"Running theme" with Pistons and Cade Cunningham has to change

Detroit Pistons v Chicago Bulls
Detroit Pistons v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The Detroit Pistons made mistakes last offseason that helped contribute to the worst season in franchise history. 

They whiffed in free agency, instead choosing to use their cap space on ill-fated trades for Joe Harris and Monte Morris, two players who contributed nothing. 

Detroit relied too heavily on internal improvement, which was slow to come with no useful veterans in the lineup and a coach that didn’t seem to know his personnel.  

With Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks out with injury, the Pistons started the season with little shooting around Cade Cunningham, which has been a “running theme” according to Sam Vecenie on a recent episode of The Pistons Pulse Podcast. It was an informative and sobering conversation that broke down exactly what the Pistons are up against this offseason. 

Grade the trade: Pistons take another salary dump in proposed deal. dark. Related Story. Grade the trade: Pistons take another salary dump in proposed deal

One thing is for certain: That “running theme” of having no shooting around Cade Cunningham has to change. 

The Detroit Pistons approach with Cade Cunningham 

We’ve talked endlessly about Cade Cunningham needing space and the Pistons have done painfully little to get him any. They drafted Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, two guys not known for their shooting, and immediately put them in the starting five. 

They drafted Ausar Thompson, another player who can’t shoot, and he too was a starter as a rookie.  

They pigeon-holed Isaiah Stewart into a stretch four role, and though he did improve as a shooter, teams aren’t afraid of him, so perception is more powerful than his 38 percent from long range, especially when he only played in 46 games. 

Cade played the most minutes with a five-man lineup of Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson, Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren, a group that had a –7.7 net rating. Switch out Stewart or Thompson with Simone Fontecchio and you have the two best five-man groups for Detroit this season with a +3.8 and +8.9 net rating, respectively. 

The same is true if you throw in Bojan Bogdanovic, so the evidence is there that even having one good 3-point shooter on the floor with Cade makes a big difference.  

The good news is that it looks like the Pistons found one of them in Simone Fontecchio, but they can’t stop there. 

The Pistons need a shooting guard who can spread the floor, and if they don’t think Jaden Ivey is going to be that guy, then they need an upgrade. They need wing players who can shoot (crazy concept I know) and bigs who are at least a threat. They can't draft another player who doesn't project to be an above-average 3-point shooter.

If the Pistons are really building around Cade Cunningham, then they need to show it by getting more shooting around him. They have a start, but one guy isn’t going to change the theme.