The Detroit Pistons have made it through about a quarter of the NBA season. Sitting at 5-15, the team has flashed its immense potential at times while getting blown out at others.
Health has not been on Detroit’s side to open the season. Alec Burks, Isaiah Livers and Marvin Bagley III all missed time at the start of the season. More recently, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey have missed time with injuries. Star point guard Cade Cunningham has missed eight games while out indefinitely with a shin injury.
After an inconsistent start to the regular season, the Pistons have been significantly more competitive in their previous few games. The team is currently on its longest win streak of the season. Two wins in a row is not a lot, but it beats losing seven straight.
Some Pistons elevated their play over the first quarter of the season. Others have struggled. A decent enough sample size has formed to show where players are trending this season.
During the preseason, I released the first Pistons stock watch of the season. It is about time I got to the next one. Here are the Detroit Pistons whose stocks are on the rise and whose stocks are falling 20 games into the season.
Stock Up: Killian Hayes
Killian Hayes started the 2022-23 season on a bad foot. Through the first 11 games, Hayes averaged 2.9 points, 3.2 assists and 1.9 rebounds while shooting 20 percent from the floor and 16.7 percent from three. His defense was not as stout as it could be, and his confidence looked shot.
Over the past eight games, Hayes has found his footing. The 21-year-old is averaging 10.1 points, five assists and three rebounds. He is shooting 38.7 percent from beyond the arc as well. He is shooting 39.1 percent off catch-and-shoot three-pointers as well.
Hayes has played significantly more confidently over the past few games, and his on-court production rose as a result. He still struggles with attacking the basket, but he is an overall plus player right now. His defense is back to standard, he is knocking down three-pointers and he has taken over playmaking duties in Cunningham’s absence.
Hayes has had strong stretches like this before. If he can continue to string together good games consistently, the young point guard will prove he has a place in the NBA.
Stock Down: Saddiq Bey
While Bey has made a lot of progress as a self-creator, his overall performance to open up the season has been a disappointment. The 23-year-old wing is averaging 14.7 points per game, but he has struggled with efficiency. Bey is shooting 40.8 percent from the floor and 29 percent from beyond the arc this season.
Shooters shoot, and Bey has certainly not been shy to let the ball fly this season. However, his shots simply are not falling so far this season. He is shooting 35.5 percent on 3.6 catch-and-shoot threes so far this season, but on pull-up threes, he is shooting an abysmal 17.2 percent.
Bey remains a negative defender. He currently holds the worst defensive rating and defensive box plus/minus of his three-year career. Maybe it is that he does not possess the adequate footspeed to guard as a small forward. Maybe he would be better off playing as a four and guarding power forwards. He is a poor defender right now. The Pistons could benefit from experimenting with him guarding fours or doing a better job hiding him defensively.
Bey has missed Detroit’s previous three games due to injury. Before Stewart went down with his own injury, he was relegated to a bench role. Bey has proven himself to be a good shooter in previous seasons. He still has plenty of time to turn his performance around.
Stock Up: Kevin Knox
Kevin Knox has made the most of his second opportunity in the Detroit Pistons’ rotation. To open the season, the former lottery pick struggled. He averaged just 1.8 points and a single rebound per game through his first eight games played. Knox shot 25 percent from the floor and 12.5 percent from three. It was no surprise Knox fell out of the rotation when some of Detroit’s early injuries healed up.
With new injuries mounting up, Knox was given a second chance. Over the past three games, he has flashed the talent that made him a lottery pick back in 2018. In that span, Knox is averaging 16.3 points and 5.3 rebounds. His efficiency has jumped to 69.2 percent from the floor and 58.8 percent from beyond the arc.
Against the Utah Jazz, Knox scored a season-high 21 points in the Detroit Pistons 125-116 victory. Of Knox’s 21 points, 12 came in the fourth quarter. The 23-year-old closed out the game for Detroit.
If Knox continues playing at this level, he will be a very hard player to remove from the rotation once Bey and Stewart are healthy. The young forward has struggled with consistency in the past. While this could be a turning point for Knox, it could also just be a flash in the pan. Only time will tell.
(Featured Image Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)