Detroit Pistons: Is Dwane Casey The Right Coach To Lead Youth Movement?


Who do you blame for the Detroit Pistons’ struggles? The Pistons are off to a sluggish 3-8 start and someone or something must take the heat.

“We’re in the competing stage right now… consistently now we’ll be able to compete with who ever we play”. – Troy Weaver

Is it youth or lack of talent? Lack of experience, or is the moment too hot for the young Pistons? Ask Pistons fans and head coach Dwane Casey seems to get the most scrutiny.

From questioning lineups to end game decisions, fans continue to percolate his name whenever the Pistons have struggled.

The team hasn’t been good in a long time. So, losing, even it comes within a rebuild, does not comfort fans.

How We Got Here

Dwane Casey has a track record with stars past and present as a coach who can develop players. But he doesn’t have much experience building teams from the ground up.

“Case is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” Lowry told’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “We didn’t always see eye to eye, but he let me be me. He was huge for my growth as a man and an NBA player. (via Bleacher Report)

How long does it take to correct the mistakes of previous Pistons regimes? How much credit does he get for the early positives in the development of the young core? Keep in mind, he was brought in to lead this organization to the playoffs. Not coach a youth movement.

Fresh off being fired from the Toronto Raptors, Casey was hired by the Pistons to ‘win now’. The dismissal was odd as he was awarded ‘coach of the year’ after leading the Raptors to a franchise record 59 wins that season.  He posted an overall regular season record of 320-238, but an underwhelming 21-30 playoff record doomed him. A new vice was needed. And, Toronto did enjoy success after Dwane Casey. Major factors like LeBron James heading west, and Kawhi Leonard joining the Raptors made big differences. But the team was regularly a contender in the East prior to acquiring Leonard, under the direction of Casey.

In a statement released by Raptors president Masai Ujiri following the firing, he praised what Casey brought as a coach. “He was instrumental in creating the identity and culture of who we are as a team, and we are so proud of that.”

So where does that leave us?

Well, here is what we know: 1. He has a track record of developing young talent on a good team. 2. He has a track record of leading good teams.

This is what makes his time here now, such a conundrum. The Pistons have good young talent, but are not  a good team. It actually led Casey to talk about it in the press conference following a win, of all things.

It’s difficult to argue against the early player development. Rookies Jaden Ivey & Jalen Duren are better than advertised. Cade Cunningham looks like an all-star through the first 11 games of the season. Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart have improved on current skills and added other parts of their game. Killian Hayes, Troy Weaver’s first draft pick of the restoration, has been the lone aberration.

Dwane Casey deserves some credit in making sure he and his staff were ready for the challenge of player development.  Wins are scarce. But how many wins should be expected with the current state of the rebuild?

My Take

Dwane Casey hasn’t been perfect. He’s been a little stubborn with Corey Joseph, and at times is loyal to a fault with lineups. Decisions to over-play particular rotations, as well as some substitutions at the worst times, can leave a sour taste. Especially when the team is losing, and has been for over a decade.

There, we got that out the way.

Remember he’s only been at the helm of the rebuild, realistically, for just over a year and a half. This, before being hired to win with the Blake Griffin led team.

The Griffin buy-out on March 5, 2021, officially signaled the rebuild. We haven’t even made it two years since the deal that moved the Pistons from pitiful attempts at ‘win now’, to ‘build right’ under Troy Weaver.

Given that time frame, I do find it appealing that the Detroit Pistons could be in position to become a good team, with good young talent. They will be in very favorable positions in this coming NBA Draft and free agency, given their projected draft spot and about $54 million in cap space.

So whether I believe Casey is the ‘right coach to lead the youth movement’, it may not prove to be that for too much longer.

Last season, the Pistons best stretch came after the team traded for Marvin Bagley, and a few players returned from injury around the all star break. Those players? Jerami Grant of the Portland Trailblazers and Kelly Olynyk of the Utah Jazz, both of which have helped their teams to respectable starts this year. That’s three bonafide NBA starter level players added to the mix of young players last season, and they achieved a record of 10-14 post all-star break. That’s a 41% winning percentage versus the 27% prior.

The team offense looked good, the defense was more efficient, and the team exuded promise and hope.

This is something I consider in addition to coach Casey’s prior winning track record when evaluating his time here, and the future.

I believe it would be a mistake to move on from a coach who is making an impact in the lives of the young players, on and off the court. Especially with a general manager like Troy Weaver, who has this team on a path to be a good, young team within a few years.

What do you think?

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Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports