Basketball

Detroit Pistons: A Bright Future in Motor City

Photo by James L. Edwards

The Detroit Pistons have settled on mediocrity for years now and haven’t seen significant success since their 2003-4 championship and their return the following year in a 7 game series to the Spurs. This hasn’t come without a lack of effort, however. We’ve seen multiple playoff visits, only to exit in the first round, draft picks like Brandon knight, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe who were believed to be the future super starts and acquisitions like Allen Iverson, Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith who were suppose to be our veteran playmakers. Unfortunately, Detroit basketball has yet to find it’s true identity in the Eastern Conference with their only notoriety coming from the continuous fight for the 8th seed every year.

However, after a few trades and salary cap dumps, last season, the Pistons have now managed to revamp their roster and land the potential number one pick in Cade Cunningham. Cunningham is expected to make an immediate impact for the starting lineup in Detroit. As a Piston fan, though, he’s not the only reason you should be optimistic for the future:

A Youth Movement

This past season saw Detroit shift to a young core that included the likes of Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, Frank Jackson, Josh Jackson, Sekou Doumbouya. Hayes, Bey and Stewart were all first round acquisitions during last years draft and did not disappoint with Bey getting “NBA All-Rookie” first team honors and Stewart receiving second team honors. Hayes played only 26 games, due to a hip injury, but showed glimpses of his flashy passing and ability to rip the ball away on a consistent basis. Both Jacksons were free agent acquisitions that turned into consistent role players who could score off the bench. Going into year three, Doumbouya still has some work to be done with his lack of shot and ability to get consistent minutes. He is still only 20 years old, with a lot of potential still to be unlocked.

Unexpected Leadership

The 2020 offseason was initially a head scratcher for the Pistons. Their best signings came from the Denver duo of Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee. However, once the season began, fans got to witness Jerami Grant, who’s been a role player his entire career, put up over 20 points, 3 assists, and 5 rebounds on modest shooting. This put Grant in the running for the “Most Improved Player Award”. Plumlee saw great success in the paint, putting up a career high 9.3 rebounds, while also being a key mentor towards Isaiah Stewart’s development. With both of them on the cheaper side, Detroit is turned questionable signings into their best and possibly the best of the 2020 offseason.

Believer in Weaver

Over a year ago, the Pistons announced they had named former Oklahoma City VP of Basketball Operations, Troy Weaver, as their new GM. Upon his arrival, Weaver made it apparent he wasn’t holding anything back to rebuilding the roster for the Pistons. From the Blake Griffin buyout, Derrick Rose trade, and accumulation of draft picks, it’s clear that Weaver believes he can build a roster over time to win in Detroit. With the 1st pick in the NBA Draft, Weaver will have the opportunity to bring greatness back to Detroit for the next decade.

Dwane Casey’s Extension

In May, the Detroit Pistons signed Head Coach, Dwane Casey, to a contract extension through the 2023-2024 season. Love him or hate him, Dwayne Casey has been the exact coach Detroit needs for their on going rebuild. Casey took a mediocre roster to the playoffs, and has stuck with Detroit through their tanking efforts the past few years to ensure they have the necessary leadership to develop the young talent coming up. If he can have the same impact on the upcoming draft class as Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart, then he’s going to make some noise with this team earlier than anyone was expecting.

Motor City is on the Rise

A year ago, the Detroit Pistons had little salary cap, very few draft picks, and washed up veterans with 8th seed expectations at best. Now, they have become one of the brightest and most optimistic teams to watch for the next few years. With new leadership, free agent acquisitions, young talent and a faithful head coach, Detroit Basketball is looking to bring a championship back to Motor City.

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