2023-24 NBA Season Preview: Detroit Pistons

Published October 18, 2023, 4:00 PMPolo Bustamante
Polo Bustamante

Pistons guards Jaden Ivey and Cade Cunningham enter the 2023-24 season with elevated expectations.

The NBA Season is back! Just like your favorite superhero story, the NBA brings fun, entertainment, and a lot of uncanny subplots to unpack. That’s why NBA.com Philippines decided to preview the new season comic-book style. We pick out fantastic characters that will take the stage and new amazing arcs to watch out for. Bang! Pow! Boom! Let’s go!

What’s their superpower?

There’s not much to take away from the performance of the Detroit Pistons last season. They were at the bottom of the standings in nearly every category, ranking 28th in Offensive Rating and Defensive Rating last season. That was understandable, given that they’re a young rebuilding team who was missing their best player for most of the season. 

Digging deeper, the numbers show that the Pistons were a capable team getting into the paint with nearly 50 percent of their attempts coming at the rim all the way out to 10 feet from the basket. With explosive players on the roster, look for the team to exploit this in the coming season. 

The return of Cade Cunningham, the improvement of Jaden Ivey, and the addition of Ausar Thompson will definitely boost the penetration numbers of the Pistons, opening up opportunities for their group of shooters and bigs in the paint.

What’s their kryptonite?

Just like any young team, defensive mindset and IQ will be something the team can improve on. Last season, the Pistons allowed nearly 120 points per 100 possessions, with teams shooting 48.9 percent against them.

Detroit is still a young team that is learning the defensive nuances needed to be successful in the NBA. They do have a couple of things going for them heading into the new season.

First, their core is composed of young, athletic players. That means they will have the quickness to make up for mistakes. Their guards can keep in step with perimeter players while their frontline group is beefy enough to hold their own down low.

The arrival of coach Monty Williams will also help in improving the discipline of this young squad, especially on the defensive end. Before Williams took over the Phoenix Suns, they were 29th in the league in Defensive Rating. In just his first year with the Suns, the team jumped up to 17th. Last season, under Williams, the Suns were 7th in the league in points per 100 possessions.

Who is their biggest hero?

Last season, Cade Cunningham was limited to just 12 games before he was shut down due to a shin injury. In those 12 games though, Cunningham was a dynamic force for the Pistons, averaging close to a 20-6-6 line for the team. There’s no doubt coming into this season who the alpha dog is for this team. That’s why he was the top pick in 2021.

As he resumes his role as the team’s leader this season, Cunningham will need to level up his game in order to lead the Pistons better. He needs to improve his decision-making, especially as the team’s floor general. If he can choose his spots better, that will lead to better shooting efficiency and less turnovers, the two major problems in his game so far.

Who is their biggest villain?

The Pistons are so young and are still making a name for themselves that it’s hard to peg a “villian” type for them at this point.

However because of the glut of young bigs on the roster, there’s bound to be someone that will be pushed out. Whether that’s former No. 3 pick James Wiseman or former No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley, that remains to be seen. What that could lead to is a player whose negative energy will ruin whatever good thing the Pistons are trying to build.

That will be the origin story of this season’s villain in Detroit.

How does their story play out?

A realistic peg for the Pistons would be last season’s Orlando Magic’s progression. The Magic started off the first half of the season looking like a lottery team. Towards the end, things slowly came together and they made a run at a play-in spot.

As long as the Pistons show improvement from the past two years, then that can be considered a success for this team. They don’t need to make the playoffs immediately. They just have to stay out of contention for next year’s top draft pick.