2 potential Pistons trade candidates entering 2023-24 NBA training camp

The Detroit Pistons were ready to take the next step last season. That is until Cade Cunningham underwent surgery on his left shin that prematurely ended his sophomore year 12 games into the campaign. As a result, Detroit finished with the league’s worst record at 17-65. To make matters worse, they didn’t even land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and hence, missed out on a generational prospect in Victor Wembanyama.

Nonetheless, it seems like the Pistons are now ready to take that next step this upcoming 2023-24 season. Cade Cunningham is back. They hired Monty Williams to a monstrous deal. They drafted Ausar Thompson at No. 5 overall. And they added veterans to the roster that can help this team win and guide them to the next level.

Nonetheless, this Pistons team still has several young prospects across its roster. Williams should be able to bring structure to this team and install a pecking order among the team’s young talent. With that said, some of them could become expendable and could be on the trading block. With that said, here are two potential trade candidates for the Detroit Pistons ahead of training camp.

1. James Wiseman

The Detroit Pistons took a chance on James Wiseman and acquired the former No. 2 overall pick from the Golden State Warriors last season. They gave the 7-foot-1 center a look and gave him the starting center role to finish out the 2022-23 season. Wiseman did produce some numbers with the chance given to him as he averaged 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds in over 25 minutes a night. He showcased his raw athleticism and showed flashes of brilliance throughout his 24 games with the Pistons.

However, he still showed the flaws that glued him to Golden State’s bench. Wiseman still looked lost at times on the defensive end. He continued to struggle with rotations and boxing out — the same kind of errors that led the Warriors to trade him.

James Wiseman’s time in the starting unit is unfortunately not going to carry over to the 2023-24 season. Well, it’s not supposed to. Wiseman was never supposed to be given the starting role in the first place.

Detroit should have never taken Jalen Duren out of the starting lineup.

Monty Williams should be able to recognize the fact that Duren is just miles better than Wiseman. He should go all in on giving the starting center reigns back to the league’s youngest player during the 2022-23 season.

Duren is a beast and his stellar rookie season just showed how he oozed with potential. He has a 7-foot-5 wingspan to go along with a 42-inch vertical. He shot 74.7 percent from within three feet of the basket and ranked 3rd in the NBA overall in offensive rebounds. Duren was also 3rd among all rookies in blocks.

Even with the demotion, Duren still put up huge numbers and eventually even regained a spot in the starting unit near the end of the season. In his last 15 games, Duren averaged 11.3 points and 9.4 rebounds while shooting 65.4 percent from the field.

The 19-year-old showed All-Defensive Team potential and even showcased playmaking chops with his underrated passing skills.

2. Killian Hayes

Another player who could be a trade candidate for the Pistons is Killian Hayes. Drafted 7th overall by the Pistons in 2020, the franchise had hoped Hayes would become a solid two-way point guard in the NBA. While the lefty has shown strides on the defensive side of the floor, his offense has been an absolute mess to begin his career.

Hayes is a career 37.6 percent shooter from the field and a 27.4 percent shooter from beyond the arc. Over the last two seasons, he has owned the worst true shooting percentage among all players who appeared in at least 60 games, per NBA.com.

Hayes is just 22 years old. He isn’t a lost cause by all means. But the early returns of his NBA career have been really discouraging, considering he hasn’t figured out how to score efficiently in the NBA level.

Sure, everyone brings something to the table. But being able to score and shoot, especially for his position, has become a premium for NBA point guards.

The Pistons drafted Jaden Ivey last season, which signaled that the Pistons may be ready to move on from the Hayes experiment. Cade Cunningham’s season-ending injury 12 games into the season may have given him another chance, but he didn’t really make much strides last season.

This summer, the Pistons traded for veteran guard Monte Morris, which could heavily impact Hayes’ playing time. Detroit is looking to get to the next level, especially after they hired Monty Williams. Morris, who holds a career 57.3 true shooting percentage, is as steady as they come as a second-unit floor general who can create plays and more importantly, score efficiently from the field.

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3 burning questions Pistons must answer heading into 2023-24 NBA training camp

The 2023-24 season will be an important one for the Detroit Pistons.

Detroit finished last season with a record of 17-65, putting them in fifth place in the Central Division and 15th place in the Eastern Conference. It made a few key moves during the offseason, including bringing in forward Ausar Thompson and guard Marcus Sasser through the 2023 NBA Draft. The Pistons re-signed center Isaiah Stewart to a four-year, $64 million contract extension in July. Detroit took the next step to usher in a new era of Detroit basketball by hiring head coach Monty Williams, who saw head coaching stints with the New Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns during his 17-year NBA coaching career.

What are some of the biggest questions the Pistons must answer as they head into their 2023-24 NBA training camp?

3. What will Ausar Thompson’s rookie season look like?

How close is Detroit’s young core to being complete after the selection of Thompson in this year’s NBA Draft?

Thompson played in four games for the Pistons during the 2023 NBA Summer League, earning averages of 13.5 points, 10 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.8 blocks per game. The former Overtime Elite forward logged 17 points, nine rebounds, three assists, four steals and two blocks during a 94-90 win over the Toronto Raptors in the Thomas & Mack Center.

“He has some gifts that you can not teach,” Summer League coach Jarrett Jack said, via a July article from ClutchPoints Clippers beat writer Tomer Azarly. “He has some defensive instincts that I very rarely see. But (we want him to learn) just when to use them. Sometimes, when you’re so, so good at something, which he is, you can go in that bag too much.

