The Detroit Pistons are not where some fans hoped they would be after a 1-2 start, but basketball experts are not surprised by the slow start. Detroit tipped off the season with a 113-109 victory over the Orlando Magic. The team followed that up with losses to the New York Knicks, 130-106, and Indiana Pacers, 124-115.
Three games are not a large enough sample size to begin making definitive takes on the team and its players. However, trends have started to appear
The Pistons have seen good performances from some of their young developing stars even during losses. In their lone win, they have had players struggle.
So far here is the good, the bad and the ugly during the Pistons first three games.
The Good: Detroit Pistons’ rookies have played well early on
Rookies Jaden Ivery and Jalen Duren could be excused for slow starts. However, they have played well despite their share of mistakes.
Ivey currently averages 17.7 points, five rebounds and six assists in 31.7 minutes through three games. More impressively, he is shooting 50 percent from the floor and 45.5 percent from beyond the arc. Three-point shooting was an area of concern for Ivey coming out of Purdue. But the 20-year-old has shot the three-ball well on 3.7 attempts per game.
It was not expected for Duren to get serious minutes early in the season, but injuries to Marvin Bagley III and Nerlens Noel thrust the 18-year-old rookie into the rotation. Duren averages 9.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, including 3.3 offensive rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 21 minutes per game off the bench. He is shooting 58.3 percent from the floor.
Neither rookie has been perfect. Ivey averages 3.7 turnovers and is a defensive liability. Duren is impactful on the defensive end, but he is not without his hiccups. It will not be smooth sailing the rest of the season for Detroit’s rookies, but if the start of the season is any indication, they will continue being impactful players for this team.
The Bad: The Detroit Pistons’ bench unit has severely struggled
The struggles of the Pistons’ bench unit should clear up at some point when the roster gets healthy. Isaiah Livers missed the first two games for Detroit while Alec Burks and Marvin Bagley III have yet to play. All three are expected to be key contributors to the Pistons’ bench unit. Their absence has been felt.
Livers played well in his first game back with the Pistons. He scored eight points and shot two-for-three from beyond the arc. He provided floor spacing that was sorely needed. Livers replaced slumping Kevin Knox in the rotation. Knox averaged just 2.5 points while shooting 14.3 percent from the floor and 11.1 percent from beyond the arc.
The bench was crushed during Pistons two losses. No Piston reserve was a plus in plus/minus stats against the Knicks or Pacers. Here are the ugly numbers against the Knicks: Duren, -12, Killian Hayes, -14, Hamidou Diallo, -21, Cory Joseph, -26, Knox, -22.
Before Livers returned, there was very little floor spacing. Once Burks returns, the Pistons should have a steady shooter and reliable ball-handler. Bagley’s return should bring a better scoring punch. However, their returns are not imminent.
The Ugly: Hamidou Diallo and Killian Hayes cannot make a shot
Diallo and Hayes have shot the ball poorly. And that’s a concern.
Hayes continues to play stout defense. He averages one steal per game, and he is one of two Pistons to have a positive defensive box plus/minus. Hayes’ block on the Magic’s Mo Bamba in Detroit’s season opener is one of the stand out plays for the Pistons. The 21-year-old averages four assists per game as well.
Hayes’ careerlong struggles to score the ball have continued. He is currently shooting 16.7 percent from the floor and 11.1 percent from beyond the arc. On drive attempts, the third-year player is shooting zero percent. On catch-and-shoot threes, he is at 20 percent. Hayes is likely to have a short leash this season. However, if nothing changes, Joseph could once again replace Hayes in Detroit’s rotation.
Diallo has not been any better. The 24-year-old wing is shooting 20 percent from the floor and missed his only three-point attempt. On drive attempts, Diallo is shooting 50 percent, but he only attempts 1.3 shots per game off drives. From the free throw line, Diallo is shooting 28.6 percent.
Unlike Hayes, Diallo is unlikely to have a long leash. Once Burks returns from injury, there is a very good chance Diallo finds himself outside of Detroit’s rotation.
Diallo and Hayes rank at the bottom of the Pistons’ roster in shooting efficiency. Their true shooting percentages do not fare any better: 22.9 percent for Diallo and 23.3 percent for Hayes. There is still time to turn things around, but things are not looking good for either young player so far this season.
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