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2023-24 NBA Season Preview: Detroit Pistons

Detroit Pistons 2023-24 NBA Season Preview

(Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

2023-24 NBA Season Preview: Detroit Pistons

The Detroit Pistons have an important season on the horizon. No, they will not be a title contender, but the Pistons desperately need to take a step forward and show their rebuild is progressing. The Pistons’ talented young core has shown potential and it is time they parlay flashes of brilliance into wins on the court.

To continue our 2023-24 season preview, let’s dive what to expect from the Detroit Pistons!

2022-23 Season Recap

The 2022-23 season saw the Pistons finish with a league-worst 17-65 record. That was not the expectation when the season began; however, the season was doomed after point guard Cade Cunningham was forced to undergo season-ending shin surgery. At that point, Detroit embraced the tank.

The Pistons struggled mightily in Cunningham’s absence. Those struggles gave the Pistons a chance to focus on developing its young talent. Detroit gave a healthy amount of minutes to rookies Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren as well as third-year guard Killian Hayes. Ivey and Duren proved to be legitimate young talent while Hayes saw peaks and valleys in performance.

Cunningham’s injury also allowed veteran forward Bojan Bogdanovic to be a focal point of Detroit’s offense. The 34-year-old finished the season with a career-high 21.6 points.

Ultimately, the 2023-23 season was a disappointment for the Pistons if you only look at their pitiful record. The season did present some optimistic signs in youth development as a consolation prize.

Offseason Overview

The Detroit Pistons had an active offseason that will greatly affect their season preview. No, they did not make any groundbreaking changes, but moves were made.

The most important move for the Pistons did not involve a player. Detroit made a massive change at the helm as they hired Monty Williams to what at the time was the largest coaching contract in NBA history. The hope is that Williams’ coaching can help Cunningham elevate to a higher level while making the Pistons a playoff team.

The signing of Williams was the best news that Pistons fans received all offseason. At the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery, the team’s luck was nowhere to be found. Despite having the top odds to pick first overall, Detroit ended the lottery with the No. 5 selection.

On draft night, the Pistons used the team’s fifth overall selection to draft Overtime Elite wing Ausar Thompson. Thompson will bring elite athleticism, great defense and strong basketball IQ to Detroit.

The Pistons later traded back into the first round to add Houston point guard Marcus Sasser. Detroit will hope to use Sasser off the bench as a spark plug shooter with high-effort defense. They did not use free agency to sign players. Instead, they acquired veteran players on expiring deals, allowing Detroit to add talent while getting players at a reduced cost.

The Pistons trade haul saw them add Joe Harris and Monte Morris. The Harris trade netted Detroit two future second-round picks. After, the team sent a second-round pick to add Morris. Those moves should provide Detroit with much-improved depth and veteran leadership.

The final Pistons’ offseason move saw them sign big man Isaiah Stewart to a four-year extension. For what it’s worth, they did not lock Hayes down despite him being extension-eligible.

Projected Starting Five

The Detroit Pistons project to have a lot of familiar faces in its starting lineup to start the 2023-24 Season. The Pistons have three obvious starters; Cunningham, Ivey, and Duren. Meanwhile, Bogdanovkic, Stewart, and Thompson will compete for the forward spots. At the end of the day, the starting forwards will be determined by whether Williams prefers to play bigger or smaller.

Point Guard: Cade Cunningham

The Pistons’ starting point guard slot is a no-brainer. Cunningham will open the season as the Pistons’ lead man. The expectations will be high for the third-year guard. Cunningham is viewed as the team’s franchise cornerstone. Now, it will be up to Cunningham to show that he can facilitate an offense at an elite level while still being a scoring threat. If he can accomplish that, the Pistons future will look bright.

Shooting Guard: Jaden Ivey

Ivey, the fifth overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, has the starting shooting guard position locked down as Detroit enters the 2023-24 season. The biggest aspect to watch for Ivey is how he adapts to playing alongside Cunningham. As established, Cunningham will be the most important piece of the Pistons’ offense. Ivey will need to show that he can play off the ball in half-court situations while providing a spark in transition. On top of that, it would be nice to see defense improvements and more consistency from behind the arc. If Ivey can harness his supreme athletic gifts and accomplish those goals, the Pistons will begin to fast-track their rebuild.

Small Forward: Bojan Bogdanovic

I imagine the Pistons will opt to start the veteran Bogdanovic at small forward to start the season. That will allow Thompson to acclimate to the league. It would not be a shock to see the rookie in the starting lineup before the season ends, however. In that situation, Bogdanovic would move to power forward.

