Will “next season be different” for the Detroit Pistons?

Frank Jackson #5, Braxton Key #8. Jamorko Pickett #24, Rodney McGruder #17, Cade Cunningham #2, Isaiah Stewart #28 and Jerami Grant #9 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Frank Jackson #5, Braxton Key #8. Jamorko Pickett #24, Rodney McGruder #17, Cade Cunningham #2, Isaiah Stewart #28 and Jerami Grant #9 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

After last night’s three point loss to the Wizards, the Detroit Pistons are 20-54, and once again paying more attention to the lottery odds than the playoffs.

The Pistons had won 20 games in each of the previous two seasons entering this one and are on the verge of once again having one of the three worst records in the NBA.

However, there are some signs that things are about to change. The Pistons have a young star in Cade Cunningham, they have quality role players in Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart, a ton of cap space coming up as well as another lottery pick to add to the core.

Even though they haven’t been winning much of late, the Pistons have been close in every game, and while that may sound like a patronizing compliment, it shows improvement from the team that was regularly getting blown out to start the season.

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The players sense it too.

After last night’s game, Isaiah Stewart had this to say about the loss and the future:

"“We’ve just grown. We had our struggles and growing pains throughout the year,” Stewart said. “Going into next season, the way we’re ending this season…next season is going to be different.”"

Fans of the Detroit Pistons have been waiting for “next season” for a long time, but is Beef Stew right, is Detroit finally on the verge of turning it around?

How next year has to be different for the Detroit Pistons

If the Pistons finally want to get out of the cellar and follow in the footsteps of a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers, there are few areas in which they must improve.

Play complete games

One of the hallmarks of young teams is playing incomplete games and the Pistons have been doing it all season, including last night.

You can’t come out flat against NBA opponents or they will bury you before the first quarter is over, which happens to Detroit a lot. The Pistons played a great second half against the Wizards, but it was already too late because they came out with no energy.

The same happened in the loss to Portland, where the Pistons looks disinterested early against a team they should have beaten.

Playing scrappy to erase big leads is great and all, but Detroit has to stop getting so far behind to begin with, and that starts with coming out focused and prepared every night and not taking a quarter or a half to warm up.

More talent, more consistently

Obviously, the Detroit Pistons need more talent, as it doesn’t matter how hard you play if the other team is significantly better.

The Pistons will have at least a top-7 draft pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, and have more cap space than any team in the NBA.

They also have Jerami Grant as a trade asset, so could walk away from this draft with two lottery picks and still add a free agent like Deandre Ayton or Miles Bridges.

But the Pistons also need more consistent performances from the guys they have, specifically Saddiq Bey, who runs as hot and cold as any player in the NBA.

When he’s on, he can score 51 points, as we saw this season against Orlando, but when he is off, he can go 1-of-8 from 3-point range and score eight points, as he did last night.

Bey has to get more consistent in year three and be a guy the Pistons can count on for 15-20 points every night instead of the hot and cold streaks he’s had this season.

It does feel like something has shifted with the Detroit Pistons, who haven’t been blown out since the middle of February and believe they can win every game.

But believing it and doing it are two different things and Detroit still needs consistent effort for full games and consistent production night after night if they want to make the leap next season and start turning these close losses into wins.

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