Head coach Monty Williams finally commented on the controversial handling of Jaden Ivey's minutes.
Why It Matters For the Detroit Pistons
The Monty Williams era for the Detroit Pistons is off to a 2-4 start in 2023-24. Hiring the former Phoenix Suns head coach this past offseason to a six-year $78 million deal came with hopes and expectations of becoming a winning program.
In the process of this restoration under Coach Williams, there have been highs, lows, and questionable decisions through the first six games. One of the most controversial decisions thus far under his tenure has been the decision to bring second-year guard Jaden Ivey off the bench in favor of Killian Hayes.
Not only has Ivey been removed from the Pistons' starting lineup so far, but his minutes are down from the 31.1 he averaged last season to just under 21 minutes this season. Ivey has played sparingly in the fourth quarter and gets minimal opportunity to make up for in-game mistakes.
Coach Williams was asked at a practice session by Detroit News' Mike Curtis about what Ivey would have to do in order to earn more playing time.
Coming into the season, there was a wide assumption that Ivey would be starting in the backcourt next to Cade Cunningham. The second-year guard is coming off a rookie season averaging 16.3 points per game with 5.2 assists and four rebounds. This production was completed in Cunningham's absence due to a season-ending shin injury.
Coach Williams has emphasized the necessity to prioritize defense all offseason in order to become a winning franchise. The defense has arguably been one of the biggest points of improvement needed by Ivey since his rookie season. While Ivey is not a lockdown defender at this point in his career, his effort on the defensive end has been much improved from last year.
Another issue the Pistons have dealt with this season is their ability to space the floor offensively. Most of their best shooters are out due to injury including Bojan Bogdanovic, Monte Morris, Isaiah Livers, and Alec Burks. A majority of Detroit's scoring load has fallen on Cunningham who is being double-teamed at an alarming rate by opponents.
Many thought Ivey would be sufficient defensively and a perfect compliment offensively to help take pressure off Cunningham. Unfortunately, we have not seen Ivey and Cunningham on the floor together enough to know whether their pairing works. Hayes has played the majority of those guard minutes with 29 on average even with averaging 7 points per game while shooting 31% from the field and 29% from three.
It is still early enough in the season where changes can still be made. Coach Williams has to balance a fine line of player development for a young roster and trying to generate wins as well. Even with Ivey's minutes being a controversial topic, Coach Williams has repeated that things can change as the season goes on.