Detroit Pistons: Ugly yes, but there are reasons to be optimistic

Head coach Monty Williams (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Head coach Monty Williams (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

In the first game of the preseason, fifteen Detroit Pistons played. Ten committed at least one turnover.

The game was ugly, especially in the first and third quarters when the Pistons allowed big runs. Detroit’s bench players clawed their way back into the game against Phoenix’s G-league team, but then lost to Phoenix’s G-league team in overtime while using a mix of starters and G-League guys of their own.

Jaden Ivey came off the bench to insert the shooting of Alec Burks in Bojan Bogdanovic’s absence in the starting lineup. In other words, Cade Cunningham would be running a high pick-and-roll game with Jalen Duren while Thompson, Burks, and Stewart rotated on the perimeter and backcut if the defense shifted to help.

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Unfortunately, that starting lineup doesn’t have the shooting to effectively space the floor and isn’t fast enough to push the pace.

Detroit’s pick-and-roll game led to four personal fouls on Jusuf Nurkic in only fifteen minutes of play, but a smaller Phoenix unit switched effectively and made the young Pistons uncomfortable.

Was there any offensive potential for Detroit? Sure.

Reasons for optimism from the first Detroit Pistons preseason game

Jalen Duren sought opportunities in the paint. He only scored six points, but he rotated effectively and benefited from Thomson, Ivey and Cunningham’s abilities to pass in traffic. Whether those passes led to a dunk or opportunities at the line, Duren showed his offensive awareness.

Jaden Ivey shot 62.5 percent from the field and made 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. Improved shooting from the sophomore will open the floor for the team and allow Ivey’s defender to pick his poison. We know Ivey can blow by the competition, and part of his impressive shooting percentage was due to the amount of space wary defenders gave him. Couple his quick step with improved shooting and an exceptional ability to distribute, and Ivey looks to be poised for an excellent season.

Finally, Ausar Thompson looked great. He looked young, but his athleticism could clearly be seen when playing against NBA competition. He defended Devin Booker well on a couple of possessions, clearly has the offensive and defensive awareness the most optimistic pundits claimed, and his game is fundamentally solid. As the season progresses, he’ll grow steadily as his confidence and poise improves.

The first preseason game was hard to watch at times, but a few things gave me hope for an improved offense in the regular season. I look forward to seeing the Pistons solidify their offense as they make roster decisions and work out some of the preseason jitters.

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