Pistons training camp is already halfway over and the first preseason game is less than a week away. With the regular season roster all but solidified, training camp for the Pistons is about developing rotations, growing as a unit, and refinining skills that were worked on over the summer.
Considering that most of camp is closed doors, outside of the team’s open practice on Oct. 2 at Little Caesars Arena, what (if anything) have we been able to learn about the 2022-23 Pistons from training camp so far?
Detroit Pistons’ training camp: Alec Burks’ Injury Concerns
A surprise coming into camp, guard Alec Burks will be missing training camp as well as the preseason while rehabbing a left foot navicular fracture. Burks will be re-evaluated in a few weeks, which puts the re-evaluation date right up against the start of the season, meaning Burks may miss some time to start the year.
If Burks does miss time, what does this mean for the Pistons rotation to begin the season?
Assuming that Burks’ role is solidified in the second unit as a three point shooting two-guard, the Pistons will have multiple fringe rotation players to consider for Burks’ minutes.
To me, the most logical choice to distribute Burks’ minutes to would be Rodney McGruder. While Cory Joseph and Hamidou Diallo could also get some of these minutes, McGruder adds floor spacing alongside Isaiah Livers, while letting Killian Hayes remain the primary ball handler within the second unit.
McGruder played some solid minutes for the Pistons last season, mainly getting into the rotation in response to injuries or players missing time due to COVID protocols. Last season, McGruder averaged close to 40 percent from three, on close to three attempts per game. His ability to come in on a moments notice and knock down shots should play to McGruder’s advantage should minutes become suddenly available.
Killian Hayes adjusted jump shot
It’s been no secret that if Killian wants to become a long-term piece for the Detroit Pistons, or any NBA team, he needs to improve as a shooter.
So far in his career, Hayes has shot less than 40 percent from the field and only 27 percent from three. Keep in mind, Hayes’ two seasons are still a relatively small sample size, as Hayes played only 26 games during his rookie season due to injury and also missed some time in year two.
As James L. Edwards III reported in The Athletic (SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED), Hayes has mentioned that he has worked with various shooting coaches and tweaked his shot over the offseason, adding that he’s confident in his shot.
The Pistons exercised their team option on Hayes earlier this week for the 2023-24 season, making him extension eligible after this season, meaning this season is crucial for Hayes’ development and future with the organization.
If Hayes’ offseason jump shot adjustments translate and stick throughout this season, this could end up being his ticket to a long and impactful NBA career.
Kemba Walker is not with the team
It seems like the Kemba Walker saga has been going on forever, even though he was only acquired by the Pistons less than three months ago in a draft night salary dumping move by the Knicks that resulted in the Pistons acquiring the rights to Jalen Duren.
Since the trade, it was known that Walker’s career as a Piston would end before it even started, likely heading towards a buyout. However, the buyout has yet to happen, leaving many to wonder when Walker and the Pistons will officially part ways.
Luckily, we got a bit of confirmation where things were heading just before training camp, as it was confirmed that Walker will not join the Pistons’ camp, first reported by Shams Charania and James L. Edwards III.
While Walker is still technically on the Pistons roster, and must be bought out or waived to get down to the final 15-man team, Walker not joining a camp and not even being assigned a jersey number all but certainly ensures that he will not be a Piston by the start of the season.