“When you’re playing against the higher level guys that he’s gonna see in the fall, that might get you in trouble sometimes.”

Thompson will join a blossoming Pistons core that features guard Cade Cunningham, guard Jaden Ivey and center Jalen Duren. Cunningham, the former No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, underwent season-ending surgery on his left leg in December.

“I think a lot of people are going to be shocked what he brings to the fore,” Ivey said when asked about his teammates’ return earlier this month, via Detroit Free Press Pistons beat writer Omari Sankofa II. “He’s going to have a special season this season. He gives us a certain energy that we need to get that team going. From day one that he was drafted he brought that for us.”

2. How will Detroit’s bench fare during the 2023-24 season?

The Pistons made a few moves to add extra depth off the bench during the 2023 offseason.

They acquired forward Joe Harris and two second-round selections from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for cash considerations in July. Harris, a nine-year NBA veteran for the Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers, hit 42.6% of his 3-point attempts during the 2022-23 NBA season. They traded a 2027 second-round pick for Washington Wizards guard Monte Morris the same month.

The Pistons bench took fifth place in the NBA with 39.4 points per game during the 2022-23 regular season, according to NBA.com. Their 16.2 rebounds per game put them on pace with the New York Knicks and just behind the Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic. Detroit will need to have a solid foundation around its young core to make a leap from seasons past.

1. How much of a turnaround will Detroit see in its first season with Monty Williams?

The Pistons finalized a deal with Williams in June. The former NBA Coach of the Year spent the last four seasons with the Phoenix Suns. He helped guide Phoenix to a regular-season record of 194-115 and an appearance in the 2021 NBA Finals before he was fired in May.

“I couldn’t be more proud to have Monty joining us at this important time to lead us into the next decade of our future,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said, via NBA.com. “He embodies all of the qualities we want in a leader for our Pistons franchise, and most importantly a teacher and mentor for our players. He will have an impact on every aspect of our franchise, on and off the court.

“After spending some time with Monty, it’s clear that he’s found a unique balance between achieving victory at the highest level while at the same time nurturing a culture of growth, development and inspiration,” Gores said. “I’m beyond excited. This is a huge win for us.”

Phoenix improved from a regular-season record of 19-63 in the 2018-19 season to 34-39 in Williams’s first year with the Suns. Williams must tap into the potential of Detroit’s budding roster to see the same turnaround during his first season with the Pistons.

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Stanley Johnson drops LeBron James, Cavs truth bomb on Pistons’ 2016 playoff loss to Cleveland

LeBron James was dominant during the 2016 NBA playoffs. After all, James won his third NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers at the conclusion of the 2016 NBA Finals. Stanley Johnson remembers how powerful James’ on-the-court influence was when the Cavs faced the Detroit Pistons in a first-round playoff matchup.

“I don’t believe Stan Van Gundy got out-coached in that series,” he said on the Run Your Race podcast, per Tidal League. “LeBon out-coached the team on the court.”

Johnson elaborated on James’ tactics. He claimed that LeBron would force Reggie Jackson to switch and guard him for a favorable matchup, despite the Pistons attempting to “hide” Jackson. James’ relentlessness and strategy helped the Cavs win the playoff series.

This is not the first time James’ basketball awareness has been praised. Draymond Green has faced James multiple times in the NBA Finals. He describes James’ IQ as “next level,” a skill that most players with his size and athleticism lack. Clearly, Cleveland greatly benefitted from James’ on-the-court coaching ability. How can the Cavs gain a similar presence in the modern day?

Players with exceptional basketball IQs do not come often. Cleveland is a team that could use additional veteran presence to strengthen its on-court strategies. One obvious player who aids Cleveland in that respect is is Tristan Thompson. In 2016, Thompson won a championship alongside James. As a free agency signing for the Cavaliers, he aims to be a source of knowledge and experience to help push a young Cleveland team to the top of the Eastern Conference.

Stanley Johnson, of course, was accurate in his take. A player with an excellent basketball IQ is hard for any coach to compete against, especially when that player is LeBron James.

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Exclusive: Pistons’ Cade Cunningham breaks silence on return from injury

LOS ANGELES – Cade Cunningham entered his second season ready to capitalize on a strong rookie campaign, but his 2022-23 campaign was cut drastically short. Now, he’s looking to re-establish himself among the best young players in today’s NBA.

After playing just 12 games in his sophomore season, Cunningham was shut down and underwent season-ending surgery to stabilize and promote healing of a left tibial stress fracture. The guard out of Oklahoma State had never dealt with an injury of that magnitude, but was now faced with an extended period away from an NBA court for the first time in his young career.

Cade Cunningham attacked his rehab head-on, taking the good days with the bad ones that inevitably came with them. Slowly but surely, he worked his way back from the injury, and although it’s unclear when exactly he was cleared to return to full speed contact basketball, but he’s been incredibly active this offseason.

From teaming up with his Pistons teammates at the UCLA runs to joining the USA Select Team and giving Team USA trouble in camp, Cunningham has looked and felt ready to go this offseason.

“I feel like I learned a lot about myself, about my team, and about the NBA that’s going to help me prepare for this season coming up,” Cunningham told ClutchPoints in an exclusive interview this offseason. “I mean, it was tough. I hadn’t went through anything like that before in my past. You know, like, having a big injury that had a long rehab that I was gonna have to go through, so it was definitely different for me.”

