The Playbook: Detroit Pistons 2022-2023 Season

Benny Burke, Columnist

If the 2022 NBA draft had a winner, the Pistons would be it. After winning the draft lottery in 2021 and acquiring first pick Cade Cunningham, the Pistons followed up this year’s draft with some impressive picks as well. The team decided to draft the fifth overall pick, Jaden Ivey, from Purdue. Along with that, the 13th overall pick, center Jalen Duren from the Memphis Tigers went to the Pistons as well. 

Jaden Ivey is a high-flying athletic shooting guard from Purdue and is very comparable to someone like Ja Morant. He’s 6’4”, 200 lbs, can slash, shoot the threes, and resort to mid-range if he has to. Ivey is a very well-rounded player and will be very healthy for the Pistons.  

Jalen Duren is a 6’10” 250 lbs center. This was a good choice by the Pistons because having a skilled center in the rotation is always important. Jalen Duren is a textbook center. He’s able to post up under the net and dunk on command. He’s crafty and able to weave around under the basket as well. But this isn’t his only skill set. He’s also a selfless playmaker with a high court IQ, which you don’t always see with centers in the NBA. Not to mention he’s very capable on the defensive end, which the Pistons were lacking in last year’s season.

In the 2021–2022 season, the Pistons went 23–59. This wasn’t impressive to say the least. However, one of the main problems the Pistons had last year was that Cade Cunningham had the ball too much. He likes to run the floor and have options, instead of being forced to finish every play. Now having options like Ivey and Duren around him, this will compliment his play style much better. He’ll have a highly athletic shooting guard in Jaden Ivey who is great at finding an opening, and Duren posted up under the net ready to go.

Considering this, the Pistons have great potential. It might take the team a while to gel together and get good chemistry that many other good teams have. But this is natural with teams full of rookies. They’ll have to get used to each other’s play styles, but once this does happen, the Pistons very well could be playoff contenders in the next few years.

This successful rebuilding didn’t happen overnight. Thanks to general manager Troy Weaver, the Pistons were able to have access to first-round and fifth-round picks for their team. He held off on making big trades for temporary success as Jeff Bower did in 2018 for Blake Griffin. The Pistons traded three players, a 2018 first-round pick and a 2019 second-round pick. Although the Pistons did make it to the playoffs in 2019, they lost in the first round of the Eastern Conference. This set up the Pistons terribly for the following years considering what they gave up to get Griffin. Troy Weaver was able to have the foresight to save up for good draft picks and had a plan to rebuild. That plan is in full effect right now.

Ivey and Duren are happy to be going to the Pistons. They’ll be joining a team that has Cunningham of course, but some prepared veterans to support them as well. Killian Hayes is a solid playmaker and very capable on defense. Weaver also just traded for 6’7”, 226 lbs Bojan Bogdanovic who will be able to spread the floor for Ivey to throw down some high-flying dunks, along with other things of course. Not to mention Saddiq Bey, a 23-year-old small forward averaging 16.1 ppg (points per game) and 5.4 rebounds. Bey is incredibly consistent and even dropped a 51-point game last year against the Orlando Magic.

Moral of the story is, the Pistons are taking steps toward becoming a playoff team, and hopefully a championship contender within 5 years. The team was able to start their journey thanks to excellent management and a team that yearns to win.