The Detroit Pistons are expectedly bad this NBA season.
Sitting last in the Eastern Conference and third-worst in the entire league at 18-40, the Pistons haven’t provided many memorable moments.
However, there have still been some standout performers to highlight for NBA postseason awards during this rebuilding phase.
Saddiq Bey shines as Detroit’s top rookie in talented class
The Pistons were very aggressive in the 2020 NBA Draft. Along with taking Killian Hayes with the No. 7 pick, Detroit made trades to acquire Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey by selecting again in the top 20.
Hayes, a point guard, came into the season with the biggest spotlight of the rookies in terms of NBA postseason awards. He was listed from +600 to +900 to be the NBA Rookie of the Year.
But a torn right labrum in his hip kept him out for multiple months. Hayes has played just 14 games this season. He’s averaged 5.9 points and 4.3 assists. He’s managed to shoot just 35.1% from the field and 24.2% from the 3-point arc.
Stewart, a 6-foot-8 center, is logging around 20 minutes per game. He is averaging 7.3 points and 6.5 rebounds, and is coming on strong lately.
The real gem has been Bey. The 6-7 forward was taken 19th in the draft. On the season, Bey is averaging 11.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.
Things started slow for Bey, but he has largely come on since February. Since Feb. 5, Bey has 19 games where he has scored at least 14 points. That stretch includes six games with at least 20. Just recently, Bey knocked down a Pistons record six 3-pointers in a quarter.
Although Yahoo! Sports recently listed Bey as second in their ROY rankings, Bey is a big longshot to take home the Rookie of the Year honor among NBA postseason awards.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook on Tuesday afternoon, LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets is the ROY favorite at -250, Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves is second at +185 and Tyrese Haliburton of the Sacramento Kings is third at +750. After a big drop-off, Immanuel Quickley of the New York Knicks is fourth at +6000. Bey is tied for fifth with Patrick Williams of the Chicago Bulls at +15000.
Ball has been out with an injury but is expected to return soon.
Stewart and Hayes are not among the 18 rookies on the board.
Jerami Grant among NBA’s most improved
Another one of Detroit’s many offseason moves was bringing in Jerami Grant last November in a trade with the Denver Nuggets for cash considerations.
Grant was seeking to be somewhere where he could be the “go-to player.” That has been the case in Detroit.
Grant is averaging 22.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.
The league is taking notice of his efforts as well. Grant is listed as the second-favorite to win the league’s Most Improved Player Award.
DraftKings and BetRivers Sportsbook list Grant at +400 to win the honor, while BetMGM Sportsbook lists him at +250.
Julius Randle of the New York Knicks is the clear favorite, ranging from -500 to -350 to take the honor. Randle is putting up 23.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. Both are career highs for the veteran. He has the Knicks in the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference through 58 of 72 games at 31-27.
Grant is easily having a career year by his own standards. His previous best scoring average was 13.6 points in the 2018-19 season with Oklahoma City.
Pistons among top lottery contenders
One sure thing in this conversation: The Detroit Pistons should have a top pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Only the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves, who are both 15-43, have a better record than Detroit (18-40). The Orlando Magic (18-39) are a half-game ahead of the Pistons.
The current NBA Draft Lottery system offers equal opportunities for the worst three teams to get the top overall pick. Each of those teams has a 14% chance. Those odds dip after that. The fourth-worst record sits with a 12.5% chance, while fifth is at 10.5%.
As of 2019, the NBA Lottery moved from picking three teams at random to four. As it stands now, Detroit couldn’t fare worse than owning the seventh pick in the draft.
Detroit has never won the NBA Lottery. The Pistons’ last top-3 pick came in 2003. … And we all know how that went, as they selected Darko Milicic at No. 2.
In CBS Sports’ latest mock draft, they have Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham as the top pick.
CBS projects USC 7-footer Evan Mobley to the Pistons at No. 2, while Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs is at No. 3 to Minnesota.