last time it was Detroit Pistons He won an NBA playoff, George W. Bush was still the president and was the core of the team’s championship since his 2004 title run—led by Richard Hamilton, Taichun Prince, Chauncey Billups and Rashid Wallace—still in place. Since that fateful trip to the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals, the Pistons have regularly been one of the most unfortunate franchises in the NBA.
This appears to be changing.
Within a few years, the Pistons had amassed one of the best young cores in the NBA. It starts with Cade Cunningham, the Detroit franchise player who landed when he won the 2021 race NBA Draft the lottery. The Pistons landed another prospect in guard Jaden Ivey in the 2022 draft, and pounced to steal one of my favorite draft prospects, center Galen Doreen, with a deal at the end of the lottery. The two promising rookies will augment a group that has already included the Pistons’ tally in the 2020 draft – Kellyanne Hayes, Siddique Bay and Isaiah Stewart.
Having talented young players is only part of the equation to build an eventual winner. Teams should also add the right veterans around them to give youngsters a chance to succeed. Detroit has done it too – and made another great move in that regard The acquisition of Bojan Bogdanovic in a deal with the Utah Jazz earlier this week.
Here’s why the pistons should be prepared for great success in the near future.
Cade Cunningham is the ultimate nail starter every team needs
It was easy to see that Cady Cunningham was on his way to becoming a future NBA star from his high school days at Monteverde Academy. I spoke to Cunningham for an advantage before his senior yearand since then only met and exceeded the hype.
Cunningham is the kind of oversized lead ball handler that every team wants. Weighing in at 6’6 and 220 pounds, he presses on defense and the ball in his hands is both a scorer and a passer. He can also play the ball as a high-quality three-point shooter, even if his shooting skill doesn’t show up in numbers as a novice with the 31.4 percent depth mark. Due to his successful college-level shooting in Oklahoma — where he hits 40 percent of three — you can expect him to be a better shooter in the sophomore season with the Pistons and beyond. Oh, and he’s a plus defender, too.
The hardest and most important part to find for any NBA competitor is the primer. The Pistons have a bright future because Cunningham has a bright future – and he’ll have the ball in his hands often. The Pistons’ roof height should ultimately be a reflection of how tall Cunningham’s roof is. It’s not crazy to think that he had to be an All-NBA player of his caliber during his early years.
Jaden Ivey is a great complement to Cunningham in the backyard
If there’s a shortage of Cunningham’s skill set, it’s a lack of top speed. This is why Jaden Ivey has a great fit by his side in the backcourt.
It was Ivy No. 3 Probability of the Year in the 2022 NBA Draft, but fell to the Pistons for fifth in the draft of the night. The strong guard will be one of the fastest players in the NBA from the moment he steps on the court. His ability to press the edge is a great complement to Cunningham’s deliberate playmaking, and gives the Pistons a style of Thunder and Lightning that should be incredibly hard to defend, and great to watch.
Ivey would probably be tough defensively to start his career…but Cunningham could take on a tougher job in the backcourt. Ivey isn’t a credible threat yet… Cunningham doesn’t have the extra equipment to generate tire pressure whenever he wants… but Ivey’s best skills are exactly that. We can’t wait to see how this pairing is implemented.
The pistons get the shooters and pulleys to position the bolt protector in a position to succeed
Let’s take it one by one, starting with my favorite addition to the heart of the Pistons.
- Galen Doreen – Big Drum: I had Duren as my 5 player overall In the 2022 NBA Draft because he was the youngest player in the class, he has great physiques, he plays with a high drive, and he has a promising skill. With long arms, great jumping ability, and man and child strength, the Duren would have as much oomph as a vertical splitter with a huge hunting radius. Having a great guy is one way to make life easier for your guards, and Doreen will be just as well. His landing by trade in the #13 overall pick was a stroke of genius by chief executive officer Troy Weaver.
- Sadiq Bey – Wing Shooter: Bey is a big winger at 6’8, 215 pounds who lacks outstanding athletic and creative skills, but fits this core in as he is a good shooter and rarely turns the ball. Year 3 is a big year for Bey, but the addition of another ball wizard at Ivey should help clarify his role going forward. The Pistons really need to hit all three and hold up in defense.
- Bojan Bogdanovic – Wing Shooter: The 33-year-old is a high-volume three-point shooter who can also generate insult from dribbling in a pinch. He’ll be able to dump the floor for Cunningham and Ivey while improving the Detroit wing depth. This is very relevant in terms of skill set, spot value, and making life easier for your young stars.
- Kilian Hayes – Defensive Goalkeeper: I had Hayes as the top three potential players in the 2020 draft, and he certainly didn’t quite live up to that. Hayes simply struggles to score the ball, and he’s not a good shooter. At the same time, he is still only 21 years old, has a great size as a goalkeeper, and is already very good in defense. I like the idea of Hayes leading Unit Two alongside Ivey when Cunningham needs a break.
- Alec Burkes – Guard Shooter: The Pistons used their cover space to land Birx and Nerlance Noel in this off-season. Burks is another ocean-going shooter around Cunningham – he’s hit no fewer than 40 percent of triples in each of the last three seasons. Like Bogdanovich, Burks can also have a bucket on hand, and should relieve some of the pressure on the junior guards in the midsection.
- Marvin Bagley III – Big Drum: Don’t cross out the previous No. 2 public pick in the 2018 draft yet. Bagley, the second and third jump king, is a super bouncy guy who gives Detroit another vertical break, and an offensive tackle.
- Isaiah Levers – Wing Shooter: Livers had an impressive four-year career for Michigan Wolverines before the Pistons picked him up in the second round of the 2021 draft. All he did when he was a rookie was hit 42% of his threes. While he’s compact and slow for a four at 6’7, 230 pounds, he can launch rock from depths with consistency and generally plays with a high IQ.
The pistons will be great… in the end
It will take time in Detroit. Cunningham needs to learn how to be a man, and going from good to great is the hardest step in the league. Ivey might need a few years to improve his defense and pick up any semblance of a mid-range game. Doreen is so young that it’s hard to expect him to contribute right away, but I love his long-term potential.
The Pistons will be one of the hottest young teams this year. Ultimately, I believe this group will make a sustainable winner. For the first time in a long time, things are looking up for pistons.