Four reasons to pay attention to Pistons in 2021-22 season: The Cade Cunningham era begins

Ever for the reason that core of their 2004 championship workforce broke up, and their streak of six straight Japanese Convention finals appearances got here to an finish in 2008, the Detroit Pistons have been wandering aimlessly across the NBA panorama. 

By no means adequate to compete, they’ve made the playoffs simply 3 times in 13 seasons and have been swept within the first spherical on every event. By no means dangerous sufficient to construct via the draft, they did not decide greater than seventh from 2009-2020, and solely chosen two future All-Stars in that point. One among them, Khris Middleton, was traded after his rookie season for Brandon Jennings.

The Pistons’ failed makes an attempt in both path left them greedy on the relevance they so desperately needed. They did not even have the ignominy of being considered a laughingstock. For the higher a part of the previous decade-plus, they’ve simply existed. 

Enter Cade Cunningham. Final season, the Pistons lastly did sink low sufficient in standings that they have been in competition for the No. 1 general decide, they usually gained it for simply the third time in franchise historical past. In Cunningham, the do-it-all guard from Oklahoma State, they’ve a franchise participant who can lead them again to the place they need to be. 

Because the Pistons set off on one other new starting, here is a have a look at their roster together with 4 causes to concentrate to Deee-troit Basketball this season.

Detroit Pistons roster  

1. The Cade Cunningham period begins

Initially, the Pistons are going to matter this season as a result of they’ve Cunningham, the No. 1 general decide. It would not matter the workforce, the town or the gamers round them, everybody all the time desires to see what the highest decide can do. And if issues go to plan, Cunningham shall be doing lots. 

Due to his measurement, versatility and talent to learn the sport and decide aside opposing defenses, Cunningham was drawing comparisons to Luka Doncic forward of the draft. Reaching the heights Doncic has hit up to now in his profession will clearly be a problem, but it surely exhibits what kind of expectations there are for Cunningham. 

For good cause as properly. At 6-foot-8, 220 kilos, Cunningham has super measurement for a guard, which he can use to bully smaller defenders and create distinctive passing angles. Although he solely averaged 3.8 assists in his lone school season, that claims extra about his teammates than him. He’s really a high-level playmaker, and may look even higher with extra expertise and house round him. 

However whereas he often operates with the ball in his arms, Cunningham can play off the ball as properly, which is essential with among the different gamers on this roster like Jerami Grant and Killian Hayes. Cunningham is a robust 3-point shooter, flattening 40 p.c of his makes an attempt in school. That shall be a giant increase to a Pistons workforce that completed twenty second within the league in 3-point taking pictures (35 p.c) final season. 

Additionally a strong defender who ought to be capable to guard a number of positions, Cunningham has nearly the whole lot you’d need in a prospect save for elite athleticism. Possibly most significantly, he appears excited to be in Detroit and is already embracing the town. 

“I really like Detroit,” Cunningham said this summer. “I’ve already been listening to Detroit music and issues like that, means earlier than the draft lottery, any of that stuff. I used to be already hip to the tradition in Detroit. It is a metropolis that has quite a lot of issues occurring, and I really feel like getting the sports activities workforce rolling once more could be large for the town. Detroit matches me, that is the primary factor I will attempt to do is step in and embody the swag that folks from Detroit stroll with, the individuals from Michigan generally. They’ve an underdog, go-get-what-you-want really feel to them and I like that in regards to the metropolis.”

2. Killian Hayes’ re-introduction 

Final 12 months, the Pistons used their high draft decide on French level guard Killian Hayes, who had been enjoying professionally in his native nation since he was 16 years outdated. As a youngster enjoying abroad, he was understandably unknown to most followers. That did not change a lot throughout his rookie season.

Simply seven video games into his NBA profession, Hayes suffered a torn labrum in his hip. Although the damage did not require surgical procedure, he missed three months and didn’t play in most back-to-backs as soon as he returned. In all, he performed 26 video games (beginning 18) and averaged 6.8 factors and 5.3 assists. 

