Growing pains visible for young Pistons in rough 1-5 start

Pistons schedule gets easier next week

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 31: Killian Hayes #7 of the Detroit Pistons in action against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on October 31, 2021 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Brooklyn Nets defeated the Detroit Pistons 117-91. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) (Mike Stobe, 2021 Mike Stobe)

The Pistons are off to a not-so-great start to the 2021 regular season, but it’s hard to be surprised. Some thoughts!

Hey, Pistons fans! The NBA season is well underway now and even though the Pistons have been, let’s just say, a tough watch so far, I’m still happy to have basketball back on my TV.

Through six games, the Pistons are 1-5, and the numbers are not great. But relief is on the way, in the form of the upcoming schedule.

🤢 Pistons off to rough start

There isn’t much good to talk about through the first six games, with the Pistons playing what can only be described as brutal basketball. But with one of the youngest rosters in the NBA, and a very tough opening schedule, it’s not all that unexpected.

In their first six games, the Pistons have faced five playoff teams/title contenders, and one bad team, the Magic, which is their only win so far. They have the defending champion Bucks next, so brace yourselves!

It’s been ugly in almost every aspect. The Pistons are dead last in the NBA in field goal shooting and three-point shooting, and are giving up the highest field goal and three point shooting percentages to opponents. You aren’t going to win many games with those stat lines. Add a bottom five free throw shooting percentage and it’s just brutal.

But hey, when you miss that many shots, you get a lot of offensive rebound chances -- which the Pistons are 3rd in the NBA for right now. Silver linings!

The schedule is easing up a bit for the Pistons after the play the Bucks, 76ers and Nets (again, ugh) this week. The Rockets, Cavaliers, Raptors, Kings and Pacers are next, which should give this team a chance to win a few games.

🍼 Growing pains

The average age of the Pistons roster is 25, one of the youngest in the NBA, behind the Magic, Grizzlies and Thunder. And while trying to work in the No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham, it’s going to be tough sledding for a while, it seems.

We have only seen Cunningham for one game, but he looked quite comfortable on the floor and was shooting without hesitation. He didn’t make many shots, in fact, he only hit one, but I have no doubt his shot will come around.

Second-year point guard Killian Hayes has had some bad games, and some really nice games, to start the year. He looked the most confident on the floor vs. the Nets, accumulating five steals and six points, but he’s got a long way to go.

The Pistons starting lineup has not been producing enough offense to compete in most games so far. Saddiq Bey is shooting 31% from the three-point line (vs. 37% last year), Isaiah Stewart has had a quiet launch, and Jerami Grant’s scoring average is down six points from last season.

You have to think the shooting woes will turn around at some point, but man, it’s been hard to watch so many missed open shots. Consistency will be key for the Pistons young core as they learn how to win.

On the positive side, free-agent signing Kelly Olynyk has been terrific off the bench. The Pistons bench is second in the NBA in points per game, with 42, and Olynyk has led the way. I’m a big fan. I think fans are going to love him. Trey Lyles has been a nice addition, too.

🤔 Casey’s rotation

Listen, I’m not going to sit here and act like I know more about basketball than Pistons coach Dwane Casey. The guy knows more about basketball than I could learn in 10 lifetimes.

But, I’m still a bit perplexed about what he’s doing with the rotation and playing time for some of the younger players. For instance, in close games in the fourth quarter, Casey has been favoring veteran point guard Cory Joseph over Killian Hayes, which is strange. Wouldn’t you want Hayes to build some late-game experience, even if it doesn’t work out?

And why is Cory Joseph playing so much, anyway? Nothing against the guy, I’m sure he’s a nice dude, but the Pistons just signed Saben Lee to a new contract and Lee has shown some explosive spurts, last season and in Summer League this year.

Lastly, in the one game we’ve seen with Cade, we saw Hayes running the floor with Cade off the ball. As I’ve said before, this seems like a odd fit for the No. 1 pick, who was floor general scoring point guard in college. But hey, I’m just a guy who writes newsletters.

📅 Pistons upcoming games

  • Nov. 2: vs. Bucks
  • Nov. 4: vs. 76ers
  • Nov. 5: vs. Nets
  • Nov. 10: @ Rockets
  • Nov. 12: @ Cavaliers
  • Nov. 13: @ Raptors
  • Nov. 19: vs. Warriors
  • Nov. 21: vs. Lakers

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About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.