The Detroit Pistons young roster could take some serious strides forward this season, but the team is not quite ready to compete seriously in the Eastern Conference.
Ceiling: 38-44 and the 8th seed
Cade Cunningham’s season-ending injury derailed the Pistons 2022-23 season, and the rebuilding franchise finished at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Cunningham is expected to be healthy for the new season, and fellow youngsters Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and Jame Wiseman should all be improved with more seasoning. Throw i the addition of Joe Harris, and Detroit has another sharpshooter to space the floor.
Detroit has the talent to be fighting for a play-in tournament spot. Bojan Bogdanovic remains an elite talent despite his advancing years and head coach Monty Williams is another swing factor for Detroit. The veteran coach worked wonders during his tenure with the Phoenix Suns, and he will be expected to develop a winning culture within the Pistons young locker room.
Cunningham’s health will be a key to success. As Detroit’s best player, Cunningham must stay on the floor as much as possible. Furthermore, the former first overall draft pick needs to develop some unity with his teammates. Duren and Ivey are both explosive scorers who could thrive playing alongside a playmaker like Cunningham. Wiseman could be unlocked when partnered with an elite pick-and-roll ball-handler. If everything goes to plan, the Pistons will be fighting for a playoff spot at the end of the season.
Floor: 22-60 and another high draft pick
Detroit’s roster is one of the most raw in the NBA. There is undoubted talent, but it is years away from being refined.
The Pistons also have a lack of high-level depth. Last season, we saw Cunningham’s injury completely alter the trajectory of the franchise. With very few additions this summer, Detroit is susceptible to a similar plight this season should the injury bug bite.
Williams’s system may also take some time to adjust to. The veteran coach is known for empowering his players to be decision-makers. That type of freedom takes time to nurture, especially with younger talent.
Furthermore, Detroit will need to figure out its defensive structure. With Wiseman and Isaiah Stewart, the Pistons will run a lot of drop. Learning how to close down the space in the middle of the court will be important.
The Pistons will need to avoid significant injury while also working hard to adapt to a new coaching style. Detroit must also find a way to keep Harris and Bogdanovic happy while still giving developmental minutes to the younger prospects. It’s a major balancing act.
If the Pistons fail to get the balance right, they could find themselves rooted back to the foot of the Eastern Conference, regardless of an improved record.