Sports fans from the city of Detroit are well aware of the state of their Detroit Pistons. The team that wears red, white, and blue, currently is still looking for their 20th win in a season that has just eight games left in it. Being last place in the NBA’s eastern conference is a good indicator to casual basketball fans that the Pistons are rebuilding. They have been by far one of the most overlooked teams in the league this season, but the faithful is okay with that. There have been a lot of losses in 2021, but Head Coach Dwane Casey is making sure this isn’t a wasted season for his team.
The 12th year coach from Indianapolis was dealt quite the hand this year. A pandemic, a new general manager, a shortened season, and a brand new roster were all in the cards for Dwane Casey’s Pistons. Although the wins were sparse, the development of the young new core of the roster was plentiful. Competitiveness was the theme for Detroit as they have been within at least 10 points of their opponent in 28 of their 47 losses. Casey preached all season that even with a roster full of youth, their playing time would be earned. As a result, the Pistons have seen multiple players make strides in their games. So much so that even veterans like Jerami Grant are excited for the future.
Growth, Development, and Promise
New General Manager Troy Weaver has brought on a whopping 16 new players to the Pistons roster in the last 10 months. Whether it be via the draft, free agency, or trade, each new asset has surprised the teams fanbase and coaching staff alike.
The marquee signing for Detroit, Jerami Grant, has hit the prime of his career this season, achieving career highs in scoring, facilitating, and made three-pointers. The seven-year pro came to the Motor City seeking more offensive opportunity which he has not only received, but excelled in. Another free agent acquisition, Josh Jackson, has blossomed in his hometown. Also averaging career highs in multiple categories, the Kansas alumni has proved he can fill the role of sixth man. Mason Plumlee, the Pistons most controversial addition, has held down the front court adequately. Although he may not be putting up monster numbers, he has given Detroit Pistons fans some gems with a couple triple-doubles.
Dwane Casey’s rookie class may be even more promising than his free agents. Thanks to Troy Weaver pulling off a flurry of trades to give his team 3 first round picks, Detroit has had reason to tune into games this season. Isaiah Stewart has drawn comparisons to the great Ben Wallace while leading all NBA rookies in offensive rebounding. Seventh overall pick, Killian Hayes, was derailed by a hip injury in January, but has shown great court vision and passing ability since his return. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise has been Saddiq Bey out of Villanova. Currently shooting 37% from long range, Bey set a record for most games with 5+ three pointers in a rookie season this past week. For the first year of a rebuild Dwane Casey has put his rookies in a position to succeed.
Don’t Say the ‘R’ Word
General Manager Troy Weaver refuses to label the 2021 season the beginning of a ‘rebuild’ for the Detroit Pistons. The attitude in the Motor City is that this team is building towards something big. Dwayne Casey received a lot of criticism early in the year for not playing the young guys enough. Now it seems as if the only players that see the floor are 25 or younger. He made some questionable lineup decisions, but now we are seeing combinations on the floor that couldn’t be fathomed months ago and they are working out.
Players like Hamidou Diallo and Frank Jackson are thriving because of Casey. Players that would be sitting on the bench on other teams, look comfortable on the Pistons. The team is buying into a long term plan and it shows in their competitiveness. Detroit is bottom-5 in the NBA in offensive rating and 18th in defensive rating, but they couldn’t care less. What they do care about is how bright their future looks, and Dwane Casey will most likely be a part of it.