Most of the younger players who return from lengthy absences due to injury express a newfound outlook on the game. Being forced to watch dozens of games from the bench and having more time to break down film alongside their coaching staffs provides a new perspective, and it’s one Cunningham believes will positively impact his game.

“Yeah, I’d say it’s [the point of view],” Cunningham explained the biggest thing he learned to ClutchPoints. “I see things from a different point of view being on the sideline for a whole year. You get a different perspective with your teammates, being on the side watching them every day compared to being on the court with them. So, you know, just a combination of things like that that I’ll be able to take from last year and be able to apply next year.”

During Team USA’s camp ahead of the 2023 FIBA World Cup, clips surfaced on social media of Cade Cunningham leading his USA Select Team to multiple wins over Anthony Edwards and Team USA. Fans, of course, absolutely ran with the videos and the hype around Cunningham’s play with Pistons teammate Jalen Duren. Those on the ground even said Cunningham looked noticeably bulkier.

“It was an honor [being with Team USA]. Coming off a year where I only played 12 games and had a big surgery and everything. I didn’t play since the [injury], so to be considered and to be invited to be on the World Cup team was a huge honor. And that’s why I still wanted to come and be on the Select team and still be in those practices and be in the scrimmages.”

Considering these are some of the most competitive athletes on the planet, playing against your peers at the highest level is something Cunningham simply couldn’t pass up.

“It’s everything,” Cade Cunningham remarked to ClutchPoints. “Iron sharpens iron, so to be able to compete, push each other, have so much talent all collected in one room, it brings the best out of everybody. I think everybody can attest to that. Being surrounded by so much talent definitely pushed us and gets us better for next year.

Cunningham started his NBA career looking like the runaway favorite for Rookie of the Year, averaging 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.2 steals per game in 64 appearances. He struggled with efficiency, however, converting on just 41.6 percent of his shots and only 31.4 percent from three.

He was eventually overtaken by Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes (the eventual ROY), who had stellar second halves to their rookie seasons. And while he keeps his personal goals close to the vest, Cunningham is placing a considerable amount of focus on taking the Detroit Pistons towards championship contention.

“Of course, being healthy and being available for my team. that’s the biggest goal. And then most importantly, just winning games. I want to take a leap for next year and get closer to being a championship caliber team.”

The Pistons have an intriguing young nucleus mixed with some much-needed veterans on their team. Detroit retained Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks while acquiring both Joe Harris from the Brooklyn Nets and Monte Morris from the Washington Wizards. They’ve also got Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, and Jalen Duren as the younger members of the team.


Their biggest acquisition of the offseason, however, is one Ausar Thompson. Selected with the fifth pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Ausar Thompson comes out of Overtime Elite, bringing speed and athleticism to a Pistons squad that is looking to get out and run this year.

Ausar Thompson spoke exclusively with ClutchPoints in July, where he explained where he thinks he fits with his new Pistons teammates.

“I definitely think about [playing with the NBA guys in the fall],” Thompson said. “I think I fit in with the fact that I can rebound and we can run. I mean we’re all so fast. Even the bigs are fast, so we’ll get out there and run. We don’t really have to try to play in the half-court, maybe as little as possible. Obviously, we have to be prepared to play in the half court, but just being able to switch so much. I feel like our team is so switchable too, even the bigs. I know I keep saying that, but our bigs are just so mobile and they want to run, so I’m excited.”

Cade Cunningham says he cannot wait to suit up with him.

“I’m super excited about him. He’s a great guy, most importantly. I’m excited to be able to work with him and be around him, but on the court, I mean, it’s obvious that he’s going to be able to bring to us with so much talent, so much athleticism, and such a high IQ.

“We have a lot of athletes, so it would be good for us.”

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10 best Pistons draft picks in franchise history, ranked

The Pistons have a storied history in the NBA, a member of the association since 1948. They have seen several historic players walk through their locker room, and many have been homegrown through the draft. Let’s look at the top ten draft picks in Detroit Pistons history.

#10 – Khris Middleton (Round 2, #39 Overall, 2012)

Due to his success with the Milwaukee Bucks, many people forget that Middleton was a former draft pick of the Detroit Pistons. His Pistons career is something that fans try to forget, as he played only 27 games, averaging 6.1 points per game, 1.9 rebounds, and 1 assist. Unfortunately, Middleton turned into a different player in Milwaukee, transforming himself into one of the best role players of the decade. In 2019, Middleton began to find his groove playing alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, being selected to his first All-Star game. Middleton would make two more All-Star appearances in 2020 and 2022 and win his first NBA title in 2021. He became a huge contributor in the 2021 title run, averaging 23.6 points per game, 7.6 rebounds, and 5.1 assists. Everyone will remember Giannis from that title run, but Middleton was the unsung hero.

While it may not have worked out for Middleton in Detroit, the value of finding a player of his caliber in the second round is worthy of recognition.

#9 – Andre Drummond (Round 1, #9 Overall, 2012)

The player from the 2012 draft class who stayed, Drummond also had a successful run as a member of the Pistons. While Drummond doesn’t have the NBA title or as many all-star selections as Middleton, we will slot him ahead here since his accolades came during his time in Detroit. The Drummond era in Detroit should be remembered more fondly, but the team struggled for the entirety. In Drummond’s eight years with the team, they made the playoffs twice, with a combined record of 0-8. As an individual, Drummond was arguably the best Piston of the 2010s. He was named to the All-Star team twice, given 2015-2016 All-NBA honors, and was a four-time leader in rebounding. For his Pistons career, the 6-10 power forward averaged 14.4 points per game, 13.9 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. For a team that wasn’t good, Drummond was a lone bright spot.

