The Detroit Pistons’ preseason action is drawing to a close as the team faces off against the Memphis Grizzlies on Oct. 13 at a 7 p.m. tipoff.
Detroit lost their preseason opener against the New York Knicks with a 117-96 score. The game included standout performances from rookies Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren. However, the team’s young roster struggled with turnovers, committing 21 compared to the Knicks’ 13.
The Pistons made their second preseason game more competitive, but the team lost to the New Orleans Pelicans by a 107-101 score. The team’s turnover issues continued, with Detroit committing another 21 compared to New Orleans’ 16. Game two saw Marvin Bagley III get the starting nod over game one starter Bojan Bogdanovic.
The team’s third preseason game was a 115-99 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Detroit cut the turnovers down to 15 compared to 18 turnovers by the Thunder. The Pistons as a team shot 33 percent from beyond the arc against Oklahoma City, including a four-for-six three-point shooting night for Killian Hayes.
After three games, the Pistons are set to close out the preseason against the Grizzlies at home in Little Caesars Arena. This Pistons’ roster has plenty to show before the team’s regular season opener against the Orlando Magic on Oct. 19.
Final position battles will be fought, and depth players will make their case to crack the rotation. Here are three things to watch out for in the Pistons’ preseason finale against the Grizzlies.
Jaden Ivey’s adjustment to NBA physicality
Earlier this week, Jaden Ivey told The Athletic‘s James Edwards III that the hardest adjustment from college to the pros is the physicality. Ivey has performed well so far in the preseason, but adjusting to a more physical game could lead to Ivey having a standout rookie season.
The 20-year-old had a solid preseason debut against the Knicks. Ivey posted 16 points, two assists and four rebounds with zero turnovers against New York. He shot an efficient six-for-nine from the floor, including sinking his lone three-point attempt. Ivey’s start was just about as good as it could be. He showed control in the lane and displayed his pace-pushing speed in transition.
The Pistons’ matchup with the Pelicans was not the follow-up Ivey was looking for. He scored 14 points, mostly due to his shooting nine-for-nine from the free throw line. The physicality affected Ivey in the paint. The Pelicans were able to disrupt Ivey’s shots around the rim leading to a one-for-six shooting night in the paint. Ivey turned the ball over seven times against New Orleans, with many of those coming off him attempting to drive past defenders who asserted physicality to strip the ball.
Ivey turned the ball over four times against the Thunder. One came off an overly aggressive charge, two resulted from a careless handle that allowed defenders to strip the ball away and one simply a bad pass. Ivey shot four-for-12 from the floor. He finished around the rim through traffic, but he also had his shot affected by physical defense causing misses and blocks.
Ivey still has a lot of adjusting to do to match the physicality of the NBA game. His aggression around the rim has provided him with opportunities at the free throw line, but he has to work on finishing through contact when the whistle is not getting blown. Keep an eye on how Ivey matches physicality when he attacks the basket, and watch for how he adjusts to bring more command over his dribble.
Saddiq Bey needs to stop forcing the issue
Saddiq Bey has made a lot of strides as a scorer in his two NBA seasons. Entering year three, he is expected to take yet another step forward. However, through three preseason games, he seems to be forcing the issue a bit too much.
Bey has been inefficient in his first preseason games. Against the Knicks, he shot one-for-eight from the floor and zero-for-five from beyond the arc. The three-pointers were not the issue. He had a bad shooting night from beyond the arc, it happens. However, Bey made some interesting decisions around the rim. Trying to finish over Mitchell Robinson in the post is not a high-percentage shot.
Against the Pelicans, Bey had more success scoring the ball. He posted 23 points while sinking five out of his ten shots from beyond the arc. However, Bey shot a poor one-for-seven from inside the three-point line. He had three layups blocked, and forced contested or difficult midrange shots as well. On some of his misses, he drew an extra defender his way, leaving a teammate open for a kick out.
Bey performed much better against the Thunder. He shot five-for-10 from the floor, including two-for-five from beyond the arc. He tallied four assists in the game, including one to Hayes after Bey drew a double-team along the perimeter. Bey’s shot selection was better overall in this game, but he still had a few moments where he tried to force a shot through good defense.
It is not that Bey cannot create for himself. He had a 51-point game against the Orlando Magic last season, and moments against the Thunder showed his abilities as well. However, the 23-year-old needs to stop settling for difficult looks. When he draws a second defender, he should be looking for the teammate that has popped open, not try to finish a layup against the defender that just came down to contest his shot. Against Memphis, watch how Bey adjusts to teams rotating extra defenders his way, and keep an eye on whether he makes better shot selection as well.
Jalen Duren has an opportunity to steal minutes from established players
Jalen Duren has looked good in his two preseason games for the Pistons. Against the Knicks, the rookie tallied 14 rebounds, including four offensive boards. He also tallied a block in that game as well. Duren missed Detroit’s matchup with the Pelicans. Against the Thunder, Duren collected 10 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive glass. Duren has not put up big scoring numbers, only two points against the Knicks and five against the Pelicans, but his impact as a rebounder has been noticeable.
Against the Grizzlies, Duren will have an opportunity to steal minutes away from some of Detroit’s established big men. Marvin Bagley III went down early against the Thunder with a knee injury on a non-contact play. It is unlikely that Bagley plays in Detroit’s matchup against Memphis, as he is reportedly getting an MRI on his knee.
(The team announced Bagley suffered a bone bruise and sprained MCL in his right knee and will miss the start of the regular season.)
Isaiah Livers has been battling a hip injury, per The Athletic‘s James Edwards III. Livers sat out during Detroit’s loss to Oklahoma City. Bojan Bogdanovic missed the game with a calf issue as well.
Livers and Bogdanovic could still play in Detroit’s final preseason game, but Duren will still get a heavier workload with Bagley likely out. If Duren continues to flash dominance on the boards and just a little more scoring punch, he will make a case to earn a heavier workload during the regular season. Any time he shares with Isaiah Stewart on the court should be closely monitored as well. Those two could make for a dominant defensive frontcourt one day.
(Featured Image Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)