BELLINO: PISTONS A PLAYOFF CONTENDER

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This may be a little “sunny-side up,” but I actually believe there’s no reason for the Detroit Pistons to not be a playoff contender in the upcoming 2021-2022 season.

I’ve thought this for quite some time now. Months ago I asked twitter via a poll – of which of the four major Detroit sports teams do they believe will “turn it around the fastest”?

No, I’m not saying who wins a title first. Let’s start small and just get to the post-season, shall we?

LOVE TROY WEAVER’S MAGIC OVERHAUL

The Pistons, in my mind have been the closest ever since Troy Weaver worked his magic and completely overhauled this roster last season. From the Derrick Rose trade to the Blake buyout, you could see Troy’s plan was actually in motion. Sekou Doumbouya is the longest tenured Piston on the roster and even his future is in jeopardy. The free agent acquisition of Jerami Grant paid huge dividends last season as he averaged 22 and 5 and made the Olympic team this summer. Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart were both NBA All-Rookie selections, Killian Hayes came on strong after injury and adding a super-talented wing in Hamidou Diallovia via trade we can see the vision taking place.

Oh, and the Pistons just added the #1 pick in the 2021 draft in Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham. The reason I believe the Pistons are closer than anyone is because in the game on basketball, with such limited numbers of guys seeing minutes, one player’s impact on the game is exponential in comparison to the other three sports. That’s where a pick like Cade Cunningham (if he lives up to the hype) could punch this thing into overdrive.

I REMEMBER JUST 20 WINS, BUT…

Sure, the Pistons won 20 games last season (20-52 in shortened 72-game season). But they did that while keeping their point differential at a very modest -4.5. Games were close at the end, the team plays with heart and effort, and their #1 option Jerami Grant played in just 54 games. The trade of Mason Plumlee and signing of Kelly Olynyk adds a little more perimeter shooting from the 4/5 spot and keeps the salary cap flexibility open for the 2022 Free Agency class.

All-in-all I love what troy Weaver is doing with this ball club and if it’s my money I’m betting with, I bet it’s this group that makes the playoffs first.

Cade Cunningham photo from Detroit Free Press

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