If the Detroit Pistons are going to improve as a team next season, it will take internal development and improvement from their young players.
The Pistons have never won a Most Improved Player award in the history of the franchise, but would love for one of the guys in their young core to make that type of leap next season and be in contention for the award.
If you look at recent MIP award winners, they were guys who not only made a big jump individually, but were on teams that exceeded expectations. So for any guy on the Detroit Pistons to be considered, the team will have to be better next season, as teams that win 23 games aren’t usually in the awards discussion.
Cade Cunningham is obvious choice, though I feel like a big jump in stats is expected from him. He also had a very good rookie season that put him in an elite group of active players, so improvement would be as likely to land him in the All-Star and All-NBA discussion rather than for Most Improved Player.
If you had to give MIP odds for players on the Pistons, Cade would probably be the guy, but I want to focus on three other players who could have a shot if things go really well next season.
If the Pistons somehow get near the play-in next season and one or more of these guys makes a big leap, they could get some votes, but it won’t be easy.
Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes is a complete long shot for MIP
Killian Hayes is entering one of the biggest stretches of his young career. The 7th pick from the 2020 NBA Draft has been underwhelming in his two seasons so far, but he is still just 21-years-old and has flashed high-ceiling potential, though not consistently.
To say that Hayes is a long shot for any NBA award next season is an understatement, as it is far more likely that he’ll be playing for his future spot on the roster.
For Hayes to have any shot at this award, he’d have to make monumental strides on offense and at least double his scoring average from last season, putting him closer to 14-15 points per game.
He’d have to also be close to leading the team in assists and play defense against the league’s elite in high-profile games that get him attention as a defensive stopper.
If Hayes put up 15 points, 8 assists and two steals per game next season and the Detroit Pistons are actually good, then he’d get some consideration, but I’d say all of those things are pretty unlikely other than maybe the steals.
Hayes has more room to improve than just about anyone on the roster, and he is reportedly putting in the work to get there, but I think he (and the team) are probably a season or two away from this being realistic at all.