The Detroit Pistons were the worst team in the NBA last season, and depending who you ask, might be there again in this one.
There were huge questions hanging over this team before it was announced that Bojan Bogdanovic and Monte Morris will be out longer than originally projected. With Isaiah Livers already out, the Pistons will begin the season with three rotation players and a whole lot of shooting sitting on the bench in street clothes.
So the Pistons have to try and crawl their way out of the basement of the league shorthanded with young, unproven players who haven’t had much time together. But there are positives to being at the bottom, namely that there is nowhere to go but up.
Low expectations are easy to exceed
It’s easy to look at this team and see another 20-win season and an early shift into the “wait until next year!” mode with which we are all too familiar.
But the good news about having a low bar is that it is easy to clear and the Detroit Pistons could do that just by winning a few games early on. This young team believes in itself and confidence will build quickly if they play better than expected and string together some W’s.
There is little pressure to win at this point, no one expects this team to make the playoffs, especially now, so they can just go out and compete, and who knows? If Detroit can just hang in while they wait for their veterans to get healthy, the roster will eventually get a boost when Bojan Bogdanovic, Monte Morris and (hopefully) Isaiah Livers return.
Young players can start the season with roles and not have to look over their shoulders as much, which will pay off later in the season. Guys like Ausar Thompson and Marcus Sasser are used to winning and will bring a little swagger and athleticism to a team that needed it.
It will only take a few wins for the belief to become real and in a month Detroit will get an injection of talent.
The Detroit Pistons’ young players are going to play
We spent a lot of the offseason wondering if Ausar Thompson was going to start right away, if Killian Hayes was going to make the rotation and if Marcus Sasser would play at all.
There is no hiding the young players now, as all three of these guys are going to have big roles right away. The Pistons could have a starting five of Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson, Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren, so the future is now.
Young teams don’t have a long history of success in the NBA, but at least they’ll be taking their lumps early, learning from mistakes and building chemistry early on in the season. The Pistons need to lean into their young legs and try to play up-tempo and exciting basketball with maximum effort on the defensive end.
If they do, this young roster could surprise some people, especially if Cade Cunningham takes a star turn and becomes the guy who makes it all work.
We won’t have to wait long to see what these young guys are all about, which is one positive of having so many early-season injuries.
If they can just avoid getting buried in the first month, build some confidence and get their guys back, this team can start building towards something even though things haven’t gone their way this offseason.