The Detroit Pistons will welcome No. 1 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft, Cade Cunningham, into the fold this season around an athletic, but rebuilding roster.
The Pistons have the third lowest win total in the league heading into the season, according to WynnBET Sportsbook. Can Cunningham lead the team above expectation?
For starters, the roster is very raw. Jerami Grant took a leap in an increased role, his first in Detroit, averaging 22 points per game on a massive jump in volume, eight more shots per game than the year before.
Enter Cunningham, who has elite vision for his age and the body type that will translate well to the next level. A 6’8” lead ball handler, Cunningham has a great shot off the dribble and showcased great defensive instincts at Oklahoma State.
He’ll be joined in the backcourt by Killian Hayes, the second year guard who showed promise but struggled staying on the floor, playing in just 26 games. Hayes hit 39% of his three-point shots on more than five per game.
In addition to Hayes, Saddiq Bey had a fantastic rookie season, roaming around the perimeter as a dead eye three-point threat, 38% last season. The third first rounder in 2020 was Isaiah Stewart, who provided a boost in the frontcourt. He averaged a double-double per 36 minutes and was top 10 in offensive rebound percentage.
So, what’s this all mean? Well, the Pistons are young, and there may be some growing pains. The team has a few veterans such as Kelly Olynyk on the roster, but this is a full on youth movement in the Motor City.
Cunningham has star potential, but I do envision him playing the role of facilitator early and defer to Grant. Despite being head and shoulders above his teammates at Oklahoma State, Cunningham did make sure to distribute the ball, especially early in the season.
The Pistons defense wasn’t that bad last season, 19th in defensive rating, but the offense was 26th. With Cunningham running the offense as well as a healthy Hayes, I do expect Detroit to take a step forward with capable shooters around the No. 1 pick.
Detroit Pistons Win Total Prediction | 24.5 (Over -120/Under +100)
While I do like several of the prospects in Detroit, namely Cunningham and Bey, I’m siding with the under on the Pistons' win total.
Ultimately, teams fall short of their expectation every year even if they are building towards a bright future, and the Pistons are relying on a young core that doesn’t have experience playing together.
There will be high points of the season, but I see the Pistons falling late in games, which will keep them under their win total.
Cunningham will announce himself as the future of the franchise, but not just in the win column yet.
Detroit Pistons Playoff Odds
The Pistons are +2000 to make the playoffs. I can’t back them to reach the postseason given the youth on hand and the crowded middle class of the Eastern Conference.