Which players on the Pistons roster will be a part of their regular rotation, and what will their roles be?
PG Cade Cunningham
SG Jaden Ivey
SF Saddiq Bey
PF Bojan Bogdanovic
C Marvin Bagley
DEEP BENCH – VETERANS
DEEP BENCH – DEVELOPING YOUTH
LIKELY TO BE WAIVED
Three positions are set: the team’s last three 1st round picks (Saddiq Bey, Cade Cunningham, and Jaden Ivey) will man the 1-3 positions. These pieces fit together well and give the Pistons size, athleticism, shooting, and playmaking from the top and the wings, as well as being able to take the ball straight from the defensive glass to the other end.
There are several options for the other two spots. Marvin Bagley is likely to get an opportunity, whether it’s at center in a smaller lineup or at power forward next to a bigger center. If Bagley were to play center, it would make the most sense for newly acquired Bogdan Bogdanovic to play stretch 4. That would give the lineup some spacing, opening driving lanes for Cunningham and Ivey. This lineup, however, may have issues defensively in certain matchups. The other option is to go with a more traditional 4 in Isaiah Livers.
The other option is to slide Bagley back to his natural power forward position and start Isaiah Stewart at center. Stewart started every game he played last year, provides toughness and rebounding on the interior, fits the Pistons style, and has continually improved since being drafted. Which direction the Pistons go could vary based on the opponent.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
There are a few young veterans on the bench who may be fighting for their NBA lives. Killian Hayes has been a disappointment, and has been overshadowed by fellow draftees Stewart and Bey. If Hayes isn’t productive as the third guard, he’ll lose minutes to veteran Alec Burks.
Kevin Knox, Hamidou Diallo, and Nerlens Noel all came from other teams who really had no qualms in letting them move on. Noel has always had injury issues; in 4 of his 9 seasons, he’s played fewer than 52 games. Also, he has never matched the production from the two seasons he played in Philly, so it’s difficult to imagine him suddenly heading in another direction. Knox’s game has really unraveled over the past 3 years after a promising rookie campaign. He only played in 137 out of 226 games, with only 4 starts. His advanced metrics are among the worst in the NBA. Diallo is the most likely to maintain his spot in the rotation. Since coming over from the Thunder, he’s been fairly consistent, putting up 11 points and 5 rebounds in 24 minutes per game. Diallo is still only 23 years old so he fits in with the timeline of the Pistons’ other young talent. Letting him go may have been a rare mistake by the Thunder.
Don’t expect Kemba Walker to suit up for the Pistons. It’s like that he’ll negotiate a buyout. The real question is if he suits up for anyone at all. Walker game has sharrply declined over the past couple of seasons due to his injuries and at his size he may no longer be effective enough to warrant taking minutes away from a younger player.