For the Detroit Pistons, the 2021 NBA draft was a foundational one. After winning the draft lottery, Detroit had the opportunity to select guard Cade Cunningham. It was the first time the Motor City drafted first since 1970 when they drafted the late great Bob Lanier. However, the NBA Draft does not end after the first pick. In fact, Detroit still had two more selections to make that night. Michigan Forward Isaiah Livers wound up being the selection for Detroit at the 42nd pick. And as luck would have it, it seems that the Pistons walked away with not one, but two cornerstone pieces of their franchise going forward.
Isaiah Livers was originally evaluated as a lottery level talent. However, that changed after suffering a stress fracture at the end of his Senior season. Livers would have to undergo surgery, and wouldn’t return to the court until November when he suited up for the Cruise. After returning from injury, the questions didn’t end at when he’d join the Pistons. In fact, it was difficult to gauge what exactly Livers would bring after his injury. However, those doubts quickly vanished after his NBA debut in late February. And after his solid Summer League play earlier this summer, Isaiah’s skillset was on full display. Going into year two, the question for Livers is not if he will make the roster. Instead, there’s people in the Pistons community wondering if Livers should be starting.
I mean, you can talk me into starting #Pistons Isaiah Livers at PF.
One thing that is quickly apparent about the game of Isaiah Livers, is that it fits the modern NBA. Not only is Livers’ game tailored for the league, but it’s perfect for Detroit. Livers is a 3-and-D specialist, and was a career 41 percent shooter in college. In his 19 games in the NBA, Livers was right around that mark, shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc. That reliability from the three point line translates over to the defensive end. Livers averaged 1.2 steals and 0.7 blocks in his 19 games this past season, with multiple multi steal games. He is actively engaged on both ends, and because of his age, brings leadership on both sides of the ball.
Although Isaiah Livers can occasionaly create his own offense, he won’t be in the position where he has to. Whether he comes off the bench or is with the starting five, Livers will always be surrounded by creators. Whether it’s Ivey attaching the rim and dishing out, Hayes making crafty passes from the point, or Cade’s playmaking, Livers will be fed. He never played with extrememly skilled playmakers in college. Now, he has three players on his roster all with unique gifts in creating offense for those around them. And this year, he will be surrounded by other shooters with an equal amount of talent in Saddiq Bey and Alec Burks. This will give Livers more room to operate, and should give him more open opportunities on the perimiter as well. For the first time in a while, the Pistons have shooting.
A healthy offseason will do Isaiah Livers wonders
This summer is a crucial one for the Detroit Pistons, and Isaiah Livers is no exception. Not only was Livers able to play in the summer league and some pro runs, but he also had an unusual luxury. For the first time in a couple of years, Isaiah Livers is healthy in the offseason. Instead of focusing his energy on getting healthy and getting back on the court, he can focus on improving his skills. He can get reps against NBA level talent, and he can be in the gym. Doing work for rehabilitation is far different than work for improvement. In his limited Summer League action, that improvement seemed to be on full display.
Whether or not Isaiah Livers will start for the Pistons remains to be seen. One thing, however, is clear: Isaiah Livers will not struggle for playing time. Between his shooting and defensive ability, his work ethic, and his leadership on and off the court, Livers is destined for a long career. He has the intangibles to be a long time starter, and could perhaps reach All-Star caliber at some point in his career.
Even if he is never known as one of the stars of the league, Livers will always have a job. Players like Jae Crowder and PJ Tucker, who play that similar type of role, are a luxury to contenders. To have the desire to do the dirty things on the court, and to be good at it, takes a special type of player. Isaiah Livers is that type of player, and if he stays that way, will be in the league for years to come.