3 things the Pistons should learn from the NBA Playoffs
As the NBA Playoffs continue, lots of trends are being discovered. The chaos started the first round, as the Brooklyn Nets got swept after being favorites. They’re not the only team to disappoint. In addition to the Nets, teams like the Dallas Mavericks look overmatched in the second round. And this is after being so dominant in the first round. Even though the Pistons might not be in this year’s playoffs, that doesn’t mean they can’t observe. There’s a reason why teams like the Utah Jazz and the Atlanta Hawks struggled defensively. And these are three things the Pistons should take away from the NBA post season.
1. The Pistons need to get longer and more versatile
One thing that was apparent all season long for the Pistons was that they need to get longer and more athletic. And after this postseason, it must become Detroit’s top priority. Objectively, the teams that are the best in the NBA are dominant at team defense and play versatile lineups. In addition, players like Jayson Tatum (or Detroit’s case Cade Cunningham) would be the main ball handler. And assuming the Pistons win the lottery, Weaver will snag one of those wings at the top of the board.
Think in terms of the NFL. Cade Cunningham is the franchise quarterback. And the player the Pistons need to get next is their edge rusher. They need to get their Aidan Hutchinson. And that player very well could be Chet Holmgren. it could also be Jabari Smith Jr. and Paolo Bonchero. Even though they bring skill on the offensive end, what matters most is that ability on the defensive end. One team that changed their entire course of their franchise was the New Orleans Pelicans. And that’s without Zion Williamson all season. The reason why was because of their improvement on the defensive end. Herb Jones has been a game changer defensively for New Orleans.
2. Cade Cunningham can’t be the only offense for Detroit
Pistons guard Cade Cunningham cannot be the only offensive source for Detroit. Even though Cunningham is extremely gifted as a scorer, his game is at his best when he has other players he can get looks for. And if there’s any example they need to look to, it’s the Dallas Mavericks. Despite Luka Doncic’s numbers being actually quite impressive, Dallas is no match to Phoenix because their offense is so heliocentric. The Suns spread the ball across their lineup, and multiple players can score.
The Boston Celtics have two stars that they can rely on, with both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. In addition, they have shooters like Grant Williams and even guys like Payton Prichard who can hit clutch shots. Not even to mention Defensive Player of the Year and underrated shooter Marcus Smart. The Milwaukee Bucks are at their best when Giannis can spread the ball and get Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday involved in the offense. Cade Cunningham absolutely needs to be the focal point of the offense. However, he needs to be less like James Harden and more like Giannis and Jayson Tatum.
3. Position-less basketball is here. And the Pistons should embrace it.
The game of basketball has long been about finding players that fit positions and play their roles. Now, it’s about players who can guard all five positions. The Toronto Raptors made the 76ers scared of a comeback with their all five forward position-less lineup. 6’8 Pascal Siakam was the primary ball handler, and every other player was beyond the three point line. Their length gave the backcourt problems, and the speed was hard for Philly’s bigs to hang with the entire game.
If the Pistons want to win going forward, they’re going to need to embrace the new age. They need to allow Cade Cunningham to thrive with versatile defenders and three point shooters. If they get the mix of their core right, they could be looking at contending status for years to come. Off-seasons like these can lead to big things for the Pistons. It’s going to take the right decisions by Troy Weaver to make it so. And a lot of those decisions should be calculated by playoff basketball.