Welcome back to POP On the Clock for your weekly recap of all things Detroit Pistons! After a slow, brutal first week of basketball in Detroit, the Pistons finally got to see the arrival of their star prospect, Cade Cunningham on Saturday night and secure their first win of the young season.
This week, we’ll look back on how the team performed, assess Cade Cunningham’s debut, and discuss our hopes for what the first overall pick will bring to Detroit in the years to come.
The Week In Games: Pistons Go 1-3
Detroit Fails to Get Stops in Atlanta, Lose to Hawks 122-104
The Pistons started the week against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks, losing 122-104. During this game, the Pistons failed to get any sort of momentum on the defensive end of the floor, with the Hawks getting a fair share of looks on the inside.
Detroit was led in scoring by Kelly Olynyk and Saddiq Bey, both with 21 points. Bey in particular showed off his improved scoring prowess, and continued to build on his impressive sophomore start.
The Hawks, led by Trae Young with 32 points and 9 assists, didn’t seem phased by the Pistons’ defense. With plenty of looks in the paint, the Hawks comfortably controlled the pace for the majority of the game.
Pistons Fall to 76ers in Philly Despite Late Surge, 110-102
The Pistons traveled to Philadelphia next to take on MVP runner-up Joel Embiid and the 76ers, losing 110-102. Despite starting sluggishly, the Pistons slowly crawled back to make it a game in the late stages. However, this was a rough offensive game for the team as a whole.
Saddiq Bey once again led the Pistons with 19 points and 6 rebounds, followed by Kelly Olynyk and Jerami Grant with 14 points each. Thanks to some late shot-making, the Pistons were able to bring it back to within 10 points.
Pistons Get First Win of the Season With Cade Cunningham’s Debut vs Orlando, 110-103
It finally came.
In what felt like an eternity since the summer league, the Pistons got to debut Cade Cunningham after taking him off the injury report the previous day against the Orlando Magic. And this debut, while not the most impressive from a scoring perspective, made a noticeable impact for Detroit as they won 110-103.
Despite only scoring two points on poor shooting efficiency, Cunningham made a significant impact on the defensive end for the Pistons, making several great plays on the ball and securing seven rebounds right away.
After the game, Cunningham told reporters that he felt good about his debut, allowing himself to get out the first-game jitters and begin to “play free”. There was a noticeable improvement in the Pistons’ energy on defense compared to the first games of the season without Cunningham.
The Pistons were led by Jerami Grant with 25 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
Pistons Struggle to Find Any Momentum in Brooklyn, Lose 117-91
Detroit was unable to build any momentum following their first win of the season, falling to the “still figuring it out” Nets by 26 points. Cory Joseph led the way with 13 points, while Kevin Durant had 23 before getting ejected for elbowing Kelly Olynyk. Cunningham did not play as he continues to manage his ankle injury.
Play of the Week
Player of the Week: Kelly Olynyk
Kelly Olynyk takes home the second POP OTC award of the season, averaging 15.5 PTS, 4.8 REBS, and 3.3 AST this week. Olynyk made several key plays during the game against the Orlando Magic.
Question of the Week: What aspect of Cade’s game do you think will impact the Pistons the most? How did you feel about his debut?
Aaron Johnson, Lead Editor
I think Cade Cunningham’s presence on the court should really open up Detroit’s offense. It’s obvious that Detroit is spread thin on that end of the floor with Jerami Grant pressing and Saddiq Bey still expanding his offensive repertoire. The Pistons are tied with the Thunder for the fewest points scored per game, and 29th in the league in field goal percentage and 30th in 3-point shooting percentage. Adding in another ball-handler that shot 30% from the 3-point line in college should help Detroit immensely.
Obviously, his debut wasn’t spectacular, he shot 1-8 from the field and clanked a 3-pointer off the side of the backboard. But once he is fully integrated into the system the results will look much different. Defensibly, he moved his feet well and knows how to use his size to make plays on that side of the court. I liked that he was confident and willing to shoot the basketball right away, Detroit needs willing scorers.
Dylan Edenfield, Staff Writer
I think the gravity Cade commands is how he will impact the Pistons the most this season. The offense opens up while he is on the floor, even if he’s struggling like he did last night. His game will come back to him, and even though when he’s not the first option while he returns to health, the Pistons will be better whenever he is on the court.
During the game, I liked his passing vision, hustle on the boards, and his defensive impact from his debut against Orlando. He’s still getting used to NBA length, but when he figures it out he should be one of the best young playmakers in the league, right next to his backcourt mate Killian Hayes.
Hussein Murray, Staff Writer
If his debut showed us anything, Cade is a great all-around player and will be serviceable in so many ways for Detroit. In particular though, I think it’s his leadership and communication skills that will be the most valuable asset to our rebuild in Detroit. When you look back on the Andre Drummond era of Detroit, I never felt like the Pistons had a vocal leader that could bring the team together for crucial possessions. All due respect to the players of that era, but I don’t remember the Pistons having any guy in particular who communicated well or tried to lead.
With Cade, I feel like this is his strongest quality, and why we drafted him. I had the honor of getting to see Cade play in his summer league debut. While that game left a lot to be desired, statistically speaking, I could hear Cunningham constantly talking, picking guys up, giving advice and communicating with the coaches. There’s an energy about Cade that lifts up everyone else around him, and we really felt that in his debut. The majority of closeouts felt sharp, the Pistons were hustling, and the crowd was electric. We haven’t had that in a long time.
POP Podcast: Will the Detroit Pistons Win a Game this Season?
The Pistons will stay in Detroit this week for three games.
Milwaukee Bucks at Pistons – Tuesday, 11/2, 7:00 PM
Philadelphia 76ers at Pistons, Thursday, 11/4, 7:00 PM
Brooklyn Nets at Pistons, Friday, 11/5, 7:00 PM