Are Bagley and ‘Beef Stew’ the new Twin Towers for Pistons?

Detroit Pistons forward Marvin Bagley III Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons forward Marvin Bagley III Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /
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It was probably more out of necessity than planning, but the pairing of Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley III actually worked out well for the Detroit Pistons in its victory over the Orlando Magic. Will we see the ‘Twin Towers’ again?

When you are not headed to the playoffs, a coach gets some leeway to experiment with lineups. With Jerami Grant unavailable against the Orlando Magic, coach Dwane Casey decided to do some tinkering with his big men..

The two players Detroit had mainly been using at center, 6-foot-11 Marvin Bagley III and 6-9 Isaiah Stewart, both started against the Orlando Magic. Considering the pair combined for 36 points and 21 rebounds in the 134-120 victory, playing both bigs has to be considered a success.

One off-shoot of having two bigs in there was that small forward Saddiq Bey took most of his shots from the perimeter – and made them. Bey’s 51 points got must of the attention in the victory, as it should, but the play of the post-players together should also be noted.

Cleveland, with Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, have been effective basically starting two centers this season. Other teams have also had success ‘going big’ at times. Heck, the 76ers used Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond (before he was traded) a little bit.

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Now, it was not an instant success. The Magic took a 9-0 lead to start the game, and Casey then replaced Bagley with Isaiah Livers. But, after that rough start, Bagley was a +9 the rest of the game. Bagley had a good start in the second half when paired with Stewart, nailing a three-pointer and being active on the boards.

Bagley is not exactly Anthony Davis as an outside-shooting big man, but he can knock down the occasional three-pointer (he was 2-for-5 from beyond the arc). The middle was open enough for Stewart to power inside for 16 points with all but one of his shot attempts (which he missed) inside the paint.

It is kind of odd that the shorter player, Stewart, is the one who powers inside, but it works. Coming off the bench, Detroit’s other big, Kelly Olynyk, worked well as he had nine points in 19 minutes.

Unfortunately, Allen is hurt and is not playing for the Cavaliers at the moment, so no ‘big men’ showdown can happen. However, if Bagley returns next season, and the indications are he is happy in the Motor City, a Twin Towers lineup could turn into a feature.

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With the Pistons probably emphasizing experimenting more as the season winds to a close, seeing Bagley and Stewart in the game together is something Casey could certainly try again.