New faces, same determination: A Detroit Pistons preview

Considering the last time the Pistons took the court was in April, here’s a breakdown of the key players the Pistons added this offseason and what to expect this upcoming season.

New Faces

Over the off-season, the Pistons added four key players to the roster, two of whom came from the NBA draft. The two Pistons recruits were fifth overall pick Ausar Thompson, who plays guard and forward, and 25th overall pick Marcus Sasser, who plays guard.

Thompson will bring some much-needed defense to a Piston team that ranked in the bottom five of defenses the previous season. Additionally, Thompson has shown some potential in developing a 3-point shot this off-season, something he was ineffective with during his time in the Overtime Elite League.

Sasser will provide some aggression on the defensive side and some top-notch 3-point shooting. Sasser averaged 1.6 steals per game and shot 38.4% from deep last season for the Houston Cougars.

Along with a fresh pair of rookies, the Pistons traded for two veterans this past off-season.

First, they traded for guard Monte Morris in exchange for a 2027 second-round pick back in June with the Washington Wizards. Notably, Morris has some Michigan ties, as he grew up in Flint and was named Michigan Mr. Basketball in 2013.

The acquisition of Morris gives Detroit one of the best ballhandlers and distributors in the league. Notably, Morris distributed 5.4 assists for every turnover this past season, tying for first place in the category.

Additionally, Morris will promote competitiveness among the group of Piston guards throughout the season. Several players on the depth chart, including Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Alec Burks, Killian Hayes, Sasser, and Morris, will find it difficult to log significant and reliable minutes during the season.

Next, in July, the team acquired veteran wing Joe Harris in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets. The Pistons sent the bare minimum to acquire Harris: $110,000 in cash. On top of receiving Harris, the Pistons also acquired two future second-round draft picks in the deal.

Harris will provide the Pistons with a 3-point punch off the bench. With 47.5% of his 3-pointers made, Harris finished as the NBA’s most effective 3-point shooter in the 2020–21 season.

Season Forecast

Expect the Pistons to improve their record this season, but not by much. Although they likely won’t finish as the worst team in the league again, they will still be at the bottom of the barrel in the Eastern Conference.

Much of Detroit’s success currently relies on how the young core will continue to develop this coming season.

With Cunningham back from injury while putting the NBA on notice in Team USA scrimmages, Ivey showing significant improvements in all facets of his game at the end of last season, and center Jalen Duren growing immensely as a player this past off-season, these three players are the ones to watch ahead of the season.

Additionally, this is head coach Monty William’s first year with the team. Williams will likely prioritize experimenting with different lineups and plays throughout the season to see what works as opposed to immediately winning.

So, fasten your seatbelts, Pistons fans. A bumpy road of a season lies ahead yet again. But it’s a journey filled with potential and excitement as the Pistons write a new chapter in Motor City basketball.

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