NBA 2023-2024 Preview: The Detroit Pistons’ Search for Redemption

Detroit Pistons NBA Preview 2023 2024

Who will succeed the Nuggets as NBA champions? For the next month, our editorial team is delving into all 30 teams of the major American league. Today, we turn our attention to Michigan as we preview the Detroit Pistons.

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A disastrous 2022-2023 season on all fronts

The Detroit Pistons have just emerged from a season where they nearly set a disheartening record – that of the worst record in the franchise’s history (1980, with 16 wins and 66 losses). They ultimately concluded the season with 17 wins and 65 losses, narrowly avoiding complete embarrassment. As a logical outcome of this performance, Dwayne Casey is no longer the team’s coach. The squad can now look forward to establishing a solid gameplay while nurturing and developing its young players.

Among these young talents, Cade Cunningham only managed to play 12 games last year due to an early-season injury. This unfortunate event paved the way for Killian Hayes, who saw an increase in both playing time and responsibilities. However, the French player failed to capitalize on this opportunity, showcasing a lack of precision and becoming one of the least efficient shooters in the NBA. General Manager Troy Weaver has also faced criticism, especially with the questionable trade involving Saddiq Bey. The deal did not yield assets reflective of Bey’s true value.

Fortunately, there are glimmers of hope amidst the quagmire in Michigan, starting with Bojan Bogdanovic. The Croatian has arguably had the best statistical season of his career, averaging 21 points per game with impressively high shooting percentages. Rookies Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey also had commendable debut seasons, indicating that they could play significant roles in the NBA in the coming years.

It’s also worth noting the return of James Wiseman and Marvin Bagley III, who have carved out substantial minutes in the paint. Additionally, the dependable Isaiah Stewart and Isaiah Livers have brought their strong physical attributes and respectable shooting, especially for power forward positions. Thus, the Detroit Pistons had set a goal this summer to bolster their perimeter play, primarily through the 2023 NBA Draft.

Off-season Moves

Departures

Dwayne Casey (Coach, unrestricted free agent), Cory Joseph (to Warriors), Hamidou Diallo (unrestricted free agent), Rodney McGruder (unrestricted free agent), R.J. Hampton (unrestricted free agent), Eugene Omoruyi (unrestricted free agent).

Extensions

Jared Rhoden (two-way contract).

Arrivals

Monty Williams (Coach, from Pistons), Joe Harris (from Nets), Monte Morris (from Wizards), Ausar Thompson (5th pick of the 2023 Draft), Marcus Sasser (25th pick of the 2023 Draft), Malcolm Cazalon (undrafted, on a two-way contract).

Detroit Pistons’ Starting Five

Cade Cunningham – Jaden Ivey – Bojan Bogdanovic – Isaiah Stewart – Jalen Duren.

Bench Rotation

  • Point Guards: Monte Morris, Kilian Hayes, Marcus Sasser.
  • Shooting Guards: Ausar Thompson, Alec Burks, Malcolm Cazalon (two-way).
  • Small Forwards: Joe Harris, Jared Rhoden (two-way).
  • Power Forwards: Isaiah Livers.
  • Centers: James Wiseman, Marvin Bagley III.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Weaknesses

This roster has not collectively shown much promise over the past two years since the beginning of this new era. While each player seemingly brings value on paper, the overall performance of the Detroit Pistons leaves much to be desired. Certain players, such as Hayes, Wiseman, Stewart, and Bagley, appear to have already hit their peak, which is alarming for a team that needs significant development to avoid languishing at the bottom of the standings for many more years.

Another glaring issue with this roster is its imbalance. There’s an oversaturation at the point guard position and a lack of diverse skill sets at the 3-4-5 positions. Joe Harris seems to be the only solid option at the small forward spot behind Bogdanovic unless Ausar Thompson elevates his distant shooting, which is already superior to that of his twin, Amen. Isaiah Livers had a commendable performance last season, but does he truly possess the caliber to be in the top 10 rotation of a team aiming higher than the top 12 in its conference? Similarly, James Wiseman and Marvin Bagley are prime examples that NBA talents, once seen as flawed, can be repurposed for effectiveness. However, this underscores the massive task ahead for the Pistons’ new coach, Monty Williams.

Strengths

Cade Cunningham and Bogdan Bogdanovic are the key players capable of propelling the Pistons forward, provided that the Croatian doesn’t get traded mid-season. Such a move would be another setback for a franchise that’s been stuck in the league’s doldrums for too long. Monte Morris and Joe Harris will bring some much-needed experience to this young squad, which can only be beneficial. On the brighter side, if Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren continue their development trajectory, there’s hope for the future, even though the Motor City fans might have to wait another season to see their team genuinely contend.

Player to Watch: Cade Cunningham

For an analysis on Kylian Hayes’ upcoming season, you might as well revisit last year’s preview – it seems the French point guard hasn’t evolved much. Similarly, Cade Cunningham, despite being the number 1 pick, started off slowly in his rookie season and only played 12 games in the 2022-2023 season. Pressure is mounting on the Pistons’ guard, entering his 3rd NBA season without entirely living up to the lofty expectations. Cade needs to demonstrate that he can be the franchise player for Detroit and is deserving of a max contract as his current deal nears its end. With the right players surrounding him, he has all the tools to excel, leveraging his playmaking and point guard skills to elevate his teammates.

His tasks this year include: creating space to feed Bogdanovic or Harris for three-pointers, utilizing screens from Stewart, Duren, and other big men to score or to set them up in pick’n’roll situations, and putting up staunch defense against opposing point guards. No one is really expecting him to emerge as a long-range sharpshooter, though he certainly needs to improve from his 27% from deep last season. A successful season for him would mean averaging over 20 points and seven assists per game while reducing turnovers and missed shots. On paper, it seems achievable; now, it’s time to see how it translates on the court.

End of Season Prediction: 14th in the East

It’s hard to envision the Detroit Pistons finishing higher than the 13th spot, especially coming off one of the worst seasons in their history. There’s undeniable talent and potential on the roster, but the numerous shortcomings highlighted in this preview make it difficult to be optimistic about the Pistons’ 2023-2024 campaign. Best of luck to Monty Williams in implementing a game plan; there’s a lot to work with, but the journey won’t be easy.

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