So... what are we supposed to expect from the Detroit Pistons this season? Playoffs? Last place?

Season starts Wednesday against Orlando Magic

Jaden Ivey #23 of the Detroit Pistons reacts against the Memphis Grizzlies during the first quarter at Little Caesars Arena on October 13, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Nic Antaya, 2022 Getty Images)

DETROIT – A question for all the long-suffering Detroit sports fans out there: Did you know the Pistons season starts tonight? Be honest, we won’t judge!

Maybe it’s because of football season or the MLB playoffs, but it seems like basketball snuck up on us. Pistons excitement was at an all-time high after they got Jaden Ivey with the No. 5 pick in the draft, but after some time off and an 0-4 preseason, the anticipation died down.

But, ready or not, the 82-game grind tips off Wednesday night (Oct. 19) against the Orlando Magic at Little Caesars Arena.

So... what should we expect?

We have a running joke in the newsroom that every October fans look at the Pistons’ roster and decide, “Yeah, they could probably get the six seed!”

But it’s been 15 years since the Pistons came anywhere close to a top-six seed. They’ve finished eighth in the Eastern Conference three times over that span and gone a ghastly 0-12 in postseason games.

As grim as it’s been, the roster turnover under Troy Weaver seems to have the Pistons heading in the right direction. Former No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham is widely regarded as a budding star, and Ivey figures to be an electric partner in the back court.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 13: Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons handles the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies at Little Caesars Arena on October 13, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (2022 Getty Images)

Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart are third-year contributors, and Killian Hayes played reasonably well in the offseason. Weaver even made a win-now trade to acquire veteran sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic.

But it seems like we do this every year. We run down a list of individual players on the roster and think, “Hey, this doesn’t look half bad!” At what point does that actually need to translate to on-court success.

Could this be the year?

Well, the Pistons were the third-worst team in the NBA last season, at 23-59. To finish 10th in the East (and qualify for the postseason play-in tournament), they would have needed to finish 43-39.

Twenty games better? TWENTY!? Heck, even if the East takes a big step back, it still took 34 wins to finish 10th in the West. Did the Pistons improve enough to post a win total in the mid-30s?

It’s a deflating outlook, I know. All four professional teams in Detroit have been preaching patience to fans for so many years. Everyone is yearning for a team to overachieve just once. One time!

“OK seriously but what if Alec Burks and Isaiah Livers hit a bunch of threes, and Jalen Duren is a menace in the paint, and--”

STOP. No. Don’t do this to yourself.

The annoying truth is that Pistons fans need to go into this season with a certain mindset, otherwise they’re in for another winter of disappointment and frustration.

I’ll be the bearer of bad news: The Detroit Pistons will not be a good team. They’re going to miss a bunch of shots and commit too many turnovers and lose a lot of basketball games.

But the season could still bring some enjoyment to fans who accept it for what it is.

Cunningham and Ivey, at worst, should be exciting to watch. Duren will give us some highlight dunks and blocks. Maybe Bey will drop another 50-burger.

The shooting should be at least a little bit better than last year, when the Pistons finished second-to-last in both field goal and three-point percentage.

Look for signs that Stewart and Hayes are developing as scorers, or for Cunningham to cut down on fouls and turnovers. Can Ivey counter the league’s inevitable adjustments to him and be effective into the spring?

If some of those things happen and the Pistons win a few more games than expected, we can view the season as a partial success. Going from the bottom of the league to the playoffs doesn’t happen overnight.

At worst, Weaver will add another piece to the core during next year’s draft. It’s not the optimal outcome, but there are some elite prospects available in 2023.

Fans around here are so tired of waiting until “next year.” I know, I am too. But if the Pistons make the playoffs this season, it should be viewed more as a pleasant surprise than what was expected.

So be ready for Dwane Casey to subject to you 25 minutes of Cory Joseph every night. Accept that Ivey is going to throw the ball away, and Hayes will have nights when he misses all seven of his three-point attempts.

But in between, Cunningham will post some triple-doubles. Duren will grab a lot of rebounds. Stewart just might surprise you with his jump shot. Look for positive signs of development from this young team -- it doesn’t necessarily have to end in a playoff appearance.

Although, someday... that would sure be nice.


About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.