The Detroit Pistons have lost 11 in a row and are already desperate just 14 games into the season.
A depleted roster forced them into an emergency signing of Kevin Knox, who has already worked himself into the starting lineup.
They were pummelled by the Raptors (who had a 40-point lead in the second half) with the starters watching the game with blank stares by the end of it.
Cade Cunningham stated the obvious after the game, saying “we’re bad” and calling their competitive level “unacceptable,” so hopefully, this will be the low point that sparks some better play as we wait (tick tock) for the Pistons to get healthy, a day that can’t get here fast enough and may never come at all, as they seem to add a new player to the injured list every time one comes back.
The offense was once again stagnant and predictable in the half-court, as Cade Cunningham dribbled around while his teammates watched. The Pistons need more movement everywhere, from the half-court offense to the front office.
3 types of movement the Pistons desperately need
Ball movement is the cornerstone of Monty Williams’ .5 offense, in which players are supposed to either dribble, pass or shoot within a half second of catching the ball. So much for that.
The Pistons are a respectable 7th in the NBA in assists per game, up nearly four assists per contest from their average last season, so there has been some improvement overall. But the last two games have been brutal, as the ball has stopped moving, the Pistons have averaged just 22 assists per game (down from 27 for the season) and good shots have been tough to come by.
With teams unafraid of the Pistons’ shooters and playing off them, space has been limited and many of the possessions over the last two games have just been Cade Cunningham dribbling around trying to create something out of nothing.
The ball rarely moves inside and out (partly a product of Jalen Duren being injured) or side to side over an entire possession and lately there’s been little passing of any kind. But it’s not just the ball that needs to move.
Man, the Pistons stand around a lot.
I wondered last night if there would be a noticeable difference in the half-court offense if you put me in the lineup, as I can stand in the corner and watch. I’m also a veteran leader and a great locker-room presence, so pick up the phone, Troy!
But seriously, the Pistons do very little cutting, set ineffective screens and in general do not move well without the ball. Part of it is the space issue, as the cutting lanes are blocked by defenders who are sagging off their man. Teams are willing to let Isaiah Stewart, Ausar Thompson and just about anyone else, shoot from the outside, so just pack the inside of the arc with defenders to clog up everything.
Coach Williams has to find a way to get guys like Ausar and Ivey moving more, cutting to the rim, at least making the defenders work instead of what we’ve been seeing. The Pistons look most comfortable when they are running, and they are 13th in fast break points per game.
But if the defense gets set, it’s over, and it’s going to take more than “give it to Cade” as an offensive strategy. The Pistons need more movement of the ball and the players in the half court, it’s that simple. But they also need some movement on the roster.
Player movement (part 2)
With no quick fix from the outside in sight, the Pistons desperately need some movement of players from the injured list to the active roster. It appears Isaiah Livers could make his debut tonight against Denver, which would be a start, but he’s hardly going to save them.
Monte Morris is reportedly getting close as well, but they really need Bojan Bogdanovic, a professional scorer who can get his own bucket and who is actually respected by other teams, to get back ASAP, but there have been no recent updates even though we’re now at the time when he was supposed to be reevaluated. In other words, they can’t count on Bojan to save them and he may not be enough even if he does come back soon.
While I don’t think Troy Weaver should make a panic trade just to do something, this team needs some help. Even at full strength (which we may never see) this is not a contending roster and needs an injection of talent. Detroit needs another proven player to put next to Cade Cunningham, someone who can carry some of the burden and who other teams actually have to defend. That player isn’t on the team right now, so Troy Weaver needs to do something.
I don’t know what the answer is, but it’s not what we are seeing. Getting some injured players back will help, but the Pistons may have to look outside their roster for what they need.