Detroit Pistons: What from Game 1 was Real, and what was Fake

Killian Hayes #7 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Killian Hayes #7 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Following up on the Detroit Pistons season-opening loss to the Timberwolves. Instead of doing overreactions, let’s view some of what happened and decide whether it is something that is likely to continue or if it is just a one-game thing.

After the Detroit Pistons, 111-101, loss to the Timberwolves, some things looked pretty good and some things looked pretty bad. Which of those, either way, are things that we should expect to look to continue all season.

The lack of free throws:

This is probably going to be a season-long struggle. Blake Griffin can get to the line, but even he doesn’t get there a ton for how much he has the ball, Derrick Rose hasn’t drawn a lot of fouls since his first knee injury, and basically, no one else on the roster has any history of getting to the line.

Jahlil Okafor is really the only other guy likely to draw many fouls, but he won’t be playing enough to make much of a dent in that department.

Griffin can only do so much here. It is very likely the Pistons will be among the league’s worst teams in terms of drawing fouls. This isn’t the end of the world, there are occasionally decent offensive teams who survive this way. However, it’s difficult and usually requires incredible shooting from outside, which the Pistons don’t have.

The lack of free-throws will likely bog down the Pistons offensive efficiency, and will also mean they have to work harder for points.

An underrated aspect of teams that get to the line a lot is, that you get points while all your players get a breather. The one guy on the Pistons who should maybe try to be more aggressive in this manner is starting guard  Delon Wright, who has drawn a decent number of fouls for how much he has the ball in his career. But, it isn’t likely he could keep that up with a larger role.

This is also just one more reason why the Pistons need to try and play with more pace (which they didn’t in the opener but I have hope that will change). Without the ability to draw fouls they need to find easy points elsewhere, and transition is the best place for it.

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The Pistons had a lot of assists

I would guess this will be fairly true all season. Not because the Pistons are a great passing team, but mostly because they will have to work hard to generate offense.

They do have good passers.  Griffin and Mason Plumlee are lovely in the front court but, other than Rose and Griffin, they have no other isolation-heavy players. Their offense is likely to end up being putrid, but they will probably get lots of assists.

Defense was not terrible?

I’m going to say this is very fake.

The Pistons are comically soft inside and that almost always results in very bad defense. Karl Anthony-Towns destroyed them in the final minutes.

The perimeter length is real, and will likely keep them from being among the league’s worst defensive teams. But as long as Griffin and Plumlee are the starting front-court, along with a rookie point-guard, getting to even 20th in the league defensively would probably be a success.

There is a hypothetical world where Griffin gets hurt/traded and Killian Hayes grows quickly on that end, where they can become better, even with Plumlee at center. If the other four spots are Hayes/Wright/Jackson/Grant, that will give teams trouble. But for now, Blake is a terrible defender outside of occasional bursts of effort, Plumlee tries hard but just isn’t capable, and Hayes often looks totally lost.

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Just to emphasize, its fine that Hayes looks lost, he’s 19. To expect anything else would be foolish.