Sometimes, winning actually means you have to do a lot of losing. That was the case with last year’s Pistons, and it actually worked out perfectly. They have made countless traded over the past few years and are left with a product that is filled with youth and a few new veterans.
Coming into this year, there are no true expectations. They just have to play better basketball than a season ago, as the bar is set low. They should see improvement from the youngsters, but that’s really all. They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
To Win Finals: +50000
To Win East: +25000
To Win Central Division: +8000 (5th)
Continuing to Rebuild
The latest draft pick by the Pistons is the one they hope can lead them into the future. Winning the lottery was a great lock, and they struck the jackpot as a result. Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham is now in Detroit, trying to help the team become relevant for the first time in nearly 15 years. That was the last time they won a playoff game.
He comes with a unique skillset, being 6’8 and a tremendous facilitator. Not too many players in the annals of history have possessed such ability, and it makes him make you say wow. He is going to be running the show with Killian Hayes, no pressure really on the two youngsters as they grow.
They took Luka Garza in the second round, and he won’t play a ton of minutes, though it is an intriguing prospect. He brings a lot to the table as a scorer and was recently signed to a full-scale NBA contract.
They also have multiple other talented rookies from last year. Point guard Saben Lee could compete for playing time, while Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart look to morph from talented first-years into rising stars in year two.
The Best Piston Is…
Cade Cunningham comes in with the most talent of anybody, but he is anything but their best player. He will need to show what he can do on the court first. The debate about who their best guy is matters because not knowing will mean they are unsure who leads them in late-game situations and pumps the team up in the huddles.
The first argument can be made for Jerami Grant, who had a great first season here. He proved himself as a tremendous scorer when given the opportunity to shoot as much as he did. He is also a very shifty defender and can guard any frontcourt position out there.
There is Kelly Olynyk, who only enters the conversation because of how dominant he was with Houston at the end of last year. But, he has no serious case. Saddiq Bey is built to dominate, as he is a good defender who can bury the three balls early and often.
And Stewart is bristling with potential as a big man who can dominate the shot-blocking category for the many years that will follow.
Projections for the Season
If the Pistons made the playoffs, or even the play-in this year, it would be a shock. Crazier things have happened, but it is very unlikely here. The team is not ready for that, not until the 2022-23 year. They just need to stay competitive and show growth for this year to be a success.
Dwane Casey’s job is to just keep everybody on the same page and understanding the message. Go out and try to win, but if you don’t, it’s not the end of the world. They do not have any players remaining from the 2019-20 year, as the gears have continued to shift along with the many transactions being made.
They will hope that Killian, Cade, Grant, Bay, and Stewart can all be leaders on the court, trying to help them win some valuable games that could set them up for an improved future.