Detroit Pistons return from break for final stretch: 4 things to watch

Pistons have 24 games left

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 14: Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons brings the ball up court against the Washington Wizards during the first half at Capital One Arena on February 14, 2022 in Washington, DC. 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. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) (Scott Taetsch, 2022 Scott Taetsch)

The Pistons will be back in action on Thursday night after the NBA All Star break -- here are some things to keep an eye on for the last months of the season.

Hey, Pistons fans! I hope you enjoyed some All Star break basketball rest. We’re back in action tonight vs. Cleveland, one of the hottest teams in the NBA, and a team the Pistons actually beat in their last meeting.

The All Star break was pretty big for the Pistons young core. Rookie Cade Cunningham won the MVP at the Rising Stars game, where second-year forward Saddiq Bey led the game in scoring. Cade always performed well in the Skills Competition the following night, coming in 2nd with his fellow rookies. He hit a half-court shot to give them a chance in the end.

Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons holds up the 2022 Clorox Rising Stars MVP trophy after the 2022 Clorox Rising Stars at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on February 18, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. 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. (2022 Getty Images)

The experience should be beneficial for Cade, Saddiq and Isaiah Stewart -- spending the weekend with a group of the best in the league can only do good.

With 24 games left in the regular season, the Pistons have plenty to play for -- and plenty to figure out for next season and beyond.

Pistons return for final stretch of the season: 4 things to watch

The Cade-Bagley connection

The biggest question for the Pistons -- is Marvin Bagley III a part of the rebuild, or is he just a rental?

Bagley III was traded to Detroit on deadline day for Josh Jackson and Trey Lyles. Bagley is in his fourth NBA season and was desperately seeking a restart somewhere with a new team. Pistons GM Troy Weaver has eyed him for a couple of seasons.

The Pistons will have to make time to see how Bagley III fits in with Cade Cunningham and the other core young players on the roster. If Bagley III can sell himself, he could be in for an extended stay with Detroit. He’s set to become a free agent after this season.

The decision will have major implications on how the Pistons approach the NBA Draft and free agency -- where Detroit will have some of the biggest cap space available for any team.

What’s the plan with Killian Hayes?

Killian, oh, Killian. What are we to do with you?

Last year’s first-round pick, Killian Hayes, has had a slow start to his NBA career, and that’s being nice. He has made little impact in most games, isn’t finding ways to score, and isn’t running the offense very well when he has the ball in his hands.

Dwane Casey’s move to send Hayes to the bench seems to have helped him a bit, by taking some pressure off him. He’s looked more comfortable in the bench role, and when he’s not on the floor at the same time as Cade (I said this wouldn’t work, I tried to warn them).

Killian’s future with Detroit is murky. How patient will Troy Weaver be with Hayes? With another lottery pick coming and massive cap space, the value of a roster spot in the rotation will increase. Look at what happened with Sekou Doumbouya.

Who else is part of the future?

It’ll be interesting to see who else steps up and shows they want to be part of the Pistons future.

Jerami Grant, who was not traded at the deadline, will enter the final year of his 3-year deal next season. Will he get an extension? Is he sticking around?

Guards Frank Jackson and Hamidou Diallo -- both have expressed their desire to stick around -- but will they?

We’ll likely see a bit of former Michigan star Isaiah Livers soon, so depending on how he looks, he could end up filling one of those spots.

Draft lottery positioning

As we begin the final stretch, the Pistons are currently 2nd in the draft lottery, tied with Orlando and Houston for the best odds to land the No. 1 pick, or a top four pick in the NBA Draft.

I’m guessing the Pistons will remain in the bottom three position, the same position they were in last year when they got lucky and landed the top pick. Either way, the Pistons should be landing a top-five pick, and the draft is looking pretty strong, especially for the Pistons’ needs.

📅 Pistons upcoming games

  • Today vs. Cleveland
  • Feb. 26 vs. Boston
  • Feb. 27 @ Charlotte
  • March 1 @ Washington
  • March 3 @ Toronto
  • March 4 vs. Indiana

About the Author:

Ken Haddad has proudly been with WDIV/ClickOnDetroit since 2013. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters, and helps lead the WDIV Insider team. He's a big sports fan and is constantly sipping Lions Kool-Aid.