Saturday, August 13 2022

The Detroit Pistons begin a new season this week, leaning on a young roster that could feature four first or second-year players — when healthy — in the starting lineup.

The Pistons, with Cade Cunningham as their new franchise player, host Chicago to open the season Wednesday at Little Caesars Arena, then pay a return visit Saturday at the Bulls. (Here’s a look at their entire 82-game schedule.)

Free Press sports writers answer burning questions and make predictions for the Detroit Pistons‘ 2021-22 season and NBA at large:

TRENDING: How Pistons’ Cade Cunningham became can’t miss player — aided by his brother & Larry Brown

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Omari Sankofa II

Biggest story line you’re watching: How high Cunningham is able to raise the team’s floor as a rookie.

Best-case scenario: Cunningham is an instant star, the second-year players take notable steps forward and the Pistons emerge as a play-in favorite.

Worst-case scenario: Second-year players suffer sophomore slumps, Cunningham underwhelms and the Pistons finish with the NBA’s worst record. The latter part might be the best-case scenario for the tank-happy crowd, though.

Pistons forward Saddiq Bey handles the ball ahead of Grizzlies guard De'Anthony Melton in the first half of the preseason game on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, in Memphis, Tennessee.Pistons forward Saddiq Bey handles the ball ahead of Grizzlies guard De'Anthony Melton in the first half of the preseason game on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, in Memphis, Tennessee.

Pistons forward Saddiq Bey handles the ball ahead of Grizzlies guard De’Anthony Melton in the first half of the preseason game on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, in Memphis, Tennessee.

Will Cade Cunningham win rookie of the year: Yes. Jalen Green will score more points and might be the bigger SportsCenter Top 10 regular, but Cunningham does everything. He’ll fill the stat sheet and I think the advanced numbers will support his claim over Green.

Leading scorer: Jerami Grant will improve his efficiency compared to last year and average a career-high 24 points per game.

Overall record: The Pistons will be slightly better, finishing 28-54, 14th in East.

East playoff teams, 1-10: Bucks, Nets, Celtics, Hawks, 76ers, Bulls, Heat, Knicks, Raptors, Wizards.

West playoff teams, 1-10: Suns, Jazz, Lakers, Warriors, Nuggets, Trail Blazers, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Clippers.

Conference finals: Nets over Celtics; Suns over Warriors.

NBA Finals: Nets over Suns.

THE EAST: Pistons in NBA play-in tournament may not be as far-fetched as you think

Jeff Seidel

Biggest story line you’re watching: How much improvement will the young core make this season? This team promises to be intriguing no matter how many games it wins.

Best-case scenario: Cunningham proves to be a franchise player they can build around. The core develops, and they play hard but still end up with another lottery pick. Best, best-case scenario? Hey, we are shooting for the moon here, so another No. 1 pick, baby!

Worst-case scenario: Cunningham’s ankle injury lingers and slows his development. He struggles to adjust and the second-year players take a step back. But I seriously don’t see that happening.

Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey and guard Cade Cunningham share laughter during media day at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021.Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey and guard Cade Cunningham share laughter during media day at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021.

Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey and guard Cade Cunningham share laughter during media day at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021.

Will Cade Cunningham win rookie of the year: Yes. He is going to have some big games and experience the unusual dips. Typical rookie stuff. But he’s smart enough to adjust to the NBA game. Only thing that gives me pause: The ankle injury could slow things down.

Leading scorer: Jerami Grant.

Overall record: 32-50. This still isn’t a playoff team because it will lose too many close games. But it will be entertaining.

East playoff teams, 1-10: Nets, Bucks, 76ers, Heat, Hawks, Celtics, Knicks, Bulls, Hornets, Raptors.

West playoff teams, 1-10: Lakers, Warriors, Suns, Clippers, Jazz, Nuggets, Trail Blazers, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Pelicans.

Conference finals: Lakers over Warriors; Bucks over Nets.

NBA Finals: Bucks over Lakers.

[ Want more Pistons news? Download our free mobile app on iPhone & Android! ]

Shawn Windsor

Biggest story line you’re watching: Cunningham’s development, of course. If Grant takes the leap the team expects him to, especially after his Olympic experience, that will be a close second.

Best-case scenario: Cunningham is the real thing. Killian Hayes finds a consistent jump shot. Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart keep building, and the team sneaks into a play-in game.

Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes drives to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant during the first half of a preseason game at FedExForum, Oct. 11, 2021 in Memphis.Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes drives to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant during the first half of a preseason game at FedExForum, Oct. 11, 2021 in Memphis.

Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes drives to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant during the first half of a preseason game at FedExForum, Oct. 11, 2021 in Memphis.

Worst-case scenario: Cunningham’s ankle remains balky. Hayes keeps struggling from the perimeter — and finishing through contact — and lingering injuries cost this young and developing team a year.

Will Cade Cunningham win rookie of the year: No. He will pay more attention to the shots his teammates are getting — or not getting — and he will focus on finding his voice with the team.

Leading scorer/points per game: Grant — 25 points a game.

Overall record: 33-49.

East playoff teams, 1-10: Bucks, Nets, Hawks, 76ers, Heat, Celtics, Bulls, Raptors, Hornets, Magic.

West playoff teams, 1-10: Suns, Jazz, Lakers, Nuggets, Mavericks, Warriors, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies, Clippers, Pelicans.

Conference finals: Nets over Bucks, Lakers over Mavericks.

NBA Finals: Nets over Lakers.

Stay informed on what’s happening across Michigan: Subscribe to our news alert emails here.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: How good can Detroit Pistons be in Cade Cunningham Year 1?

Source: Yahoo Sports

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