The 2020-21 NBA season is set to tip-off on Dec. 23. To get you ready for the year to come, we're dedicating one day between now and the start of the season to each team in the league.
Today, the Detroit Pistons take the spotlight.
2019-20 season record
20-46, 13th in the Eastern Conference
Killian Hayes, No. 7 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft
Isaiah Stewart, No. 16 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft
Saddiq Bey, No. 19 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft
Jerami Grant, Free Agency
Mason Plumlee, Free Agency
Jahlil Okafor, Free Agency
Delon Wright, Trade
Christian Wood, Free Agency
Luke Kennard, Trade
|PG||Derrick Rose||Killian Hayes||Saben Lee|
|SG||Delon Wright||Rodney McGruder||Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk||Wayne Ellington|
|SF||Jerami Grant||Saddiq Bey||Josh Jackson||Dzanan Musa|
|PF||Blake Griffin||Sekou Doumbouya|
|C||Mason Plumlee||Isaiah Stewart||Jahlil Okafor|
3 key storylines
Impact of rookie Killian Hayes
The Pistons have not picked seventh or higher in the NBA Draft since 2010 when they selected Greg Monroe seventh overall. So, there's a lot riding on young French guard Killian Hayes, but his size and skill set could help him in the current era of positionless two-way play.
NBA.com's Draft expert Eric Fawcett listed out Hayes' multiple strengths on both ends of the floor prior to the draft:
"Scoring in isolation is about as difficult of a skill as there is in basketball, and Hayes has the ability to pour in points without needing a play call. When he's not creating shots for himself, Hayes is a willing and capable passer.
Defensively, Hayes is someone who loves the big play. A number of LeBron-style chase down blocks colour his highlight reel and he's also known for shooting gaps and coming away with steals. Switching defensively is made easy for him due to his strong 6'5" frame and his 6'7" wingspan which allows him to play even bigger."
There are very few picks in NBA history that are 'NBA ready' before they play their first game, but Hayes has the advantage of three years of professional basketball in Europe.
He's got plenty of veteran guards playing behind him in Rose and Ellington that could provide some calmness, stability and help Hayes adapt and grow within the NBA ecosystem.
Pistons young movement
In his first offseason as the general manager of the Pistons, Troy Weaver was a busy man.
On draft night, Weaver acquired a couple of first-round picks, giving Detroit a total of three selections in the top 20. After choosing Hayes with the seventh pick, he selected Isaiah Stewart with the 16th overall pick (from Portland Trail Blazers) and Saddiq Bey with the 19th overall pick (from Brooklyn Nets).
That's not all. Weaver acquired another pick - this one in the second round - and selected point guard Saben Lee 38th overall.
Add Sekou Doumbouya - the 15th overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft - and the Pistons have a number of promising prospects, all of whom play different positions. How these young talented players turn out, only time will tell, but if put under the right development plan, the Pistons could be looking at a great young core in a couple of years.
Blake Griffin's health
Griffin has not been the same since he injured his knee towards the end of the 2018-19 regular season. Requiring two surgeries on it, he ended up playing only 18 games in the 2019-20 season, and his health is a key factor in how the Pistons' upcoming season shapes out.
Heading into the 2020-21 season, Griffin is 31 years old and is in the penultimate year of the five-year contract he signed with the LA Clippers in 2017. Unless he decides to re-sign on a more team-friendly deal in 2022, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Pistons moved on from him given their young player movement. The big-men duo of Mason Plumlee and Jahlil Okafor that Weaver signed in free agency, plus Jerami Grant, could be insurance for Griffin in case that happens.
Only time will tell how Griffin feels as he enters the season, but his health will play a huge factor in the direction the franchise takes.
5 games to watch
Feb. 2 @ Denver Nuggets
According to reports, Jerami Grant received the same deal from the Pistons and Nuggets in free agency but opted for Detroit as Denver couldn't assure him of a bigger role. When both these teams go head-to-head, Grant might have something to prove to the Nuggets.
Mar. 3 @ Toronto Raptors
It's been two seasons since Dwane Casey was fired as the head coach of the Raptors. His first year in Detroit, he led the Pistons to a 3-0 regular season-series sweep over Toronto. The following season, Detroit were swept. How will Casey and the Pistons fare against Toronto this upcoming season?
Jan. 23 vs. Houston Rockets
The Pistons went young but decided against re-signing promising 25-year-old Christian Wood. Instead, he was signed and traded to the Rockets. This feels like a prove-it game for Wood.
Jan. 29 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Surely, every team in the NBA has marked their calendars for when they go up against the world champs. The Pistons are no different.
Oklahoma City Thunder, TBD
Nothing much in this for the players or any of the coaches. However, general manager Troy Weaver was with the Thunder for 12 years before joining the Pistons earlier this year. There's certainly something special about going up against his former boss in Sam Presti and his former team, and Weaver would love to have bragging rights.
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