Preview of the NBA 2021-22 season on Detroit Pistons. Data, results from the previous season, a look at their squad and future free agents, the objectives of the course, the player to watch and a forecast on the franchise.
- Market movements: Kelly Olynyk and Trey Lyles signings. Renovations for Cory Joseph, Saben Lee, Frank Jackson and Rodney McGruder (all moves here).
- Backcourt: Killian Hayes, Cory Joseph, Saben Lee, Cade Cunningham, Hamidou Diallo, Frank Jackson y Rodney McGruder.
- Frontcourt: Saddiq Bey, Josh Jackson, Isaiah Livers, Chris Smith, Jerami Grant, Trey Lyles, Isaiah Stewart, Kelly Olynyk y Luka Garza.
This is how they face the season
Starting from scratch … but with a white blackbird in his hands. Detroit opens this 2021-22 course full of illusion. They have left behind stale bets with players like Blake Griffin or Derrick Rose to make way for a new beginning; one in which the No. 1 in the 2021 draft, Cade Cunningham, raises the hopes of a franchise as successful once as it has been lost in the last decade.
We are neither exaggerating with expectations about Cunningham nor with the franchise’s sad recent history. Since those great Pistons with Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, the Wallace and Tayshaun Prince, they have gone up to 13 seasons with just three playoff appearances (all ended with first-round eliminations and a 0-12 record…). It took a turn of the wheel, enough to unload any past reminiscence and start an adventure with a clear mind. They are on the road.
Cunningham is one of those guys whose status upon landing in the NBA is a star. Of course there have been numbers one in the draft who have collided head-on with their reality (Kwame Brown or Anthony Bennett are among the most popular), but the current class, that of 2021, does not invite you to think about something or the like. Trained at Oklahoma State University, in his only year of college he has averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.6 steals in 35.4 minutes per night. His numbers are really good, but they grow more when seeing that he has signed 40% in triples, shooting up to 5.7 per game.
We are not saying that those are going to be your rookie figures – for better or for worse. It will be the basket that dictates the sentence, but the feelings are really good. In the Las Vegas Summer League, he endorsed his experiences in college with 18.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.3 blocks with 50% in triples. Everyone is looking forward to seeing him in action, and it is no wonder. This is a kid who can change the history of a franchise. Eye! It won’t do it overnight. The current Pistons are prepared to grow, but not so much to compete and win. Cunningham is the base, the piece on which development must turn, but not a miracle.
We have Cunningham, but… what else is there? Well, a group of players who we could say have just left class and whose maturity will come under the baton of Dwane Casey. Exactly. Although the Michigan organization starts a new course for their team, it will continue to be led by Casey, who they see as a player educator who can grow the new project. With 10 boys aged 23 or younger, the work of the head coach of the Pistons will lay the foundations for the medium / long term. You will not be asked for immediate results, but you will have a glimpse of what they can achieve in Detroit based on the youth they have accumulated in their roster.
Because Cunningham takes the headlines, but with him there are more players to follow. The first name that comes to mind – given his weight in the previous season – is Jerami Grant. The Pistons bet big on him in the summer of 2020, and they got it right. His first year with Motown changed his league status with 22.3 points per game. He may not be an All-Star, but it will be essential for Detroit to build a team that moves up the ladder every day.
We can say that Cunningham and Grant are the ones who will have the most responsibility in the Michigan game, but going forward the team will depend on other young people like Killian Hayes or Saddiq Bey taking a step forward. The German guard could not show his full potential last year due to physical problems. The forward for his part made it clear that he can become an elite shooter. They are two other elements of a project that is emerging from nowhere and that cannot be assessed by the results of this 2021-22 season. There is talent, but also notable shortcomings.
The 2021-22 Pistons’ inside game is very weak. Casey may be betting on Isaiah Stewart in the starting five, but that commitment – waiting to see his evolution – may be too big for him. After him we only have Kely Olynyk, Trey Lyles and Luka Garza (two-way contract). Yes, it is clear that management has not opted for forming a roster competitive, but by giving as much space as possible to young people. It may be a success, but it can condemn them to make their journey through the desert take longer than desired. They begin a deep reconstruction, and we all know what that means, but hopefully it does not become a process in the style of Philadelphia …
The player to watch
Cade Cunningham. We are heavy with him, but it cannot be otherwise. In a team devoid of stars, it is the call to occupy such a place. Detroit is currently a franchise that has bet all its chips on the number 2 of this Texas player. His basketball marveled at college and there’s no reason to think it won’t have an immediate impact on the NBA. It will be one of the great draws of a season in which there are quite a few rookies who should be running for Rookie of the Year. Cunningham is the favorite for such an award for many and someone who can make history where Eminem already achieved it since 313. On October 20, before his audience and receiving the Chicago Bulls, he will begin to write his book in the NBA.
Previous NBA 2021-22 Detroit Pistons, forecast
Elio Martínez, director of Trends Wide, leaves a personal and subjective forecast on what he thinks each franchise will do during the season in the NBA 2021-22 preview.
Detroit does not get for the play-in even if Cunningham scored 30 points a night, which is going to get us. The Pistons are a separate ‘league’ in the East, one made up of the Cavs, Magic and themselves in the conference pot. All I’m hoping for from Michigan is for Cunningham to thrive in an environment where losses don’t detract from his potential.
Previous team analyzed: Houston Rockets. Next team: Oklahoma City Thunder.
(Cover photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)