Assessing the 2021-22 Detroit Pistons

June 5th, 2022

By Alan Lu

There were fairly low expectations placed onto the Detroit Pistons this year.  They had won just 20 games last year, and while they received the #1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, they still had a very young and inexperienced roster, so they were largely expected to miss the playoffs and finish the season as one of the worst teams in the NBA.  On that level, they pretty much met those expectations, and the 2021-22 Detroit Pistons won 23 games during the regular season and missed the playoffs.

On the other hand, rookie point forward, Cade Cunningham had a very good rookie season, and while he struggled initially, he played better as the season wore on.  Jerami Grant turned in a solid season.  Second-year forwards Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey had their ups and downs, but Bey was able to turn in a 51-point game towards the end of the season to help the Pistons build hope for the future.

Key Players:

Cade Cunningham had a fairly good rookie season after a bump start, and he was able to record a triple-double in late November during his rookie season.
(Photo:
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press, via MLive.com)

Cade Cunningham
2021-22 (DET): 17.4 PPG, 5.6 APG, 5.5 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 42 FG%, 31 3PT%, 85 FT%, 50 TS%, 13.1 PER, -0.5 WS

He had a fairly good rookie season overall after really struggling with his jump shot early on.  He’ll need to shoot the ball better, but Cunningham proved capable of taking on the scoring load, and he also thrived as a playmaker and rebounder when he was on the court.

2022 Season Grade: B-
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars (4 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Starter on the Detroit Pistons

Jerami Grant turned in another solid season with the Pistons, but as he’s considerably older than the rest of his young teammates on a rebuilding Pistons team, NBA fans may be divided on whether or not if the Pistons brass should keep or trade him in the offseason.
(Photo:
Brian Fluharty/USA Today Sports, via Fansided’s Piston Powered)

Jerami Grant
2021-22 (DET): 19.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.0 BPG, 43 FG%, 36 3PT%, 84 FT%, 56 TS%, 16.1 PER, 2.3 WS

Jerami Grant had a fairly solid season, and he proved to be a reliable shooter and scorer for the Pistons this year.  On the other hand, he will need to be a more consistent defender in games, and he also missed considerable time due to injury.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting power forward on the Detroit Pistons

Other Notable Players:

Saddiq Bey didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well as hoped in his second season in the NBA, but he was able to bring forth a memorable performance in which he scored 51 points in his team’s March 17th win over the Orlando Magic.
(Photo:
Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA Today Sports, via Fansided’s Piston Powered)

Saddiq Bey

He didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well on the season, as he struggled a bit to handle a heavier load on offense, but Bey showed significant improvement as a playmaker, and he also turned in a 51-point game in a March 17th game in a win over Orlando that suggests that he could develop into a cornerstone player for the Pistons in the future.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars (3 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Starting small forward on the Detroit Pistons

Isaiah Stewart

He had an up and down season this year with the Pistons.  He rebounded really well, but he didn’t shoot or score nearly as well as anticipated.  He was most known for getting elbowed in the face by LeBron James this year, and for having tried really hard to chase him down before being stopped midway from fighting him.   On the other hand, Stewart has generally excelled as an interior player for the Pistons in his two years with them, and he at least could be an enforcer for them that will provide them with grit, tenacity, and motor.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars (3 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Starting center on the Detroit Pistons

Hamidou Diallo

He is an athletic swingman that provided scoring and defense for the Pistons this year.  He struggled with his three-point shot and missed some time due to injury, but he was fairly effective when he was on the court.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Detroit Pistons

Kelly Olynyk

He is a skilled, mobile big man that generally excelled at shooting and scoring the basketball to help the Pistons this year.

2022 Season Grade: B-
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Detroit Pistons

Cory Joseph

He is a veteran point guard that thrived as a shooter and playmaker for the Pistons this past season.

2022 Season Grade: B-
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Detroit Pistons

Isaiah Livers

After starting the year on the injured list, Livers played very well during his rookie season, and he thrived as a sharpshooter for his team. One key stat is that he made 42% of his threes this year for the Pistons.

2022 Season Grade: B+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Detroit Pistons

Other Players on the Roster:

Killian Hayes

Hayes is a young playmaking point guard that played his second year for the Pistons, but he really struggled to make shots this year.

2022 Season Grade: D+
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Detroit Pistons

Frank Jackson

After having played very well last year for the Pistons, Jackson’s shooting percentages took a tumble.

2022 Season Grade: D+
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Detroit Pistons

Marvin Bagley III

The Sacramento Kings finally traded him after years of disappointing for them and being mismanaged, and although Bagley hasn’t really developed a reliable three-point shot, playmaking, or defensive skills, he was able to provide some scoring and rebounding for the Pistons late in the season.

2022 Season Grade: D-
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Detroit Pistons

Saben Lee

After having played very well last year for the Pistons, Lee’s shooting percentages took a tumble.

2022 Season Grade: C-
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Detroit Pistons

Luka Garza

He had his ups and downs this past season.  Garza was able to get some playing time this year, and while his shooting and rebounding numbers weren’t as high as anticipated, he showed a better outside shot than thought, and he’s shown that he can be a backup center in the NBA.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Detroit Pistons

Braxton Key (Two-Way Player)

He played surprisingly well in the G-League, and earned a call-up to the NBA.  He’s rebounded and defended very well for the Pistons.  While he’s struggled to knock down threes in the NBA, Key has shown a functioning three-point shot in the G-League.  He earned a call-up to the NBA, and he has the skills to be a 3 and D role player in this league.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Detroit Pistons

Rodney McGruder

He is a combo guard that can provide shooting off the bench, and he has been a journeyman in the NBA.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe roster player on an NBA team

Carsen Edwards

He’s shown that he can shoot and score the basketball at lower levels, but the agile, skilled combo guard has struggled to translate that production and those skills to the NBA.  He simply hasn’t shot the ball well in the NBA, and it’s uncertain if he will be able to prove that he can do so if he continues to struggle at this level.

2022 Season Grade: D
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on an NBA team

Jamorko Pickett

I was surprised that he made 4 threes en route to scoring 18 points in an NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas over the summer, especially considering that he had an inconsistent collegiate career overall, but that showing seemed to cement that he would be on his way to play in the NBA.  He’s showed some tantalizing potential in the summer, as he is a 6-8 forward with some athleticism, shooting ability, and defensive potential, but Pickett struggled to shoot or score nearly as well in the NBA or in the G-League.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 1 star (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe roster player on an NBA team

Head Coach:

The one-time Coach of the Year award winner, Dwane Casey has not won many games with the Detroit Pistons, but he’s helped Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey turn in some very good games this year.
(Photo:
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images, via Fansided’s Piston Powered)

Dwane Casey
2021-22 (DET): 23-59, 14th in the Eastern Conference

The Pistons were expected to be a bad team this year, and they were.  They finished near the bottom of the standings once again, and as a team, they didn’t seem to do any one thing particularly well.  On the other hand, they have Cade Cunningham, and Casey did a fairly good job of getting Cunningham the playing time he needs, and helping him along during his rookie year to help him improve exponentially towards the end of the season.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Head coach of the Detroit Pistons

The Detroit Pistons’ Projected 2022-23 Rotation:

C Isaiah Stewart
F Jerami Grant
F Saddiq Bey
5th Overall Pick
G Cade Cunningham

______
F Hamidou Diallo
F Kelly Olynyk
G Cory Joseph
F Isaiah Livers
G Killian Hayes

The Detroit Pistons’ Picks in the 2022 NBA Draft:
#5, #46

The Detroit Pistons’ Projected 2023 Win-Loss Record:
24-58, 14th in the Eastern Conference

Their Projected Offseason Plan:

The Detroit Pistons are projected to have over $30 million in cap space, so they could decide to splurge on a top free agent, elect to spend it on multiple players, or roll it over.  They need talented players, and they need players to play off of Cade Cunningham.  At this stage, they could go with the best player available and also look to find players that would play well alongside Cunningham in the offseason.

Next year, the Detroit Pistons will likely still be in rebuilding mode, but it seems that they are slowly and steadily building towards the future, and if they can continue to get good players alongside Cade Cunningham, the Pistons could surprise and win a little more than expected, and they may have a bright future ahead of them.

I went to No Trade Clause and Basketball-Reference for research purposes. Hope you had fun reading my review of the 2021-22 Detroit Pistons. Thanks for reading.

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