After going 43-111 over the past two years, tied with the Magic for the second-worst record in the NBA over that span, the Pistons are one of the rebuilding teams hoping to take a step forward in 2022/23. General manager Troy Weaver has completely reshaped the roster since being hired on June 18, 2020, and the trade for Bojan Bogdanovic showed Detroit is serious about improving in both the short and long term.
The starting lineup features several recent first-round picks, including Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart (Bogdanovic is the fifth starter). The reserves include a couple more recent first-rounders in Killian Hayes and Jalen Duren, plus veterans Cory Joseph, Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox and Rodney McGruder.
Marvin Bagley III (knee), Alec Burks (wrist) and Nerlens Noel (foot) are currently sidelined with injuries, but second-year forward Isaiah Livers (hip) has been removed from the team’s injury report and could make his debut in Saturday’s game against the Pacers, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link).
The Pistons have gotten off to a 1-1 start thus far, with a close victory over Orlando and then a blowout loss to the Knicks. Ivey and Duren, both lottery picks this year (No. 5 and No. 13) have been surprisingly effective for rookies in the early going. Ivey has averaged 18.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 6.5 APG and 1.5 SPG on .519/.375/1.000 shooting (30.5 MPG), while Duren has put up 11.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG and 1.5 BPG in 22 MPG.
There’s definitely talent on the roster, with Cunningham, last year’s No. 1 overall pick, headlining the group. Bogdanovic helps improve the team’s shooting, which has been a major weakness (the Pistons finished 29th in both two-point and three-point percentage last season).
Still, the East is stacked with strong teams, including (in no particular order) the Celtics, Bucks, Sixers, Raptors, Hawks, Cavs, Heat, Nets and Bulls. I liked the Knicks’ free agent additions of Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Hartenstein, and the Wizards should be better than last season’s 35-win campaign if they’re healthy, so it seems like the Pistons might have a difficult time finishing better than 12th in the standings unless there is major internal development.
In our over/unders last month, 51.6% of our voters predicted the Pistons to finish with more than 28.5 wins (they finished 23-59 in ’21/22).
That brings us to our question of the day. What’s a reasonable goal for the Pistons this season? Do you think they have a shot at the play-in tournament if things go well, or is it a year too early? Would an incremental step forward, like winning 30 or so games, be considered a success?
Head to the comments section and let us know what you think.