The Detroit Pistons hope to make a big leap in the standings next season behind the additions of Ausar Thompson and Cade Cunningham.
Ausar Thompson was selected 5th in the 2023 NBA Draft and Cade Cunningham will be returning from a shin surgery that cost him all but 12 games of last season.
Recently, ESPN put together a panel of experts (SUBSCRIPTION) to predict all of the major awards for the 2023-24 season and both young Pistons were mentioned as possibilities.
Detroit Pistons: Ausar Thompson gets Rookie of the Year votes
There weren’t any Detroit Pistons mentioned as MVP candidates, but rookie Ausar Thompson did get some votes for Rookie of the Year.
Thompson came in 6th behind Brandon Miller of the Hornets and his twin brother Ausar of the Houston Rockets, who finished 5th and 4th, respectively.
Scoot Henderson of the Portland Trail Blazers came in third, though I would pick him as my dark horse candidate if Damian Lillard ends up being traded. The top two may surprise you, at least the order, as phenom Victor Wembanyama came in second behind Chet Holmgren, who edged him out by three votes.
Holmgren is on the better team, so will likely get plenty of attention if the OKC Thunder make a big leap in the standings after making the play-in last season, but the smart money is still on Wembanyama, who is likely to have better counting stats. It will really just come down to whether he plays enough games.
Even though Ausar Thompson is a long shot, if the Pistons improve and have a top-10 defense next season, he will get some votes, as he’ll be seen as the primary reason (along with Cunningham) for the improvement.
Cade Cunningham the favorite for Most Improved Player
Cade Cunningham dominated the voting for Most Improved Player, getting nearly 54 percent of the votes from the ESPN panel. Even though I 100 percent agree that Cade is going to blow up next season, they may need to rename this award, as his journey will be more about the comeback than improvement, as he averaged 19/6/6 last season in his 12 games.
Last season was all about injuries, it’s not as if Cunningham was bad, but he still has a chance to make a big jump statistically. Cade looked a lot stronger in recent scrimmages and will have two healthy legs for the first time since high school. This should not only help him stay healthy but get more lift on his shot, which will hopefully improve his efficiency from long range.
With a better supporting cast around him, Cunningham is poised to have a big season and help turn around the worst team in the NBA.