#8 – Tayshaun Prince (Round 1, #23 Overall, 2002)

A fan-favorite during the 2004 NBA championship run, the lefty-shooting American won over fans with clutch shooting and smothering defense. Prince was as reliable as he was good for the Pistons, playing all 82 games for six straight seasons from 2003-2009. While his numbers don’t live up to some other Pistons legends, his contributions to the surprising Pistons teams of the early 2000s can’t be forgotten. Prince averaged 12.6 points per game, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.6 assists during his 12 seasons in Detroit and never made an all-star team. He was never front-and-center on any team, but the homegrown star will always be front-and-center in fans’ memories. He IS most remembered for his defensive play against some of the game’s best, earning four All-Defensive honors in his time with the team.

#7 – Bailey Howell (Round 1, #2 Overall, 1959)

Howell’s career started over six decades ago, but his production as a member of the Pistons made him one of the first great Pistons players. Selected second overall out of Mississippi State, Howell was a factor right out of the gate in his rookie season. In his sophomore season, the 6 foot 7 power forward made his first All-Star team and then rallied off four straight appearances. In 1962-63, he had his best individual season, getting All-NBA honors. With the Pistons, Howell averaged 21.1 points per game, 11.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. While the Pistons didn’t win during his tenure, he would win two titles in 1968 and 1969 with the  Celtics. He is also the first Hall of Famer featured on our list, as he was inducted in 1997.

#6 – Bob Lanier (Round 1, #1 Overall, 1970)

In terms of Win Share, Bob Lanier is the best Detroit Pistons player in its history. While the stats and personal accolades may not reflect it, Lanier was the face of Detroit basketball for a long time. He had a great career with Detroit, averaging 22.7 points per game, 11.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. He was an All-Star in seven of his ten seasons with the Pistons and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.

#5 – Grant Hill (Round 1, #1 Overall, 1994)

The top-five of Detroit Pistons draft picks is a star-studded list, including some of the greatest players in NBA history. We start with a player who Pistons fans wish had stuck around longer but was a favorite in his six seasons. Hill would be named an All-Star in five of his seasons in Detroit, winning Rookie of the Year in 1994-95. Hill was also named to the All-NBA team five times in his career and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018. For a career that spanned 18 seasons, Hill would only make the All-Star team two more times after leaving, confirming the fact that his best years were in Detroit. Hill had an average of 21.6 points per game, 7.9 rebounds, and 6.3 assists with the Pistons. Hill’s biggest downfall as a Piston was never making it out of the first round of the postseason.

#4 – Dave Debusschere (Round 1, #4 Overall, 1962)

In a disturbing trend for Pistons’ fans, most of Debusschere’s success came in his post-Pistons career. Debusschere did earn three all-star nominations during his time in Detroit, but the team only made the playoffs twice. He averaged 16.1 points per game, 11.2 rebounds, and 2.6 assists over seven seasons. Debusschere took his talents to the New York Knicks in 1968, and his career took off. He would make five straight all-star games and win two NBA titles in New York. He did rack up plenty of individual accolades during and post-career. Debusschere earned All-NBA honors in the year he was traded to the Knicks mid-season, was a six-time All-Defensive team member, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983. The NBA would also honor him as a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary team.

#3 – Joe Dumars (Round 1, #18 Overall, 1985)

The first member on our list of the Bad Boy Pistons era, Joe Dumars comes in as the third-best draft pick in Pistons history. The Michael Jordan stopper, Dumars was an integral part of the Detroit Pistons’ two championships in the late 1980s. Dumars played all 14 seasons of his career in Detroit, racking up numerous accolades. He was a six-time all-star, three-time All-NBA, and five-time All-Defensive player. As previously mentioned, Dumars won two titles with the Pistons and earned the 1988-89 NBA Finals MVP. Unsurprisingly with those awards, Dumars was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006. Dumars finished his career averaging 16.1 points per game, 3.5 assists, and 1.8 rebounds.

#2 – Isiah Thomas (Round 1, #2 Overall, 1981)

Thomas was also a part of the Bad Boy Pistons era, starring alongside Dumars in the team’s backcourt. Thomas was an all-star in his first season with Detroit and then made it for 12 straight years. He was chosen to the All-NBA team five times and was named the 1989-90 Finals MVP after back-to-back titles. Of course, he was named to the NBA 75th anniversary team, and inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2000. Current NBA fans know Thomas more for his controversy with Michael Jordan, but they need to know how good of a player Isiah was in his prime. A questionable attitude, failures in the front office, and Michael Jordan supporters have tarnished an otherwise successful legacy.

#1 – Dennis Rodman (Round 2, #27 Overall, 1986)

You read the Isiah Thomas breakdown and said, How is he not number one on this list? In terms of basketball skills and personal accolades, there may be no one better than Isiah Thomas. However, this list highlights the best draft picks, and Rodman is one of the best value picks in NBA history. Coming out of Southeastern Oklahoma State University, no one had Dennis Rodman on their radar. Rodman became a top-five defensive player in NBA history, and the anchor to many championship teams. Detroit struggled to get over the hump before Rodman came into his own, but when he did, the Pistons won two straight championships. Rodman then ended up in Chicago with Michael Jordan and won three straight NBA titles to bring his total to five. Personally, Rodman was a two-time All-Star, eight-time All-Defensive, two-time All-NBA, and two-time Defensive Player of the Year.

