The Detroit Pistons prepare to tip off their season on Wednesday, October 25.
Detroit will host last year’s NBA finalist the Miami Heat. Miami is a good measuring stick for any opponent.
Detroit finished last year with an NBA-worst record of 17-65. They literally hit rock bottom.
Yet there is renewed hope for the home team going into this season.
Third-year starting point guard Cade Cunningham returns after missing most of last year due to a stress fracture in his left leg.
Will there be any residual effects from that injury?
Cunningham made quite an impression in Las Vegas with the USA Select Team two months ago.
He led them to a scrimmage win vs. the U.S. national team. His recent play should put those fears to rest.
The Pistons appear to have the pieces in place. They added some true blue chip talent in the past two years.
With shrewd scouting and smart moves from the front office, they are on the rise.
2022 first-round draftee Jaden Ivey showed his class with a solid rookie season.
The 6-foot-4 Purdue product is poised to take another step forward in his sophomore year.
Pistons GM Troy Weaver sees him in the Pistons’ long term plans.
They just activated the team option to add next season onto his rookie deal.
That is a real vote of confidence for the second-year starter.
First-round draft pick Ausar Thompson has earned rave reviews in his first few months as well.
The rookie small forward is now projected to be a day one starter.
Thompson has shown a sensational skill set so far. He could be a game changer.
Second-year center Jalen Duren looks to build on some of his success from last season.
His rookie stat line of nine points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes per game is a good start.
The 6-foot-10 Duren is dedicated to doing the dirty work.
He has embraced new head coach Monty Williams and adopted the right attitude to succeed in his role.
Williams said of Duren at Media Day a week ago: “His communication is much further along than most young guys.
His understanding of the defensive end, the coverages he has to call out, his ability to guard the ball and want to guard the ball.”
6-foot-7 Balkan marksman Bojan Bogdanovic rounds out the starting five.
Bogdanovic is the team’s oldest player at 34 years of age. Safe to say there is a youth movement in full swing.
Reserve bigs James Wiseman and Marvin Bagley III will battle for the backup center spot.
The 7-foot Wiseman has plenty of raw potential. The 6-foot-11 Bagley adds versatility and a Duke pedigree.
Who will emerge as the team’s No. 2 option?
Rookie guard Marcus Sasser hopes to score his share of minutes.
The 6-foot-2 sniper found his stroke in Las Vegas at the NBA Summer League finale three months ago.
Sasser poured in 40 points and put the league on notice.
The 2022 NBA Coach of the Year has his work cut out for him with this young team.
All the core Piston players have less than two years of NBA experience.
There will be growing pains. But that’s the primary goal, for them to grow as a team.
A number of questions hover over them ahead of this season.
Does point guard Killian Hayes fit into the Pistons’ plans?
With Cunningham back in the lineup and Ivey emerging as a combo guard, Hayes might be the odd man out.
Coach Williams addressed the issue earlier this month during Media Day at Little Caesars Arena:
“I think we’ll find out. There’s going to be a great deal of competition.
Everybody’s going to get a shot to show they deserve to play.”
Detroit also added veteran guard Monte Morris in a July trade with the Washington Wizards.
The Michigan native brings precious NBA playoff experience.
6-foot-6 swingman Joe Harris joins the team following an offseason deal with the Brooklyn Nets.
Harris might be in the backcourt mix, but his greatest value is likely at the No. 3 position.
Playing time is at a premium. How does Williams manage all of those backcourt minutes?
The Pistons haven’t sniffed postseason play in five years. Can they get back on track?
Those key questions among others will be answered in the coming months.
Improved team defense has to be a top priority. That is a defining trait of Detroit’s winning teams.
It doesn’t matter how many points a team scores if they can’t get stops.
Williams has highlighted that as the Pistons get ready for the season.
Detroit needs him to teach them those hard lessons.
If nothing else, it should be interesting.