Why the Orlando Magic are surpassing the Detroit Pistons

Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (2) is defended by Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (2) is defended by Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic were supposed to be battling for the bottom of the Eastern Conference this season and for much of it they were.

The two were going back and forth, trading spots for the league’s worst record, and for awhile it looked like the Orlando Magic were the frontrunners for Victor Wembanyama after losing nine straight games.

But a recent six-game win streak has Orlando ahead of the Pistons by 3.5 games and the Magic have been very impressive in that time, stacking up wins against the Clippers, Raptors, Hawks and Celtics, beating Boston two games in a row to extend their streak.

Related Story. Pistons news: Team says a Bogdanovic trade is unlikely. light

I am hoping that the Detroit Pistons eventually put together some stretches like this, but right now it looks like the Magic are surpassing them in their rebuild and there are some reasons why.

The Orlando Magic’s star is playing and the Detroit Pistons’ is injured

Probably the biggest reason Orlando has been better than Detroit this season is that they have gotten more games from star Paolo Banchero, who looks like the best young player in the league. He has played twice as many games as Cade Cunningham has, and now Cade is out for the rest of the season.

Not having your star guy is a huge blow, and has left the Pistons in development limbo while Orlando is figuring out how their pieces fit around Banchero. It’s far too early to say which number one pick will eventually be the better player, but right now Cade Cunningham isn’t out there with his team, which has stunted their development.

The Magic are getting unexpected contributions

Another reason the Magic have surpassed the Pistons the season is that they are getting contributions from some of the players they took chances on.

Detroit blew it big time by not trading for Bol Bol last season, as he has exploded in this one and is a big reason the Magic have been playing much better of late. He would have given the Pistons some 3-point shooting and shot blocking that they desperately need, but they missed the chance to get him for nothing after he failed a team physical.

Wendall Carter Jr. is having a career year, and role players like Mo Bamba have stepped up off the bench.

The Detroit Pistons also took flyers on guys like Kevin Knox, but so far it really hasn’t panned out. Detroit is getting solid contributions from their veterans, but has yet to have anyone have a surprise break out season and instead have gotten some regression from guys like Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Livers.

So while the Magic are getting solid development out of their young starters and role players, the Pistons are waiting for someone to step up.

Orlando is defending the home court

One of the first steps a young team needs to make before they are good is defending the home court, which is something the Magic have been much better at this season.

Orlando is 8-9 at home, certainly not great, but the Detroit Pistons are just 4-11 and have not been able to gain any type of advantage playing in front of their home crowd.

Magic fans have to be pretty excited about what they are seeing right now, while Pistons’ fans are wondering when it’s going to be our turn to finally see some progress with this rebuild.

Things can change quickly with young teams, and the two do play each other just after Christmas, but right now it looks like Orlando’s rebuild is happening faster than Detroit’s.

Next. 8 items on the Pistons' holiday wishlist. dark