How Marvin Bagley III helps Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes

Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (2) with Killian Hayes (7) Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (2) with Killian Hayes (7) Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons’ trade for Marvin Bagley III is already paying dividends for Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes.

Both of the Pistons’ young guards are skilled with the basketball, but have lacked a big man who can do some of the things that make life easier for a point guard.

We saw all of these things on display last night, as Bagley III had his best game for the Detroit Pistons so far.

Bagley III certainly has some flaws, particularly on defense, where he leaves his feet too easily on pump fakes and sometimes loses track of his man on backdoor cuts.

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But his offensive bag is there and last night’s win over Cleveland showed how he will benefit both Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes.

Marvin Bagley III in the pick-and-roll with Cade Cunningham

Bagley III is not a great screen setter, but he’s not terrible and has a big enough frame to get in the way.

His biggest asset in the PnR is not his screens, but his threat to roll to the hoop, as he is a big man who can finish around the rim, which is something the Pistons have not had all season.

Early in the first half of last night’s game, Bagley III set a screen for Cade and then rolled to the hoop. When he did, both defenders went with him, which left Cade wide open to take a few steps in and hit the mid-range jumper.

Cunningham can fill it up from the mid-range and this high-percentage shot was created because of Bagley’s threat to roll to the rim, something that defenses didn’t have to worry about much with Kelly Olynyk, Isaiah Stewart or Trey Lyles.

The lob in transition

Raise your hand if you’ve been waiting all season to see Cade Cunningham throw a lob to a big man in transition.

The Pistons struggle in the half court at times and need to get as many easy buckets as possible off transition and fast breaks.

The problem is the Pistons never had an above-the-rim big man to lob it to on these plays. Well, they do now.

Cade is a gifted passer, so having another athletic player who can finish in transition is a huge weapon for the Pistons.

Marvin Bagley III provides an emergency outlet

Another way Bagley III helps the Pistons’ young guards is that he offers an emergency outlet when the play is busted.

Killian Hayes was the beneficiary of this last night, as he worked his way into the lane but then ran out of space and was double teamed. It looked like he had nowhere to go with the ball, but he was able to toss it up to Bagley III, who grabbed the pass and finished at the rim.

The same happened later in the game, when Olynyk picked up his dribble in the post, and was able to hit a cutting Bagley III with a lob that he also finished.

It’s nice for young guards to have an emergency outlet, a guy they can just toss it up to and know he’ll go and get it when they get in a jam.

Bagley III and the Detroit Pistons are still a work in progress, but early signs are positive that he is a fit with Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes.

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