The Detroit Pistons won’t be featured on many “top” lists after winning just 17 games last season and that is fair.
Potential is just that until it is realized on the court, and Detroit isn’t there yet with a young roster that has yet to win much.
So it wasn’t surprising to see only one Piston on ESPN’s recent rankings of the top 100 players in the NBA. Cade Cunningham came in at #74 on the list, plummeting from #35 last season. Again, this is fair, as Cade has “tantalizing” talent but has yet to stay healthy, which has to be a concern for the franchise and fans.
I thought Bojan Bogdanovic not being mentioned was a complete snub, especially considering Austin “freaking” Reaves, who has accomplished next to nothing in the NBA, somehow came in at #66.
But a breakout year for the Detroit Pistons could see them featured heavily next season, and there are three players who are poised to join Cade Cunningham in the top-100.
So far all of the talk around Ivey is whether he’s going to be in the starting lineup, but whether he starts or not, Ivey should have a breakout season. His counting numbers from last season were very good, but he need to cut down on the turnovers and improve on defense. He could score closer to 20 per game this year, even in a bench role, which would be enough to potentially catapult him past someone like Collin Sexton, who was #98 in the rankings.
Duren has already had a concerning injury setback after tweaking his ankle in the first preseason game. But the 19-year-old has already shown he can impact games on the boards and should make a big leap on defense this season as well. It will be the latter that matters most, as Duren needs to become the defensive anchor for the Detroit Pistons. The starting job is his and Duren has a chance to be a double-double machine this season while adding a few assists, which could be enough to displace a guy like Mitchell Robinson (#100) at the back of the list. Being a top-100 player at his age would be a big accomplishment for Duren and a great sign for the Pistons.
I’ve seen enough from Thompson to put him in the top-100 now, but I am also a huge homer and completely biased. But he is going to stuff the stat sheet this season, is already the Pistons’ best individual defender and will be featured on highlight reels because of his otherworldly athleticism.
It may be early to declare this, but I see Thompson, not Ivey, as the Pistons’ second-best player and I think there’s a world in which he ends up being the guy they build around. That’s just speculation at this point, but Thompson is a jumper away from being a player with every tool you need to be an All-Star.
Teams that win 17 games don’t get to complain about being “snubbed” by anyone, as you can’t rank players on hope alone, so for the Detroit Pistons to get some recognition they have to start by winning games.