The Detroit Pistons are still seeking their first win of the preseason. The Oklahoma City Thunder visit Little Caesars Arena tonight in just the second preseason matchup ever between the two teams. Though this game won’t count on the final record, it still boasts some of the NBA’s top must-see young talent. The Thunder bring players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddy, while the Pistons offer Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey and Jaden Ivey.
Teams: Detroit Pistons (0-2) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (1-1) (Preseason)
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
When/Watch: October 11 Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET, TV: Bally Sports Detroit | Radio: 97.1 WXYT (The Ticket)
The Detroit Pistons are still searching for a cohesive identity. Many fans have wondered why the team has looked lackluster so far, but it’s important to remember it’s still just the preseason.
Head coach Dwane Casey said “being young is no excuse” during media day, but right now youthful mistakes and growing pains have been on full display. General manager Troy Weaver stressed the team is “entering the competing” phase of the rebuild, meaning they must first “learn to compete before they can contend.”
After more than a decade of waiting for the team to find the right formula, it’s understandable fan frustrations would be felt after a few losses in a row. Even if it’s only the preseason. But Weaver has shown this rebuild is different than his predecessor’s attempts.
The speedy and athletic Jaden Ivey has looked like a solid NBA starter in his first two preseason games. Ivey enters tonight’s game leading the team with 15 points per game (PPG) and six free throw attempts (FTA) a game, with an insane 57% Free Throw Rate (FTR).
This is actually Cade Cunningham’s first ever home preseason game at Little Caesars Arena, so look for him to have a little more bounce in his step. Cunningham’s scoring has been down (8.5 ppg) but he has averaged 5.5 assists per game, tied with Killian Hayes for team lead. Both guards have done a good job facilitating the offense and making plays, but they need to do a better job taking care of the ball.
Through two games the Pistons have 42 turnovers, and their opponents have only 29. It’s hard for teams to develop a positive identity when they average 21 turnovers a game, but that tends to happen to young teams led by young guards. No amount of talent and promise from the three-guard rotation can change the fact that Cade Cunningham is 21, Jaden Ivey is 20, and Killian Hayes is 21.
They need to be better. The trio has accounted for 47% of the team’s total turnovers. They are all intelligent basketball players, and they have had time to go over the footage and adjust, so their ball security should be better against the Thunder.
The Pistons offense is still seeking to find its motor. They have opened the preseason shooting 38% from the field, and just 29.7% from three-point range.
Turnovers have been the main issue, but shooting has been the second-biggest concern. There’s nothing to suggest impending doom, but fans are hoping things start trending better soon.
Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey started the 2021-22 NBA year slowly before settling in for record-setting performances. If last season is any indication of what to expect this year, then it’s probably safe to not worry too much about the shooting. Turnover woes are another story, though.
Isaiah Livers has been impressive so far in two preseason games, averaging 8.5 ppg, 6 rpg and 2 blocks per game, with shooting splits of .417%/.300/1.000%. Not bad for the second round pick out of the University of Michigan.
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