With the Detroit Pistons stuck in a freefall, fans are looking for scapegoats, with the usual suspects getting most of the blame. Troy Weaver and Monty Williams draw most of the fans' ire, but lately, Isaiah Stewart and his poor shooting have gotten plenty of it.
And they are not totally wrong, as Stewart's 3-point shooting has been plummeting of late, as he's shot just 27.9 percent over his last nine games. It's not just that he's not making them, he's also been passing up open ones, which is causing a lot of problems in the half-court when it comes to spacing.
I've said many times that it's not just Stewart's shooting percentage that matters, as teams aren't worried about him, and perception is sometimes more important than reality. Teams are happy to let Stewart shoot from just about anywhere, as he doesn't take enough 3-pointers for it to matter and he's not very good off the bounce.
This problem hit an apex against Cleveland when Stew routinely passed up rhythm shots that led to a couple of costly turnovers. Fans started passing around this clip, which was definitely not one of his finest moments and I saw plenty of people calling for him to get benched.
Again, I get it, Stewart has not been good offensively and I can understand those who think he's not a starting four in the NBA. The Pistons' offense is better with Stewart on the bench, but the defense is another story.
Isaiah Stewart's on/off stats show the Detroit Pistons' conundrum
You may have noticed a trend in the last two games in particular, but one that has been going on all season: When Isaiah Stewart goes to the bench, the Pistons' defense falls apart. Part of this is that their bench isn't very good and the guys coming in for him have bee atrocious on defense.
It was very obvious in the most recent loss to the Cavaliers and the season numbers support it, as the Pistons' defensive rating is nearly nine points worse when Stewart is off the court.
The defense goes from bad to comically bad with him off the court, as teams are scoring 12 fewer points per 100 possessions when Stewart is playing.
I'm not saying Stewart is the long-term answer at power forward, and I'd much rather see him playing as a small-ball five, but right now, the Pistons are in a tough spot, as he's not cutting it offensively, but the team defense is utterly terrible without him in the game.
This has been the issue with the Pistons' roster all season, as they have too many one-way guys who are good on one end but take a lot away on another. Putting Bojan Bogdanovic in the starting lineup over Stewart is the right move offensively, but it could be a tragedy on defense.