By some means now the longest tenured Piston, Hayes may have an opportunity to re-introduce himself this season. Together with Cunningham, they need to kind one of many extra attention-grabbing younger backcourts within the league. Very like his new teammate, Hayes is a nifty passer who excels at getting others concerned and might actually lock in on the defensive finish. 

He should be extra accountable with the ball — 28.5 p.c turnover charge final season — however Hayes confirmed off some very nice playmaking as a rookie and followers tuning into the Pistons this season will shortly take notice. His means to deal with level guard duties ought to assist Cunningham make the transition to the professionals. 

On the identical time, Cunningham is simplest when he is the one controlling the offense, and that is his workforce now. The large problem for Hayes this season shall be enhancing off the ball. He solely shot 27.8 p.c from 3-point land, and was simply barely higher on catch-and-shoot alternatives at 31.9 p.c. He additionally wasn’t a lot of a risk attacking the basket, making simply 42.9 p.c of his makes an attempt within the restricted space. He’ll need to be extra of a risk to attain with a purpose to make the partnership with Cunningham thrive. 

3. Jerami Grant’s continued evolution

Within the bubble playoffs in 2020, Jerami Grant was a giant a part of the Denver Nuggets‘ run to the Western Convention finals. It wasn’t shocking that he parlayed that efficiency into a giant payday, however nobody anticipated him to signal with the Pistons. And positively not as their main offensive choice. 

For the primary six seasons of his profession, Grant had been a part of the supporting forged wherever he went. He did the soiled work on the defensive finish and spaced the ground as a stretch ahead, which made him the kind of complementary piece that each contender would like to have. The Pistons believed there was extra to his sport. That is why they signed him to a three-year, $60 million deal and handed him the keys to the offense. 

Grant confirmed he may put the ball within the basket, scoring 22.3 factors level per sport, which properly exceeded his earlier profession excessive of 13.6. He was inefficient within the course of, nevertheless, registering the bottom area purpose proportion (42.9) of any top-30 scorer. The elevated workload additionally appeared to put on on him, as he solely performed 54 video games and his splits primarily based on the quantity of relaxation he obtained have been staggering. 

Grant’s splits by days off

In an NBA that’s changing into extra homogenous by the season, the Pistons’ Grant experiment was fascinating if not all the time profitable in 12 months 1. Now that Cunningham is on the town, will probably be attention-grabbing to look at how Grant continues to evolve. Not less than for now, he’ll nonetheless be the perfect participant in Detroit, however barely much less accountability on the offensive finish must be useful for each him and the membership. 

4. Saddiq Bey constructing on sturdy rookie season, busy summer season

In the course of draft night time final 12 months, the Pistons have been concerned in a three-team commerce with the Nets and Clippers which noticed them purchase the No. 19 general decide and ship Bruce Brown to Brooklyn. The deal did not get a lot consideration on the time, but it surely turned out to be an excellent piece of enterprise by the Pistons.

They used the decide to pick out Saddiq Bey out of Villanova, and the swingman shortly grew to become an essential a part of the rotation. By February he had claimed a spot within the beginning lineup for good, and completed the season with 12.2 factors, 4.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists per sport. Most notably, he shot 38 p.c from downtown, which made him one of many workforce’s essential outdoors threats. 

For his efforts, Bey was named to the All-Rookie First Team alongside the likes of top-three picks LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards. Bey was the primary Piston to say that honor since Brandon Knight again in 2012, and simply the twelfth participant in franchise historical past. What’s extra, he earned the Japanese Convention Participant of the Week award in February, changing into the primary Piston to do this since Andre Drummond in 2019.

Whereas growth within the NBA will not be all the time linear, it is a good guess that Bey shall be even higher this upcoming season. He spent the summer season with Staff USA, each as a member of the Choose Staff and briefly with the Nationwide Staff, gaining priceless expertise competing in opposition to among the league’s finest. And of everybody on the Pistons, he ought to profit from Cunningham’s arrival essentially the most. The Pistons did not have a ton of high-level distributors final season, and Bey nonetheless managed to shoot 40.2 p.c on catch-and-shoot 3s. That quantity must be even greater with Cunningham getting him the ball. | 4 causes to concentrate to Pistons in 2021-22 season: The Cade Cunningham period begins


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