He was also on the NBA 75th Anniversary Team and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011. In a league that focuses on the lottery picks, Rodman came out of nowhere and became one of the greatest to ever do it.

All stats courtesy of BasketballReference.com

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Pistons’ Jaden Ivey issues stern Cade Cunningham warning to NBA ahead of injury return

Cade Cunningham was enjoying a strong start to his second season in the NBA in 2022-23 – averaging 19.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists over his first 12 games – before suffering a stress fracture in his left shin which required season-ending surgery. But teammate Jaden Ivey has no concerns about the impact the 2021 number one pick will have upon his return to the Detroit Pistons’ starting lineup this season.

“I think a lot of people are going to be shocked what he brings to the fore,” Ivey said when asked about his teammates’ return. “He’s going to have a special season this season. He gives us a certain energy that we need to get that team going. From day one that he was drafted he brought that for us.”

It’s some glowing praise from Jaden Ivey, who was taken with the fifth pick the year after Cunningham was drafted. Interestingly, with Cunningham out Ivey was forced to pick up a lot of the ball-handling slack, and while he did a reasonable job at times he’ll likely benefit from having Cunningham there to take on more of the load. In college, Ivey averaged just 1.9 assists in his first season at Purdue and 3.1 in his second, so the 5.2 he averaged in his first season in the NBA showed a significant change in role – and was perhaps unsurprisingly accompanied by a relatively high 3.2 turnovers per night.

With Cade Cunningham back on the floor, Killian Hayes will be presumably sent to the bench and the Pistons will have a much more offensively potent starting five. Having won just 17 games last year, expectations surrounding the team in 2023-24 won’t exactly be sky-high, but they are slowly beginning to put together a reasonable compilation of talent, and with Cunningham at the helm they should be winning a few more games in the upcoming season.

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1 Pistons player in danger of losing starting job in 2023-24 NBA training camp

The Detroit Pistons offseason was rather uneventful. They didn’t get the lottery luck they wanted and ended up with the fifth pick in the 2023 NBA Draft after finishing the 2022-23 campaign with the worst record in the league. And while their first round picks Ausar Thompson and Marcus Sasser showed out during Summer League, they didn’t make the type of big splash that fans were hoping for.

Instead, the Pistons will look to build from within, which makes sense considering how they are a rebuilding squad that is full of young talent. The Pistons opened the 2022-23 season with a starting lineup of Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Saddiq Bey, and Isaiah Stewart, but that group didn’t play together very often, as Cunningham got injured in November and Bey was traded to the Atlanta Hawks. Thompson will almost certainly take Bey’s spot in the lineup, but is that the only change Detroit will make to their starting lineup? Let’s take a look at why it isn’t, and why one starter could find himself stuck on the bench to begin the season.

Pistons player in danger of losing starting job: Isaiah Stewart

Stewart began last season as Detroit’s starting center, but the same may not be true for him this upcoming season. Stewart is a tenacious rebounder who has done an admirable job reorienting his game towards the perimeter, which is a must for centers in the modern NBA in order to survive and stay on the floor. Stewart has managed to turn himself into a stout all-around defender who can hold his own when switched out onto guards.

Stewart also was serviceable stretching the floor as a stretch five and even a stretch four for periods of time last year. Stewart had yet to average more than one three-point attempt per game before last season, but he bumped that up all the way to 4.1 attempts from deep per game and kept his shooting percentage from behind the arc at 32.7 percent, which is roughly the same as it’s been throughout his career.

Stewart can do these things in addition to traditional big man stuff like rebounding, rolling to the rim, and anchoring a defense. It’s why the Pistons locked him into a four-year $64 million extension this summer. He’s a good player. But he’s not a lock to begin this season as Detroit’s starting center.

That’s because second-year stud Jalen Duren is also very good. Duren stepped into the NBA as an 18-year-old rookie last season and didn’t look very phased by the jump to the big leagues. Per-36 minutes, Duren averaged 13.2 points and 12.8 rebounds while shooting 64.8 percent from the field. When he actually played close to that number of minutes last season, his stats were even better.

Duren is only a teenager but looks like he’s chiseled out of stone. He can bang with any of the few brutes that are still out there at center. Not only can he do that, but he’s also already solid as a rim protector.

And offensively he isn’t just a roller and finisher. Duren was a very nifty passer in college at Memphis where he averaged 1.3 assists per game. The flashes of feel and soft touch as a passer were rampant during his rookie season in Detroit too.

Stewart got the nod as the team’s primary starting center last season. He started 47 of the 50 games he played for them last season, while Duren started only 31 of a possible 67. But Duren was very productive as a starter last season. It seems counterproductive to not start a center that is making $16 million per season, but Duren should get that nod this season. Early indications seem to suggest that Duren will get a chance to make the starting center job his own to begin the season.

That means that Stewart could be the odd man out of the starting lineup. Stewart is a good player who is talented enough to play alongside Duren, but that might not be the best way to get the most out of the Pistons’ young core. How their starting lineup comes into focus will be worth watching as training camp gets underway soon.

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Pistons 2023 offseason recap: Ausar Thompson joins young core as Cade Cunningham returns

Since the start of the 2009-10 season, the Detroit Pistons have made the playoffs only two times. In fact, they have not won a playoff series since 2008, a year in which they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the sixth consecutive year with Chauncey Billups as their leader.

Over the last four seasons, the Pistons have won a total of 80 games. There are a total of 82 games in a regular NBA season. This organization’s lack of overall success has led to a lot of disappointment, but at the same time, hope still exists amongst everyone connected to the franchise, including their fans. While it will take time, Detroit is on the correct path to success right now and everything for them begins with their young core.

Despite missing the playoffs in four straight seasons and finishing with a sub .500 record numerous times over the last decade, the good news for the Pistons is that they have started to accumulate some very talented top-tier picks. Since general manager Troy Weaver took over the front office in 2020, this team has added Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren, Killian Hayes, and now Ausar Thompson via the NBA Draft. It’s also worth mentioning that they added Marcus Sasser in this year’s draft as well.

The entire core of this organization has been drafted, and the best part is that they are all still on their their initial rookie deals. Cap space is not a long-term problem for this franchise, neither is roster stability given the potential that exists within all of their recent draftees.

Cunningham is “the guy” for the Pistons right now and for the foreseeable future. They selected him first overall in 2021 and he immediately proved to be an all-around, triple-double-like threat with the ball in his hands. Big things were in store for him heading into Year 2, but then Cunningham was forced to end his season after just 12 games due to a shin injury that required surgery. Ahead of training camp, the team claims he is 100 percent ready to go and the spotlight is now on the 21-year-old to lead his team back to relevance.

Ivey, Stewart and Duren are all going to be holding key roles once again as they continue to develop with Thompson having a chance to be the guy to really elevate this team to the next level. Much like how Cunningham can do a little bit of everything, Thompson is truly a positionless player that can fill any role assigned to him. At Las Vegas Summer League just a couple of month ago, he proved to be a very strong defender with truly no weaknesses in his game.

Everyone within the Pistons organization is excited to get Thompson on the court and he has a chance to start in the team’s very first game of the season.

“He has some gifts that you can not teach,” Pistons Summer League coach Jarrett Jack told ClutchPoints this offseason. “He has some defensive instincts that I very rarely see. But [we want him to learn] just when to use them. Sometimes, when you’re so, so good at something, which he is, you can go in that bag too much. When you’re playing against the higher level guys that he’s gonna see in the fall, that might get you in trouble sometimes.”

Every rookie faces some sort of struggle entering the league and Thompson will have some flaws. However, he makes up for his mistakes in ways other players can’t, which is why he has faith in his own abilities with the season right around the corner.

Aside from Cunningham returning, this young core getting another offseason under their belts, and Thompson preparing for his NBA debut, Detroit also has a new head coach that is ready to help this franchise rise from rock bottom in the East.

Monty Williams, who spent the last four seasons pulling the Phoenix Suns out from the bottom of the Western Conference standings, has now taken over the reins on the Pistons’ sideline. Williams is the perfect mentor for this young group, especially given all the challenges he has faced in life. This young group is going to learn discipline, they are going to learn accountability, and they will most definitely have a new energy to them heading into the 2023-24 season.

Offseason additions and departures

Additions: G/F Ausar Thompson (draft), G Monte Morris (trade – WAS), G/F Joe Harris (trade – BKN), G Marcus Sasser (draft)

Departures: G/F Hamidou Diallo (free agency), G Rodney McGruder (free agency), G Cory Joseph (free agency – GSW), G R.J. Hampton (free agency)

After a lot of discussion surrounded who the Pistons would take with the No. 5 overall pick in this year’s draft, it was clear that Ausar Thompson was the guy they fell in love with very early on in the pre-draft process. As already mentioned, Thompson can do a little bit of everything with his best quality being the fact that Detroit can utilize him in many different ways.

Due to his passing and playmaking abilities, Thompson can possibly be a lead guard for his team with players from the second unit. Plus, he’s crafty enough to be his own playmaker that can get to the rim against smaller defenders.

As far as his defense goes, the Pistons are getting one of the best defensive rookies who will be able to make an impact from his very first game. Not many players possess the length and instincts on that end of the court that Thompson does, which is why Detroit should be very pleased with this selection.

Although all the hype for the Pistons from this offseason surrounds Thompson, they ended up grabbing another really good young player near the end of the first-round. Marcus Sasser had proven to be one of the best scoring guards in the country over the last two years at Houston and he entered the NBA Draft as an experienced, older prospect. This did not matter to Detroit, especially since he fills another obvious need in their backcourt.

Killian Hayes has been a question mark for this organization and his unreliable play in the backcourt resulted in the front office finding more depth behind Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey. Sasser can play right away and his experiences of going on deep tournament runs in college sets him up to be a reliable backup right away.

Thompson and Sasser are the two “younglings” who are set to join one of the youngest teams in the NBA, but the Pistons did also add some veteran voices to their locker room this offseason. Sharpshooter Joe Harris was traded from the Brooklyn Nets, along with two future second-round picks, in exchange for nothing more than cash. Monte Morris was another addition, as he came over from the Washington Wizards in exchange for a future second-round pick. Essentially, the Pistons added two reliable veterans who can play and contribute right away for the price of no immediate asset.

Both of these trades are going to end up paying off for the Pistons’ front office, especially since both veterans can help the team win right now and moving forward. Looking at Harris and the contributions he can bring, it is clear he will have a role out on the wing. Monty Williams has always had shooting depth on his teams and Harris has proven to be one of the best three-point shooting threats in the league when healthy. He ended up leading the league in three-point shooting percentage during the 2018-19 and 2020-21 seasons.

As for Morris, he brings stability and a sense of calmness with him to Detroit. Whereas Cunningham and Ivey are the flashy guards on this roster who can be unpredictable at times, Morris’ production remains steady over the course of the entire season. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, the 28-year-old guard is more than capable of leading any rotation and his 4.8 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio over the last two seasons is amongst the best in the league.

This ended up being a fantastic offseason for a team many are not paying attention to in this league right now. The Pistons parted ways with unreliable secondary options such as Cory Joseph, Hamidou Diallo, and R.J. Hampton in favor of proven veterans and their additions via the draft will pave the path for what the future of this franchise will look like.

Even though they are still one of the youngest teams in the league, the Pistons have a solid blend of veteran and youthful depth. With an experienced head coach who knows what it takes to win in this league and succeed in life, the Pistons are destined for immediate growth. This is no longer a team that will win below 30 games, especially with victories being right on the horizon.

Pistons’ trade options: Bogdanovic, Harris, Morris

Detroit Pistons, Joe Harris, Bojan Bogdanovic, Monte Morris

What will be interesting to watch over the course of the 2023-24 season regarding Detroit is what they decide to do with some of the veterans on their roster. As already mentioned, Joe Harris and Monte Morris were added this offseason, making them two of the three older voices in this locker room. Bojan Bogdanovic is the other.

Bogdanovic joined the Pistons in 2022 after spending the previous three seasons with the Utah Jazz. There, he was a prolific scoring option on the wing and helped Utah sit at the top of the Western Conference standings.

In one season with Detroit, Bogdanovic managed to average a career-high 21.6 points per game while shooting 48.8 percent from the floor and 41.1 percent from three-point range. As a result, numerous playoff contending teams have called about his availability, especially since the 34-year-old is making $20 million this upcoming season and has a $2 million partially-guaranteed clause on his deal for the 2024-25 season.

Once again, Bogdanovic is going to hear his name tied to trade rumors. Only this time, there will be actual momentum for a trade to possibly happen in the middle of the season. Before, the Pistons were hesitant to talk trades involving the veteran not only because they had just acquired him, but also since they lacked forward depth.

With Thompson and Harris expected to hold roles at the small forward position, as well as the fact that the Pistons are going to be using both Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley III at the power forward spot, Bogdanovic has suddenly become a player the Pistons can afford to leverage for decent value. Now is the best time for this front office to move on from the veteran. Even if they are finding a lot of success during the first part of the year, it would be a little bit of a surprise to see Bogdanovic on this roster at the end of the season.

There are also question marks surrounding how long the team intends on keeping Harris and Morris. Both players will become unrestricted free agents next offseason and it would not be a surprise to see teams inquire about their availability ahead of the trade deadline. Whether or not the Pistons move Harris and/or Morris depends on two things.

The first is obviously Bogdanovic’s status and future with the team, but the second revolves around the team’s long-term core. Will Killian Hayes stick around in the final year of his rookie contract and what will the team do with veteran Alec Burks in the final year of his contract? The Pistons are in a unique situation because while they are very young and still growing, they have just eight players set to be under contract for the 2024-25 season.

Cunningham, Ivey, Sasser and Thompson represent the upside this roster possesses in the backcourt, as Stewart, Bagley and Jalen Duren are the future of the frontcourt. Other than these seven youthful talents, the Pistons will be open for business and they’ll be searching for ways to continue adding potential. All three veterans in Bogdanovic, Morris and Harris may not be moved, but it should not come as a shock to see the organization move on from two of these names for more draft picks and possibly another young, established player.

2023-24 season outlook

Wins have not come easy for the Pistons in recent years. In fact, they have not won more than 23 games in a season over the last four years.

That is about to change during the 2023-24 season.

A new era has begun for this organization. They may no longer be the “Bad Boy Pistons,” but Detroit is in a position where long-term success is upon them. Cade Cunningham and Ausar Thompson are going to be a terrific one-two punch for many years to come, plus Jaden Ivey is electric with the ball in his hands in the open court.

There is also a lot to like about the Pistons’ frontcourt. Not only will Jalen Duren and Marvin Bagley III look to control the paint, but James Wiseman is also still on this roster. Entering the final year of his rookie contract and having a full offseason to work with his new team, Wiseman could finally take that next step the Golden State Warriors were waiting for through the years.

The biggest thing that stands out about this team heading into the 2023-24 season is that they finally have a sense of direction. Troy Weaver and this front office have done a fantastic job of assembling young, dynamic talents and there is no better coach in this league to led their core than Monty Williams.

We saw what Williams was able to accomplish with Devin Booker and the Suns over the last few seasons, which is why we should believe in him to revitalize the Pistons. While still far off from being a real contender in the Eastern Conference, we should undoubtedly expect to see growth from this organization heading into the new season.

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‘I was furious’: Metta World Peace drops eye-opening take on ‘Malice at the Palace’

Metta World Peace’s career was forever changed by the “Malice at the Palace.” Nearly 20 years after the infamous 2004 brawl he helped spark between members of the Indiana Pacers and fans of the Detroit Pistons, though, World Peace doesn’t entirely regret his actions—even acknowledging just how much money he lost as a result of charging into the stands.

