How will Detroit Pistons look without Rose or Griffin?

Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons will face the Atlanta Hawks on Monday without Derrick Rose or Blake Griffin. How will they look, and who else will play?

You could say that the Detroit Pistons game at the Atlanta Hawks will be a bit of ‘Back to the Future’.

Neither guard Derrick Rose or forward Blake Griffin will play against Atlanta (2-0).

Do not get all worked up about Griffin’s left knee management injury listing.

The NBA instituted new rules this season about resting two key players in a road game if not injured. So, the Pistons had to come up with some threadbare medical excuse for Griffin not to play, or owner Tom Gores’ wallet would be made a bit lighter.

You should expect to see Griffin and Rose play against the New York Knicks at home on Tuesday.

Rose and Griffin have been the key players on the Pistons for the past couple of years. That was never more clear than in Saturday’s double overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Detroit twice had the currently undefeated Cavs down and seemingly out. But Griffin stopped scoring, and Rose did not convert down the stretch on isolation plays like he usually does. The Pistons basically fell apart without them contributing, and lost a game they should have won.

Since there are always rumors about the 32-year-old Rose or Griffin, 31, being traded, seeing how this reconstructed team does without the pair, could be interesting. Fans might be getting a preview of future Pistons lineups.

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The absence of Griffin and Rose (and possibly Okafor) could open up some time for all the rookies to see action. Outside of point guard Killian Hayes, the other four rookies have seen, at best, only occasional minutes.

And Hayes is not exactly getting a ton of time. The Cavaliers game went 58 minutes, and Hayes only played 19,

Although Rose is one of Detroit’s top players, he is not a starter.  Coach Dwane Casey prefers that he come off the bench, to limit his minutes.

The big decision for Casey is whether he moves Jerami Grant to Griffin’s spot at power forward, a position he has played most of his career. Casey also has to decide who will play point guard when he takes out Hayes.

Starting shooting guard Delon Wright can play the point.

You could have Wright move to point when Haye leaves, and put in Svi Myhailiuk or Josh Jackson at ‘two’ guard. Does Casey keep Wright at shooting guard, and bring off the bench rookie and two-way player Saben Lee, who looked pretty good in the preseason, as he is the only other point guard on the roster.

There are a lot of ways to go with this.

We will present two possible lineups, with substitute rotations. One has Grant moving to power forward, and the other is Grant remaining at small forward. We will assume Okafor is also missing the game, as he did not practice Sunday.

Pistons lineup at Hawks Version 1


Point guard – Killian Hayes

Shooting guard – Delon Wright

Center – Mason Plumlee

Small forward – Josh Jackson

Power forward – Jerami Grant



First guard off bench: Svi Mykhailiuk

First forward off bench: Saddiq Bey

First center off bench: Isaiah Stewart

The lineup lowdown: This is most likely the lineup Casey goes with against the Hawks. Atlanta is quick and athletic and Casey will try to match their athleticism. Stewart should see minutes in the middle, as he has a high motor.

I see Mykhailiuk coming in for Hayes, and Wright taking the point. Casey will make sure Wright or Hayes are always in the game to run the show. Jackson can also swing to the two guard spot, and give Bey a lot of playing time at small forward.

Pistons lineup at Hawks Version 2


Point guard – Killian Hayes

Shooting guard – Delon Wright

Center – Mason Plumlee

Small forward – Jerami Grant

Power forward – Sekou Doumbouya



First guard off bench: Josh Jackson

First forward off bench: Saddiq Bey

First center off bench: Doumbouya moves to center

The lineup lowdown: With the Hawks featuring two athletic big men in Clint Capela and rookie Onyeke Okungwu, you could see Casey start his own athletic big man in the 6-9 Doumbouya.

Instead of the inexperienced Stewart being put in a bad spot, when Plumlee is off the court, one could predict Doumbouya being moved to center if Okafor is not available.

When Sekou is the center, you have Grant then go to power forward and Bey or Jackson can play small forward. You also can go with Jackson at shooting guard with Bey at small forward, and have a really big lineup

In either version, the way he has been playing, not having Okafor will definitely crimp Detroit’s sub rotation. Detroit  will have virtually no inside scoring threats without him or Griffin.

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The Hawks are a much improved team. Whatever Pistons lineup rolls out, they will have a tough battle.

For those looking to completely tank and play the kids, this will be a good game for them to watch. For those hoping to trade Griffin and Rose for future assets, this will be a preview of what the team may look like in a few months.

What is the old saying? Beware of what you wish for, you might get it.