Detroit Pistons rebuild: How to stay sane & what to watch for

ULM, GERMANY - MARCH 08: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) Killian Hayes of Ratiopharm Ulm. (Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
ULM, GERMANY - MARCH 08: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) Killian Hayes of Ratiopharm Ulm. (Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

As the Detroit Pistons head into their rebuild, what should you look out for?

Not only did Troy Weaver arrive in the Motor City to take the helm as the Detroit Pistons new GM, he took a wrecking ball and completely annihilated to the team he inherited. In a flurry of moves (starting the moments before the transaction moratorium was lifted), Troy Weaver essentially built an entire new roster from scratch.

As of right now (and we’ve now learned that no one is safe, ever), the Pistons only have four players who were on last season’s roster. Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Sekou Doumbouya and Svi Mykhailiuk are the last ones standing.

I don’t expect Rose and Griffin to finish the season in Detroit, and I’d be lying if I told you I thought Doumbouya and Mykhailiuk were safe.

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Every move that Troy Weaver has made thus far, seems to point to more moves yet to come (like the 27 centers he acquired in one form or another throughout the week of the draft and free agency). There is a plan here, as out of order and confusing as it has been to watch unfold.

The Pistons maneuvered their way into 3 first round picks in the NBA draft, to add some much needed young talent to last year’s number 15 pick, Sekou.

On top of that, the Pistons added some veteran players (Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Delon Wright) who can help them avoid “The Process” level losing, while providing good leadership and on court help for the youngins.

I believe that this Pistons team will have no trouble losing, but they aren’t going to lose by 20 points every night. The Pistons should be relatively competitive every night, while still racking up the losses to position themselves for a top pick in next year’s widely anticipated draft.

With a clear direction that we haven’t had in 12 years, this season should be much easier to swallow than seasons past, with a focus on player development. Here are some things to watch in order to stay sane and engaged in a season filled with losing.

1.     Killian Hayes! Ever since the season came to a halt in mid-March, Pistons fans turned to the draft and they picked their guy in Hayes. In a shocking turn of events, the Pistons grabbed the player who the fans wanted!

All signs point to the Pistons committing to him as their point guard of the future, a hopeful role left vacant ever since Chauncey Billups left in 2008. Hayes is 6’5” (great size for a point guard) with excellent vision, passing and defensive effort.

His three point shooting was a bit of an inconsistent struggle, as was using his right hand offensively throughout his season overseas. His free throw percentage of 87 percent this past season, along with his solid shooting mechanics, point to him being able to improve his three-point shot and bring it to the NBA level.

According to Hayes himself, the lack of right hand is no longer an issue. He’s had 9 months to work on that, and he’s now throwing bullet passes with his right hand. You love to hear that.

Mainly, we’re looking for improvement from those few areas, along while keeping an eye on the minutes he’s getting. With Rose as the only real point guard on the roster (Wright is more of a combo guard), I expect his defense and pick and roll offensive game will get him trust, and minutes with coach Casey, and he may even start right away.

Watching his development throughout the year will be exciting.

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2.     The wing rotation. For the first time, maybe ever, the Pistons have a combo of, long, athletic, switchable wings after bringing in Grant and drafting Saddiq Bey.

Between the small forward and power forward spots, the Pistons have Griffin, Grant, Bey, a hint of Josh Jackson, and Sekou, with Bey and Sekou being the young players who have a lot to prove.

Watching how those two progress as the season goes on is going to be a lot of fun. Bey was seen as one of the more NBA ready prospects in the draft, and like all of the other rookies and non bubble NBA players, he’s had the last 9 months for individual skill work.

That extra work applies to Sekou as well along with the French Connection landing in Detroit with the acquisition of Hayes.

3.     Defense! When’s the last time the Pistons have built a roster centered on defense and hard working players? Drafting three players in the first round who bring a hard-nosed, defensive, Detroit mentality every night is a very welcome change of pace.

Mix that with the addition of Grant and you have yourself a defensive minded off-season! The Pistons may struggle to score 90 points a night this year, but they’ll be holding opponents under 100 pretty frequently if it all comes together

4.     Youth and an eye towards the future. It’s been a long, long time since the Pistons had a collection of young players and a coaching staff and front office focused on development.

Troy Weaver didn’t see much of a future with the previous “young core” pieces of Luke Kennard and Bruce Brown, so he shipped them out of town and brought in his own guys.

Watching the development throughout the season of Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Bey, Sekou and Saben Lee is going to be worth the price of virtual admission. Keeping an eye on Josh Jackson and Jahlil Okafor (2 young players who haven’t figure it out yet) could be fun as well.

Weaver bought low on them, and we’ll see if there’s anything there. It’s not about wins and losses this year, it’s about seeing what we have in these young players and hoping that a few of them turn into the players the Pistons need them to be.

If Weaver got a couple of them right, the Pistons are in for a bright future, and we haven’t been able to say that in forever.

Next. Five possible starting lineups for the Detroit Pistons. dark