Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey is in the midst of his fourth straight losing season. After joining the team for the 2018-19 season, Casey led the Pistons to a 41-41 record and a trip to the playoffs. Since then, Casey’s squad has failed to top 23 wins in a season. Thirty-five games into this season, the 8-27 Pistons hold the worst record in the NBA.
Detroit boasts one of the youngest rosters in the league, and the team’s young stars have had their moments. However, as a whole, the team is struggling and cannot string together wins. Blowout losses have resurfaced as the Pistons have lost three straight by 15 points or more.
Casey’s team opened the year unable to get off to a solid start to games. The team would fall into a large deficit in the first half that it could not claw out of in the second. Now, the Pistons are playing competitive basketball in the first half of games, but they are coming out flat in the second.
Some fans have turned to Casey as the reason why the Pistons continue to lose games. They have grown tired of not playing competitive basketball for four straight seasons. It is a common occurrence for the coach to be the first person fans want to be fired when their team is playing poorly.
However, to place the Pistons’ losses over the past few years on Casey is a failure to read the situation he was given. Only once in the past four years was winning an expectation for Casey’s squad, and that team folded quickly.
Running out an aging core of Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson and a Blake Griffin on the decline was not a recipe for success. This team found itself once again in purgatory this season before deciding to tear down the roster. Drummond was traded at the deadline and Jackson’s contract was bought out. It is the only season where Casey was expected to win games at the beginning of the year.
The first season under GM Troy Weaver. Also the first season of a complete rebuild. The Pistons’ front office tore the roster down to the foundation this season. What is the expectation when your biggest contributors are rookies and Jerami Grant? It cannot be winning, that is for sure.
The team landed Cade Cunningham with the first pick in the draft. He immediately became the team’s best player. Injuries plagued the team all year, and a lack of depth and experience resulted in little chance for this team to win games. They turned it up toward the end of the season though.
At the start of the season, Dwane Casey was without Marvin Bagley III, Alec Burks and Isaiah Livers, all players who receive significant minutes when healthy. Now, he is without his star player in Cade Cunningham, and he is relying on a rookie in Jaden Ivey to be one of the team’s top scorers. This season was lost the moment Cunningham went down with his injury. The team has a lot of young talent, but it lacks the experience to piece together wins. No wonder Detroit’s longest winning streak this season is two games.
This is not to say Casey has been a perfect coach over the past few seasons. He has made plenty of mistakes as well. However, to say Casey is the problem in Detroit and is holding this team back is a bit of a stretch right now. This team does not have the experience necessary to be a contender for the play-in tournament.
For the most part, Casey has done what has been asked of him by the Pistons’ front office. He has experimented with lineups, he plays the young guys big minutes and he has helped the young players develop their games.
By all accounts, Casey still has the support of his locker room. The players are still bought in on what he is preaching. That is the sign of a good coach.
This team is still rebuilding. Development and experimentation is the priority for this season. It is somewhat hasty to fire a coach for doing exactly what this season is for. In the 2023-34 season, the expectations may change. Detroit may decide it is ready to turn a corner next season. If that happens, and Casey’s team still struggles out of the gate, then his seat is going to start heating up. However, right now, Dwane Casey does not have any concerns about his job.
(Featured Image Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)