The Detroit Pistons are angling to compete sooner rather than later despite a lost season this year. Here’s what re-tooling could look like for next season.
Injuries have forced the hand of the Detroit Pistons front office to play the younger players, simply because there are no veterans left, and it may benefit in the near future.
Sekou Doumbouya, the league’s youngest player at 19-years-old, is chief among the beneficiaries. His time was likely going to be limited but the Pistons (14-27) have been forced to play their rookie. So far, he’s looked the part, too.
The greater issue is the Pistons had a playoff-caliber roster with a limited ceiling. Reggie Jackson has missed all but two games with a back injury, which the Pistons haven’t fully disclosed what is going on. In December he was making progress towards a return and was supposed to be re-evaluated but a full month later and not a lot has been said.
Luke Kennard has missed three weeks with a knee injury and was supposed to be reevaluated on Jan. 7, but no update was provided. The third-year guard marginally improved but his knee injury is taking longer to recover, though he’s anticipated to return around the All-Star break.
Detroit, meanwhile, is developing significant depth for seasons in the near future. Christian Wood has developed into a rotational player for the Pistons this season and is still improving on the defensive end. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is shooting 42.4% from 3-point range and has doubled his minutes from his rookie season to his sophomore season.
That will prove important for the Pistons, who are planning to re-tool and believe they are closer to competing in the postseason than going for a full-blown, tanking rebuild. That’s according to The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III, who wrote extensively about it in his mid-seasons FAQs story.
“This season is being used as a teaching moment for Detroit’s youth,” Edwards wrote. “The playoffs are essentially out of the question, and there have been no indications the front office is looking to make a move to put them back in the picture.
With that said, Detroit’s decision-makers don’t plan on completely stripping this thing down to the nuts and bolts, either. Griffin’s injury and lack of trade value make that nearly impossible. Instead, the front office and ownership plan on attacking this offseason with the idea of competing for the playoffs next year. That doesn’t mean the Pistons will go out and spend recklessly on a handful of veterans to get the job done.”
Let’s dive deeper into what that looks like.