Detroit was not done in the first round as they used their cap space to acquire the high-flying Jalen Duren with the 13th pick. They gave up the 2025 first-round pick they acquired for Jerami Grant and took on Kemba Walker’s contract to get the choice.
Don’t buy a Kemba jersey quite yet, as the Pistons are expected to reach a buyout with the veteran guard, according to Woj. Finally, they wrapped up their night by selecting a European sharpshooter, Gabriele Procida, who will be stashed overseas per James Edwards III. Here is how these draft picks should affect the lineups.
Projecting the Detroit Pistons’ starting lineup
Backcourt: Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey
This starting lineup assumes the Pistons resign Bagley, but if they do not, you can replace him with Kelly Olynyk or another free agent acquisition. This could be an exciting starting five if Stewart and Ivey can shoot at a league-average clip. Cade will do Cade things as the leader of the offense and main initiator.
Ivey won’t have significant pressure on him to run the offense. He can attack defenses as a second-side creator and use his speed to get to the rim. Also, Ivey can work in reps as a pick and roll ballhandler to give Cade a break and gain experience and reps to develop that part of his game.
Defensively, this pairing should be able to match up against most teams. In his rookie year, Cade defended well, especially for a rookie, and he would defend the bigger of the opposing teams’ backcourt. On the other hand, Ivey will need to work on his defense.
He has all the tools to be great on that end but did not show it off consistently enough. James Edwards III reported that Ivey had said that Weaver challenged him to be a better defender. If Ivey meets that challenge, his speed will allow him to defend quicker guards who could give Cade issues.
Frontcourt: Saddiq Bey, Marvin Bagley Jr, Isaiah Stewart
In the frontcourt, Bey’s role will largely be the same. He will be asked to be a gunner from three and continue to develop his midrange and paint scoring. Bagley would also have a similar role offensively. He would mainly be a roll man and lob threat for the young guards.
Plus, he can continue to score in the post and midrange. Stewart would have to space the floor for Bagley pick and rolls in this lineup. He ended the season shooting well from deep, and he will need to carry this over into next season. He can also be the screener on some pick and rolls as he excels at clearing space for guards.
Stewart is needed in this lineup defensively. The Pistons will count on him to anchor the defense as a rim protector and a switch-able defender on the perimeter. Bagley has shown improvements on the defensive end, but he is still largely a negative on that end. He does have some value as a weakside rim protector.
Bey will also need to step up on in this lineup. In his career, he has been an okay defender but not a huge plus on that end. Bey will have to guard the opposing team’s best wing scorer for this lineup to work. He doesn’t need to lock down the best players in the league, but he will need to be better at stopping dribble penetration.
Projecting the Detroit Pistons bench
Backcourt: Killian Hayes, Frank Jackson
Once he was moved to the bench, Killian Hayes played much better. He scored at the rim and distributed the ball well to his teammates. His outside shot is inconsistent, but with the ball in his hands, it is less of an issue. Where Hayes really shines is on defense.
His size and physicality can cause issues for even the best guards in the league. He should be subbed in to cause issues for the opposing team’s best perimeter player. Frank Jackson would provide movement shooting and the ability to heat up quickly. The Pistons need his shooting to have a functional offense. On top of his shooting, Jackson’s athletic and quick enough to get to the rim.
Frontcourt: Hamidou Diallo, Kelly Olynyk, Jalen Duren
Last year, Hamidou Diallo solidified his spot in the rotation. He puts pressure on the rim with or without the ball, and his midrange game became a weapon. Olynyk provides spacing for the other players and can create offense for himself or others.
On defense, drivers should be funneled to Duren, who can swat shots at will. Duren would spend most of his time close to the hoop. He can play in the dunker spot or roll to the hoop, using strength and explosiveness to finish at the rim.
The overall outlook for the Detroit Pistons
This lineup is significantly more athletic than last year with the addition of Ivey and Duren. Ivey is a big upgrade over Cory Joseph. Ivey’s speed puts pressure on the defense at all times, which should open up space for the rest of the team. The biggest question for the starting lineup is who will replace Grant as the starting forward.
The Pistons could resign Bagley, or they could pursue a more expensive free agent such as Miles Bridges. Another potential issue with this lineup is the omission of Isaiah Livers. Livers proved he deserves a rotation spot at the end of last year for his defense and shooting. The Pistons should potentially look at parting with Kelly Olynyk to clear a rotation spot for Livers.
Outside of these moves, the Pistons lineup doesn’t have any glaring holes. They can go after the best players available to upgrade any position at reasonable contracts. This allows them to be smart in free agency and not overpay for any need. Even before free agency and the Pistons using their max space, the Pistons’ lineups look better already and should be very exciting to watch next year.