Last night was a familiar sight for Detroit Pistons fans these days.
In a respectable performance, the Pistons dropped its season opener to the Minnesota Timberwolves 111-101. For both teams, it was the first regular-season game since March due to the coronavirus.
Along with that, it was the first (meaningful) game for the new-look Pistons. Until midway through the fourth quarter, the Pistons did not trail. Unfortunately, the Pistons couldn’t recover after a couple of clutch three-pointers from T’Wolves guards Malik Beasley and D’Angelo Russell.
Even though the Pistons lost, there were a few bright spots. And then there were some rather dim ones. Here are a few takeaways from last night’s opener.
Mason Plumlee and Jahlil Okafor did not look bad at all.
When the Detroit Pistons signed Mason Plumlee in the offseason, it was a head-scratcher for some Pistons’ fans. His three-year, $25 million deal was too much for some. Along with that, signing Jahlil Okafor raised questions as well. Okafor was the third overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. And it’s safe to say he has yet to live up to that potential.
Nonetheless, both players had good showings in their Pistons debut. Plumlee went 7-for-8, posting 14 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Okafor came off the bench, contributing eight points and seven rebounds. Their effort on both sides of the ball was not bad at all.
One thing that stood out was the hustle of both, especially when Plumlee caught a nice pass for a slam from Josh Jackson. The Pistons frontcourt had its hands full with Karl-Anthony Towns, and it won’t get any easier in the home opener vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Josh Jackson could end up as a steal.
People like to say, “home is where the heart is”. If that’s the case, Josh Jackson could find a permanent home with the Pistons if his recent play continues. Last night, Jackson led all Pistons players in scoring with 19 points and six rebounds.
He didn’t have a great shooting night from long distance. Jackson went 3-for-7 from beyond the arc. He missed a couple in the last several minutes of the game to give the Pistons a chance. His final attempt was around the 1:16 mark was to get the Pistons back in the game after falling behind.
He was aggressive on both sides of the ball, and under the guidance of Dwane Casey, Jackson could have the breakout season and live up to the expectations of a fourth overall pick (2017 NBA Draft).
The Pistons should not consider trading Derrick Rose.
Depending on which Pistons fan you talk to, some would like to see Derrick Rose traded to a contender. Then, another group of fans would like him to remain a Piston, restore his career here, and be in the starting.
And that’s even at the expense of stunting Killian Hayes’ growth.
Regardless of whatever side of the fence a fan may be on, Rose needs to remain a Piston as his leadership was on full display last night.
Now, let’s be honest.
No one outside of the coaching staff (and players) could hear what Rose may have said to teammates on the court. After all, the COVID-19 restrictions prevent anyone from being in the arena, except for essential staff.
Nonetheless, Rose led by example. Coming off the bench, Rose had 15 points, six assists, and two steals for the “Stones”.
And just like Jackson, Rose stood out by his play on both sides of the ball. Along with that, Rose even looked to be just as quick and elusive as he did last season before the Pistons shut him down.
Killian Hayes is the Pistons’ future, but depending on the team’s expectations, he should be the starting point guard for now. When the ball is in Rose’s hands, the offense flows a lot better, and Hayes still looks a bit timid on the court.
The Detroit Pistons home opener is Saturday at 7PM vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers.