Killian Hayes and Cade Cunningham during a preseason game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on October 11. Photo: Brian Sevald/Getty
The Pistons tip off the 2022-23 season at home tonight in a matchup featuring the NBA’s most recent No. 1 overall picks, Cade Cunningham and Paolo Banchero.
The intrigue: Despite the general consensus that this year’s team will continue to struggle, there’s a buzz around the Pistons that hasn’t existed since the team played in Auburn Hills.
- It’s thanks to the front office’s willingness to start a rebuild from scratch and general manager Troy Weaver’s calculated moves to bring in the current young core.
Five questions we’re asking before game 1 of 82:
🎰 Realistic expectations? While the Pistons are optimism they can compete this year, making the playoffs still seems like a lofty goal.
- In year three of the rebuild, Dwane Casey says the team is staying patient.
Are those tea jerseys for sale? Retro teal jerseys are back and on sale for the first time since 2000.
- The Pistons will wear these for 10 games this season, and a throwback court design is expected to debut on Oct. 28 against the Hawks.
⭐ Cade Cunningham, All-Star? The point guard is already being placed on that level by his peers. The Athletic’s James Edwards III says he’s on the cusp, but doesn’t expect it to happen this year.
- Cunningham’s playmaking has been elite from the jump, but becoming a more dependable scorer is where he should make his biggest leap.
- He averaged nearly five more drives per game in the final 24 games (17.5) of his rookie season than during the first half (12.7). Being more aggressive and efficient — he shot just 31.4% from three last season — while limiting turnovers could make Cunningham’s sophomore campaign one to remember
🇫🇷 Will Killian Hayes make the leap? The third-year guard has somehow managed to tune out the mean-spirited comments he’s received from Sada Baby and Pistons faithful since arriving in Detroit. At 21 years old, his perseverance after two disappointing seasons — his first due to injury — seems sincere and could become a testament to his maturity.
- Already a skilled defender, he could end up being one of the Pistons’ most important pieces if he becomes even just average on offense.
🤔 How impactful will the rookies be? The draft night trade for center Jalen Duren after landing Purdue high flyer Jaden Ivey had some analysts saying Detroit won this summer’s draft.
- On paper, Ivey’s strengths as a high flying scorer should complement Cunningham’s perfectly.
- Duren will have a chance to show his youthful strength early as a result of Marvin Bagley III spraining his knee during the preseason.