Detroit Pistons 2020-21 Team Preview

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The NBA season is just days away, which means Detroit Pistons basketball is soon to come. The Pistons are showcasing almost an entirely new roster this season, and I’ll be breaking it all down for you. I’ll be going over each player, and my expectations for them this season. As well as my final predictions for the Pistons as a whole. Here’s my complete Detroit Pistons 2020-21 Team Preview.

Point Guards:

Killian Hayes

I’m not going to go too in-depth with Killian Hayes, because I have already written a whole article about him, and what I expect out of him this season. So if you want to know my opinions on Hayes, click right here.

Derrick Rose:

I really like Derrick Rose; I don’t think there’s a single NBA fan who doesn’t. Although it’s fair to argue Rose’s timeline doesn’t match the Pistons’. Could the Pistons trade Rose and get a first-round pick from a contender? Probably, but as of right now I hope they don’t. We’ve already seen videos of Rose in training camp mentoring the young guys, especially Killian Hayes. For that reason alone I hope the Pistons to hold on to Rose for at least this season. The entire team will benefit from Rose being around, especially Hayes who the Pistons should be helping at all costs. If the Pistons do decide to trade Rose, I think they’ll be making a mistake.

When it comes to the actual basketball side of Rose, he’s still a good player. Ever since that 2018-2019 season with the Timberwolves, he has been one of the best bench players in the league. He has started some games in that stretch, but he has mainly been a bench guy. Last season with the Pistons, Rose averaged an efficient 18.1 PPG along with 5.6 APG. I expect similar stats from him this season, with maybe a little drop-off. He is 32 years old, and with his injury history, a little regression is expected. 

I hope Rose can stay healthy and doesn’t get traded. If both of those things happen, he can be a bright spot for the Pistons, and help them win some games. Delon Wright is next in our Detroit Pistons 2020-21 Team Preview.

Delon Wright:

The Pistons acquired Delon Wright through a trade this offseason. I’ve always been a fan of Wright. Mainly because of his defense. Last season he had a defensive box plus/minus of +1.8, and previous to that season, he has always had a positive defensive plus/minus beside his rookie season. The Pistons were not a good defensive team last season. They ranked 22nd in defensive rating, so Wright should bring some much needed defensive help.

His three-point shot also improved last season. He shot 37% on 1.7 attempts a game. He also has a nice handle, decent shot-creating ability, and is a solid playmaker. On top of everything I’ve said about him, he’s also 6’5, which allows him to defend both guard positions and some small forwards. In fact, he’s been starting at shooting guard so far in the preseason, and I expect him to continue to start there to begin the season. 

I have high expectations for Wright this season. He should get around 30 MPG, average around 12 PPG and 4 APG while playing good defense. His ability to defend multiple positions should allow him to play with other point guards, like Killian Hayes and Derrick Rose. Although, he can also be the lead ball-handler on the floor. Wright will quickly become a fan favorite this season.

Shooting Guards:

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk:

Besides having one of the hardest names to pronounce, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is a good young player. He’s a great off-ball player. Not only can he shoot, but he’s also always moving, similar to guys like JJ Reddick and Duncan Robinson. He should play well next to playmakers like Killian Hayes and Derrick Rose. If Svi’s shot is falling, I could see him having a great season.

Svi has been coming off the bench in the preseason, but if he continues to knock down threes, it’ll be hard to keep him out of the starting lineup. Even if he isn’t starting, he should still get solid minutes off the bench. I’m not going to predict anything too crazy for him this season, but let’s just say I expect Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk to become a more common name, despite how challenging it is to pronounce. 

Wayne Ellignton:

Wayne Ellington was a late free-agent signing this offseason. I was a bit surprised when he decided to sign with the Pistons. I would’ve thought he would sign with a contender this late in his career, but as a Pistons fan, I’m happy to have him on the team for such a cheap contract. Ellington is similar to Svi, and I believe he can have the same impact on Svi that Derrick Rose will have on Killian Hayes. I’m sure that’s one of the main reasons why the front office signed him.

I’m not expecting too much out of Wayne Ellington this season. I hope Dwane Casey doesn’t play him much over the young guys. At the end of the day though, you can never have enough shooting, and Ellington can do just that along with providing a veteran presence. 

Small Forwards:

Saddiq Bey:

Saddiq Bey is one of my favorite rookies and my favorite player on the team. I loved this pick. He should be able to provide quality minutes right away. He can shoot, takes smart shots, can defend well for a rookie, and he has good size. Despite me being so high on Bey, I don’t expect him to make an all-rookie team. Maybe he does because this draft class just ends up being so bad.

Although, I do expect him to be one of the 10 best rookies this season. That doesn’t always mean you’ll be rewarded with an all-rookie team though. All-rookie teams are usually filled with the players who put up the most stats, and I just don’t expect Bey to really stuff the stat sheet this season.

Josh Jackson:

Former #4 overall pick Josh Jackson has been a bust so far in his career. The Pistons will be his third team in just four seasons. He doesn’t really do anything at an above-average level. He is a good athlete, but that can only get you so far. Could this be the year he finally shows why he was picked 4th overall? I wouldn’t bet on it, because he’s literally given us no reason to think that. Although I’m not going to kill the front office for giving him a one year “prove it” contract. It was a very low risk, high reward move.

My expectations for Josh Jackson this year are very low. He shouldn’t get minutes over any of the guys I’ve already been over, besides maybe Wayne Ellington. He could end up being a solid rotation guy, but again I’m really not counting on that. 

Power Forwards:

Blake Griffin:

I don’t think anyone really knows what to expect from Blake Griffin this season. Two seasons ago he was great and playing like an all-star, but last season he was mainly hurt. Even when he was healthy he didn’t look too good. I think the extended offseason could have helped him get back to 100%, so maybe we see him play more like he did two seasons ago. I’m still in wait-and-see mode though.

