The Detroit Pistons are hoping for plenty of internal improvement from their young players next season.
Yesterday we looked at important over/unders for the centers, but today’s focus will be on the forwards, the position for which the Pistons have the least depth.
Detroit only has four guys who are really forwards, as Kelly Olynyk and Marvin Bagley III are really bigs disguised as power forwards and will likely play just as much time at center.
That leaves just Kevin Knox (a reclamation project from the Knicks), Hamidou Diallo (a guard/wing on an expiring contract), Isaiah Livers and Saddiq Bey in the forward ranks for the Detroit Pistons next season.
For the Pistons to be a surprise team next season, they are going to need contributions from these four players, and here are some numbers we’d love them to hit, but will any of them go over these marks?
Detroit Pistons: Over/unders for the forwards
Kevin Knox: +/- 65 games played
The Kevin Knox contract looked like a head scratcher until it was announced that the second year was a team option, as it was unclear why the Pistons jumped on an underachieving player that early in free agency.
On a one-year deal, Knox is definitely worth a flyer as a former lottery pick who is still young and has plenty of talent. But will be be able to crack the depth chart? He’s only played 65 or more games twice in his career, but has played just 42 and 30 games in the last two seasons, respectfully.
Knox will have to show that he can knock down shots and defend, two things he hasn’t really done since his rookie season, when he looked promising on a bad Knicks team. Playing 65+ games would be a solid indication that is happening, but given his inconsistencies so far, the smart money is on the under here.
Hamidou Diallo: +/- 35 percent from 3-point range
Diallo is one of the most athletic players on the Detroit Pistons, a guy who can soar in transition, be a disruptive defender and has shown that he can score in the paint and restricted area, but not much else.
His mid-range game did improve somewhat, but for Diallo to be an effective offensive player, he needs to hit closer to league-average from 3-point range, something he has yet to do in his career, as he has shot just 27 percent from long range overall.
Diallo has the athleticism to make an impact, but not if he can’t shoot, so this will be a make-or-break season for him. If his shooting doesn’t improve, I suspect this will be his final year with the Detroit Pistons, but if he can at least knock them down at an average rate, he does enough other things well to possibly keep around.
Given his history and the fact that he is now nearly 25-years-old, I’d bet heavy on the under here.
Isaiah Livers: +/- 30 minutes per game
I think Livers will have a drastically increased role next season as a glue guy who can be inserted into both offensive and defensive oriented lineups.
As one of the only plus shooters on the team, he is going to get plenty of run with both the starters and the bench and could end up leading the Detroit Pistons in bench minutes next season.
Detroit only had three players play upwards of 30 minutes per game last season, but Livers could join Saddiq Bey and Cade Cunningham next season (Jerami Grant was the other guy) as players who top the 30 minute mark, as he is going to be a crucial bench player and possibly even a starter.
Saddiq Bey: +/- 45 percent overall from the field
Bey led the Pistons in minutes last season and was one of only a few players in the entire league to start all 82 games for his team. He averaged over 16 points and added 5.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists, not bad for a second-year player.
The problem is that he did it very inefficiently, as he shot just 34 percent from 3-point range and just 39 percent overall, which is not good.
For Bey to take the next step as a player, he has to be more efficient, which means shooting at least 45 percent from the floor overall and closer to 40 percent from long range.
With Cunningham and Jaden Ivey getting most of the attention, Bey should be the beneficiary of more open looks, and will hopefully add more to his mid-range and post game as well.
The Detroit Pistons don’t have much depth at forward, so they will need big seasons from all of these players if they are going to compete in the Eastern Conference next season.