As the Pistons look to balance their roster of veteran role players with a still young and inexperienced core, the coaching staff will look to stagger minutes while spacing the floor. I suggested this depth chart:
- Cade Cunningham/Killian Hayes/Monte Morris
- Jaden Ivey/Monte Morris/Joe Harris
- Ausar Thompson/Alec Burks/Joe Harris
- Bojan Bogdanovic/Isaiah Stewart/Isaiah Livers
- Jalen Duren/MB3/Isaiah Stewart
In the first preseason game, Jaden Ivey showcased his improved shooting. The young guard shot 62.5 percent, 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. If Ivey maintains this level of shooting throughout the season, he’ll be a cornerstone for Detroit’s offense as a lightning-quick assassin. Beyond Ivey, the Pistons’ young core doesn’t yet have the ability to space the floor.
Monte Morris has always been a capable shooter, and he plays within his game, which limits turnovers. Morris can serve as both the point of attack with veteran shooters Joe Harris and Alec Burks or alongside the quick attack of Jaden Ivey and his improved shooting. Morris can also provide floor spacing and a steady hand alongside Killian Hayes, whom we all hope takes a leap this year.
Joe Harris can play both the two and three, and he can space the floor in place of or alongside Alec Burks.
A twelve-man rotation, as delineated above, will give the young players opportunities to take a breath and metabolize the game. Also, it will create variations for the same offensive schemes—namely, shooting at the two, three, and four, which will complement a pick-and-roll oriented offense, the NBA’s bread and butter.
Staggering the shooters, Bogdanovic in the starting lineup, Burks in the second unit, and Joe Harris as a wing alternate, should help with floor spacing no matter which young players are on the floor.
I see Isaiah Livers as a small forward, and to my eye, Ausar Thompson and Livers are the only true small forwards on the team. However, in today’s NBA, Livers projects as an athletic power forward who can switch defensively. Depending upon injuries and the unexpected, Livers provides a lot of versatility, but in the current configuration, he slots as a twelfth-man four on a team without a true power forward.
Unfortunately, the current roster has a lot of players who need playing time to develop, players I’d like to see learn and grow. It’s never easy to balance minutes, and someone will warm the bench or light up the G-league.