Cade Cunningham has drawn some lofty comparisons during the pre-draft process.
His 6-foot-8, 220-pound frame gives him tremendous size for an NBA guard and allows him to make any pass his tremendous court vision picks out.
Cade was also a great shooter from deep during his one year at Oklahoma State – 40 percent on 5.7 attempts per game.
He showed flashes of elite isolation scoring ability and was a tremendous pick-and-roll ball handler.
His all-around game has made him nearly a lock for the top pick in this Thursday’s draft.
Detroit was the second-worst team in the league last year record-wise.
Will slotting Cunningham in the starting five be enough to get Detroit into the playoffs?
Detroit’s defense actually was not horrible last year, unlike most rebuilding teams.
They surrendered the 10th fewest points per game and were league-average in terms of defensive rating.
Grant, Bey, and Stewart are all good defenders and head coach Dwayne Casey always has his defenses well-coached.
Offensively is where this team struggled.
They only averaged 106.6 points per game and posted an offensive rating of 108 – both ranked in the bottom five of the league.
Turnovers were an issue and they shot poorly from deep as a team.
They got to the line fairly frequently but were inefficient when they got there – shooting 76 percent.
Grant was better than expected as the number one option but was maybe overtaxed in that role.
Jerami Grant still plays defense, in case you forgot with his scoring increase pic.twitter.com/n7khL8mWaL
— Mavs / Magic Draft (@MavsDraft) February 12, 2021
Adding Cunningham should help the offense a good deal.
He should be the top option, which will allow Grant to become a more efficient number two.
Cade will also have better control of the offense than Hayes or Cory Joseph.
His pick-and-roll ability and passing vision will provide easy looks for rolling bigs and open shots for perimeter shooters.
Hayes showed promise his rookie year but still showed he is young and needs time.
The Pistons could decide to slot him next to Cunningham in the lineup and develop their backcourt of the future.
Or they let Hayes come off the bench and run the second unit.
It is a tall task to give a rookie the keys to the offense, but Cade has the talent to bolster Detroit’s offensive firepower.
Are Playoffs In Play?
The defense should remain decent and the offense should get a boost with the addition of Cunningham.
The question then becomes, will it be enough?
With the play-in tournament seemingly set to stick around through next year, there will once again be 10 teams that can claim a playoff spot.
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) July 19, 2021
The top six teams earn automatic berths while 7-10 get placed in the play-in tournament.
This gives Detroit a fighting chance, but will ultimately be too big of a hill to climb.
They finished 13 games behind the 10th-seeded Charlotte Hornets this year.
Because of the dead money carried by Blake Griffin‘s contract, Detroit will have little cap space to use in free agency.
Meaning the biggest acquisition Detroit will make this offseason will probably be drafting Cade.
Asking a rookie point guard to better your team by 13 games or better is a tall task – nearly impossible.
LeBron James bettered the Cavaliers by 18 games his rookie year, but LeBron is an anomaly.
Also, the Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, and Hornets should all take steps forward next season as well.
The Pistons figure to be a better team next year.
Just not so much better they make the playoffs.
Fighting for a spot in the play-in tournament seems to be the best-case scenario for this team.NEXT: Why Pistons Should Consider Trade Offers For Top Pick