By Aadit Jain (‘23)
The Detroit Pistons’ season has been going as expected. Or has it? Heading into this NBA season, fans were startled by general manager Troy Weaver’s initial transactions. Bruce Brown and Luke Kennard were quickly traded away and to make matters worse, Christian Wood departed as he signed with the Houston Rockets. So what happened next? The Pistons then signed Jerami Grant to a three-year, $60 million contract and signed Mason Plumlee to a three year, $25 million contract. Needless to say, these moves had us puzzled at the time.
The team was expected to have a dismal season, and fans were dreading the entire situation. But actually, this season has been a pleasant surprise. Sure, Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin are no longer on the team, and yes, the Detroit Pistons are last in the NBA Eastern conference. But actually, this team is fun to watch and has an incredible future ahead.
The Pistons have won 10 out of 38 games as of mid-March. No doubt, this is a low winning percentage, but it does not tell the entire story. Why? Because some notable teams the Pistons have beat this season include the Lakers, the Suns, the Celtics, and the Nets. In other words, they have beat many of the top teams in the league. It is also important to note that the Pistons often enter the fourth quarter with the lead, but they sometimes struggle to close games. Their plus/minus is just -3.9, which shows that they lose close games rather than getting completely blown out. And so the fact that this young team can defeat (or almost defeat) many of the teams in the league is a reason to be optimistic.
Speaking of a young team, the rookies on the Pistons have been playing incredibly well. Saddiq Bey, who has secured a starting role, has been averaging 10.1 points this season and has been performing very well as of late. In fact, in one game against the Boston Celtics, Bey dropped 30 points while going 7-7 from deep, and he also grabbed a career high 12 rebounds. This incredible performance is just one reason why Bey is such an intriguing prospect.
Isaiah Stewart, the 16th pick of the 2021 NBA draft, has been averaging 5.6 points this season, though his impact goes further than the statistics show. Stewart is a player with a relentless motor and impacts the game with his energy. Along with his hustle, his defense and rebounding skills have earned him minutes in the rotation. Saben Lee, a second round draft pick, has been scoring 6.2 points a game. Fans saw him earn significant minutes just earlier this season, and he did not disappoint, showing off his athleticism. Killian Hayes, the seventh pick of the last draft, has been out with a hip injury but will be reevaluated in the coming days. It will be exciting to see what he accomplishes once he comes back on the court.
And now, the player who may just be the most delightful surprise this season—Jerami Grant. Grant has been averaging 23.6 points this season, which is up from his average of 12.0 points last year on the Denver Nuggets. Despite this incredible increase in scoring, Grant could improve upon his efficiency from the field. His field goal percentage is 43.4% and his three point percentage is 35.4%; both are down from last season. This is likely because Grant is the 1st option on this Pistons team, so he faces heavy coverage from the defense while also having a high usage. But with his overall performances, Grant is a top contender for the NBA Most Improved Player award.
Now, there are rumors circulating that Jerami Grant may be traded before the deadline for draft picks and younger players. In fact, as you are reading this, Grant may be on the Boston Celtics, a team that has reportedly offered multiple first round picks for Grant. But what does this all mean for the Detroit Pistons? Well, the Pistons are in their rebuilding phase, and it will take time for their young players to hit their true potential. So yes, the Pistons will not be going to the playoffs this year, but this season is a glimpse of the great future ahead for this team.