The 2021 NBA Summer League season is over for the Pistons, leaving us with much to talk about heading into the fall.
The Pistons wrapped up Summer League on Monday night with a win against the Orlando Magic squad, finishing with a 3-2 record, and on a three-game win streak. But the Pistons are leaving Las Vegas with much more than a winning record.
Here are five big takeaways from the Pistons 2021 Summer League:
Cade Cunningham is really good
The Pistons rookie, the No. 1 pick in the draft, showed why he was the top pick. Cunningham played in only three of the games, averaging 18.7 points and shooting 50% from the three-point line, along with just under six assists per game. Yes, he had some rookie moments, but it’s Summer League.
Cunningham is showcasing right out of the gate how special he can be and how impactful he will be to the team from Day 1 of the upcoming season.
The thing I really liked about Cade’s play was his comfort level. Not only was he shooting the ball often, and with ease, he was a vocal floor leader, something the Pistons have been missing for a while. He’s ready to go.
Luka Garza deserves a roster spot
How did Luka Garza fall to the Pistons so late in the second round? Did no other team attend his workout? He looks like an early steal.
I try not to read too much into Summer League standouts, because it’s Summer League -- you’re playing against subpar competition most nights. But Garza’s performance should earn him some time on the active roster.
Garza played all five games, averaging 15 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game, but it was his last two games that really stand out. In Game 4, he posted a 20-point, 14-rebound performance. And in the final game on Monday night, Garza finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds. He shot 40% from the three-point line.
The Pistons are lacking depth at center/forward, and Garza looks like a nice scoring option off the bench. We’ll see if he can find a spot in the rotation somewhere.
Saben Lee is legit
Second-year point guard Saben Lee is getting better and better. Lee played in all five games and averaged 15 points and about four assists per game. He posted a 19-point, 8-assist line to finish, and had a critical basket and free-throw to put away the Magic late in the game.
It’s not just the stat sheet, though. Lee looks even more confident running the floor, coming off picks, and shooting the three-ball. He’s also playing really good defense.
Lee should be in the Pistons guard rotation to start the season. Another second-round find from Troy Weaver.
Sekou’s future unclear
Well, it was not a great showing from third-year forward Sekou Doumbouya, the longest tenured Piston.
Right before Summer League started, Sekou made some comments that suggest he may not be around for much longer.
“What’s next for me? I don’t know what’s going on, I’m still in Detroit, I’m still playing for the team, so, whatever happens, happens. That’s business,” Doumbouya said.
Today at the #Pistons Summer League press conference, @detnewsRodBeard asked #SekouDoumbouya what’s it like to be the longest tenured player on the team. This was his response: pic.twitter.com/xn1pvfPvGr— Woodward Sports Network (@woodwardsports) August 6, 2021
Doumbouya played just two of the five games in Vegas, averaging 25 minutes, but only posted six points per game, missing on all of his 3-point attempts.
Sekou is right, though. He seems like an odd-man out on this roster. We’ll see if Troy Weaver agrees.
Pistons offense needs some time
In the first few games, when Cade and Killian Hayes were both on the floor, while there were flashes of awesomeness, it’s clear -- it needs time.
Playing two point guards in the starting lineup is going to take some adjustment. Pistons coach Dwane Casey has said that he sees Cunningham and Hayes as 1a and 1b, as in, they will both run the offense and play off the ball. That chemistry will build over time.
Either way, the Pistons offense is going to be a fun project to watch. Everyone in the lineup can shoot. A lot depends on if Killian Hayes can break out a bit.
Bonus: Jamorko Pickett is fun
It would be wrong to finish this article without mentioning Jamorko Pickett, the biggest surprise of the Pistons Summer League season.
Pickett, a rookie who played four years at Georgetown, stole the show in the last few games for Detroit, finishing with a 14-point, 6-rebound performance against Orlando. He brought some great energy to the floor, shot the ball well and played some nice defense.
Pickett should end up with the Pistons G-League team to start the season.