The Pistons must avoid repeating the same horrible mistake

Detroit Pistons v Dallas Mavericks
Detroit Pistons v Dallas Mavericks / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

After nearly half a decade of rebuilding, the Detroit Pistons have painfully little to show for their efforts. 

If you wanted to be an optimist, you’d say that new president of basketball ops Trajan Langdon was handed a young star in Cade Cunningham, some intriguing prospects in Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson and Jalen Duren and a whole lot of cap space. 

A pessimist would say “yeah, but those guys just won 14 games” and only Cunningham looks like a surefire star player and he’s not even that certain. You could also add that cap space is not as important when star players rarely hit free agency. 

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If the Pistons are going to undo the sins of past regimes, they need to avoid the same mistakes and maximize what they do have to work with. 

The Detroit Pistons have to actually build around Cade Cunningham 

Langdon may not agree that Cunningham is a future star but given what we saw of him last season with a terrible and ill-fitting supporting cast, it’s safe to guess he has done enough to earn that moniker.  

Troy Weaver never really tried to build around Cunningham, who needs players who spread the floor to maximize his ability to get into the paint and mid-range to do his thing. 

Instead, Weaver drafted Ivey, Thompson and Duren, three players who can’t shoot a lick and never found a two-way wing to replace Jerami Grant. 

Surrounding Cade with four non-shooters predictably failed and we really don’t even know what Cunningham can be considering he’s never played with a cast that suited his talents. 

Given Langdon’s history of trying to build around Zion Williamson, he’ll likely have an idea of how to do it with Cade, which will be to surround him with 3-and-D guys like they did with Zion in New Orleans. 

It takes a team, not just talent 

While drafting for “best player available” and taking cheap flyers on busts may be ok when you are tanking, it’s now time to do something that Troy Weaver never even attempted, which is to build an actual team. 

If you look at the playoffs this season, most teams have 1-2 stars and then surround them with complementary role players. You could argue that someone like Jaden Ivey has more talent and “upside” than a Derrick Jones Jr. or Nickeil Alexander-Walker, but both of those guys played key roles for very good teams and did their jobs well. This is the mindset Detroit needs to embrace.

The Pistons have to build an actual team with guys who fit together, not just collect talent like they are playing NBA2K and it makes no difference if the roster makes sense. 

Teams like the Mavericks (Gafford, Washington, Jones Jr.), Timberwolves (NAW, McDaniels, Reid) and Celtics (Horford, White) have shown that getting stars is important, but getting role players who complement them is the final step to building a contender. 

It’s time for the Detroit Pistons to be a team again, not just a collection of ill-fitting talent, and it starts by putting the right guys around their star.