Pistons news: Defenseless, eliminated, young bigs and Cade vs. Luka vs. Ausar

Mar 9, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA;  Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (2)
Mar 9, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (2) / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons were officially eliminated from the playoffs after last night's loss to the Dallas Mavericks, a certainty that was made official with their 53rd loss that also dropped them into a tie with Washington for the worst record in the NBA.

The Pistons put up little defense, as in, they didn't play any, as they allowed the Mavs to score at least 34 points in every quarter, ending with a total of 142 that used to only be seen in the All-Star games.

Ausar Thompson did an admirable job against Luka Doncic, holding him to just eight points and five turnovers before having to leave the game with an illness. After that, Luka went off and the Pistons had no semblance of an answer, as he racked up 26 points in the first half alone.

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Cade Cunningham kept pace with 24 1st-half points of his own, exchanging baskets with the player he is often compared to as neither of their respective defenses put up much resistance.

So the Cade Cunningham vs. Luka Doncic matchup lived up to the hype, with Luka finishing with a 39-point triple-double and Cade just behind with 33 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. The two combined for 11 turnovers and Luka walked away with the win, though you have to wonder how things might have turned out if Ausar Thompson hadn't had to to leave the game.

The Detroit Pistons' young bigs

It was a tough night for Jalen Duren, who was limited to just over 15 minutes after picking up early fouls and eventually being tossed from the game after his second technical foul.

The worst part about Duren's night is that most of his fouls were unnecessary and stupid. You can live with a big man picking up fouls on hard contact or challenging shots, but Duren picked up two of his after bobbling the ball and then fouling after he lost it.

That left James Wiseman to play 30 minutes, which would normally be a disaster, but Wiseman has been playing better of late. We've made plenty of jokes at Wiseman's expense this year, but he's simplified his game somewhat, running the rim, looking to block shots and thankfully not being featured as much in the pick-and-roll. He made a couple of nice passes to cutters last night and in general looked more comfortable.

He still needs plenty of improvement when it comes to shot blocking, as he's often late or early to the challenge, but it must be said that he affects more shots at the rim than Jalen Duren does despite his many defensive flaws.

The emergence of a defensive anchor at center may be the single most important developmental need for the Detroit Pistons next season, as the only Piston averaging at least a block per game is Ausar Thompson.

It's clear that the Pistons not only need defensive improvement from their young big man, but they also need to seek out a veteran rim protector in the offseason.