A way-too-early projection of 15-man Detroit Pistons roster

Cade Cunningham #2 of the Oklahoma State. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Cade Cunningham #2 of the Oklahoma State. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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Jerami Grant Mason Plumlee Detroit Pistons
Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant (9) celebrates with center Mason Plumlee (24) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Who will be among the starting 5 for the Detroit Pistons?

This was actually the easiest five to select. Knowing the investment, draft wise and financially, it is pretty obvious (at least to me).

Saddiq Bey

It is hard to believe that as late as January 28, that Saddiq Bey did not have a permanent spot in the Pistons rotation. Bey was benched by coach Dwane Casey on that date in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers for his recent poor play.

Instead of sulking, Bey turned his season around. He became not just a good three-point shooter, but a record-setter:

Coming out of Villanova, the 6-8 Bey was already fundamentally well-grounded. One early problem he had was relying too much on his three-point shot and not taking enough two-pointers. By the end of the season, he was driving to the basket with great success.

Bey, who did not even play in the Pistons opener, finished with an average of 12.2 points and 4.5 rebounds. It would be a major shock if Bey is not first team All-NBA Rookie.

Bey will be the starting small forward (maybe for the next 10 years) and that causes a lot of ripples in the starting lineup.

With Bey at the ‘3’, Cade Cunningham will play guard for Detroit and Jerami Grant, who started last season at small forward, will permanently move to power forward, his more natural position.

Cade Cunningham

The Savior has arrived, at least as far as Pistons fans are concerned.

If Detroit does get the No. 1 pick, there will be no drama as to who they will select. Cade Cunningham, a 6-foot-8 combo player (he can play everything but center) out of Oklahoma State will be taken.

We will not delve too much into his game, as there will be an avalanche of stories to come on that. Just let it be said he is really, really, really good.

Related Story. Detroit Pistons: How Cade Cunningham would fit with Killian Hayes. light

Cunningham will start. If Detroit shoehorned an unready Killian Hayes into the starting lineup to start this past season, Cunningham is a lock to start.

There will be a lot of expectations on Cunningham’s shoulders. But the pressure of being a starter will be the least of them.

Let the ‘Cade Cunningham Era’ in Detroit begin.

Jerami Grant

Jerami Grant went from defensive-specialist off the bench for the Denver Nuggets to top offensive threat for Detroit.

Grant finished second in voting for Most Improved Player. He scored 22.3 points a game for the Pistons after never scoring more than 13.6 points in a season before.

With Detroit not having many creators on offense, particularly after Derrick Rose was traded, Grant faced defenses keying on him for the first time in his career.

While Grant returns as the top dog on the team, the Cunningham hype train will undoubtedly be what the media and fans concentrate on. How Grant handles it will in a big way decide how the season goes for the Pistons.

But you can count on Grant coming back. Boston has made noises about wanting him, but unless Jaylen Brown and multiple No. 1 draft picks are offered (unlikely), that is not happening.

Killian Hayes

Killian Hayes started out slow, took a three-month break due to injury, and came back a better player.

And remember, due to the pandemic, Hayes had no summer league or really any opportunity to work on his game with the team. In the evaluation process, not much can be gained on Hayes from this past season.

But he will start. Why? Because he was the No. 7 overall pick in the draft last year? Yup. Does Cade Cunningham pretty much play the same position as Hayes? Yeah, kind of.

Related Story. Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham will be drafted first and that’s a problem. light

To begin last season Hayes was handed the starting point guard position, a job he was not prepared to handle yet. Coach Dwane Casey has said Hayes will not be automatically be made a starter this year, but he would be a major leading candidate.

Could Detroit simply make Cunningham the starting point guard and have a shooter like Wayne Ellington start at ‘2’ guard. Sure. Might even make sense. But that will not happen.

If you think Detroit management is going to have the guy they picked seventh overall become a sub, that is not the way of the NBA world.

If Cade Cunningham comes to Detroit, he and Hayes will be the starting backcourt. Book it.

Mason Plumlee

Detroit general manager Troy Weaver took a lot of heat for signing Mason Plumlee to a three-year, $25 million contract. After a career year from the 31-year-old veteran, the heat is off.

Plumlee contributed in every category: points, rebounds, assists and was excellent at setting picks.

Was he Joel Embiid? No, but Plumlee was solid in the middle, which is what the Pistons were looking for.

With scorers like Saddiq Bey and Jerami Grant on the frontline, Plumlee is under no pressure to sport a big scoring average. He does all the little things that teammates appreciate.

Could Plumlee help a contender as a backup?. Yes. But if he wanted to do that, he would have stayed in Denver. Plumlee is not in Detroit to be a reserve, nor is he paid like one. That is why Isaiah Stewart will come off the bench this season.

Plumlee started this past year and has given the Pistons no reason to demote him.


Much like Troy Weaver said, there will not be many changes. The only new players I have are Mike Muscala and Cade Cunningham. A lot of reclamation projects brought in this season were successful, meaning those players should stay, and also will not put much of a dent in the salary cap.

Still, we will say goodbye to a few players: Sekou Doumbouya, Josh Jackson and Rodney McGruder among them.

But Detroit will have continuity, as the projected roster for 2021-22 looks a lot like the 2020-21 roster.