After nine months without Pistons basketball, it almost feels like Christmas. The Pistons have finally returned to the hardwood, losing to the Knicks 90-84 at Little Caesars’ Arena in their first preseason contest.
While the outcome was disappointing, it’s always key to remember that it’s the preseason and nothing more. Now is a time for the players to get their legs back under them, and for some fresh faces to get their first minutes of NBA experience.
Before we dive into the game itself, some keys to discuss are that this was the debut of the Pistons’ four draftees – Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey, and Saben Lee – and the long-awaited return of Blake Griffin post knee surgery. Additionally, this was the debut of former Denver Nuggets Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee, both of whom started this game. Now, let’s get into the takeaways from this preseason contest.
Blake Griffin is Back and Ready to Compete
The former All-NBA 3rd Teamer saw his first minutes of action since his surgery to repair his knee in January of this year. While the numbers seemed small (nine points, eight rebounds, five assists), Blake seemed like he was having a return to form during the contest, making multiple plays that showed flashbacks to his spectacular 2018-19 run.
Hopefully, this is a sign of great things to come from Blake, who struggled mightily during the 2019-20 campaign due to his knee injury.
The Saddiq and Svi Show
Both Saddiq Bey and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk lead the Pistons in scoring with 14 points each tonight, proving that they’ll both be valuable pieces to the Pistons’ rotation.
Mykhailiuk saw an extended role with the Pistons last season, hitting career highs in every single stat category and showing a clear improvement. It’s no surprise that the Pistons will use him in the rotation significantly, and many fans were happy about his performance.
Bey also showed prowess on both the offensive and defensive end, with signs of him being a stable rotation player for the Pistons for years to come. However, he struggled with his shooting like many other Pistons tonight.
Not Quite the Shooting Exhibition
To say this game was ugly from a shooting perspective would be an understatement, as multiple Pistons couldn’t find the bucket with much success tonight.
Most of the Pistons failed to eclipse a 35% field goal percentage, with Jerami Grant being a particular case with 1/11 of his shots falling. This was a rough game across the board for Detroit shooting-wise, and they’ll need to be more efficient if they expect to win games.
Turnovers….. Turnovers Everywhere
An alarming part of the Pistons’ performance was the turnover battle, where the Pistons coughed up the ball 21 times. While this matched the Knicks’ total, this is still a sign that team chemistry needs to be improved before the season begins.
The main offender was Killian Hayes, who turned the ball over a worrying seven times during the contest. Some writers at POP noted that Hayes struggles with his right hand, something that he needs to work on if he hopes to find success.
Fortunately for Hayes, this was his first game of NBA action, and he’s never seen competition quite like this before. He will have plenty of time to correct these mistakes and adjust to the NBA level.
Speaking of Killian…
While the turnovers were worrying, it’s hard to not get excited about Killian’s potential. Despite these cough-ups, Killian showed flashes of the great player he can potentially become in Detroit. Throughout the game, Killian showed signs of the star multiple draft experts believe he could become one day.
It’s certainly an adjustment period for Killian, who will have growing pains throughout the season. However, it’s hard to watch him play without getting excited.
Featured Image: Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports