The excitement continues to build for the Detroit Pistons’ preseason kick-off as their next step of rebuilding continues. Tuesday tips off their first round of preseason action against the New York Knicks at 7PM on TNT.
Detroit’s emerging young core has been one of the most talked about storylines of the offseason. The developing interest is headlined by the upcoming second year of their star point guard Cade Cunningham. The further offseason propping up of the Pistons began after they finessed two lottery picks in the draft landing guard Jaden Ivey and center Jalen Duren.Embed from Getty Images
Adding experience is always vital when constructing a young roster. Their intriguing offseason continued when trading for fitting veterans in guard Alec Burks, center Nerlens Noel and forward Bojan Bogdanovic.
The Pistons’ returning young veterans will play intricate roles in this upcoming development this season. Detroit will be using 2022-23 to determine how Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, Marvin Bagley, Killian Hayes, and Isaiah Livers fit into their future plans.
It would be irresponsible to leap to major conclusions based on preseason action. When analyzing a young team however, just about everything is being critiqued. Preseason for contending teams is a walk-through to get their players a brief sweat before the regular season. The Pistons are using this preseason to help decide the direction of this franchise.
What are the most important factors to watch for during the Detroit Pistons’ Preseason?
1. Starting Lineup and Frontcourt Mystery
While the upside of this team’s future holds lots of promise, the current path to get there is a bit confusing. There is no need to rush expectations for the Pistons, but figuring out the path is a tad bit confusing.
Detroit’s starting lineup is not yet set in stone and might take a few preseason games before head coach Dwane Casey makes that decision. The only guaranteed starters at this point will be Cunningham and Bey. Figuring out the other three spots will be a work in progress.
Casey has a tough task of balancing the experience of his veterans along with giving serviceable time to the young players. He normally favors veterans while making young players earn their opportunities.Embed from Getty Images
Burks and Noel are dealing with injuries that have kept them out of practice or limited. Their health status gives an advantage to Ivey starting out the gate as a rookie during the preseason. The depth at shooting guard isn’t very deep currently so expect lots of time to be split with the explosive play of Ivey along with the shooting and spacing of Burks.
The frontcourt starters are an even bigger mystery for Detroit. They’ve tinkered with Beef Stew at power forward while working on his perimeter shooting which he essentially avoided last season. The Pistons added more spacing and shooting to their frontcourt by acquiring Bogdanovic in trade, who is a career 38-percent three-point shooter.
The presence of a lob threat was established last season after they traded for Bagley from Sacramento. Bagley re-signed with Detroit this summer for a three-year deal to keep adding to that momentum. The Pistons also traded up for Duren to set him up as their center of the future.
2. Growth of Killian Hayes
Killian Hayes is easily the most scrutinized player on the roster and this could be a make-or-break season for him. It’s been tough not comparing him to other guards of his draft class, but he can separate himself from that discussion this season.
Detroit’s front office extended a vote of confidence to Hayes this summer when they exercised his fourth-year team option. While his days as a Pistons starter may have come to an end, Hayes can still bring plenty of stability as their backup point guard.
Hayes can prove that value with a more aggressive mentality as a scorer. His biggest strengths as a passer and defender should continue to trend upwards. He has increased shooting talent around him and potentially numerous lob threats off the bench. That spacing should help his ability to get to the hole and create scoring lanes easier.
Pistons fans should be able to temper their expectations of their 2020 first-round point guard at this time. Injuries have limited Hayes’ ability to have a consistent impact. In a reduced role coming off the bench, the Pistons are hoping he can find comfort as the team’s sixth man.
3. How will the Pistons use Jaden Ivey?
After falling outside of the top three in this year’s NBA Draft, hope seemed to fall short for the Pistons’ rebuilding plans. Fortune turned around since the Sacramento Kings opted to select forward Keegan Murray at No. 4. Detroit luckily landed one of their top draft prospects in Jaden Ivey at No. 5.
The 6’4 guard from Purdue seems like a perfect fit next to Cunningham. While Cunningham should serve as their primary ball-handler and decision maker, Ivey looks like a great compliment to the backcourt with his explosive scoring style.
Dwane Casey and general manager Troy Weaver have expressed how they want multiple ball-handlers on the court together. One of the most intriguing observations will be how often Ivey is used off-ball and on-ball. Casey has praised his passing and court vision so far during training camp.Embed from Getty Images
While Cunningham and Ivey seem like a promising fit, it could take time to see them at their best together. Rookie guards who are known as scorers normally have an adjustment period to get comfortable as a pro. Ivey can also pair on the court with Hayes and Burks to create a unique dimension offensively.
Ivey also should help speed up Detroit’s ability to attack in transition. The Pistons finished an underwhelming 26th in fast-break points last season. Detroit should look to take full advantage of Ivey’s speed to keep the defense off balance.