The Detroit Pistons have been rebuilding for the last four seasons but hope to finally turn a corner in 2023-24.
Of course, we said the same thing last season, but an early injury to Cade Cunningham pretty much ended all hope of chasing the play-in or even being competitive in the Eastern Conference.
You can talk about Cade’s return, the additions of Ausar Thompson, Monte Morris and Joe Harris, but the two most important words for the Detroit Pistons next season are going to be “If healthy.”
You could say this of just about any NBA team, but for the Detroit Pistons to make the type of jump in the standings that they want to make, health will have to be on their side.
Detroit Pistons: The two most important words are “if healthy” next season
If healthy, Cade Cunningham will turn into a star
There is no one more important to the present and future of the Detroit Pistons than Cade Cunningham, who has to stay healthy for this team to compete. Cunningham played just 12 games last season, and will need to be healthy for the entire 2023-24 season for them to have a chance. His health and improvement will make or break next season, it’s that simple. If he plays 75+ games, Detroit has a real chance to turn a corner, but if he has to miss significant time again, it’s likely back to the lottery for the Pistons.
If healthy, Marvin Bagley III can be a quality backup center
Marvin Bagley III certainly has flaws as a player, but he is an efficient scorer around the rim, can be a force on the offensive boards and could carry the team in short stretches with scoring off the bench. But for that to happen he can’t be in street clothes, as MBIII only played 42 games last season, which unfortunately is pretty much the norm for him. He’s played 13, 43, 48, and 42 games since playing 62 in his rookie season and has a knack for getting hurt just as he finds his role and rhythm. If MBIII is healthy, he could be a value at $12.5 million, but if not, he’s just a wasted roster spot. A good run of health and production could also make him a possible trade asset at the deadline.
If healthy, James Wiseman can reach his potential
One of the reasons that the Detroit Pistons are carrying four centers and paying over $25 million to backups is that they can’t count on two of them to stay healthy. We’ve seen this in the past, where a roster surplus suddenly turns into a need with a few sprained ankles. Wiseman already missed an entire season due to injury and has never played more than 45 games in a season in his young career. A healthy Wiseman can be a double-double machine off the bench, allow the Pistons to move on from MBIII and make it possible for him to finally reach his full potential. Of course, he needs to improve, it’s not all about health, but two healthy backup centers give the Detroit Pistons more options and weapons next season.
If healthy, Isaiah Livers can be key to the rotation
Isaiah Livers has only played in 71 games in two seasons for the Detroit Pistons, so the first step for him to becoming an impact bench contributor is to stay on the court. The Pistons desperately need his skill set, as he can play the backup four spot, giving Detroit a guy who can stretch the floor, defend a few spots and be the glue guy that they lack. His shooting could help unlock Cade Cunningham in certain lineups and if he can stay healthy and produce, it will make it easier to move on from Bojan Bogdanovic. Livers is low-key one of the most important players on the roster, as Detroit doesn’t have anyone else like him and they need a four that can stretch the floor and defend.