How are you feeling about the Detroit Pistons rebuild? With losses piling up fans have been split over what success means for this season. What happens now holds some consequence, but the draft and free agency are extremely important.
It will be the Pistons most pivotal free agency in over a decade which makes the season more about who will survive it.
I attempt to make things more clear with these first half observations:
The Pistons started this season picking up team options of Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart. This signaled decisions were to be made soon on their futures with the team. And then general manager Troy Weaver sprinkled in some competition which has challenged his first draft class. The additions of Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren, Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks have pushed them to the fringe of the team’s core. This was clearly by Weaver’s design, where he saw ways to improve the team, despite undercutting his own draft picks.
Stan Van Gundy and Joe Dumars have done this in the past, but didn’t have a lot of talent to begin with. The Bey trade will take time to judge, but it was becoming clear the Pistons didn’t intend to pay his next contract. So Weaver believed a trade for former number two pick James Wiseman presented the same youthful upside as Bey, with more potential talent.
Isaiah Stewart has proven to belong on this roster for the long term, but not as a starting center. Despite a slump from behind the arc, he’s done well in his transition to stretch-power forward. Whether that’s as starter long term is to be seen. Troy Weaver has spoken recently on wanting more size to better compete within their division.
“In the East, if you want to compete and have a chance, you gotta have some big guys,” Weaver said. “The top four teams in the East… if we want a chance to compete, look at those teams. They’re all top-12 in defense, and they’re all big.”
It will be interesting to see what Weaver does next season for starting power forward, but Stewart has proven valuable on the roster.
What a rollercoaster of a season. Are you tired of it yet? If not, his 30% shooting and 25% from three over the last 10 games may do it. To be fair, he has still distributed the ball ok but not enough to overcome when his shot is off.
The question with Killian Hayes has rarely centered on skill, but whatever is going on between the ears. “He’s pressing a bit. He’s overthinking things with his shooting,” Casey said. “If he plays defense, that’s good enough for us. He’s just gotta find some joy in playing.”
Based on those comments they like Hayes in the back up point guard role, but are seeking consistency. What happens if the improvement he needs to take isn’t achievable in a practice gem?
Dwane Casey + Detroit Pistons = ?
The Pistons head coach has been the most polarizing figure on the team among fans. Valid arguments have been made on both sides with the majority agreeing he may not be the long term solution for when the team is ready to contend.
Coach Casey’s rotations and coaching schemes have fueled displeasure of detractors. They believe a younger voice with modern play designs would mesh better with the NBA’s 9th youngest team.
I believe Casey’s best work has been with teams ready to win, rather than the rebuild he was thrust into after year one in Detroit. But if you trust in Troy Weaver, then believing in coach Casey has been a reoccurring theme of his. He stated “I absolutely believe and trust that we have the best coach in the world for what we’re going through.”
“It’s extremely important that everyone understand undoubtedly he’s the leader of our ball club.”
Weaver further likened Casey to a consistent father with a message that has helped the young players grow and mature. And then he took the blame stating he has yet to equip Casey with a roster that can be judged by wins and losses.
My hope down the stretch is to see Casey play more through the rookie duo of Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren. Their development means more to the team than Bogdanovic and Burks getting ‘theirs’ as some of the better players. The Pistons can’t start next season figuring out what Ivey could be next to star Cade Cunningham, or if Duren can be effective in ‘pick and roll’ opportunities.
I want to see a few more wins post all-star break, just like last season. And similar to rookie Cade Cunningham during that stretch, Ivey and Duren are showing they can handle the responsibility.
Jaden Ivey and the Detroit Pistons face Paolo Banchero and the Orlando Magic, Wednesday, February 23rd at 7:00 PM.
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