Inside the Article:
Three points on what we've learned so far from the Detroit Pistons Summer League 2023.
The young core of the Detroit Pistons has taken the next steps of development during their first three Summer League games. Detroit is sitting with a 2-1 record so far throughout Summer League.
Even during these exhibition matchups, there have been plenty of observations to start tracking already. While it might be too soon to draw conclusions, some trends can carry over into the regular season. There is plenty to discuss and ponder on the direction of the franchise.
Detroit's Three Biggest Takeaways From Summer League So Far:
Ausar Thompson Looks Like a Perfect Fit
General Manager Troy Weaver stood his ground of being excited to draft at number five after the lottery. After watching forward Ausar Thompson shine through three games, it looks like Weaver found another gem in the draft.
Thompson is averaging 12 points through Summer League along, with 8.6 rebounds and 2.6 steals. His productivity on both ends of the floor has been a glaring positive for the Detroit Pistons. The speed and physicality of the league haven't seemed to phase Thompson, as his play style has made a seamless transition so far.
One of the biggest holes on the Pistons' roster coming into the offseason was their lack of depth on the wing. There were very few forwards on the roster last season who could stretch the floor as a scorer and playmaker, along with defending on the perimeter. After refusing to pay for a pricey free agent to fill that need, the drafted Overtime Elite star could be exactly what this team needs.
Thompson's defense and athleticism have opened up a new dynamic of the Pistons making plays in transition. Detroit has been one of the most exciting teams in the Summer League due to their ability to create plays in the open floor. There is a chance he played his last Summer League game Wednesday. If he continues to produce at this rate, Thompson could make an argument to be a starter sooner than later.
Duren and Ivey Look Ready For Breakout
Two games showed more than enough convincing that Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren are ready for the regular season. The 2022 first-round draft picks weren't perfect through their Summer League time but they showed lots of growth in other areas.
After a rough outing against the Magic last week, Ivey had a strong bounce-back performance against the Rockets. He shined offensively as a versatile scorer tallying 22 points and 10 assists as a playmaker. Ivey also displayed defensive growth by playing passing lanes to create fast break buckets.
Duren continued his budding dominant inside presence for the Detroit Pistons. On top of efficiently scoring at the rim, Duren also presented an improved ability to dribble throughout the court and knock down jump shots.
The growth of the Pistons is highly dependent on the development of Ivey and Duren. They are entering their second season, which should include extended minutes with franchise point guard Cade Cunningham. These three make up the main core of Detroit's rebuild and they need to be at the top of their game to put together winning results.
Detroit Pistons' Position Log Jams Need to Be Solved
While there is plenty of young talent on the Pistons' roster, that could mean limited minutes to go around. This can be one of the toughest parts of a franchise rebuild. Troy Weaver and the Pistons' front office will have their work cut out trying to make this roster fit.
Detroit has been in trade rumors all off-season for some of their expiring contract players. The Pistons have opted for financial flexibility in their roster building by adding veterans on cap-friendly deals. However, they have expressed the desire to start winning and will have to start finding long-term fits soon. It would not be surprising to hear Detroit in a reported trade before the season starts.
The Pistons have lots of cap space invested in their frontcourt. They recently agreed on a four-year contract extension with Isaiah Stewart, which solidifies him in their long-term growth plans. That leaves sparing available minutes for Marvin Bagley, James Wiseman, and Bojan Bogdanovic.
There are also could be limited playing time among the guards. Cunningham and Ivey should be the starters to open the regular season but there is a lot of mystery after those two.
It's difficult to tell if Detroit is still invested in developing project guard Killian Hayes. The Pistons traded up to draft combo guard Marcus Sasser, re-signed veteran Alec Burks, and acquired Monte Morris in separate deals. There is a way where Hayes can still pick up rotation time but it won't be easy with the newly acquired depth.