The goal for Bogdanovic will be to space the floor. The Pistons do not have a good amount of three-point shooting in the frontcourt. That leaves a heavy weight on Bogdanovic. However, he has proven that he can succeed in that role after shooting 41.1% from deep on six attempts per game last season.

The case against Bogdanovic is that he is a dreadful defender. That is unlikely to change considering he is now a year older.

Power Forward: Isaiah Stewart

The second forward slot will go to Stewart. The Pistons have several power-forward options, but Stewart’s contract extension is proof the Pistons want him heavily involved.

The biggest challenge for Stewart has been dropping from center to power forward. That has been well-documented in his quest to become a better three-point shooter. Stewart showed improvement from deep last season as he finished the year shooting 32.7% on 4.1 attempts per game.

Steward’s background as a center does provide Detroit value as an interior defender and rebounder. The effort on the defensive side has been one of his best traits throughout his career.

Center: Jalen Duren

Duren had an outstanding rookie season and will be rewarded with the starting center job. In his rookie campaign, Duren was a great rebounder and showed offensive upside. In 2023-24, he is in a position to take a step forward offensively. With Cunningham back, Duren should see an increase in pick-and-roll opportunities. That could also help open the Pistons’ playbook to utilize Duren’s playmaking as well.

Key Rotation Players

The Detroit Pistons have quietly assembled some quality rotation pieces throughout the offseason. If they hope to exceed expectations in 2023-24, they will need much better production off the bench. In addition to that, Detroit has several young rotation players that will need to show improvements.

Ausar Thompson

Thompson will be the Detroit Pistons’ most important rotation player in 2023-24. That is mainly because they selected him fifth overall in the 2023 NBA Draft. Naturally, it will be important to see how he adjusts to playing in the NBA. If the Pistons want to see strides in their rebuild, Thompson will need to grow into an impact player.

In terms of an immediate impact, Thompson will be needed as a wing defender. The Pistons simply lack a lot of talented wing defenders. That will make Thompson’s minutes crucial as they will need him to provide an immediate impact defensively. On the offensive side of things, Thompson may struggle as a shooter, but he makes smart decisions and can help an offense move the ball. At a minimum, his transition offense should be an immediate threat.

James Wiseman

The 2023-24 season will be crucial for James Wiseman‘s future. The Pistons added Wiseman during the season and allowed him to play 25 minutes per game. Now, the former second-overall pick will need to prove that he is worthy of a major role in the NBA. Similarly, the Pistons will need to determine if they want to extend Wiseman and keep him in Detroit. That will all be determined by his performance this season.

Wiseman should serve as the backup center. In his playing time, Wiseman will need to show strides as a rebounder and a defense. In both realms, he has not been as solid as you would expect considering his physical gifts.

Monte Morris

Thus far we have only discussed young rotational players that will potentially have a large role in the Pistons’ rebuild. Let’s switch directions and talk about a player who can help them win games this season.

Morris will be charged with running the Pistons’ bench unit. The veteran point guard will be a massive improvement over Detroit’s messy backcourt rotation last season. The hope will be that Morris can average around 10 points while being a distributor for the mix of prospects and veterans that will surround him.

X-Factor

The Detroit Pistons’ X-factor for the 2023-24 season could be a host of names. In part, that is because quite a few players will be given a chance to make an impact. Although, the definition of an X-factor can also be debated. For this purpose, let’s find a player that is flying under the radar that can help the Pistons immediately as well as down the road.

Isaiah Livers

Isaiah Livers previews to be a potential X-factor for the Detroit Pistons this season. Livers will have an opportunity to make an immediate impact on the Pistons. As we have discussed, the Pistons lack wing defenders. Well, Livers could help solve that issue.

It feels like every team in the NBA is searching for three-and-D wings. If you take a look at the Pistons roster, Livers is really the only player that fits that role. The forward room is filled with players like Stewart, Thompson, Bogdanovic, Harris, and Marvin Bagley. For the most part, those players either struggle to shoot or are poor defenders. Livers is the only wing on the roster that can do both at a sufficient level. That should help him craft a consistent bench role in 2023-24.

Season Projection

The Detroit Pistons 2023-24 season previews to be all about progression. It is less about how many games they win and more about how their young players look. If Cunningham lives up to his lofty expectations while the Pistons’ young core takes a step in the right direction, Detroit should see a massive jump increase in wins. The Pistons goal should be to eclipse 30 wins. If they show growth while winning games, the Pistons’ future will be bright.

***

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