After being asked what was going through his mind after getting a beer thrown on him while avoiding pushes and shoves with Ben Wallace and the Pistons, World Peace admitted be still believes his instant fury was well placed.

“I don’t even know what was going through my mind because it happened so quick. If you look at how fast I got up, that was a half a second. I was like, ‘No way nobody just hit me,’” he told Emily Austin on The Hoop Chat. “I was furious, as you can see. I was furious, not gonna lie. Should I have been that upset, when I think about it? Yeah, probably should’ve been upset. Would I have done that again? Probably not, but I would be the same amount of upset.”

World Peace has always taken an undue amount of flak for initiating the Malice at the Palace. The fan who threw a red cup of beer at him while World Peace—still going by Ron Artest back then—was laying on the scorer’s table, trying to regain his cool after a dust-up with Wallace, is really the one who turned a routine on-court fracas into a full-fledged fight involving arena patrons.

Good on him for continuing to say as much all these years later. Even better? Massive earnings loss and cemented reputation hit be damned, World Peace ultimately forgave the event’s true instigator.

“I forgave that person even though he lost me 50-to-whatever [million] in contracts and endorsements,” he said. “But you know what? I feel like humans are more important than paper.”

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2 way-too-early trades Pistons must pull off in 2023-24 NBA season

Are the Detroit Pistons ready to take the leap into playoff contention during the 2023-24 season? Perhaps, especially if Cade Cunningham delivers on his preseason hype. The Pistons’ hopes of improving will hinge on just how high Cunningham can ascend on the league’s totem pole, as at his best, he might be capable of producing a 25-5-5 season to lead the nascent Pistons.

But Cunningham, at the end of the day, is just one man. He will still need a strong supporting cast to mount a strong playoff push, with the Pistons hoping for breakout campaigns from the likes of Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren and a stellar rookie season from Ausar Thompson.

If the Pistons end up being ahead of schedule, it may not be the worst idea in the world to put even more pieces that could grow alongside Cade Cunningham and company. They have all of their future first-round picks except one, so they will have the assets to swing a trade for a player they covet.

With that said, here are two trades the Pistons should end up pursuing if they find themselves in the thick of the playoff race in a few months’ time.

We’re going star-hunting in the Motor City

Pistons trade away Marvin Bagley III, Joe Harris, Alec Burks, Killian Hayes and two first-round picks to the Chicago Bulls for Zach LaVine and Carlik Jones

It’s necessary to mention that at this point in time, there’s simply no way that the Bulls trade away Zach LaVine, and to the Pistons, of all teams. The Bulls, as daft as it might be, are still trying to recapture the magic of their 2021-22 season, which makes it likely for them to ride out their current core of LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

But with no major additions other than Jevon Carter, it’s highly unlikely for the Bulls to be a surefire playoff team like they were two seasons ago. More likely than not, they’ll find themselves in the play-in once more, twinkling their toes to the will they-won’t they trade them dance approaching the February deadline. And if the Bulls end up being sellers, the Pistons, especially if they manage to find themselves in a favorable position, could immensely benefit with the potential addition of LaVine.

For starters, the Pistons posted the third-worst offense in the NBA last season. Even with projected improvements for Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey on that side of the ball, the Pistons will need a bonafide scoring option on the wing to elevate the team’s scoring output. Zach LaVine will do just that for Monty Williams’ side.

LaVine has blossomed into one of the most efficient three-level scoring weapons in the NBA. He ranks highly in multiple key offensive metrics, so he can help the Pistons a lot by relieving their youngsters of some scoring burden.

Cade Cunningham passes the eye test defensively, so it’s not like the Pistons will have troubles configuring matchups should they add Zach LaVine. Cunningham stands at around 6’7, and his defensive instincts on the perimeter are top-notch, so he could definitely slide in and guard bigger wings especially as he continues to fill out his frame.

The bigger question is whether or not the package above is enough to convince the Bulls to trade away LaVine. The Pistons’ trade offer above isn’t exactly the most appealing, outside of the inclusion of two first-round picks. But that is not the worst option in the world for the Bulls, although teams such as the New York Knicks can outbid that offer.

We’re literally going Hunting in the Motor City

Pistons acquire De’Andre Hunter from the Atlanta Hawks for Bojan Bogdanovic, two second-round picks

The Pistons reportedly showed interest in trading for Hawks 3 and D forward De’Andre Hunter during the offseason, but nothing has materialized thus far. With the addition of Zach LaVine in this hypothetical world, the Pistons must revisit their interest in Hunter to bolster their defense.

Hunter hasn’t exactly carried over the promise he showed during the 2021-22 season on the offensive end. His game on that end of the floor has stagnated, as he has found himself with less and less offensive responsibility with Trae Young and Dejounte Murray dominating the controls. Given the Hawks’ focus on winning now, perhaps they deem acquiring someone who flourishes more in an off-ball role, such as Bojan Bogdanovic, to be more helpful to the team than keeping Hunter in town.

De’Andre Hunter would then become a player for the Pistons who takes on the toughest perimeter matchups on a nightly basis, and he could provide a bit of off-the-dribble scoring as well if need be. Hunter is only 25, so he may yet justify the huge extension he signed with the Hawks in 2022.

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