One would think a young team like the Detroit Pistons needs its players to get as much experience as possible. However, the Pistons brain trust basically put the biggest, and some not so big, names participating in NBA Summer League quickly in bubble wrap, barely playing them.
The names on the official Detroit Pistons summer league roster were impressive, but the players who actually took the floor were mostly on a different level in the team’s pecking order.
In theory, the Pistons could have rolled out a lineup of Cade Cunningham-Jaden Ivey- Saddiq Bey-Killian Hayes and Isaiah Stewart. All have starting experience on the real club, but none of them have played more than two seasons in the NBA.
Total number of summer league games played by those five: 5.
Stewart and Ivey played the first two games while Hayes only played in the opener (in which Detroit beat the Portland Trail Blazers, who made the summer league championship game).
Cunningham and Bey never played a game, not that they should have. Nothing to prove gain really.
Apparently, they were listed so they could practice with the summer league squad. Coach Dwane Casey had said before the start of the league that, to him, practice was more important than the games.
Other NBA teams totally disagreed with that philosophy:
- No. 3 overall draft pick Jabari Smith Jr. was still in action for the Houston Rockets until the end. He played in all five of their games.
- No. 4 overall draft choice Keegan Murray played in the Sacramento Kings first four games, and probably locked up League MVP in the process, averaging 23.3 points.
- Even No. 2 overall selection Chet Holmgren played in three games.
- Jonathan Kuminga, who has a ring and played meaningful minutes for the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, got in four games.