This player could be the key to the Detroit Pistons rotation

The Detroit Pistons huddle before the game against the Orlando Magic (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
The Detroit Pistons huddle before the game against the Orlando Magic (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons have gone quiet this offseason as they wait around for their chance to pounce on the right deal.

The trade demands of Damian Lillard and James Harden have put the league at standstill as teams wait to see how this shakes out and how they can get involved.

As of right now, it appears the Pistons only have a few locks for the rotation and the rest of the minutes will be earned in training camp and the preseason. With an abundance of centers and guards, this will make for some stiff competition, but could also lead to some players outside their optimal positions.

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If you had to name the Pistons’ biggest need right now, it would probably be for a power forward who can shoot and defend. But do they already have the guy on the team?

Detroit Pistons: Isaiah Livers could be key to unbalanced rotation

The Detroit Pistons could definitely use another forward who is versatile defensively and can knock down three point shots, two things you could say about Isaiah Livers.

While Livers is not a lockdown defender, he’s a good team defender who usually makes the right decisions and can defend either forward spot depending on matchups. Livers’ 3-point shooting dipped to just 36.5 percent last season after hitting 42.2 percent his rookie season, but he was battling injuries that forced him in an out of the lineup last season and never allowed him to find a rhythm in the offense.

So obviously staying healthy is the biggest challenge for Livers, as he has shown throughout his career that he can defend and shoot the 3-ball.

This is crucial because the Detroit Pistons are currently trying to pigeonhole Isaiah Stewart and James Wiseman or Marvin Bagley III into the power forward spot. Stewart will likely start, leaving one of Wiseman or Bagley III, two players who do not have a history of hitting 3-point shots, as the backup power forward.

The two-big experiment was a flop last season and there isn’t much reason to believe it will fair any better in the future. For it to work, it would take two of the three bigs named above to become at least league average 3-point shooters. I can buy Stewart, but count me very skeptical about Wiseman and Bagley III.

If Livers can stay healthy and play well, he could be the backup forward behind Stewart, which would give the Pistons much better shooting and spacing in the second unit. Consider the difference one player makes in these two lineups:

  • Monte Morris
  • Alec Burks
  • Ausar Thompson
  • Isaiah Livers
  • James Wiseman

This group has three shooters, a lob threat and a playmaker/cutter in Thompson, which is a good balance offensively. On the defensive end they have two players who can defend multiple spots in Thompson and Livers, and a theoretical rim protector (Wiseman) behind them.

If you switch Livers out for Bagley III, it changes both those dynamics, as now the Pistons would have three non-shooters on the floor and two guys who cannot defend on the perimeter.

The answer to the Pistons’ logjam at center may already be on the roster, as Livers could allow Detroit to always have shooting on the floor and for their centers to play their natural positions.

Of course, it is possible that Detroit will start Ausar Thompson at the wing and Bojan Bogdanovic at the four, which would still present issues for the second unit, which would have two bigs who are not proven shooters. Being able to mix in Livers should allow Monty Williams to use players in the correct roles.

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