Detroit Pistons: Who’s in, who’s out of the 10-man rotation

Detroit Pistons huddle (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons huddle (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Not counting the two-way contracts, the Detroit Pistons currently have 17 players on their roster, so there will have to be some adjustments before the regular season starts.

Teams are allowed to carry 15 players plus two two-way contracts, so Detroit’s offseason is not finished yet.

Troy Weaver is probably hoping to find a trade partner for Kemba Walker, as it was rumored the veteran was going to be bought out, but the Pistons are being patient to see if a market develops.

It’s also possible that they will just waive a player or two, with Saben Lee being the most likely candidate.

Most coaches go with a 10-man rotation in the NBA, though last season Dwane Casey had to use an abundance of guys to make it through the season.

The Detroit Pistons had 11 players play at least 40 games for them last season, and also had Marvin Bagley III (18), Isaiah Livers (19), Josh Jackson (39), Saben Lee (37) and Luka Garza (32) all play significant time.

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When it comes to the 10-man rotation next season, there are a handful of players who are guaranteed to be in it, some who are very likely and then a large group that will be fighting for a final spot.

Detroit Pistons rotation: Who’s in and who’s out?

Definitely in

  • Cade Cunningham
  • Jaden Ivey
  • Saddiq Bey
  • Isaiah Stewart
  • Marvin Bagley III

These five players (led by Cade Cunningham) are likely to be the opening night starting lineup, though there are really only two locks.

It’s possible that either Nerlens Noel or Jalen Duren could start the season at center and push MBIII to the bench, but either way, these five are going to be in the rotation and play major minutes for the Detroit Pistons next season.

Very likely in

  • Alec Burks
  • Isaiah Livers
  • Kelly Olynyk
  • Killian Hayes

Unless there is a trade or injury, these four players are likely to be the first ones off the bench, as Burks and Livers are the Pistons’ best shooters and guys who can play multiple spots. Olynyk will be one of the bigs coming off the bench, as he is their best shooting center. Hayes is likely to be the backup point guard and get every chance to prove that he deserves to have his option exercised in October.

The final spot?

I am sure that Dwane Casey will experiment early in the season and that we’ll see most or all of these players at some point, but eventually one of them is going to win this final spot. This should lead to some interesting training camp battles.

  • Jalen Duren
  • Nerlens Noel
  • Cory Joseph
  • Kevin Knox
  • Hamidou Diallo
  • Kemba Walker

If I had to guess right now, I’d say the two bigs are the frontrunners for minutes, as the Pistons need shot blocking and lob threats, and both Duren and Noel can provide those skills. Given that Duren is just 18-years-old, I expect he could start the season out of the rotation, move to the G-League and then rejoin the team later in the season when the roster could look a lot different.

Diallo and Knox will also be in a battle to see if one of them can shoot and Cory Joseph and Kemba Walker would be battling for that final guard spot, though it’s possible that neither of them will be on the team by then.


  • Saben Lee
  • Rodney McGruder

Even though both McGruder and Lee played a fair amount last season, it’s hard to see them cracking the rotation next year after the Pistons added two more guards.

Some of these questions will be answered by Troy Weaver, as at least two of these players are not going to be on the roster by next season, but the rest will be battled out in practice, training camp and the first few weeks of the regular season.

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