The Detroit Pistons beat the Orlando Magic 113-109 on opening night and it’s been all downhill ever since. Through 10 games the Pistons are 2-8 and are near the bottom of the NBA standings. It hasn’t all been bad though. While the team has struggled, there have been a few individual bright spots.
In this article, we will explore the following: Has Cade Cunningham made a year 2 leap? Has the Bojan Bogdanović trade paid off? Has Killian Hayes finally found his footing? We’ll also try to pinpoint the team’s best win (not many to choose from) and worst loss. Here is the good, bad, and mostly ugly of our 10-game Detroit Pistons report card.
How does the Detroit Pistons' 10-game report card look?
Cade Cunningham is amazing. An A+ might be controversial given Cunningham is shooting a putrid 31.3% from three-point range this season, but he is doing literally everything else for this Pistons offense. If he kept his current average of 21.4 points, 6.3 assists, and 6.0 rebounds per game for the season, Cunningham would join Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Luka Dončić, and LaMelo Ball as the only players to average 20, 6, and 6 before turning 22 years old. Cunningham is playing like an All-Star this year and is almost singlehandedly giving Pistons fans hope for the future.
There are tears on my keyboard as I write this. Nobody was higher on Killian Hayes than I was when the Pistons drafted him 7th in 2020. Even after a tumultuous first two years in Detroit, I stuck by Hayes and focused on the positives: the defense, the passing, “the shooting and confidence will come in time” is what I told myself. It has not, and I don’t think it ever will, and if it does, it will not be in Detroit.
The third-year guard out of France is averaging 2.7 points, 3.1 assists, and 2.1 rebounds through the first 10 games. He is shooting so poorly, I’m not even sure these percentages aren’t made up – 18.2% from the field and 16.7% from three-point range. It’s over for my man Killian, and nobody is more disappointed by these first 10 games than I am.
As far as rookies go, Ivey has been splendid. He’s put together a nice season so far and is looking like a first-team all-rookie member early on. Among rookies, Ivey is third in points per game (15.0), second in assists per game (3.3), and seventh in rebounds per game (4.2). He’s been explosive on the fast break and provides a highlight reel play every game.
Where you would like to see him improve is his defense and his shooting. Sporting a 44.2 fg%, Ivey is shooting worse than any other active 2022 top-7 pick outside of Jabari Smith. A little more efficiency from Ivey would go a long way in establishing him already as one of the Pistons' best players.
When the Pistons traded for Bogdanović, most viewed it as a shrewd move to add shooting and veteran leadership to a team that desperately needed it. Bogdanović has provided that in spades. The ninth-year forward is matching a career-high in points per game (20.2) and is posting his best shooting numbers across the board with blazing 50/48.6/94.7 splits this season.
In fact, he is the only player in the NBA averaging 20 points a game on 50/40/90 shooting. He’s cooled off a little bit the past two games, but the trade for Bogdanović has been such a success, he has already earned himself a contract extension that could keep him in Detroit for the foreseeable future.
It seems like no matter what, Saddiq Bey always leaves Pistons fans just wanting a little bit more. The talent is obvious, and when Bey is on, it’s a fun experience to watch him fill it up like few Pistons we’ve ever seen. We just need him to be on a little more often. Bey is scoring at the same rate he did last year (16.2 points per game) on better efficiency (45% fg, 35.7% 3fg).
Even if you would like to see those numbers go up, there has been improvement since last year. The key for Bey will be learning to pick his spots and become more comfortable playing off the ball with Ivey and Cunningham, if he can do that and be smarter and more patient about his shot selection, I think Bey can be the effective heat check scorer Pistons fans always thought he could be.
Duren has only played in 7 of the Pistons' first 10 games, so the A- might be an out-of-space looney tunes grade, but the Pistons are just so much better when Duren is on the floor. In Duren’s three-game absence, the Pistons have a -37 rebound differential. Duren is already the team’s best rebounder, and I have no doubt he will join the ranks of Dennis Rodman, Ben Wallace, and Andre Drummond as one of the best rebounders in team history.
The numbers are modest at just 7.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, but Duren is only getting about 21 minutes per game and gives the Pistons something they desperately need with rim protection and rebounding. Duren is expected to be back for Monday’s game against the Thunder, and it will be a welcome and needed addition to the lineup.
The big emphasis for Isaiah Stewart in the offseason was expanding his range to the perimeter and developing a three-point shot that could keep defenses honest. So far, that experiment has failed. Stewart is averaging a career-high in three-point attempts per game (3.8), but a career-low in three-point percentage (26.3%).
Stewart still gives you the energy and hustle plays, but his future in Detroit is getting cloudier than we may have expected when the big man out of Washington made the NBA All-Rookie second team 2 seasons ago. With the additions of Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey, the Pistons have found a true center and a guard who will thrive with an open paint. If the man they call Beef Stew can’t beef up his shooting from beyond the arc, then there won’t be a path to playing a significant role in the Pistons' future.
Defining games through the first ten
There are not many to choose from as the Pistons have only beaten the two-win Orlando Magic and defending champion Golden State Warriors. The obvious choice is the game against Golden State in which four of the five Pistons starters scored 20+ points en route to a 128-114 win.
Much more to choose from here. For my money, the worst loss this year was the Pistons losing to the New York Knicks 130-106, racking up 15 turnovers and being down 20 points at halftime to a team who is currently under .500