The Detroit Pistons are steadily showing signs of promise. The team still is not good. Sitting at 7-20, the Pistons rank 14th in the Eastern Conference standings. They hold the third-worst record in the league. However, the young Pistons’ roster is improving.
The team has overcome an injury-riddled season, including losing star point guard Cade Cunningham indefinitely to a shin injury.
Detroit’s steady improvement may not always show itself in the win/loss column, but the on-court product has become more palatable than at the beginning of the season.
Detroit is already a better team than it was last year. In the 2021-22 season, the team did not reach seven wins until Jan. 3, 2022. This season, they reached seven wins after defeating the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 7. At the start of this season, Detroit suffered numerous blowout losses. That has been a less common occurrence as the season has worn on.
The Pistons are middle of the pack in three-point shooting percentage. The team ranks 18th in the league at 34.5 percent. Last season, the team ranked 29th. Detroit commits the eighth fewest turnovers at just 14.3 per game, a good sign for a young team. However, the team ranks dead last in fouls committed per game at 22.8, not surprising for a young team.
As the season progresses, each of the Pistons players carves their defined roles on the team and fights for a spot as part of the team’s core. This team is not destined to make a playoff run this season. The play-in tournament is a long shot as well, but at this stage in the team’s restoration, they are developing a young roster well.
Each of the players in the Pistons rotation has showed promise in some areas so far this season. After multiple lineup shakeups, the Pistons’ current starting five has started to develop together. Here is one promising stat from each Detroit Pistons starter.
Cade Cunningham continued to cement himself as the face of the franchise
Cade Cunningham: 9.8 points per game off drives
Cunningham is a surgeon when he attacks the basket. He does not beat his man with a burst of speed. Instead, he is crafty and methodical. Through 12 games, Cunningham averaged 16.6 drives per game. He scores 9.8 points per game off drives, good enough for eighth most in the league.
Cunningham ranks amongst the rest of the league’s stars in points off drives per game. Cunningham’s shin injury has prevented him from continuing to develop his offensive game. He may miss the rest of the season. However, the star point guards effective drives to the rim are a good sign for Cunningham’s future stardom.
Detroit Pistons starters are meshing after a few shakeups
Killian Hayes: 33.8 percent three-point shooting
Killian Hayes struggled with shooting efficiently from beyond the arc through his first two seasons in the league. The point guard shot 26.8 percent from three-point range through 92 games in his first two seasons. At the start of this season, it appeared Hayes was on track to continue struggling from beyond the arc.
Through his first 10 games this season, Hayes shot 18.2 percent on three-pointers. Over his last 11 games, Hayes is shooting 42.2 percent on 4.1 three-point attempts per game, bringing his season average to 33.8 percent. All signs point to Hayes turning the corner as a shooter. He is consistently hitting his three-point shots, and he is hitting them in big moments as well.
Jaden Ivey: 4.0 assists per game
Jaden Ivey jumped out of the gates on a hot streak this season. The rookie shooting guard shot a high efficiency from the floor and beyond the arc. Recently, Ivey has cooled off. He is less efficient from the floor and from three-point range. Without Cunningham in the lineup, Ivey is feeling the added defensive attention. However, one thing that Ivey has continued to do well is being a playmaker. The rookie averages four assists on the season, and 4.3 assists since Cunningham left the lineup with an injury.
There was not a lot of doubt that Ivey could score at the NBA level, but other aspects of his game were questionable. Playmaking was one of those areas of concern. Through 23 games played, Ivey has shown a lot of promise as a playmaker. He is not without his share of mistakes and turnovers, but he is seeing the court well and continuing to develop as a passer, especially out of drives to the basket. Once Cunningham returns to the lineup, Ivey is going to take a backseat as a ball-handler, but he has shown a lot of potential as a reliable secondary playmaker.
Bojan Bogdanović: 20.4 points per game, on efficient shooting splits
Bojan Bogdanović has stepped up in Cunningham’s absence. When the Detroit Pistons first acquired the 33-year-old veteran, the team knew they were getting a player who could put the ball on the floor and create for himself. The team likely did not think Bogdanović could take on that responsibility as the number one option.
Bogdanović averages 20.4 points per game while shooting 51 percent from the floor and 43.6 percent from beyond the arc this season. It would not have been a surprise to see the veteran’s scoring efficiency significantly dip with Cunningham no longer taking on the majority of defensive attention. However, Bogdanović has continued to score and score efficiently. He is averaging 21.4 points per game while shooting 52.8 percent from the floor and 41.2 percent from three-point range since Cunningham left the lineup.
He has been the team’s best player without Cunningham in the lineup. While his name will always be in trade rumors, Bogdanović will continue playing a huge role in Detroit’s offense so long as he is with the team.
Isaiah Stewart: 36.3 percent three-point shooting
Isaiah Stewart extending his range has been in the works since his rookie season. The big man has always shown flashes of potential as a player who can stretch the floor, but without a large sample size, it only worked in theory. This season, Stewart has proven he is a respectable three-point shooter. Beef Stew shoots 36.3 percent from beyond the arc this season. After opening up the season shooting 26.3 percent through the first 10 games, Stewart is shooting 45.2 percent through his previous 10 games.
Stewart is in the process of making the switch to power forward. There was never a doubt he had the defensive versatility to play at the four, but it was not always clear his offense could translate to the new position. With a reliable three-point shot, Stewart has left no doubt he can play as a power forward in the NBA. This transition will be critical to Stewart holding on to a starting spot in Detroit’s lineup as rookie Jalen Duren has shown potential to take over as the team’s longterm starting center.
Marvin Bagley III: 36.8 percent three-point shooting
This Pistons starting lineup is shooting the ball well from beyond the arc this season. Marvin Bagley III has done his part in bringing the lineup’s three-point percentage up this season. The big man is shooting 36.8 percent from beyond the arc this season, including 37.5 percent off catch-and-shoot attempts.
Bagley has shot well from beyond the arc before in his career, but he has been inconsistent as a whole. His current efficiency is not at a particularly significant volume. Bagley only attempts 1.4 three-pointers per game. He is picking and choosing his shots, taking them when an open look presents itself and passing them up when something better is available. It is still yet to be seen if Bagley can continue shooting at this efficiency over the course of the entire season, but right now, he is shooting well. The Detroit Pistons could not ask for much more from him in that department.
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