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Reasons for the Detroit Pistons Lack of Success

The Detroit Pistons’ current record is 6-40 and not much has gone in their favor this year. There is a laundry list of things that the Pistons can improve on, but we will look at the 3 most pressing issues that they need to address the rest of the year and moving forward in the future.

The Power Forward Position

The Pistons are in dire need of a starter at the Power Forward position. In the offseason, the Pistons extended Isaiah Stewart an additional 4 years at $16 million per year.  This would suggest Detroit sees Stewart as one of the young core guys that they hope to build a winning organization around. But as the season has gone on it appears more and more that he may not be the answer. At least not at starting power forward. Although he has taken major steps in improving his outside shooting. The offensive production that he puts out just doesn’t equate to starter minutes. Stewart is averaging 11 points and 7 rebounds and shooting 47% from the field, including 38% from 3. These are not terrible numbers but in his most maximized role he would ideally be coming off the bench as an energy guy, that can provide some spacing and tough defense. At 6’8 250 pounds, he is somewhat of a tweener between the 4 and 5 position. He doesn’t have the athleticism or offensive skillset to produce well at the 4, and he is a bit undersized to play Center.

Jan 28, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jalen Williams (8) shoots on Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart (28) in the first half at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

TURNOVERS

The Pistons average the second most turnovers per game at 15.6.  A team like Detroit who has struggled all year to defend can ill-afford to give the ball away at the clip they have, especially when it leads to easy transition opportunities for the opposition. A big part of cleaning things up on the offensive side may be due to the return of Monte Morris who made his debut for the year on January 24th. Morris is a Veteran point guard who has historically ranked at the top of the league in assist/turnover ratio. In the 2022-2023 season Morris had a league high 5.4 assists per turnover. His ability to now lead by example should do wonders for a young team that has been rather lackadaisical with taking care of the ball. Detroit’s most prominent ballhandler Cade Cunningham is third in the league in turnovers per game with 3.86. Piston coach Monty Williams may look to utilize Cade in more off-ball scenarios to see if the offense flows any better.


FLOOR SPACING

Floor spacing is an essential part in playing at a high level. It keeps the opposition honest and allows for ball handlers to attack the paint without the defense collapsing inside. One would have thought Detroit would not struggle to the extent that they have in this department. Previously, players such as Alec Burks, Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Harris, and even Monte Morris have flourished in the ability to shoot from beyond the arc. Injuries and inconsistent play have plagued Detroit’s marksmen so far this year. Bogdanovic and Morris have both missed large chunks of the season due to injuries. Bogdanovic missed the first 19 games with a calf injury and Morris was out for the first 43 with a strained quad. In Joe Harris’ heyday he was an elite shooter from the outside but after a slow start this year he has spent most of the year out of the rotation. Not an ideal spot for a guy making $19 million per year, albeit on an expiring deal. A few weeks ago, Detroit was involved in a trade with the Washington Wizards. The Wizards acquired Marvin Bagley and Isaiah Livers in exchange for Mike Muscala and Danillo Gallinari. Neither player is likely to be in the long-term plans for Detroit but the acquisition in the present times should help with some much-needed additional floor spacing. In turn, this should open the floor for their guards to work.

Jan 5, 2024; San Francisco, California, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Alec Burks (14) shoots over Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the second quarter at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

CONCLUSION

The harsh reality is that the Pistons have gotten healthy far too late to consider any chance of even competing for a play-in spot. On the bright side Troy Weaver can finally fully evaluate the roster he composed. The organization has a established a core of players that they want to build around. With the trade deadline looming the Piston’s front office will more than likely be active in turning some of the assets and expiring contracts they have into win-now talent. Detroit only has 5 players that are contractually tied into guaranteed deals beyond this season, so they will have plenty of cap space to work with going into the summer. The Pistons has been linked with former Piston Tobias Harris, Dejounte Murray and Zach Lavine as possible trade candidates.

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