Detroit Pistons vs. Orlando Magic: Which roster is better?

Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons is introduced before the game against the Orlando Magic (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons is introduced before the game against the Orlando Magic (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons were the worst team in basketball last season, but that doesn’t stop fans from thinking better days are coming.

That will start by overtaking some of the other teams near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, a tall task considering just about everyone improved this offseason and will look to compete.

The Orlando Magic, like the Detroit Pistons, didn’t have a huge offseason but will be relying on development from their young players for most of their improvement.

Related Story. Expiring deals the Pistons could target. light

Yesterday my phone was blowing up all day with notifications after I was tagged in a post that asked which of the Magic and Pistons would finish with the most wins next season.

The Pistons won the ratio (and the poll in the comments), which tells me there are a lot more Pistons fans than those cheering for the Magic, or at least there are more of us stalking Xwitter.

If I had to answer this, sadly I’d go with the Magic. They won 34 games last season, double the Pistons and have a superstar in the making in Paolo Banchero.

It would be a tough ask for the Pistons to double their win total in one season (I think they can), so I expect these two teams to be much closer, but if I were to bet, I’d give the Magic the edge.

But Pistons fans made some compelling arguments, mostly revolving around the return of Cade Cunningham. So how do these two rosters stack up in head-to-head matchups?

Detroit Pistons vs. Orlando Magic: Which roster is better?

Neither team’s starting lineup is set in stone, as both will have competitive training camp battles at a couple of positions, so for the sake of this I used ESPN’s depth chart for both teams.

Cade Cunningham vs. Markelle Fultz/Cole Anthony

Edge: Pistons

I would argue that the Detroit Pistons have the best overall player of the two teams in Cade Cunningham. Fultz is a big question mark and the Magic are reportedly shopping Anthony, so who knows how this will end up, but as for now, this is a big edge to the Pistons.

Jaden Ivey vs. Gary Harris/Anthony Black

Edge: Pistons

This is another spot where I have no idea who will start for the Magic, but Ivey will have the advantage either way.

Bojan Bogdanovic vs. Franz Wagner

Edge: Slight to Magic

It’s not likely that Thompson starts right away, so for now I will put Bojan as the starting wing. Wagner is the better two-way player, but Bogdanovic is the more-efficient scorer, so this one is pretty much a wash, though the two are heading in opposite directions as players. I expect Wagner to overtake Bojan this season, but this one is close.

Isaiah Stewart vs.  Paolo Banchero

Edge: Magic

Stewart can hold his own against Banchero defensively, but there’s no denying who the better player is. Banchero will rival Cade for the best player of this group and should also turn into a legit star next season.

Jalen Duren vs. Wendell Carter Jr.

Edge: Slight to Detroit

This one is debatable. Much like the Bojan vs. Wagner matchup, Carter is the more experienced player and better on offense, but Duren has more potential and could overtake him this season with leap on defense. Duren is the better rebounder and already blocks more shots than Carter. Jr., so I am giving a slight edge to Detroit.

Orlando Bench vs. Detroit Bench

Edge: Detroit

Orlando will have some combination of Fultz/Anthony, Harris/Black, Jett Howard, Joe Ingles and Goga Bitadze coming off their bench, not exactly a murderer’s row here. The wild card is that there are two rookies, so their success will largely depend on Black and Howard’s development (if Black doesn’t start). Does the 35-year-old Ingles have anything left in the tank? Another wild card is the possible return of Jonathan Isaac, but I don’t think Magic fans should be holding their breath on that one.

The Pistons have more known commodities mixed in with their young talent coming off the bench, as Monte Morris, Alec Burks and Joe Harris have shown what they can do. The wildcard for Detroit is the backup center position, where both James Wiseman and Marvin Bagley III have big-time talent but haven’t done much with it yet. Ausar Thompson should be a difference-maker right away on defense whether he starts or comes off the bench. I like Detroit’s bench simply because their veterans are better.

As you can see, there’s not much separating these teams in terms of talent, but Detroit still has a lot of work to do to catch the Magic in the standings. With both of these teams coming into their own at the same time, this could be one of the best young rivalries in basketball next season.

Predictions that went horribly wrong. dark. Next