Detroit Pistons need to get more defensive

Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart (28) guards Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen (Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart (28) guards Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen (Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /
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Before the season started, Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey set a goal of having a top 10 ranked defense. Well, that has not quite worked out. They are not even in the top 20.

Let’s look at the reasons why, and ways to improve on the defensive end.

While wins and losses are a little more tough to predict, Casey did have one specific team goal for the 2021-22 NBA season:

Casey’s goal has gone about as well as my diet, falling far short of the stated mark. Going into the Timberwolves game, the Pistons were ranked 24th out of 30 NBA teams in points allowed. Now, it is better than its offensive ranking (29th),  but a lot of issues involving injuries and absences to its top scorers can explain that. And Casey never said Detroit would be a top scoring team.

One of the oldest basketball bromides is: ‘Offense comes and goes, but you can always play defense.’ That is fairly true, in that defense in basketball is more about effort than offense, which is more skill-based. Some of the best defensive players ever, like Draymond Green and Dennis Rodman, were nowhere as good on the offense end.

Related Story. Detroit Pistons: Why the Pistons will have a top-ten defense next season. light

Looking at the Pistons individually, they have some players who are good defensive players.

Both Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes are above average defenders, Jerami Grant is recognized as one of the top defensive forwards in the league and Hamidou Diallo is a super-athletic defensive oriented wing. Also, Frank Jackson is an athletic guard who is known for his shooting but is also good on defense. Isaiah Stewart at center is a rim protecter and can bang down low with anyone.

They might not be the 2004 ‘Goin’ to Work’ Pistons, who kept many teams in the 70s, but they have the pieces of a decent defensive team, which is probably why Casey thought they could be a top 10 unit. So let’s take a look at the reasons why they aren’t:

3 reasons the Detroit Pistons are not a Top 10 defensive team

3. They are a Doughnut team: With 6-11 Kelly Olynyk missing much of the first half of the season, the Pistons simply did not match up size-wise with a lot of NBA teams. Skill is nice and small ball can work sometimes, but there are games you simply need a big guy clogging the middle to have guards think twice about driving to the hoop.

As an example, Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo are not among the top leaders in blocked shots, but that is because opponents know it is pointless to attack the basket with them sitting in the lane. But that knowledge helps the defense, as it leave opponents having to operate strictly on the perimeter.

Stewart is 6-foot-9 (maybe), and he simply does not intimidate opponents like a really big guy. And 6-9 Trey Lyles has been forced to play a lot of minutes at center. A natural power forward, Lyles has had his challenges on defense going against centers.