Pistons’ Midseason Check-In: All-Star Break Recap And Analysis.

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The Detroit Pistons go into the 2024 all-star break with a record of 8-46 after a 116-100 defeat by the Phoenix Suns. When you think of all the bad press this season, the Pistons are in a pretty good position. It’s easy for us to look at all the negative things around this team and torture them for their transgressions. No one will fault you for that, but let’s not overlook some positive aspects of this squad.

With money to spend in free agency and another high draft pick on the horizon, The Pistons can do this right. Before discussing what they can do this summer, we still have to get through the second half of the season. Let’s review the 1st half of the 2023-24 season of the Detroit Pistons.

The Pistons over.500?

Would you believe me If I told you the Pistons had a winning record this season? Would you believe me if I told you that the Pistons could’ve possibly started the season undefeated at some point? That is the case as the team started 2-1 and could’ve gone 3-0 to begin the season. You could see the potential early in the season. Ausar Thompson set the stage with three blocks in the first 5 minutes of his NBA career. Jalen Duren looked like a man amongst boys, and Cade Cunningham showed no effects from the injury the previous season.

The Pistons, unfortunately, were a victim of early-season hype. Outside of the loss to the Heat, Their next two games against the Hornets and Bulls were seen as winnable. You could say the Pistons were turning the corner and winning the games they were supposed to. That notion was killed quickly with the stretch of basketball they played over the next two months.

The 28-Game Losing Streak.

After their win against the Bulls, the Pistons lost 28 straight games by an average of 13.5 points. The Pistons squad that was being praised early doing the season for their defensive tenacity had become the butt of all jokes from local and national media. There’s a lot of blame to go around for this historic streak…

1). You can blame Troy Weaver for not underutilizing their cap space this past summer, using it on Monte Morris and Joe Harris.

2). You can blame Tom Gores for throwing 78.5 million dollars at a head coach who had no intention of coaching the team.

3). You can blame Monty Williams for taking a job where his heart wasn’t truly invested. Yes, the money is perfect, but if you are just in it for the check, You’re in the wrong.

4). You can blame the players for embracing the losses. Of course, they say they’re doing whatever they must to win, but you can tell when a team embraces their outcome.

Tom Gores “Community Impact.”

During one of their losses at home to the Utah Jazz, The fans of Detroit started chanting, “Sell the team.” This is one of the lowest points in Pistons basketball in the past 20 years. In response to the chant, Tom Gores acknowledged the team was terrible but pointed to his “community impact” as to why he would never sell the team. Let’s be transparent: Tom Gores has done some AMAZING things in the Detroit metro community. The impact he’s had in Detroit has made this team well-liked.

Yes, It’s been that bad.

But the community aspect is similar to what the Lakers, Celtics, Nuggets, or any other team does. Residents appreciate the camps and drives for clothes and school supplies but also want to see a winning basketball team. They want to go to a game and watch players they think will lead them back to a championship. It may not be much to see at a Pistons game, but their core is solid.

Troy Weaver can be blamed for a lot of roster construction-wise, but if there’s one thing I can give him credit for, it’s his drafting abilities. In his four seasons, Weaver has drafted Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, traded for Jalen Duren, and selected Ausar Thompson and Marcus Sasser. Each one of those guys, as of late, has shown that they are more capable of taking the next step, but I will be focusing on Thompson and Sasser.

Tyrone Smith. 10 On The Clock Podcast

Ausuar Thompson & Marcus Sasser Shuts The Critics Up.

Ausar Thompson was seen as a good, not great, pick by NBA pundits. His brother Amen was seen as more of a can’t-miss prospect, with Ausar having questions about his offensive game. Thompson was coming in with a defensive mindset that would balance his lack of offense. His impact was felt immediately, putting his name in elite company. He’s hit that rookie wall, but this is all to get him better as he progresses in his career.

Marcus Sasser was another pick that NBA pundits felt was a bit risky. He was a more undersized guard that people felt could’ve been had in the second round. Like Thompson, Sasser came in with a defensive ability that would get him out there on the floor. Add that with more of an offensive game, he was a guy that could come in and surprise people. Sasser’s emergence made Killian Hayes expendable, and for the first time in years, The roster was more structured.

Finishing The Season With More Clarity.

Say what you want about the Pistons, But they’ve been playing better. They went into Sacramento, defeated the Kings, and overcame a 23-point deficit the following night to beat the Blazers. They took the #1 seed in the Western Conference, L.A. Clippers, to the breaking point before losing and showed fight in their loss last night to the Lakers. Record wise says they are the worst team in the NBA, but if you’ve watched them lately, the players are playing like they have something to prove.

You look at how this team is constructed now compared to maybe a month ago; it’s much better. Could they have gotten more for the players they traded? Yeah, probably. Marvin Bagley III was playing at a level where I think he could’ve got a first out of him. Bogdanovic and Burks could’ve gotten first-round picks, but even if you feel they got fleeced, The Pistons look much better on paper.

Pistons Updated Depth Chart.

PG: Cunningham/Sasser/Flynn/Milton
SG: Ivey/Grimes/Fournier
SF: Fontecchio/Thompson/Brown Jr.
PF: Stewart/Muscala
C: Duren/Wiseman

The State Of The 23-24 Pistons…

There are more losses to be had, but they will compete. I want to see the young guys continue to develop, and I want to see Cade continue to take that next step. Give these upcoming free agents something to be excited about when the Pistons front office tells them they are interested in their services. Troy Weaver and Monty Williams brought themselves more time to figure this out, but the city is tired of just figuring it out. We want to turn up for the Pistons like we did for the Lions this season. Don’t expect to do that this season, but it can happen next season.

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