The expectations are certainly not high for the Detroit Pistons in the 2020-21 NBA season. That doesn’t mean the Pistons won’t be entertaining.
New general manager Troy Weaver blew up last season’s roster to quickly begin a rebuild in Detroit with third-year coach Dwane Casey.
A lot of young faces should make for streaky play, but the Pistons still have some intriguing player storylines to keep in mind as the regular season gets started Dec. 22. The Pistons’ first game is Dec. 23 when they face the Timberwolves in Minnesota.
So do you plan on watching the tipoff? Need a reason to maybe see if this year is the year the Pistons show some life? We give you five reasons.
1. Blake Griffin
The most recognizable name on the Pistons remains Blake Griffin, who is entering his fourth season with the team.
Griffin didn’t have much of a 2019-20 season, as complications from knee surgery limited him to just 18 games. He underwent season-ending surgery in January, the second time having his left knee operated on in nine months.
In recent weeks, the Pistons roster has been heavily overhauled, leaving Griffin as one of the few remaining faces from last season. That hasn’t stopped Griffin, who seems motivated to get back to form this season.
Griffin’s 2018-19 season with Detroit was one of his best in years. He averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists over 75 games.
Whether it be playing hard for his legacy, or to be an appealing trade option for a contender, Griffin could still have something to offer. Or so we hope.
DraftKings Sportsbook has Griffin as a +25000 longshot to win the NBA MVP Award this season.
2. Sekou Doumbouya
When drafted No. 15 in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Pistons were hoping Sekou Doumbouya could potentially be their Giannis Antetokounmpo.
A long forward (6’8”, 230 lbs) with raw talent, Sekou started to show flashes of what he could be last season.
He averaged just 6.4 points and 3.1 rebounds over 38 games, but he had an eight-game stretch in early January where he averaged 14 points and 5.25 rebounds per game. He also had a pair of double-doubles.
What you can probably expect is more hot-and-cold games from Sekou in year two.
He saw just 11 minutes and had 4 points with 4 rebounds in the preseason opener against the New York Knicks.
However, he followed it up with 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks in the follow-up preseason game on Sunday.
DraftKings lists Doumbouya at +8000 to win this season’s Most Improved Player Award.
3. Killian Hayes
The Pistons were probably hoping for a better draft position than No. 7 in 2020. However, the team still came away with a promising point guard in Killian Hayes.
Just 19 years of age, Hayes is 6’5” and 192 lbs. The French American has played overseas and been a big part of France’s FIBA U17 and U16 programs over the years.
Hayes helped France win the FIBA U16 European Championship in 2017, where he was named Most Valuable Player. He has been thrown into the fire right away by coach Casey, starting both preseason games thus far.
Hayes has 11 points, 7 assists, 9 rebounds and 4 steals over the two games. However, he had 7 turnovers in his debut.
Running a young and inexperienced roster will likely lead to some rough patches for Hayes, the Pistons believe he is their point guard of the future.
DraftKings lists Hayes at +600 to take home the NBA Rookie of the Year Award this season.
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4. Isaiah Stewart
Detroit was a busy team on draft night last month. Through wheeling and dealing, the Pistons ended up with three picks in the top 19 and four for the night.
Among the picks was Isaiah Stewart at No. 16, a selection they acquired through a trade with the Houston Rockets.
The 19-year-old center from Washington stands 6’9” and weighs 250 lbs. In one year with the Huskies, Stewart averaged 17 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.
What stands out about White is his 77% shooting from the free-throw line. He also knocked down five 3-pointers, giving the Pistons some options to move him around the floor for offense.
Stewart has only seen a combined 15 minutes in two preseason games, but his time is sure to increase throughout the season. As an energy player, Stewart has a good chance to become a fan favorite in Detroit.
DraftKings lists Stewart at +8000 to win Rookie of the Year.
5. Josh Jackson
The No. 4 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft never found his footing with the Phoenix Suns in two seasons and struggled last year in 22 games with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Perhaps a return home to Detroit will be the spark Josh Jackson needs to live up to his pre-NBA potential.
The former prep star at Detroit Consortium signed a 2-year contract with the Pistons for just under $10 million in the offseason.
For his three-year NBA career, Jackson is averaging 11.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He is shooting just 41.7 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from the arc.
It’s unclear where Jackson currently fits in the Pistons rotation, but he’s likely to get his chances to shine with such an unproven roster. Foul trouble limited his time in the preseason opener, but he saw 19 minutes on Sunday and put up 9 points with 3 assists and 2 steals.