After the firing of Head Coach Stan Van Gundy in May of 2018, the Detroit Pistons looked to seven-year head coach of the Toronto Raptors, Dwane Casey. Prior to the Casey hiring, the Pistons went ten years without winning a playoff series. The streak now moves to fifteen years, as Coach Casey was not able to get the job done.
Now that he has stepped down as the head coach and of the Pistons after five years and a 121-263 record, it is time to look back at his time in Detroit.
Playoff Basketball Back in Detroit Under Casey?
Things started to look up for Casey and the Pistons during the 2018-2019 season. Casey-led teams have always been sharp on defense, and he brought his defensive-minded coaching style to the Pistons, enabling them to reach the NBA Playoffs in his first year at the helm. The team ranked seventh in opponent points per game and eleventh in defensive rating. However, putting the ball through the hoop seemed to be a problem for Detroit that year, as they ranked 25th in points per game and 21st in offensive rating throughout the NBA.
They were able to clinch the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, ending the two-year streak of missing the playoffs under Van Gundy. Behind career years from Andre Drummond and All-Star Blake Griffin, this team looked to make some noise in the playoffs. The lack of offense really showed in their first-round matchup, as they were swept by Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Pistons only averaged 98 points per game in the series.
…And The Rebuild Begins
After the playoff appearance, Casey and the Pistons were stuck in the middle of rebuilding and competing. This is a phase almost every NBA team goes through at least once. It can be a very difficult time for a franchise and a fan base.
Both Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson agreed to a buyout early in the 2019-2020 season. Detroit also made the move to trade star center Andre Drummond to a division rival, the Cleveland Cavaliers. These moves left Casey with not much to work with, as the team ended with a record of 20-46.
The Pistons made six first round selections between 2020-2022, including first overall pick and promising guard, Cade Cunningham.
The 2022-23 Season With The Young Core
After the offseason trade of Jerami Grant, Dwane Casey was given the ability to put his young players on the floor together to gain chemistry. However, due to injuries and moves at the deadline, the young core of Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren, Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey, Marvin Bagley III and Isaiah Stewart only suited up for seven games together and went 2-5 in those games.
Cade Cunningham was sidelined for a large majority of the year after he underwent season-ending shin surgery. The injury to Cunningham was a significant blow to the Pistons, as he was looking to make a big leap in his sophomore campaign. Three-and-D wing, Saddiq Bey, was also set to have a very strong third season, but he was traded at the deadline to the Atlanta Hawks in a three-team deal bringing former #2 overall pick, James Wiseman, to the D.
Although players like Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and veteran Bojan Bogdanovic all had good seasons for the Pistons, they did not play winning basketball. Casey’s team ranked 28th in offensive and defensive rating and won a league worst seventeen games, the fewest amount of wins the franchise has had since the 1979-1980 season. Just days after the Pistons’ eleven game losing skid in late March going into early April, Coach Casey and GM Troy Weaver believed it was in the team’s best interest to move Casey to a front office position, rather than remain the head coach.
What’s Next For The Detroit Pistons?
With Casey moving to the front office, he will most likely be assisting Weaver with the head coaching search. Top candidates for the job include the Bucks’ assistant coach, Charles Lee, Warriors’ assistant coach, Kenny Atkinson, former Piston Jerry Stackhouse and former Celtics’ head coach, Ime Udoka. Udoka is the most intriguing out of the bunch, as he took a young Celtics team to the NBA Finals just last year. However, he was relieved of his duties after some controversial behavior off the court.
Whoever ends up with the Pistons job has a lot to look forward to. They have the best odds to land the number one overall pick to select French sensation, Victor Wembanyama. Not only that, they’ll get something that Dwane Casey didn’t have this past season: Cade Cunningham.
Article written by Woodward Sports guest writer, Caleb Czarnik
Photo Credit: © Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Tweet:@WoodwoodSports or comment on your favorite social media platform!