7 Lottery Teams That Could Make The Playoffs

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January 4, 2013; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Atlanta Hawks small forward Josh Smith (5) is defended by Detroit Pistons center Greg Monroe (10) in the first quarter at The Palace. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Pistons

The Pistons were due for a culture change. Three coaches in a row that were blatantly tuned out by a lingering cadre of entitled veterans, some botched free agency signings and a lot of losing…it was a dark, dark time for the former Eastern Conference powerhouse. They’ve still got a ways to go before they even sniff that elite level again, but they’re doing some good things.

Mo Cheeks will be a fine coach, perhaps a better mentor than anything, but he’s a guy the players will automatically respect. They signed a proven NBA star in Josh Smith, and will just have to cross their fingers that he sticks to the script. They are nurturing Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, a duo that will perhaps end up the most feared frontcourt in the league. Rasheed Wallace will be shouting “Ball don’t lie!” on the sideline and Chauncey Billups is returning to Detroit to ameliorate all the psychic pain of the infamous Allen Iverson trade.

Detroit has some problems: their three best players can’t reliably shoot from beyond five feet, Chauncey is a grandpa in NBA years, and no one is sure what the heck to do with Brandon Knight. But in a top heavy Eastern Conference, the Pistons should be primed to sneak into the playoffs and hit the re-set button on the last few miserable years in Motown. And a bonus: it should be fun to watch.

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