The Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets entered last night’s game with very different mentalities. Detroit has spent the season tanking trying to land the highest draft pick possible, and Charlotte has been trying to prove that they are a playoff team with the star of the future in Rookie of the Year frontrunner LaMelo Ball.
Unsurprisingly, the Hornets handily beat Detroit 107-94, which was expected as Charlotte is on a 12 game win streak against the Pistons.
The final score is not the main story of last night’s game.
Detroit has proven time and time again this season that they have some real franchise cornerstones of the future on their roster, and last night was no exception. Isaiah Stewart has recently found himself in the national spotlight, and for good reason. The young big man had three blocks and a steal, and shot very well, even though he only scored nine points.
Killian Hayes had similar scoring struggles, but passed well, grabbed two steals, and looked polished for one of the first times this season.
Frank Jackson is not a rookie, but the 22-year-old guard led the team with 25 points and was the only Piston to finish with a positive plus/minus.
Detroit Pistons: LaMelo Ball and Saddiq Bey
The real sensation was Saddiq Bey. One of this season’s breakout rookies and still a frontrunner for the class of 2020, Bey shot 5-of-12 from beyond the arc, put up 22 points, and played a very well-rounded game outside of scoring.
LaMelo Ball has been the darling of NBA media. He has missed the last 21 games due to a wrist injury, but before his absence highlight sites have made him and LeBron James the focal point during the season.
While he was injured, he was still in the news as tabloids focused on his dating rumors.
High-performing rookies like Bey and Stewart have often gone unnoticed. Last night Ball shot poorly and only had 11 points. He didn’t play poorly and made a spectacular pass to Miles Bridges, which will surely be played on SportsCenter for the entire week.
Bey, Stewart, and Hayes all outperformed Ball, and Jackson put on a clinic. While the Hornets are the more successful team this year, the NBA media should still look at Detroit as a team of the future, with multiple future All-Stars outperforming their darling on the court.