Isaiah Livers contributes in Pistons win over Charlotte

Isaiah Livers #12 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Rick Osentoski/Getty Images)
Isaiah Livers #12 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Rick Osentoski/Getty Images) /

With 21 games left in the NBA’s regular season, the only thing the Detroit Pistons are battling for is getting the most ping pong balls possible for the draft lottery (which their current wins should not stop them from accomplishing). So, it is the perfect time to roll out Isaiah Livers and see what the former Michigan player has.

With the Pistons ending their All-Star break, coach Dwane Casey said to the media it is time to get a closer look at some of the players they really have not had a chance to evaluate.

Detroit drafted Isaiah Livers, a 6-foot-7, 230-pound small forward, in the second round last year. As all Michigan fans know, Livers suffered a foot injury late in his senior year for the Wolverines.

Livers played the first significant minutes of his career in the Pistons’ 127-126 overtime win over the Hornets.

Livers scored six points, grabbed two offensive rebounds and had an assist in 13 minutes, 15 seconds of action. After missing his first three shots to start the second quarter, Livers went 2-for-3, both made baskets from beyond the arc. Not a bad game for a guy who had played a total of five minutes in the past year.

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You could say the path to Livers playing in the NBA has not been smooth. The foot kept him out  all pre-draft workouts and it as not until December 16, that Livers made his debut with Detroit. He played five minutes in a game against Indiana. He then went right back to the injured list, after experiencing soreness in his foot.

It appears that, finally, Livers is ready to go. Could the Pistons use a physical, sweet- shooting small forward? Sure (They could also use everything else, but that is another story).

Livers was an expert shooter at Michigan, averaging 41.2% on three-pointers for his career. Being  an outside shooting-challenged team, adding a guy who can hit the ‘3’ would be a nice pickup for Detroit.

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One of the questions about Livers is, what position will he most comfortable at in the NBA? His normal position has been small forward but, with his size, he could be a small-ball power forward. The biggest question is: Can he defensively handle NBA-level small forwards?

Does Isaiah Livers cut down Saddiq Bey’s minutes with Detroit Pistons?

The incumbent starter at small forward is Saddiq Bey. He is not going anywhere (since Ben Simmons found another home) and he factors into the Pistons’ future plans.

He is also a young player who needs minutes to work on his game. There is no reason Bey needs to see less action.

How will Casey balance Bey and Livers getting playing time? Bey has played the small-ball ‘4’ as well this year, and if Marvin Bagley III is out for any stretch of time with his ankle injury, he might play a lot more there. It will certainly be something to note for the rest of the season.

When watching Livers in action, fans should remember he has not really played an organized basketball game since February, 2020. He will have rust at the beginning.

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Ironically, Livers is one of the few Detroit players with a guaranteed contract for next year (something not even Hamidou Diallo or Frank Jackson have), so you can pretty much count on him returning next season.

However, after being mothballed for a year, it will be nice to finally get a look at Livers against real NBA competition. If he looks good, that could change part of Detroit’s off-season strategy.