If Blake Griffin can stay healthy, he’ll have a good season. He’s a very talented player with a high basketball IQ. Although I have my doubts about him ever returning to an all-star level player even if he can stay healthy because he’s getting older. Hopefully, he can be that three-point shooter he was two seasons ago because if he can be a reliable shooter, he’ll age a lot better. At the end of the day, this team will be a lot better if Blake Griffin is healthy.

Jerami Grant:

I know Jerami Grant is starting at small forward for the Pistons, but I’m still putting him in the power forward section because that’s what I view him as. Grant was the Pistons’ big signing this offseason. He’ll be playing the biggest role of his career with the Pistons, and it will be interesting to see how he responds. Grant opened a lot of people’s eyes to his game in the bubble, where he played like the Nuggets’ third-best player.

He plays with a lot of energy, and he’s really improved his shot and shot-creating ability throughout his career. He’s also a great defender. Ideally, he would be your team’s 5th scoring option, but on this Pistons team, he’ll probably be the 3rd option, maybe even the 2nd. This could lead to him becoming a lot more inefficient and looked at as overpaid. On the other hand, he could respond well to the increased role and become a really good player. It’s a gamble a small market team like the Pistons have to take.

If I had to make a firm prediction for Jerami Grant this season, it won’t be one that Pistons fans want to hear. I don’t think he’ll respond well to the increased role, and I could see him struggling. I didn’t like this signing when it first happened, and I might like it less and less as the season goes on. Of course, I’m not cheering against Grant, it’s just my prediction. I hope he proves me wrong.

Sekou Doumbouya:

I can’t help but get my hopes up for Sekou Doumbouya after he scored 23 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in his second preseason game. I really liked this pick last year, and I still do today. Sekou has a pretty high ceiling, because of his body frame, and athletic ability. He was known as a boom or bust pick, but I have to be honest, I don’t see too much bust potential in him, even if he doesn’t boom. As I said, he has a good body frame and he’s athletic. His offense and defense both need some work, but just watching him you can tell he’s naturally gifted on both sides. I just described most backup big men in the league. That’s why I don’t see too much bust potential in Doumbouya. 

As far as my expectations for him this season, I just really want to see improvement. whether it be his defense getting better, his offensive efficiency increasing, or both. I just want to see something. He should get a consistent 10-15 minutes a game off the bench, but if the injury-prone Blake Griffin goes down again, Doumbouya could start some games. Doumbouya definitely has a chance this season of being the Pistons’ most improved player. 


Mason Plumlee:

I didn’t love the Pistons signing Mason Plumlee, but not because it was too much money, or because I don’t think he’s a good player. I thought Plumlee got the right amount of money, and I do think he’s a good player. What I disagree with is that the Pistons need him. He doesn’t match this team’s timeline, and he could get in the way of some younger players getting minutes. I wouldn’t be surprised if he eventually gets traded. It probably won’t happen this season, but potentially next season.

He’ll be taking on a larger role than he’s used to on this team, like Jerami Grant. Plumlee has a nice skillset. He’s disciplined offensively and defensively, and because of that, he’ll rarely mess up. He’s also a really good passer for a big man. I’m excited to see him play with Blake Griffin in the frontcourt because Griffin is also a good passer. I do like his fit on this team, and when I said he’ll be taking on a larger role, I meant he’ll be playing more minutes. I don’t think he’ll have to do much more than he did in Denver on this team.

My expectations for Mason Plumlee this season aren’t too high. He’ll be solid, probably play 20-25 minutes a game, and average around 10 PPG, 7 RPG, and 4 APG. He’s a player that contributes to winning basketball, and if the Pistons really want to try and be a winning team this season, Plumlee will only help. 

Isaiah Stewart:

A lot of people looked at the Pistons taking Isaiah Stewart at #16 in the draft as a reach. Most mocks had him going late first round, maybe even early second. The way I look at it, they probably could have traded down and taken him later, but if he was their guy then reaching for him isn’t bad. Maybe it was a panic pick because they were planning on taking Jalen Smith.

Either way, I still like Stewart as a prospect. He plays with a lot of hustle, he has a nice touch around the rim, he shot well from the free-throw line in college which is a good sign, and he can protect the rim. Yes, he has downsides, like his ability to defend in space, but almost all young big men do. Honestly, I don’t see why Stewart was being mocked so low. I think he’ll have a good career. 

My expectations for Isaiah Stewart in his rookie season aren’t that high. Center is a really tough position for rookies, especially defensively. He should be the day-one backup center unless they give it to Jahlil Okafor. Regardless, I expect at some point in the season Stewart to get consistent minutes, and I’m looking forward to watching him.

Jahlil Okafor:

This signing was similar to the Josh Jackson one because Jackson and Jahlil Okafor have had pretty similar careers up to this point. Both were high draft picks that have been mostly bad throughout their careers. In Okafor’s case, it’s been more of the league moving away from his playstyle than his actual talent. Although, like Jackson, I don’t expect Okafor to turn his career around in Detroit this season. 

He can be an alright backup center, but like I previously said, I hope Isaiah Stewart is the backup center. Stewart has a much higher ceiling, and we already know what Okafor brings to the table. I know he’s still only 25 years old, but unless his game completely transformed in one offseason, I’m not predicting anything big from him. 

Team Predictions:

Unless literally, everything goes right for the Pistons, I’m not expecting them to be a good team. They have some nice young players and some good veterans, but the team as a whole just isn’t good. As a Pistons fan, the main thing I’ll be hoping for this season is for the young guys to play well and often. Other than that, let’s hope the front office doesn’t make any bad trades, and they can keep building for the future. 

Record Predictions: 

22-50 13th in the East

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