The Detroit Pistons are historically bad this season. With a record of 6-43, they are on pace to be one of the worst teams of all time. It isn’t likely that they only win one more game so the Charlotte Bobcats record for least amount of wins will probably stay intact, but that should not diminish just how bad the Pistons have been. It is quite surprising as well because they have a young core of extremely talented players.
Many of the preseason predictions had the Washington Wizards being the worst team in the league and for good reason. They blew up their team for draft picks and their bad play this season had been expected. For the Detroit Pistons, it is much more of a disappointment. Not many people had picked them to make a playoff run, but with Monty Williams as their new head coach and a rotation full of talented young players it wouldn’t have been surprising if they had made some noise.
But that’s not how it happened. Instead, there has been dysfunction and nothing but despair for the players and the fans. There was even a running joke that the citizens of Detroit would never get their free boneless wings from Wingstop because the Pistons were never going to win again.
The source of the Detroit Piston’s problems can’t be pinpointed on just one thing or one person. From Monty Williams’ questionable lineups and not playing Jaden Ivey enough at the beginning of the season to injuries that sidelined two of their most important players in Bojan Bogdanovic and Cade Cunningham, there isn’t a lot that has gone right for the Detroit Pistons this season. However, in a sea of darkness and despair there is a beacon of light in the distance, and that light is the young core that will eventually lead Detroit to the playoffs. Cade Cunningham, Jalen Duren, Ausar Thompson and Jaden Ivey are the bright spots on an otherwise sinking Pistons team.
The Thompson twins generated massive buzz coming out of the Overtime Elite league. Both have shown that they can be forces in the NBA, but Ausar has been a revelation. Ausar Thompson is one of the most impressive rookies on the defensive side of the ball in a long time. His ability to stop the opposing team’s best player, get into passing lanes and generate steals, and block shots that most wings have no business even contesting will greatly help the Pistons for a long time.
Thompson’s defense doesn’t pop out of the screen when just looking at stats and there are reasons for that. Playing on such a dysfunctional Detroit Pistons team he is bound to not have a great defensive rating because that statistic also tends to be related to how successful the team’s defense is as a whole. However, he does have the best defensive rating on his team, and he passes the eye test every time. He needs to improve from three, as he’s shooting an abysmal 14%, but his rebounding, playmaking, and rim scoring combined with his defense is going to make him a force to be reckoned with.
The most impressive thing about Jalen Duren is that he’s still only 20 years old and he won’t be 21 until a month into next season. He has the potential to be one of the best centers in the league. The NBA as a whole has somewhat made players like Duren obsolete. With the focus on three pointers, spacing, and switchability on defense big men who live in the paint have become much less of a priority for teams. However, talent like Duren’s cannot be ignored.
Against the Thunder two weeks ago he put up an immensely impressive double-double. He scored 22 points and grabbed 21 rebounds while also dishing out 6 assists. He is one of only 8 players since 2021 to put up at least 20 points, 20 rebounds, and 5 assists in a game. Those other players are Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Domantas Sabonis, Julius Randle, and Jarrett Allen. To say this is elite company would be an understatement.
This season Jalen Duren is averaging 13.9 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. His scoring ability in the paint and rebounding is what jumps out from the stats, but his playmaking is an underrated part of his game that makes him even more dangerous. Jalen Duren has all star appearances for the Pistons in his future if he stays healthy.
Jaden Ivey had a turbulent start to the season. Monty Williams was simply not giving him the opportunity to succeed. The minutes that he was playing every game was not acceptable for a player of his talent. Over his first 25 games, he only averaged 25 minutes played. There were plenty of games where he went under 20 minutes. In his last 24 games of the season, however, he has averaged 30 minutes per game and his production has massively improved.
It has truly been a tale of 2 halves of the season so far. In his first 25 games played he averaged 12.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3 assists per game on 46.2% shooting from the field. In his last 24 games, he has averaged 17.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.5 assists while shooting nearly the same percentage. Thats a whole 5 more points and it is clear that the difference has been night and day.
Ivey is too talented of a player to be experimented with and to not be given proper minutes. Monty Williams should let him and Cade Cunningham run the show. Jaden Ivey’s mix of raw athleticism and scoring ability is something that can’t be ignored
A Bright Future Ahead
Cade Cunningham has shown that he can be a great player. His playmaking, mid range and rim scoring, and leadership is evident when he plays. The unfortunate part is that he hasn’t been able to stay healthy and consistently play like Pistons fans know he can. The Detroit Pistons have a good shot at the number one pick in the next draft, and if Cade Cunningham stays healthy to play with Thompson, Duren, Ivey and whoever they pick this team can become something special.