Does it Matter the Detroit Pistons Are Finally Competing Every Night Now?
The Detroit Pistons last 5 games isn’t much to celebrate, but it does resemble what the team promised to start the season.
From the front office, to the coaches and players, the one accord was their readiness to compete.
“We’ll definitely be improved,” Isaiah Stewart said. “You can ask any of my teammates that.”
From Cade Cunningham to Jalen Duren the talk was how this team was young, but ready to take the next step.
“We’re in the competing stage right now,” Troy Weaver said. “I think Memphis was competing and are now trying to enter the contender phase… consistently now we’ll be able to compete with who ever we play”.
But the start to the season has been a gut punch no one was expecting.
Fans began to wonder if all the preseason talk, and draft hype was just that. Hype. False bravado. A way to pad early season ticket sales.
There’s no way the restoration could be over before it really got started, right?
After starting the season 3-13, trade rumors, lineup changes, injuries and varying reports left many observers doubting.
Since then, the Detroit Pistons have shown a greater fight and resilience. They’ve had to figure out how to play stretches of the season without Cunningham, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jaden Ivey, Bey, Bagley, Alec Burks, Kevin Knox and others.
If the west coast trip is any indication, they are headed in the right direction after ending the time away from home a positive 2-1. Back to back wins over the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz followed by a close loss to the Phoenix Suns.
That sounds pretty darn competitive to me. Just as they promised, but is it fools gold?
Despite Cade still being out, the return of Balgey, Burks and Knox have provided more balance to the injury depleted roster.
Alec Burks, since his return, has been almost as good a scorer as Bojan. He’s been averaging nineteen points on a blistering 50% from three. FIFTEY PERCENT FROM THREE! See, I wasn’t making it up that he’s been scoring about as good as Bojan.
Kevin Knox has shot it even better as he’s hit 52% of his threes on the way to 11.4 points per game over the last 5. When you chip in Marvin Bagley’s fourteen points and six rebounds over the same span, the resurgence starts to really make sense.
The defensive energy and taking better care of the basketball have also helped the Pistons to improved play.
“Overall our team defense has improved. Ball handling and movement has been pretty good,” Casey said. ‘We’ve made shots on the kick outs and made our free throws.”
So the next step of progress would be finding ways to go from competing, to winning.
In the 102-94 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers coach Casey said the difference was executing for the entire game. Especially down the stretch where the good teams turn up the defense to “playoff level”.
“We need four quarters. Tonight we played three quarters.”
Expect the Pistons to continue being competitive, but they must learn how from the good teams how to put together complete games.
Troy Weaver’s Caveat
“I feel like we finally have a full complement of players,” Weaver said just before training camp. “First two years, we didn’t. We can go and compete every night.”
Troy Weaver expected his off season additions and a healthy roster to back up his assessment.
But in year three of his plan, it’s fair to ask when will this team have a stable roster and who will be on it?
After almost a decade of not giving fans much hope, an influx of first round draft picks including Jaden Ivey has fans ready to accelerate the rebuild. Something Weaver vowed he wouldn’t fall into the trap of.
I think this is what has driven fans to ponder a Pistons future without Saddiq Bey or Mavin Bagley. That and a bit of impatience with the rebuild.
This is a unique year for the Pistons as next off-season they will have a ton of cap space to better augment this roster. That makes this year better for evaluating what you actually have on the roster. Who you can depend on.
You’d like to see a few more wins, but I’ve found it refreshing to see the Pistons making each game and every game a battle.
Just as promised to start the season.
The Pistons face RJ Barret, Julius Randle and the New York Nicks on Tuesday, November 29th at 7PM.
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