The Detroit Pistons took a step back in their rebuild in the 2019/20 campaign, placing emphasis on a strong off-season of recruitment to allow them to compete once again in the Eastern Conference.
It has been 12 years since the franchise last won a playoff game, losing 4-2 to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. Since then the Pistons have played 12 post-season games, and lost them all, being swept twice by the Cleveland Cavaliers and once by the Milwaukee Bucks last term.
Dwane Casey faces a major challenge overhauling the roster and life may get tougher before it gets better for the Pistons. Therefore when betting on a NBA team, it will probably behoove you not to pay attention to Detroit’s odds in the near future, although Casey has proven he can take a struggling franchise back into contention.
When he arrived at the Toronto Raptors in 2011, the team had failed to progress beyond the first round of the post-season since 2001. Under Sam Mitchell, Toronto had been competitive but had failed to make an impact at the top of the Eastern Conference. With a savvy addition of Kyle Lowry and getting the best out of DeMar DeRozan, Casey established the Raptors as a force to be reckoned with at the top of the standings in the East.
Only the brilliance of LeBron James prevented the Raptors from taking charge of the Eastern Conference and reaching the NBA Finals. They won 50 games for three years on the bounce, having never previously achieved the feat in their history. Casey certainly laid the foundation for the Raptors’ eventual NBA Championship win in 2019, although he was fired after their failure in 2018 in the Conference Semi-Finals. It would have been interesting to see whether Casey would have been able to enjoy the same success as his successor Nick Nurse with Kawhi Leonard in the line-up – but that will be one of the NBA’s unanswerable questions.
Casey has a clear reputation for success when it comes to turning around franchises. He may be required to call upon that, as there’s not a great deal of talent on the current roster as it stands. At the age of 31, Blake Griffin’s best days are behind him, and although Derrick Rose was solid in a relief role, he suffered another injury during the last term. Andre Drummond was traded to the Cavaliers, while Reggie Jackson was released.
The turnover has begun and at first, there will be more pain for the Pistons fanbase to endure. Sekou Doumbouya had a solid first season in the NBA after being chosen in the 15th selection of the 2019 Draft. He could be the Pistons’ answer to Pascal Siakam, which would be a very healthy outlook for the franchise in three years. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk also displayed a great deal of growth in his second full term in the league, averaging nine points per game.
Tony Snell, Bruce Brown, and Luke Kennard are decent pieces around the young players on the roster but are not going to propel the Pistons back into the playoffs. Casey and general manager Troy Weaver are going to have to nail their use of the seventh overall pick in the 2020 Draft. There are quality players available and it will be fascinating to see where they turn. A free agent option could include Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet although other options are available for less of an investment. It’s going to be a big off-season for Casey and the Pistons.