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Detroit Pistons: 3 things to focus on throughout the Summer League

This week begins the next stop of the Detroit Pistons thrilling summer. Their first game of the Summer League competition will be Thursday, June 7, at midnight against the Portland Trail Blazers.

These upcoming games will first display how these young Pistons play together. It’ll be important to remain patient when watching them go through their development over Summer League.

Many of the young players on the roster should play vital roles for the franchise in the future. Summer League games don’t always tell how a player’s career will turn around. However, these next four games could indicate the next steps in Detroit’s restoration.

Here are some key pointers to keep in mind during the Pistons’ upcoming Summer League schedule:

How Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey’s Presence Benefit the Chemistry of the Detroit Pistons

When Detroit’s Summer League roster was revealed, there was plenty of confusion about some of the listed names expected to play. After standout seasons by building block players Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey, they were the most surprising names on the roster.

Individually, Cunningham and Bey don’t have much to prove regarding their skillsets. Even after posting a 23-59 record, they were some of the brightest spots for the Pistons on the court. The next step of their development is how they uplift and blend with Detroit’s updated roster.

The Pistons need as much playing time together as possible. As one of the youngest teams in the NBA, there is no such thing as having too much practice time together. One of the biggest factors to Detroit’s struggles last season was their limited time on the court together. With new pieces added to the franchise, they need to take advantage of time and opportunity to build continuity.

The chemistry will not be solidified during this brief four-game stretch. You also should not expect to see Cunningham and Bey log extended minutes. But, having Cunningham and Bey in the fold should benefit the Pistons during Summer League.

Jalen Duren’s Development Holds Major Weight In future Detroit Pistons’ Roster Moves.

Acquiring first-round center Jalen Duren to Detroit was arguably the biggest surprise of the entire NBA Draft. The Pistons had glaring holes on their roster in need of athletic size in the frontcourt, and they knocked it out of the park swiping Duren at pick No. 13.

The strengths of the 6’11 center from Memphis really make him a perfect fit in Detroit. He has shown great potential as a rim protector, a pick-and-roll partner, and a terrifying lob threat. Once the trade for Duren between the Pistons, New York Knicks, and Charlotte Hornets becomes official, plenty of attention should be focused on his growth.

It’s important to keep in mind that Duren was the youngest player coming out of the draft. Even with a grown NBA body already, Duren could start off really raw on the court. The Pistons likely will not be calling on Duren to show an expanded offensive game early. The early focus should be on developing his defensive prowess and establishing pick-and-roll chemistry with the guards.

Reports have circulated that Duren could spend extended time in the G-League. Detroit still has a crowded depth chart at center with starter Isaiah Stewart returning plus newly acquired center Nerlens Noel on the roster for insurance. If Duren struggles early, it’s likely you see Stewart and Noel the majority of the season at center keeping a slower timetable on his development.

However, a productive Duren showing lots of promise will be difficult to ignore. Considering Detroit’s frontcourt needs, they could see immediate growth if Duren is ahead of schedule on developing. He should not have to be elite at his position for the Detroit Pistons to take a step forward. If he can create extra opportunities on the offensive glass, grow as a rim protector and dunk everything thrown to him, this will accelerate Detroit’s rebuilding schedule. It also could open the window of trading Noel or even Stewart to clear more minutes.

If the G-League is a legitimate option for Duren early, he has to take full advantage of these reps with the Pistons. Summer League and preseason will be grand opportunities for Duren to show he can be a productive fit before the G-League season starts.

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How will Killian Hayes and Isaiah Stewart adapt to their new roles?

Detroit’s 2020 draft class has been the launch point of the team’s restoration. This season, two of those players are entering new roles with new expectations. So be sure to keep an eye on guard Killian Hayes and center Isaiah Stewart.

Hayes began his 2020 season with expectations and the opportunity of cementing himself as the Pistons’ point guard of the future. When adding Cade Cunningham to the mix through the 2021 draft, Detroit tried blending Hayes with Cunningham as their young backcourt. Now, the Pistons may have found a fitting role for Hayes as the point guard of their second unit.

Injuries and a rotating roster have hampered the development of the third-year guard. With a clearly defined role as the sixth man, this could be a breakout season for Hayes. He has propelled expectations with a growing physique, summer workout videos, and a clear role on this team.

Beef Stew will also command plenty of focus considering Detroit’s roster. There is a logjam of centers and power forwards on this team. However, the majority of those bigs are most productive in the paint which limits spacing offensively. Noel and Duren are 7′ lob threats who pose a better scoring threat than Stewart.

The 6’8 center needs this time to work on new parts of his game. His rookie season displayed a decent mid-range jumper which was packaged as a pick-and-roll threat. Last season didn’t feature lots of jump shooting or scoring from Stewart, which needs to change if he wants to solidify himself in Detroit.

The Detroit Pistons love being versatile and playing players at multiple positions. Stewart has spent the majority of his time playing center in the NBA but could see some minutes as a power forward. After the draft, general manager Troy Weaver said he believes Stewart and Duren can play together on the floor. In order to make that spacing and efficiency happen, expect to see some Summer League reps with Stewart at power forward.

Written by Eric Vincent

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