Detroit Pistons making progress

Detroit Pistons making progress

The Detroit Pistons had very low expectations coming into the current campaign and rightfully so. They had made the playoffs just once in their last five seasons and had finished dead last in the Eastern Conference last year. Even with the addition of number one overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft Cade Cunningham, the Pistons still have a long way to go before they can be considered legitimate playoff contenders. 

However, that hasn’t halted the progress the team was looking to make this season as they continue to rebuild for the future. Despite the fact that the Pistons sit in 14th in the Eastern Conference, they have shown signs of maturity and development.

Friday’s victory over the Indiana Pacers was another example of the franchise moving in the right direction. Earlier in the season, they had lost multiple games that they had led by double-digits in, and it seemed like that would be the case again when the Pacers started to mount their comeback in the fourth quarter. That wasn’t to be the case though as the Pistons found a way to get the job done, even if they defense had deserted them.

“Usually you can do it with your defense but we weren’t defending in the first three quarters, and I think it’s just timely shots in the fourth quarter, is the thing we pulled off,” head coach Dwane Casey said after Friday’s victory, via the Detroit Free Press. “After the first quarter, we weren’t going to be able to keep up that pace, shooting the 3 the way we were at the start of the game. So we had to get some stops, and we didn’t. We made some timely shots down the stretch, and let’s leave it at that.”

While it was just their 17th win of the year, it showed that they have developed character that didn’t necessarily have earlier in the season. Learning to win is an important part of being successful in the NBA and it looks as though the Pistons are going through that educational process now. Casey is aware though that the team still has a long way to go.

“It’s growth,” Casey said. “A lot of areas of growth, a lot of areas we need to improve on. Just like in the huddle, we said specifically don’t leave the 3. Twos don’t hurt us. Don’t leave the 3. And lo and behold, we leave Smith out there wide open. Just those little mental things. It’s nothing physical or not playing hard. It’s just the nuances and the mental things that young players always seem at the wrong time to pull off. There’s a lot of growth, the connection. Like I said last night, we’re connected. Connected on the offensive end, and down the stretch in the fourth quarter we got better defensively.”

The players are certainly noticing the maturation process as well as the team continues to build chemistry with each other.

“Just the way we’re together right now,” Isaiah Stewart said, via the Detroit Free Press. “You can just sense the energy, how everything’s just shifted for us right now, the joy. You have to see it to see the difference, but there definitely has been a change.” 

It remains to be seen when the Pistons will be able to get back to the playoffs, but fans have to be happy to see their team heading in the right direction.