have to figure out how they can nickel-and-dime it. Heading over to 82games.com, we can see that their most productive starters are Monroe (by a mile) and Stuckey. Both are the only two players on the team that outproduce their positional opponent. (Note also that SG and C are the only two positions that outscore their counterpart positions - Detroit PFs are outscored by 8 points a game!). It would be worthwhile, therefore, to keep these guys as starters, because they get it done (note that Stuckey has always out produced his opponent, which is why I think he's underrated), and look for ways of improving the other three positions. Stuckey shoots an equivalent EFG to his counterpart (when he's at the SG position), and hits way more free throws, so he scores more. Positive point differential. Monroe, on the other hand, gives up a much higher EFG (.498 to .560), but he scores more. My guess for this discrepancy is what we've noticed - he comes over to help when guards drive into the lane, and leaves his guy open for easy buckets. Given that EFG, you'd think that the other team would run more isos against him, but he's actually a very clever on-the-ball defender and is not an easy mark in the post. So assuming the starting lineup includes Stuckey and Monroe, the first and biggest improvement the Pistons need to make is at PF. That need can hopefully be remedied in the draft, because there are some good bigs (Davis, Robinson, Moultrie, Sullinger - depending on where they pick) that should be available to the Pistons and contribute immediately next year. If they can just play even up with their opponent, that should be good for 8 of that deficit. The next issue becomes with the point guard and the small forward. Now, Prince is a decent small forward, but at this point in his career I would really like him to come off the bench as a defensive stopper and change-of-pace guy - not as a starting floor leader. As much as he may be a leader, he's not the long-term solution at SF, and he needs to step back and lead in the locker room and let the youngs lead on the court. So how to improve on Prince at SF? Barnes would be an option in the draft, but not the best pick, I don't think, as he doesn't offer enough improvement to the team. Gerald Wallace would be an interesting option as he has Batum waiting behind him and has a player option next year for about $11 mil. I'd float the idea of a trade of Gordon and Daye for Wallace, or perhaps Gordon and Prince (after March 1st) for Wallace and Crawford (expiring!) and see if they bite (probably not). Failing that, help at SF will have to come either through Daye's improvement, the 2013 draft, moving Jerebko there to start, Kyle Singer, or some other free agent (such as Chase Budinger, perhaps). However it happens, improving the ppg deficit by 1 at this position should put them at a .500 team. Lastly, we have point guard. Now, Knight is clearly designated as point guard of the future, and we can see some promise, but he has a ways to go. There's no reason to go out and try and fix this position - the Pistons have to wait and see how he plays out and hope Frank can coach him well and that with an actual offseason available to improve, that he and Stuckey can gel as a back-court combo, improving both their point differentials. So if we can assume continued improvement from Monroe and Knight, a Holmes-On-Homes repair of the PF position, a productive free agent (or trade designee), and improvement by proxy from the other players, this team can contend for the playoffs next year.